Ever thought about building your own computer?

In the last few decades, the daily use of computers has become almost ubiquitous among the population for both work and commercial purposes. While desktops are amazing pieces of technology; compact, versatile, and capable of enriching our lives in many ways, they can be quite expensive. The optimal PCs, such as those designated for gaming and those that have the most efficient components cost around £2.5K. General purpose desktops range from £850 to £1550. Even the most basic, barebones PC can cost around £350, and this isn’t even taking into account peripheral devices such as mice and monitors.

Needless to say, you might want to look for a less expensive alternative. By assembling a computer yourself, you can save about a third of the money you would have spent on going to the usual retailers. For high end PCs, the amount of money you save could therefore be nearly £1K.

Whether you want to save money, upgrade some components or just want to prove that you’re tech-savvy, this guide will teach you how to build your own fully functional PC. You can then budget your own components and build the desktop to your liking.

Getting Set Up

First, let’s list all the parts of a computer and why you’ll need them, as well as the tools you’ll need to fit them with. Be careful when buying parts, make sure that they are functional and compatible with each other. If finding compatible parts is difficult, or you don’t have the time to shop for each individual part, you can purchase a barebones kit. These kits contain the fundamental parts of the computer, and ones which are compatible with each other.

All the Components You Need

All the Tools You Need

Constructing the Computer

By now you will have every component and tool you’ll need to hand, and you can start assembling the computer. Here’s a diagram of what most PC interiors look like, so you know where to put everything.

https://hawkpointtechnologies.com/computer-components/

  1. Remove the side panels of the computer case.
  1. Remove the drive bay cover so as to be able to install the hard and optical drives.
  1. Attach the grounding strap to your wrist and plug into the computer case to prevent static from damaging the computer components.
  1. Fit and screw the motherboard into the computer case.
  1. Fit and screw the hard drive into a drive bay with the corresponding size.
  1. Fit and screw the optical drive into a drive bay with the corresponding size.
  1. Install the CPU into the large, square shaped socket on the motherboard.
  1. Install the RAM into the two long sockets in the motherboard.
  1. Apply some heat sink glue to the CPU and attach the cooling fan.
  1. Plug the cooling fan’s power cable into the motherboard.
  1. Fit and screw the case fan on the square panel at the back of the computer case.
  1. Fit and screw in the PSU in the large space left in the case.
  1. Connect the cables so that all components are connected to the PSU.
  1. Reconstruct the case.
  1. Plug any peripherals (like mice and monitors) into the PC and power it on.
Conclusion

So hopefully you’ve built the computer and it’s fully functional; fantastic! It’s not as hard as it looks, right? You can now feel satisfied that you’re a true techie and saved yourself some money in the process – great stuff!

Sources:

  1. Cost of a Desktop Computer – Electronics Prices and Recommendations – CostHelper
  2. How Much Does It Cost To Build A Gaming PC In 2021? (costaide.com)
  3. https://hawkpointtechnologies.com/computer-components/ 
  4. How to Assemble a Basic Desktop PC : 15 Steps – Instructables

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The Mind of the Machine

Since the start of the modern era, more and more of our daily lives are intertwined with technology. Technology and the devices derived from it are wondrous – labour machinery can display feats of incredible strength, dexterity and stamina that would require an immense amount of manpower to match. Computers can generate images in a fraction of a second, so finely detailed that would take months to recreate by hand. Calculators can perform a mathematic operation so quickly that not even the most mentally swift mathematician could hope to match its speed. But this is the ‘muscle’ of the system, and muscle needs a mind to direct it. All the aforementioned devices require programming to perform. So, as someone who is looking to get into programming, someone who wants to create the ‘mind’ of a machine, where do you start?

A Preferable Platform

Like how there are many different languages that we can speak, there are many different programming languages that we can code in. Some programming languages are old, some new, some tricky and some more simplistic. Now, if you’re a beginner programmer, it is best to start with a simple programming language, learn to type it fluently, and then move onto something more difficult once you’ve got to grips with it. An ideal programming language for a newcomer would:

Many beginner programmes start with Python. Python is a text based programming language that contains all of the preceding features – it has a handful of centralised keywords that are all self explanatory, and it has a sequential format, meaning that the code is executed in an orderly fashion. It also has an expansive IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which includes utilities like colour coding different keywords and highlighting errors in the code. All of this makes Python very easy to use and become accustomed to. You can download Python by going to https://www.python.org/downloads

The Law of the Language

So you’ve got your programming platform up and running, Python or otherwise. Similarly to how spoken languages have grammatical rules surrounding them, programming languages have their own structure that needs to be followed for your code to work. Here’s an outline of some of the fundamental principles that you need to adhere to in order to create a program:

Keywords must be case sensitive.

Keywords are the command words that the programming language operates with. Because of how computers process upper and lower case letters, your keywords need to be case sensitive for the computer to recognise them as keywords.

The syntax of each keyword must be followed.

What this means is, that each keyword has its own parameters for how it operates, and needs these parameters to be met to function. For example, the PRINT keyword must come before what it is printing, not after it.

BIDMAS.

