Everyday Computing, Features

Interrupting Normal Operations

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

WE are on the alert because neighbouring islands are affected by diseases which are not yet reported on our shores, including H1N1 swine flu, and the Zika virus. While we should be thankful that we are so far not afflicted, there is a danger that we do not adequately prepare for the onslaught beforehand. In a timely manner, we should reassess our current operations, and plan for the interruption that may occur. In this case, the threat of deadly and debilitating diseases is a sufficiently strong motivator to interrupt our usual way of working, and switch to a heightened method of monitoring our surroundings. We should all hope and pray that we remain unaffected by the spread of diseases.

Inside of a computer system, the processor operates in a similar manner. It receives an interrupt when an interesting event occurs, and then suspends normal operation to respond to that event. When you press a key on your keyboard or click a button on your mouse, you cause an interrupt to be generated which eventually leads to your actions being recognised. Until an interrupt is detected, your computer may be busy performing other tasks, despite you mistakenly thinking that it is fully occupied with your work.

On a regular basis, we may encounter other examples of interrupts, such as:
* The doorbell or buzzer which rings when someone visits you;
* The wake-up alarm that you scheduled for a specified time;
* The cry for help heard from a distressed person.

Thankfully, a computer is built around the concepts of background processes and interrupts, which allows it to function exactly as designed, despite handling unusual events. Unlike a computer, when we interrupt our normal operations to handle an unusual event, there is a risk that we overlook the normal yet important work that should always occur.

In the context of enhanced health screening, the following should be done:
1) Increase the frequency of collecting health statistics from all health service providers;
2) Improve data analysis to detect trends affecting unrelated people.

By following such steps, illnesses can be traced to shared condition such as: the bus journey, office environment, baby sitter, faulty air conditioning, or something else within the environment. Meanwhile a difficult task remains — to carry on with the usual day-to-day work.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author

Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His areas of interest include systems analysis, and data management.

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