Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Second Hand News

In addition to 800 other projects, personal and professional and in-between, I have also been taking classes at the School of Visual Arts this winter. Monday night is Flash, and Tuesday night is PHP/MySQL. I am definitely no web developer, but there is something I love about writing the very basic code that I can write. It gives me the same satisfaction that building Legos did as a kid. Not the fancy kind where you build what they tell you to build, like some crummy pirate ship where the Lego men have little mustaches and bandanas—i.e., not making web pages with Dreamweaver—but the kind where you start from scratch and make something up.

But I digress. Tonight I learned something about computers that I never knew. The way computers tell time is by Unix time—basically they count the number of seconds since midnight GMT on January 1st, 1970. The people who developed the modern PC had to decide on what the dawn of time would be as far as computers are concerned, and they chose: January 1st, 1970. Now that I type it, it doesn't seem like that big a deal, but there's something about it that seemed crazy to me when I learned it, that the beginning of time to your computer is midnight, the dawn of 1970, and on an ongoing basis, it knows what time it is by counting the number of seconds since then.

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