It’s not linked only to Maths. When performing calculations, the computer considers BIDMAS. Remember to use parenthesis when necessary.

Spacing.

When branching commands are used, such as the IF and WHILE keywords, the code to run while these conditions are met must be spaced correctly. For example:

IF Animal == “Cat” :

PRINT “Meow”

See how the PRINT is spaced from the IF statement, the program now knows to print “Meow” only if the animal is a cat.

There will undoubtedly be other syntax rules that you will have to follow, and most will be specific to the programming language that you are using, such as how most grammatical rules of a language are specific to that language. The ones outlined are the most universal rules, and will likely be the only ones you will need to follow to make your first program.

Put Programming into Practice

So now you have a platform to program on, and the basic rules you need to follow to make a working program. Now it’s time to try and make such a program! Remember to start small, before leaping into things you’re unfamiliar with, you need to firmly grasp the fundamentals before you start making webpages and computer games. Here are a few programs that you can start with:

A program that prints “Hello World”.

This is widely regarded as the ‘staple first program’ of a programmer. It requires you to implement a single print command that outputs the message.

A program that takes two numbers and outputs the sum of them.

This will require two inputs, and then an output that is equal to the sum of the inputs. Remember that print commands can output the result of a calculation!

A program with a loop that increments by one for each cycle.

This will require a looping command of some sort. You could set a variable equal to 0 at the start of the program and have it increase by one for each loop.

The Prospects of Programming

Hopefully you’ve managed to get those three examples working – good work! But you may be wondering “Why bother with this? What good will it do me, it’s a far cry from making my dream computer game or programming my own android.” And you’re right, it is. And it’ll be a long haul to build up your proficiency with programming to do those kinds of things, but it will certainly be worth it. We are in the midst of a digital age, and digital products are, and will stay, in high demand. In a nutshell, the programming industry is an extremely bountiful one.

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Technology’s Mirage

We’ve all watched film series like Star Wars and Marvel, where we see ingenious devices projecting and refracting light such that it forms a three-dimensional image – a hologram.

Holograms are vastly regarded to be a thing of the future, and they are presented to be able to convey a message or image much more effectively than modern means, but people forget that the first hologram was invented in 1848, by a Hungarian scientist called Dennis Gabor. Holograms are not as advanced as they seem – you can make a hologram using an old CD case. Therefore, it is definitely possible for holograms to become commonplace in such a revolutionising world. Let’s look at how they might be used in the workplace:

Communication

We can all imagine a little, blue, partially translucent soldier giving a message about how the rebels have taken the galactic outpost, but how else can we use holograms to communicate? Well, it seems that holographic televisions are already well underway, as five years prior, the BBC created a holographic television to model what might be commonplace in every household in the near future. The television is a thin, clear screen with a projector underneath. Holograms are projected onto the screen, partially translucent and without any background imagery.

It has also been discovered that Samsung has registered a patent around this time about the development of a similar model. DVEHolographics, a company in California, has successfully conducted the first Zoom meeting using these models. They have also established what is likely the first of many holographic meeting studios, where companies can rent a room full of these monitors to conduct a holographic business meeting.

Looking towards the near future, there is great potential in the Microsoft Mesh project. It operates using 3D headsets that can project holograms into the surrounding area. These holograms are shown to accurately model the facial, bodily and gestural features of both the user and any avatar they may wish to use to retain their anonymity. The holographs can also represent an object or place, such as the structure of a car or the trajectory of a plane. The headset is also compatible with messaging apps like Microsoft teams and Zoom, where it projects a holographic screen similar to the aforementioned holographic TV model to host the meeting. So it seems that we will not have to imagine very hard, the gulf between movie fiction and reality.

Presentation

One of the main uses for a three dimensional projection is how it can present a more captivating image than a monitor or whiteboard can – think how much more immersive it would be to model a building in three dimensions rather than two! This is the exact purpose of the Snoezelen House in Denmark, founded in 1987, which uses holograms to model therapeutic rooms for the severely disabled. Since then, this concept of architecture has also been adopted by Euclideon, who produced a holographic table – a table that creates a holographic image of cities, vehicles and other large structures. And, as this table is already fully functional, it needs only to be mass produced for every office firm to have one. As mentioned earlier, the ongoing Microsoft Mesh project will also be able to create such images, but will not be confined to one area. The concept of holographic presentation is about to become worldwide reality.

Advertisement

Stemming from the idea of a hologram being more immersive than a picture, we can think about how holograms might be used for advertising. Imagine walking into a supermarket and seeing a hologram presenting how the supermarket sources their wine, or imagine walking on the high street and seeing a giant, overhead projection advertising a music concert. Surprisingly, devices that can project a holographic logo are already being marketed, especially in China. These devices take an image from another device and project that image above the device. They are small enough to be able to be placed anywhere, and can function using WIFI or a cable connection.

Brands like Adidas and Coca Cola are starting to use holographic marketing, to great effect, with the latter reporting a 12% increase in sales in Mexico. It is therefore likely that other businesses will follow suit, and start to use their own forms of holographic marketing, big or small.

