From the editor's desk: 42

29 June 2022 News

Peter Howells, Editor

To most people, 42 is simply a number. To some, they may think about the fact that it is an even number, or maybe the product of six and seven, or that this is the length of a standard marathon in kilometres. Some of you may even know that the binary equivalent of 42 is 101010 (we do have engineers reading this publication after all). Whatever the connection, many people may be able to relate to the number 42 in some way.

To a few people, however, there may be a strong recollection of a book they once read called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. As the story goes, a supercomputer called Deep Thought was built to determine the answer to the ultimate question of “life, the universe, and everything”. When Deep Thought eventually came back with the answer of 42, which turned out to be both exceptionally confusing and useless as an answer to that question, it was decided to build a new supercomputer to determine what the actual question should be, this new “supercomputer” being Earth.

To me, the number 42 presented in this book was the start of a journey into wonderful ideas, being amazed at all forms of technology, and the consumption of all things futuristic. I became engrossed in reading about electronics and “cool” gadgets and spent hours wishing the future would come quicker than it was seemingly able to do. This was the beginning of a wondrous life-long journey of learning and discovery.

Why am I telling you this? Primarily as a way of introducing myself to you, the loyal reader of Dataweek magazine. I am a husband, father, engineer, educator, author and outdoor enthusiast, usually in that order.

So, a little bit about myself. Upon leaving school in the mid-eighties, I entered tertiary education where I studied various fields, finally ending up with a diploma and degrees in electronic engineering, instrumentation and control, and business administration. My working life saw me employed first in the industrial field as an instrumentation engineer, and then five years on, as an educator when I joined Technikon Natal in the late nineties to pursue my dream of being able to contribute to engineering in a more meaningful way by guiding young minds as they themselves embarked on a career in engineering. When I was not teaching, I was writing engineering-based texts or, in my down time, travelling around mostly with a backpack strapped to my back or on two wheels. As I enter this new chapter I can look back and realise that this journey I have taken all culminates in education and the gaining of knowledge which I crave.

Moving on thirty years from when it all started, I have now taken the next leap in my ongoing career and taken on a new responsibility, that of being the Dataweek editor. The past month has been a steep learning curve but a thoroughly enjoyable experience at the same time. “Why this new step?” you may ask. Well, as most of the readers know, being in the engineering field means a life-long pursuit of knowledge, not only in the engineering field but also in physics as well as other scientific fields, medicine, business, etc. The learning never stops as new technologies are discovered and developed to eventually become part of the modern engineering landscape. By being involved in a publication such as this, I, just like our readers, am also learning each and every month as I research and edit articles that I think may be of interest in the broad field of data communications.

From computers through to communication devices, modern vehicles, and medical advances, many of the devices that only existed in our imagination when we were growing up are now part of our everyday life. I like to think that magazines such as Dataweek have a hand in driving this pursuit of knowledge and I will sincerely do my utmost best to ensure that this legacy continues.


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