The Basics Of Bits
Computer data is made up of bits - a bit is a binary value because it can only take one of the two given values, for example 0 and 1.
In simple sense data is a collection of bits grouped and arranged in a specific order to represent information. In computing terms we call this representation a encoding. Like the picture below, bits are first grouped into basic building blocks, then re-arranged to form a more complex building block. Multiple of these more complex secondary building blocks can then be used to form an even building block.
By applying this technique (like Lego building), computer scientists have created a system where binary values can be used to represent any type of information, or instruction. The whole structure is written to digital media like hard disk (HDD), Solid State Drive (SSD) or USB stick, to be read from at a later time.
The following example we start with the most basic data primitive - the char (Short for character).
|Bit Representation (Data)||Value (Information)||Meaning|
|1||The number 1|
|64||The number 64|
|201||The number 201|
The char data type takes up 8 bits of space (8 bits = 1 byte). We are also using this as unsigned (geek speak for all positive values). Given 8 bits of addressing space, we can represent whole numbers from 0 to 255 (for a total of 256 values). In the next page we’d explain how the maximum of 255 comes above, as well as the difference between unsigned (all positive) and signed (positive and negative).
Comment from: Frank Collins Visitor
I don’t believe bit rot is a problem and the Red Book standard copes with missing bits, to a point.
I store all of my music (FLAC, level 8 compression) on a NAS, using FreeNAS. It does a four-weekly scrub which detects and corrects bit rot on the whole file system. While bit rot isn’t a problem for me, it never will be.
It does a four-weekly scrub which detects and corrects bit rot on the whole file system. While bit rot isn’t a problem for me, it never will be.+1. FreeNAS for the win.
A "single-event upset" was also blamed for an electronic voting error in Schaerbeekm, Belgium, back in 2003. A bit flip in the electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The issue was noticed only because the machine gave the candidate more votes than were possible. "This is a really big problem, but it is mostly invisible to the public," said Bharat Bhuva. Bhuva is a member of Vanderbilt University’s Radiation Effects Research Group, established in 1987 to study the effects of radiation on electronic systems.
Here is an interesting YouTube video about bit flipping.