February 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bits of Binary: What is binary?

What do Morse code, Braille and binary numbers have in common? Find out in this introductory episode of the new Bits of Binary series.

Bits of Binary playlist

For a written transcript, see House of Hacks.

Music under Creative Commons License.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Photos in public domain:

What do Morse Code, Braille and binary numbers have in common? Let's find out today at the House of Hacks.

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-It-Yourselfers. Harley here.

As I think about different videos I want to do in the future, certain areas of knowledge seem to recur. They're somewhat foundational. I plan on doing a couple series on these foundational topics. But don't worry. I'm not going to do them exclusively. I'll intersperse them with my normal projects and other tutorials. This is the first episode in the first of these series. And now, to the topic at hand.

Morse code uses short signals called dits and long signals called dahs in various combinations to encode letters, numbers and other symbols. The dits and the dahs can be represented by long and short sounds, or blinking lights or any other method of indicating two states.

For example, this is the letter "A." And this is the letter "B." And here's "Hello world."

The interesting thing here is there are two things, a dit and a dah, in the context of silence to separate letters and words to communicate.

Braille uses a two by three grid containing various patters of raised to encode letters, numbers and other symbols.

For example, this is the letter "A." And here's the letter "B." And here's "Hello world."

Braille is used predominately to allow blind people to communicate in written form. Interestingly, it was adapted from a similar system used by the French military to communicate on the battlefield without using sound or light that might give away their position to the enemy. So, it doesn't have to be used exclusively by the vision impaired. But that's a bit of a historical side note.

The important thing for the purpose of this discussion is to note it uses either the presence or the absence of a raised dot. A bit of information, in the context of other bits of information, the two by three grid, to convey more information.

Binary number systems use just zero and one to represent numbers.

For example, this means one. And this means two. And this means ten.

Computers use either the presence or absence of a voltage to indicate either zero or one. And they build sequences of these up into numbers to represent symbols, numbers and letters.

So, what is binary?

Simply, binary is defined as something having two parts. Each of these systems we've talked about today use just two things, within a context, to encode information. Morse code uses sequences of dit and dah. Braille uses the absence or the presence of a dot within a grid. And binary numbers use zero and one within a sequence.

In future episodes in this series, I'll be discussing binary numbers in more depth. How to correlate them to the decimal system you're probably already familiar with and how to perform mathematical operations on them.

There's a playlist over here that will have new episodes added to it.

And finally "Thank you" if you've already subscribed. You can configure YouTube to notify you when new episodes are available. If you aren't subscribed and you want to get those notifications, be sure to subscribe. It's free and contains zero calories. Finally, if you're interested in this series, go ahead and hit the "like" button, that'll let me know there's interest in this.

Thanks for watching and until next time, go make something. It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun.