Category Archives: howitworks

Summary of “Following the Path Of Evolvable Hardware” by Xin Yao

Writing in 1999, Xin Yao, a professor of computer science at the University of Birmingham, UK, explains what he calls “evolvable hardware,” or EHW. According to Yao, EHW is a type of hardware “whose architecture, structure, and functions change dynamically and autonomously in order to improve its performance” in certain tasks. The article briefly describes several different opinions regarding the application of EHW. Likewise, the article also explains the two major aspects of EHW: simulated evolution and electronic hardware. EHW uses different evolutionary algorithms for different tasks, but most EHW rely on reconfigurable hardware; for example, the article cites field-programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs. Because the functionality of FPGAs are determined by their architectural bits, which are reconfigurable, they’re plenty flexible for use in EHW. At the time of this articles publication, EHW was an emerging field. Conversely, it also talks about the emergence of several scholarly articles talking about EHW. Yao concludes that there is more work than can be covered in his article which he simply intends to be a brief overview of what EHW is.

“Following the Path Of Evolvable Hardware”

“Hardware Implementation of Digital Signal Processing Algorithms” By: Ashkan Ashrafi

Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have been made possible by advances in integrated circuits to provide higher performance and faster speed.  Complex mathematical procedures for data analysis has been a real-time realization complex algorithms.  Ashkan Ashrafi states, “The need to use hardware implementations of digital signal processing algorithms is exponentially increasing due to the explosion of stored data and the necessity of analyzing these data in less amount of time.”  These algorithms cannot reach their desired speed using computer software alone, because it would lower the processing speed.  To reach this goal it is proposed to use a combination of low-latency parallel digital phase locked loop (DPLL) with a feed-forward carrier phase recovery algorithm (CPR).  This would compensate for a carrier frequency offset and frequency fluctuation.

“Whats the Most Secure Browser?” By: Bryan Betts

March 1, 2014 Bryan Betts determined that security and privacy are the two measures that can determine the best internet browser.  Malware infections and phishing attacks are the most common threats facing users today.  The internet browser is a user’s first line of defense against these threats.  To be effective an internet browser must constantly update lists of sites determined to be malicious.  When a user goes to a website it can collect information that is stored about the user and their computer.  They typically install HTTP cookies which are “small pieces of code enabling the site to keep track of you.”  Betts goes through the positives and negatives of the most popular internet browsers Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Firefox.

Summary of “Power Of Branding On Internet Service Providers” by Kevin Chiu, Ru-Jen Lin, Maxwell Hsu, and Li-Hua Huang

Although the internet has outpaced traditional media in many aspects, and has the potential to develop even further, there’s a surprising lack of research involving internet service providers (ISP) and their use of brand power to gain customers. Kevin Chiu, Ru-Jen Lin, Maxwell Hsu, and Li-Hua Huang have hoped to remedy this by studying the brand power of ISPs in Northern Taiwan. Despite its small size and population of only 23 million, with an internet penetration of only 46 percent as of 2009, there are over 51 ISPs competing for customers in Taiwan. In their study, they look at the role branding plays on an ISPs ability to retain old and gain new customers. According to their study, the power of branding comes from the image customers attach to a brand, the knowledge or awareness customers have of a brand, the trust customers put in a brand, and the consumers’ overall preference. The study found brand awareness and brand trust to be the key factors in how an ISP brand is perceived. Control of these factors by ISPs are crucial for their success and overall standing in the marketplace.

“Power Of Branding On Internet Service Providers”

Summary of “A Comparative Study of Users’ Experiences with Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows XP” by Ugwunwa Chinyere Esse

The discipline of Human Computer Interaction, or HCI, involves the study of how people interact with computers and how computers are developed to interact with people. HCI has caught the attention of several corporations and academic institutions, all of them looking for a way to make the interaction between man and machine as user friendly as possible. Ugwunwa Chinyere Esse takes this approach in his study comparing users’ experiences with Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista. In his study, he cites much of the criticism levied at Windows Vista not long after its launch, including: its high system requirements, restrictive licensing terms, and its inclusion of digital rights management technologies, or DRM. According to many critics, several aspects of Vista do little to increase how user friendly the operating system is, and are more likely additions made to please big business. Esse surveyed a large group of Windows users who found it difficult to switch to Windows Vista from Windows XP, despite preferring Vista’s graphically interface. He concludes that Microsoft needed to “investigate and conduct a feasibility study on the end users” of their operating systems to further improve the user friendliness of their software.

“A Comparative Study of Users’ Experiences with Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows XP”


Summary of “How the internet works: Chapter 3: How TCP/IP Works?” by Preston Gralla

TCP/IP or transmission control protocol and internet protocol is explained in this article.  The author explains how TCP breaks up the packets and puts them back together while IP guide the information to the right destination.  He explains that the internet is considered a packet switched network where there is not one single unbroken sender and receiver connection. He explains that this is why TCP/IP is so important.  Allowing the information or package to be broken up and pieced back together makes the information occur faster.  He goes into detail about how the TCP/IP is able to work for example, sockets or a TCP/IP stacks are a needed software in your computer to understand the protocols to allow the functions to work.  The author further explains how the protocols work and is pretty straightforward.  The entire book might be good to look at when our class does the “How it Works” project.  Here’s the LINK!



“Introduction to Email” By: P.K. Downes

P.K. Downes explains that electronic mail (email) remains the most widely used service on the internet due to its low cost, universatility and ease of use.  He goes on to explain the advantages of email over the postal service, telephone call, fax message, and other forms of communication.  Email works by saving incoming mail on your mail server by way of your Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Email can be accessed by an email program, such as Outlook Express, or an internet browser.  If accessed by an internet browser the ISP is replaced by a web-based email account.  Downes goes on to explain several features offered by many email providers such as mailing lists, voice over Internet Protocaol (VoIP), Instant Messaging, and Usenet newsgroups.

Summary of “The Generative Internet” by: Jonathan Zittrain

Generative technology is Jonathan Zittrain’s word that describes how the internet works today.  The article states that the definition of generative technologies is a technology that can make achievements that couldn’t be made before (or “capacity of leverage”), a technology that can adapt and have a sense of readiness while completing a task or being modified to complete another task, a technology that is easy to master, a technology that is accessible to people and a technology with the ability of users to create new uses and then share which will further innovation.  The idea of a generative technology is how the internet works today.  Zittrain states that the present internet is indeed a generative internet.  He goes on to describe how the internet solves problems that a person could not do by him/herself and it fits all of the criteria mentioned above.  Zittrain goes on to describe why the internet is a generative internet with more specific details as well.  This article was organized well and I think that it was an interesting article.  The article also goes into a little bit of history like packet switching that solved the problem of disconnectedness and allowed the users to share a connection between computers as well as other aspects of how the system works.


Summary of “Protocol, Control, and Networks” by: Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker

This was a very complicated article to read particularly for the reason that it got very technical with terms that I could not understand some of the things the author was discussing .  However, I did get some of information about this topic.  This article defines protocol, control and networks. For example, the author describes protocols as guides or rules that make sure the connections actually work and some examples are TTP, FTP, and HTTP.  It discusses the importance of each term and explains in deep detail how they work.  It also defines the terms so that the reader could understand. l’d recommend this article to read just to clear up some misconceptions of these topics though I do think it could be explained in a simpler way.  I found the article helpful with some of the definitions.  The author does get very deep into the technical aspect of it almost to the point of confusion.