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Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Anonymous User (202.139.27.---)
Date: August 24, 2006 01:18AM

I'm a little dissapointed with the sloppy binary in The Fourth Bear. The number's all add up but the text doesn't seem to mean anything.

Now, on the Ask Ashley page, Terri asks "Fancy a date on friday, cutie?" in binary, but Ashley's answer is gibberish.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: robert (58.165.209.---)
Date: August 24, 2006 03:35PM

About the same as I would ever have been able to get out if I'd ever been asked for a date and called 'cutie'
...which I never was .
So what's so unrealistic about spouting gibberish on such an occasion?

Yeah, I know.
I keep searching eBay for "Life". When I get one (not that I'll be spending the savings of a lifetime, mind you!) I'll let you know.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: LeonardQuirm (
Date: August 26, 2006 10:14PM

Agreed, the binary text makes no sense. However, to be honest - despite my pedantry - I'd prefer that to the vast swathes of 1s and 0s that would be required to give a sensible translation like ASCII - seeing as you'd need 8 digits for each letter, space and punctuation mark.

Anyway, there's supposed to be part of the language in the inflection of it being spoken - as with many Far Eastern languages in Earth - so the unprinted part may well be holding the extra info.

Oh, and actually there's a mistake in one point. Can't remember where, but I think the binary version gets an extra 0 slipped in or something, so it doesn't work. Yes, I know, I actually checked them all. See above, I'm a pedant.


Well, because it is submersed in a marine environment, I've always called it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely-Device.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Zuki-pah (
Date: August 28, 2006 12:10PM

LQ: I noticed that too but I can't remember where and my copy of T4thB is currently being read by a friend...

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: robert (58.165.209.---)
Date: August 28, 2006 03:28PM

Can we all have a quick catch-up tutorial here?
How do you translate binary?
Is this something I should have started studying a few years ago?

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Anonymous User (202.139.27.---)
Date: September 01, 2006 02:42AM

My Software Engineer husband was helpful as far as "you need eight binary digits per character to change it to text."

Further than that, I found [url="][/url] helpful.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: robert (
Date: September 01, 2006 03:08AM


Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: PrincessP (
Date: September 02, 2006 08:24PM

Doctor Who has some thoughtful advice on binary:
You see, if you take any progressive series, it can be converted into binary notation. Now, if you take the sum of the integrants and express the result as a power series, then the indices show the basic binary blocks, only I wouldn't do it if I were you.

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. --- Edgar Allan Poe

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: LeonardQuirm (
Date: September 02, 2006 11:17PM

Basic introduction to binary.

When dealing with numbers, we usually use base 10. That is, we have 10 digits: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and 9. This is due to the fact we have 10 fingers. In order to express numbers larger than 9, we start repositioning the digits so as to give the same digit a different value - so in 22, the first 2 actually has a value of 20 and the second has a value of 2. That's because the first digit is in the "tens column" - the basic value is multiplied by 10. Using this system, we can express numbers of any size without having to invent any new units or being quite as ineffectual as the Roman Numerals method.

Computers use base 2, or binary, instead of base 10. This is since they have individual "bits" which can be in one of only two positions - on or off. In terms of a written number system, they use only the digits 0 and 1. However, the idea of columns also exists, allowing different sizes of numbers to be written. Obviously the second column from the right can't be tens still, since that would mean you couldn't count any number from 2 to 9 inclusive. Instead, the right-most column is still units, the second from right is twos, the third is fours, the fourth is eights and so on.

Because it is still the same set of numbers, merely written differently, it is possible to convert numbers in base 10 into base 2, and visa versa. Looking at the base 2 to base 10 method, the method is essentially to write (in your head or on scrap paper) the value of each column:

128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

above each digit. You then add up the column headings with a 1 in the binary form and ignore those with a 0 in the binary form. Therefore with, say, 01110100, you do that (switching columns for rows):

128 - 0 Ignore.
64 - 1 Count. Total: 64
32 - 1 Count. Total: 96
16 - 1 Count. Total: 112
8 - 0 Ignore.
4 - 1 Count. Total: 116
2 - 0 Ignore.
1 - 0 Ignore.

