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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:55 am 
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I wonder if normal users (of PC programs) can read hexadecimal numbers. While computer programmers can read them (or they should do it), I wonder if a boy can understand the meaning of these numbers in an emulator. You know... most of the advanced features (in an emulator) use hex instead of decimal values, like describing a memory range or a memory value.


Last edited by Zepper on Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:20 am 
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With the failure of 1960s New Math, I'm pretty sure that only geeks can read numbers in bases other than 10.

Once I thought of writing a hexadecimal tutorial for kids. I'd introduce people who count on their fingers without their thumb, and when they reach eight, they put their fingers back down in order until they get to sixteen. But that'd require having a way to read hexadecimal numbers aloud that's distinct from decimal, so I can form sentences along the lines "What we call fifty, they call thirsy-two: three groups of sixteen and two left over." Here are some of the concepts I came up with:

  • $10 called "steen"
  • $20 and $30 called "twensy" and "thirsy"
  • $100 called "one page"

The first thing this'd need is plausible names for $A through $F that begin with A through F. The only one from that Silicon Valley sketch that sounded plausible to me was $F called "fleven", as the digit before the end of the second pass of eight (fleven, $F) parallels the digit before the end of the first pass of eight (seven, $7).


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:35 am 
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If you see the numbers counting up from 0 to 9, then A to F, and always going from 0F to 10, or 1F to 20, I'm sure people can figure out the basic pattern.

I've been the ignorant boy before in an Apple II that crashed to the Monitor rom, first saw hex there with the numbers counting up. Now if they had any better on-screen explanations at the time, I probably would have picked up 6502 Assembly at age 8...

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:44 am 
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My guess is that most people who play emulators understand numeric bases. For me, it was taught in 5th grade, and I went to a mundane american public school. Even if they've not heard of hexadecimal, they've certainly heard of binary and roman numerals.

Anyway, hex kinda sucks. Decimal is a lot easier to read and communicate.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:27 am 
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I've always had trouble in school with math and numbers tend to jump before my eyes, i've trouble keeping more than a few digits in memory while calculating w/o paper or a calculator, but i could certainly read and understand binaries and hexadecimals by 4th grade. Because of geeky interests, a supportive badass grandmother who did cobol and fortran, and an application called ResEdit.

So it's definitely plausible, but perhaps very circumstantial? Also, you're less likely to see the "guts" of a computer these days, given that a kids' first device is often a walled garden.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 12:28 pm 
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My first encounter with hex numbers was probably in the sound test of Sonic the Hedgehog. I may have wondered why there were letters mixed with the numbers, but I didn't give much thought to it and I certainly didn't bother "cracking" the code, I just accepted that the songs were numbered in a weird way.

Even in Sonic 2, where the sound test was used to input cheat codes and knowing the order of the numbers would actually help navigating to find the ones needed for the cheat codes, even then I still didn't care.

So yeah, I don't think the average gamer understands hex or even cares about it. Most people have trouble understanding it's even possible to represent numbers in bases other than 10.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:51 am 
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I think most people would be able to learn how to read hexadecimal pretty fast. The concept, after all, is extremely simple.

Being able to think in hexadecimal the way you have been schooled into thinking in base 10 is immensely difficult, though, and is still one of the major obstacles for me when working on a hardware level (ie. assembly).
As tepples touched on, I'm sure a lack of specific names for the larger numbers is probably the main offender, but mostly it's just difficult to teach yourself NOT to try converting everything into base 10 on the fly.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:52 am 
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Yes most people will be totally ignorant to hexadecimal numbers.

My first encounter with it was when I tried to learn ROM hacking using the internet. I remember I was dumbfounded of my own ignorance, to think that I never even had heard of something like this before. Hexadecimal notations like dollar signs also confused me to no end (I failed to see why anyone would ever use something like that for anything else than monetary units) until I learned what they meant.

People that only took the mandatory math course in Swedish high schools probably don't even know what a number base is at all, although it's common knowledge that computers uses "ones and zeroes" somehow. And people that studied advanced high school math probably just only briefly used other bases than 10, but not so much focus on hexadecimal as just learning the concept of bases.

Even some math nerd friends I know that also do some high level programming like Javascript, were ignorant to hexadecimal numbers until I taught them about it.

You could have a brief explanation of hexadecimal notation in your help documentation so that people that wonders what they are don't have to hurt their head thinking so hard.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:45 am 
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Artist and webdevs use colour codes in the "web format" #FF8040. And they have no idea what it is or what it means. One time there was this artist who could enter some colours with just that # code... he was revered.. Until one day I had to help them tweak some colours, got sick of them wasting my time with them going to PS do to the conversion for them and then sat down and just started to type out the code for colours off the top of my head and was able to add a bit more green etc when requested. I was some insane super god, but being a programmer they already expected it. I then got my white board and explained what hex was, and how it worked and that literally all it was, was the hex of the RGB. Blew there little crayon filled minds.

