Computer Programs... Can we live with out them?
Computers have made a major change in our lives. Through history, we have seen how computers have changed, and how gradually they have become almost essential to every business, school, and institution in our country. Even the little people seem to require the use of computers to accomplish their daily tasks. Statistics show that about 1 in every 5 households own at least one computer, and it is predicted that by the year 2002, the ratio will be 3 to 1. In fact, my computer, and access to the Internet were very important when obtaining the data to complete this paper.
But are computers really miracle machines which can perform any task? No they are not. In fact, computers cannot do the job on their own. Computers require computer programs, also know as software programs (De Natale), which are designed for specific purposes such as word processing, accounting, management, video conferencing, and sound, among many others. Our country has grown and continues to grow at a very fast pace, and society is busier now, than it was 50 years ago. This is where computer programs become very valuable time-savers, by reducing the time required to accomplish a mission. According to the Software History Center Web page, the history of software programs began in the early 1950's.
One of the first historic events for computer programs took place in 1954, when John Backus developed FORTRAN for IBM. Later, in 1958, John McCarthy designed the LISP language. This was just the beginning of a series of events in the development of computer software. In the 1960's, several events took place in the development of computer programs. For example, BASIC was invented by John Kemeny (deceased) and Thomas Kurtz. Also during the 1960's, a company named California Analysis Centers, Inc.
developed Sym scrip, one of the earliest software products. In the 1970's, Thomas Newberry founded America Software, Inc. Also during that decade, Ryan-McFarland was founded, this company later created COBOL and Fortran tools. Other major events took place in the 1980's, such as the creation of VM Software by Bob Cook, to develop software for IBM in 1981. The 1990's were not the exception, which lead to the unlimited choice of computers programs available in the new millennium. Computer programs have changed the way we work, live, and play.
Can you imagine what the world would be like without these computer programs? In my opinion, it would be extremely slow and inaccurate. Imagine how long it would take for the IRS to manually process the tax returns of every U. S. resident. To get the job done, the IRS would have to either hire a lot more people, or take it one day at a time and probably still be working in the 1990 tax returns.
On top of that, there would not be any error-free guarantees. The IRS is only one of the many institutions that use computers and computer programs. Computer programs are being used by other government agencies, such as the armed forces, and also by schools, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, research centers, etc, etc. The benefits of using computer programs are unlimited, but like everything else, there is a dark side. Some people use computer programs to hurt others. Needless to say, things such as a war could be started by the dishonest use of computers and computer soft wares.
Identity theft and computer viruses are other valid concerns; nevertheless, the benefits out weigh the risks. It is common knowledge that computer programs are now being used by students for preparing for exams, studying, and completing school assignments; that these programs are also being used in the medical field to detect and treat illnesses; that they are used in financial institutions to manage great amounts of accounts, records, and money; and that even in the house, the used of computer programs to make out lives easier and safer are manifested by the use of security systems, microwaves, alarm clocks, children's toys, etc. There are many other areas where computer programs are being used, such as the 911 Call Centers and law enforcement agencies to assist people in emergencies, to keep track of crime, and to better distribute emergency units. The armed Forces are also using new computer software to identify the skeletal remains of service members missing in action. Another area that has been impacted by computer programs is the employment of disabled individuals. You may think that 911 operators cannot make a difference between life and death, but the truth is that the way they handle a call can.
The 911 Call Center possesses a public safety communication system that provides built in quality assurance tools. In other words, a computer and a program that makes the 911 operator's job faster and of better quality. The name of this system is the "Da Vinci", and was created by Dictaphone. The Da Vinci consists of a computer and soft ware that are designed to be telephone intelligent.
In other terms, this system is capable of collecting data transmitted from the facility's telephone lines, their radio system, and their computer system. The data is then stored with the voice recordings. Such data can be later used in several ways, such as an evaluation tool for supervisors to see how operators are handling the calls. By reviewing the data, supervisors save time and no longer have to spend hours personally observing each operator.
This data can also be used to determine if additional training is required, or to train other operators. Besides being a great tool to monitor the quality of the service provided by the 911 center, the Da Vinci's recordings become even more important when it is necessary to view the entire sequence of events in cases that end up in court, such as the "O. J. Simpson trial", in which the 911 recordings were used as evidence (Paynter 44). Other emergency departments, such as law enforcement agencies, use computer programs to perform more efficiently and safely. Police officers, who patrol around cities and highways, have gone though many radio systems to improve the quality of their communication with other officers and with their police station.
Being able to communicate is very important, since it is the tool to be able to respond to emergency calls, check criminal records, and call for the assistance of other emergency units such as the fire department, hospitals, or other police departments. Many years ago police officers had to use large and heavy radios that resembled bricks, and had to go through the police dispatcher to conduct license plate checks and driver license checks, which was time consuming. With advances in computers police officers then experienced access to license plate records, driver license records, and arrest warrants records from their patrol units, since computer systems were installed in their vehicles; this saved them time, but place their safety at risk. By taking their eyes off a suspect's vehicle and off the road to input data in the computer, police officers could miss if suspicious activities were taking place, such as item being thrown out the window or vehicle occupants switching places. They could also drive off the road or drive into the back of another vehicle. The creation of a computer program called the Vira Voca was the solution to this safety problem.
The Vira Voca is a voice recognition computer program, which was designed by a company named Data Agents. The newest version of this software is the Vira Voca Platinum, and was released in the fall of 1999. This program uses a continuous engine to drive it, which enables police officers to talk in a conversation format, while the computer picks up every word. With this system, officers can conduct 60 license plate checks per minute, without having to go through the police dispatcher. This software can also be used to dictate reports, has car-to-car communication capabilities, and E-mail capabilities among others. This is an amazing computer program, since not everyone can use it.
