Monday, February 2, 2015

Hike #9: What's in a name?

Thursday, 2015-01-22
TwoBit Peak, from the 40th St Trailhead
1 hour
Windiest hike of the year so far

This morning I expected to hike up Dixie Peak, but a freshly painted signpost on the trail noted I was instead hiking up TwoBit Peak. No, I wasn't lost.

Later that morning, while at work, I researched the new name and discovered (1) the name change happened sometime in the last week and (2) may have been an act of vandalism. Such drama!

What about the new name? Two bits make a quarter, which once upon a time bought a shave and a haircut. These days when I hear two bits, I think of computer bits, with each bit representing a one or zero. Two bits together represent a number from zero to three.

Many people believe eight bits make a byte, but this isn't always true. Eight bits make an octet, and an octet happens to be the same size as a byte on most computer systems today, owing to the popularity of the 8-bit microprocessors developed in the 1970s. However, the formal definition of a byte is that which is the smallest addressable region of memory in a computer, and so a byte may be any size. This is, of course, irrelevant information for the vast majority of people, even a majority of programmers.