Data Storage

If we are to envision the possibilities of holographic technology, we must think about actually storing the hologram in question. A functional holographic data storage has already been established – instead of data being stored using magnets or lasers on the surface of the medium, holographic storage would store data throughout the medium itself – the electrons in a single laser would be split so as to form light and dark fringes that would project the desired hologram. The first instance of holographic storage was first produced in 1975 by Hitachi – the device stored light, sheen and sound information holographically. Since 2009, a holographic data storage has been developed which will function similarly to Blu – Ray. Now that’s all well and good that these holograms have been made a reality, but are they efficient enough to hold a large enough amount of data in a small enough space? Can data be read from and written to holographic memory at a reasonable rate? Is this holographic data store fragile and easily corrupted? Thankfully, a 10 mm holographic disc can hold up to 1 terabyte of data and it is estimated that holographic storage has a read/write speed of sub 0.2 seconds. The file itself will remain pristine for at least 50 years. You could therefore see a cabinet chock full of these discs, with important statistical data, being slotted and projected in an instant.

The Projected Future of Holograms

In conclusion, holographic technology is versatile and efficient. It has already been developed for quite some time, the better part of a century, such that it is already being freely marketed in some companies, and that large corporations are already starting to use it for advertising purposes. It goes without saying then, that holographic technology will inevitably be commonplace in businesses and the workplace in the near future.

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Computers are continuing to shape our society

With the exponential advancement in computer technologies revolutionising our community, more and more people are taking up programming, whether for a professional career or just an enjoyable hobby. You might want to do the same, but where to start?

If you’re looking to get into programming, this blog lists some of the most common and user friendly programming languages in their respective fields out there, giving you the flexibility and ease of access needed to pick up programming skills quickly and apply them to your end goal.

1. Python

Python is one of the most well known platforms for writing coding paradigms, supporting programs ranging from basic addition to fully fledged applications.

Some renowned apps like Dropbox and BitTorrent are made with Python, as well as notorious computer games like Doki Doki Literature Club! and The Sims 4.

Python is a great coding platform because:

  1. It has a simple, concise library of keywords that all perform a single instruction.
  2. It has an advanced IDE that allows for ease of access for newer programmers.
  3. For more advanced programs, imports can be used to expand Python’s capabilities.

2. HTML

Since the start of lockdown, there has been a surge in online shopping, with over a quarter of the global population shopping online. This means that it is becoming paramount for businesses to have their own website.

Like how Python is the face of coding, HTML is the face of web design, and many famous businesses use it to structure their websites. Even Google and Facebook are built using HTML.

HTML is so popular because:

  1. The tags used to operate HTML are self explanatory and shape the program, making it easier to traverse.
  2. The file is compiled – any errors in the program are immediately flagged.
  3. HTML integrates with many other programming languages, like CSS and Javascript.

3. SQL

So you have a website – good! But where do you store information about your products, prices and customers? You need a database to hold these details, and this is where SQL comes in.

SQL is used to make databases, and is well suited to the task.

Some of the reasons why are:

  1. SQL automatically checks its databases to see if they are still valid, and resolve the issue if they aren’t.
  2. Different permissions can be granted to users, improving security.
  3. SQL can be integrated with many different programming languages, including HTML and Python.

4. Java

If you’re looking towards making an application, like a game or media app, particularly one that can run on multiple devices, I’d strongly recommend Java.

Java is one of the most popular platforms for writing both web and mobile apps. A well known example is Minecraft. Interestingly, space technologies like the Maestro Mars Rover were programmed in Java.

Java is such a common choice because:

  1. Java is much more simplistic than other application generation platforms.
  2. Java automatically optimises code to run as efficiently as possible and to take up a minimal amount of memory.
  3. Java uses a virtual machine to run code in. This means that malicious code cannot affect the main computer.

5. PHP

PHP is a programming language commonly used with HTML to develop more advanced websites. If you’re looking to create a professional website, I’d recommend you use PHP.

PHP is such an integral part of web development because:

  1. PHP loads much more quickly than other programming languages.
  2. PHP allows data to be sent between webpages, which is a fundamental requirement for all professional websites.
  3. PHP has built in database protection, which makes databases more secure.

6. C/C++

C is one of the oldest programming languages in existence, created in 1972. It has been the base for more recent programming languages like Python and Java.

C is unique in that it is a middle level language, unlike the aforementioned high level languages we have talked about. A middle level language has aspects of both high level language and machine code.

Some of the benefits of this are:

  1. It can utilise machine code paradigms like kernels and drivers.
  2. It can run on more devices.
  3. It is easy to understand as it links to other programming languages.

7. C#

C# is a more recent programming language built as an advanced version of C. As such it shares many similarities with C, as well as Java.

It is a popular choice for making software, especially computer games. The Unity game engine was built using C#, which is used in many well known games like Pokémon Go and Cuphead.

C# is so suited for the gaming industry because:

  1. It is easy enough to learn and become attuned to.
  2. C# is more efficient than other game oriented programming languages.
  3. C# is object oriented, which gives structure to the program and allows game entities to be created more easily.

The dawn of the digital world

As our world becomes more and more computerised, IT and computer science skills will become more and more sought after. This is a great time to take up these skills and embrace a world of opportunity!

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