The computer software and the user have to go through something called "voice training." This training consists of a voice file for each person that will have access to this particular computer; therefore, if there is not a voice file for a person attempting to use it, the computer will not respond. The so-called training is lengthy, since the software has to update the voice files several times, until the computer can recognize a person's voice even when the person's voice sounds different due to illness. Once the file contains the different variations of the user's voice, the time saved on conducting police duties will pay off, and the safety of the officer will not be put at risk (Painter 54). Another major use of computer programs in law enforcement is to lower crime rates.
Many places in our country are now using computer to determine the when, where, and how of crimes. By being able to determine and keep record of this data, crimes can be linked and solved a lot faster. This in turn can also help supervisors to distribute their personnel more efficiently in the areas of higher crime rates. A software called CompStat, which is short for Computer Statistics, is now being used by police department like the New York Police Department, and the Minneapolis Police Department, which used to be called "Murderapolis" due to the high amount of serious crime that took place in that city. With the use of this software and the qualified law enforcement personnel, the place known as Murderapolis once, saw their crime rate shrink from 16. 02 percent during 1998 (Kenable 40).
This software keeps track of crimes shortly after they take place by electronic pin mapping, which is possible by using CompStat in conjunction with crime maps created by MapInfo Corporation soft wares. With the use of these two programs, law enforcement agencies have found that they can have access to timely and accurate information, they can deploy resources rapidly to crime or emergency sites, they can relentlessly follow up and investigate incidents, and they can evaluate what has been done and make changes accordingly. Our country has been involved in several wars in which many American soldiers were lost, but never declared dead. Yet their bodies were never found. But was that the end for them? "Any veteran would appreciate knowing that our country would care enough to come looking and remove us from a mud hole and bring what was left back home," stated Warner Britton, a retired Air Force pilot, who flew helicopters during the Vietnam War (Brewin n.
page). The disappearance of the service members missing in action was not the end. Our country has created a program that gives hope to the survivors of our missing soldiers. The Army Central Identification Laboratory (ACILHI), located in Honolulu, runs this program. The ACILHI learned of a computer program created by the University of Tennessee called For Disk, which they believe would aid them in identifying the remains recovered of soldiers missing in action. They were right; this software program computerizes the process of matching skeletal remains based on a broad skeletal directory that contains samples of ethnic body types found throughout the population.
This makes it possible for scientists to promptly determine the likelihood of whether a femur of a certain length corresponds with a tibia of a certain length. Newer software designs expanded those matching capability to bone fragments as well. This is an instrumental piece of software, since scientist begin analyzing skeletal remains without prior knowledge of the number of people who the skeletal remains may belong to, or these people's physical characteristics. Besides bone fragments or skeletal remains, teeth play a very important role in identifying the rests of our missing soldiers. The anatomy of a person's teeth is unique; the cavity patterns and records of dental restorations and extractions are very unlikely to be the same in two people, these are a few reasons why dental profiles are considered like a second set of a person's fingerprints. Yet this information alone would not be enough with out a special computer software.
The armed forces maintain a very extensive computer program, which contains the dental records of all U. S. personnel missing during the Asian conflicts. This database is called the Computer Assisted Post Mortem Identification System.
By taking x-rays of recovered dental pieces and then matching them to the CAPM I search engine, it is possible to generate the possible candidates for a match. The data generated is then polished to a definite match. This computer programs made it possible for the name of 2 nd Lt. Richard Vandegeer to be added to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, and to finally lay to rest his remains, at the Arlington National Cemetery on October 27, 2000. Vandegeer served this country as an Air Force Helicopter pilot during Vietnam (Brewin). It is nice to see that the use of computer programs have made it possible to give this veteran the honor he deserves and put his remains to rest.
My final example of how computer programs have changed our lives involves the creation of computer programs that make it possible for disabled individuals to be employed in positions involving the use of computers. In 1997 there were approximately 49 million people with disabilities in the United States. These people, along with another 96 million disabled people were everything but favored with the creation of the Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, which introduced the use of graphics in desktops. The disabled people, who were blind or visually impaired, were not able to take advantage of this new technology, instead many of them lost their jobs when they were not able to operate the new computer programs. Was this fair? No it was not, that's why top software vendors decided to design software programs accessible to the disabled population. Among these top vendors, IBM, Microsoft, Dell and Sun Microsystems Inc.
began to focus on the need for more assistive technology (AT) on the market. During the past 4 years more AT has become accessible to the disabled. For example the IBM's Home Page Reader, which enables users to communicate with Web browsers. Ironically, this software was developed with research conducted by a blind IBM researcher in Tokyo. This computer software interprets graphics by providing a verbal picture to visually impaired users. In addition to this capability, this software interprets HTML and verbally informs users of information included in tables or forms.
Another remarkable computer software was introduced in February of 1999. This software was created by Dell Computer Corp, and allows speech impaired, hearing impaired and deaf individuals to communicate with sales and customer service personnel thought the use of a text telephone (Weil). These are only two examples of how humanity benefits with the advances of computers and computer programs. I believe computers and computer programs are two of the most incredible inventions.
These two can perform task in a short amount of time and provide accurate results that no one can argue with. Some are basic and simple to use, while others are more complex, yet all computer programs have changed old life styles in one way or another, making our lives easier. WORKS CITED Ave reck, Rebecca. "C. R.
I. M. E. S solves Crimes." August 1998.
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