Go to RHDN and you will see the newbies who want to completely transform a game into something else, but need somebody to explain the complicated stuff like what is F0.

I think we are getting to the point that a lot of "programmers" don't even know what hexcodes are. Like when you show a junior how to look up the crash address using "those pile of random numbers in the blue screen" :roll:

but if you really want to sort people out from normal to elite ask them what 053 is ;)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:18 am 
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Oziphantom wrote:
but if you really want to sort people out from normal to elite ask them what 053 is ;)

My first thought was the FamiTracker arpeggio effect code for a 7no3 chord in first inversion. 0 means arpeggio, 5 means perfect fourth above the lowest note, and 3 means minor third above the lowest note. Therefore:

C-4 .. . 035 = C, D#, and F, or Fm7no3/C
C-4 .. . 053 = C, F, and D#, or Fm7no3/C with the upper notes in a different order

But then I've had arpeggios and chords on the brain since a recent effort to add richer arpeggio notation in the score preprocessor for my music engine. And you probably meant the C and Python notation for octal integer literals, whose traditional leading 0 notation has proven so confusing that ECMAScript 2015 has replaced it with leading 0o.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:05 am 
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my brother is a self-taught coder who ended up landing a job as a software engineer at twitter. he doesn't know hex, it's just not that important in the context of modern programming very often - and i'm not sure referring to him as a "programmer" with quotation marks really makes sense, he's certainly way more talented than many people i know who do understand hex. sure it has uses, but it's hardly essential knowledge anymore.

i'm a few years older than him and i can translate from binary to decimal to hex in my head with ease - it had more purpose back then.

so i don't even expect programmers to understand hex these days. the average gamer is surely completely clueless.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:34 am 
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I agree. Outside systems programming, hexadecimal representation isn't very important on a 32-bit or larger system.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:16 am 
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pokun wrote:
People that only took the mandatory math course in Swedish high schools probably don't even know what a number base is at all.


I remember that the subject was touched somewhere in fifth or sixth grade (we talked about number bases 2, 8, 10, 16 and 20, used fingers and toes (and spaces between them) and got to try the mayan number system along with the latin), and returned to in eighth grade, with some conversion problems to solve. That was late 90s-millenium shift.

Today in gymnasium (that's 10-12th grade) the basic math courses are subdivided in variants a, b, and c, each representing an alignment: pragmatical/technical, humanities (statistics & analysis), and science, which seems a lot better than what i got in school which was basically a choice between math, math light, and math extra light depending on your program.

oziphantom wrote:
Artist and webdevs use colour codes in the "web format" #FF8040. And they have no idea what it is or what it means.

On the contrary, this is often where they learn what it means. What sort of digital artist doesn't learn this at some point? :shock: Granted, these days you can let both google and bing calculate the desired value for you. But even so, you're likely to intercept something from it, and by just using the tools provided in any picture processor or blog interface will eventually let you learn these things..

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:52 am 
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tepples wrote:
  • $10 called "steen"
  • $20 and $30 called "twensy" and "thirsy"
  • $100 called "one page"

Why not just keep things simple and keep 0-9 the same? I feel like that'd make it easier for kids to understand.

For me, the biggest issue is that $A0 "Aiddy" and $80 "Eighty" sound pretty much identical, but I guess this could be avoided by calling it "Ashdy" like you suggested. For the rest, names like "Beedy, Seedy, Deedy, Eedy and Effdy" sound simple and intuitive, as they pretty much correspond to the English pronunciation of the high nibble as if it were a letter by itself.

All in all though, I feel like teaching hexadecimal doesn't have much use unless the kids are interested in computers; in which case binary is much simpler, both to explain and visualize. But maybe I'm underestimating how smart kids are.


EDIT: Also, I'm sure this is pretty common too, but in practice anything <$A0 I pronounce as its respective decimal value (i.e 55 would be "fifty-five", 8f would be "eighty-eff"), and anything >= I pronounce as two separate numbers/letters. I.e $AC would be "ayy-see". Not that I say hex values out loud when I code, though. :wink:


Last edited by Sogona on Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:04 am 
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This is how i do it

A = ɑː (as in bar)
1A = ɑːtiːn (ah-teen)
A0 = ɑːti (ah-ty)

or well, the equivalent in my native language; a, aton, atio (all using the bar pronounciation). That works unless you're from Småland and/or speak Småländska.

I think the trouble with thinking/counting in hex without translation is lack of practice and areas of use. If we practiced counting in hexadecimals just like we've practiced counting in decimals in school, it'd come naturally. For most, this sort of investment isn't worth it.

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