Therefore this is equivalent to 116. As you can see, binary obviously requires more digits to be written for the same value.

How does this work for language, though? In general, computers use a system called "ASCII" (can't remember what it's an acronym for, can't be bothered to check). Here, each symbol (so each letter, number, punctuation mark etc) is given an individual number between 0 and 255 inclusive. The computer then just remembers a long series of these numbers - and, since it works in binary, each will take 8 digits to express (actually, numbers below 128 would normally take less, because you ignore the first zero(es), in the same way as 6 takes 1 digit to write, not 06 two digits, but computers remember all the 0s so each set is the same length). Each set of eight bits is a byte; your computer can then store so many millions upon millions of these to give it a memory of however many Gigabytes.

Therefore you couldn't practically put the ASCII version of what Ashley says in each circumstance into the book/website - as robert demonstrated, just "thanks" requires 48 digits. Full sentences take up huge numbers of 1s and 0s.


Well, because it is submersed in a marine environment, I've always called it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely-Device.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Anonymous User (202.139.27.---)
Date: September 05, 2006 05:36AM


Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: robert (
Date: September 06, 2006 12:30AM

Penguin's post even translates with an exclamation mark.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Sarah B (
Date: September 06, 2006 10:54PM

...I'm not even going to try and get my head around that.

I was under the impression though that the way it was spoken meant just as much as the 00s and 11s that were being said. Like when Mary is talking to Ashley's parents, as an example.


There's a hole in my creativity bucket and it's all leaked out.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: sketchdes (86.42.25.---)
Date: October 10, 2006 01:50PM

ok, no one take this as an insult, but:

There are 10 types of people in the world,
The people that understand binary,
And the people who have friends.

Made me laugh xxx

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: October 10, 2006 02:23PM

Save you having to search for it, Leonard:

American Standard Code for Information Interchange

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: MuseSusan (
Date: October 21, 2006 08:04PM

Here's my issue with having a race that "speaks" binary (this has bothered me since the first book): yes, there is only one way to represent numbers in binary (not really true, since there are multiple ways of representing negatives, but that's not the point), but there is no set-in-stone way of representing letters or words. The ASCII code is mostly arbitrary, with the capital and lowercase letters in their correct sequences but not starting at 00000000. The use of ASCII implies an understanding of the English alphabet and punctuation, because ASCII is not a language itself; it is only a way of encoding a language. In fact this is true of any use of binary--it is a way of encoding words, instructions, numbers, etc., rather than a language in its own right, and there are nearly infinitely many ways of using binary to encode certain information. I've got no problem with Ashley's people using a language in which words consist of sequences of ones and zeros, but this doesn't mean they "speak binary".

The other thing is that just about every computer or electronic device we use has a processor that "understands binary", but what this really means is that it has a specific set of instructions it's capable of carrying out, each instruction given its own code in binary. These instruction sets, and the code word for each instruction, vary by processor and are also somewhat arbitrary. They're certainly not dictated by some "law of binary language" or anything like that. So for Ashley to be able to speak to an electronic device just because he "speaks binary" makes no sense.

On the other hand, I realize that Jasper is trying to poke fun at alien stereotypes with Ashley, and to have aliens that understand ASCII is exactly as silly as aliens that automatically understand English. This is fine with me as long as he keeps the explanation short and simple, because then I feel like he knows just how silly it is and is doing it anyway. But the more use he makes of the "aliens speaking binary" plot device, the more it begins to look like ignorance to me, and I don't want that!

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: PrinzHilde (
Date: October 25, 2006 01:52PM

If you look at the matter a bit closer, you will find that every language is a code for something else, no matter if it is spoken, written, sent by flags or vibrated through the touch of hands, like Ashley's family does. (- "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.") Calling a thing, a concept, or whatever, by a word, is a way of representing it with something else, ergo encoding it.

As far as I am concerned, the joke in Jasper's invention is that a being that uses a language that is clearly not suitable to be spoken, nonetheless has a mouth and is able to express himself in a human tongue.

Design #3609494995:
It's a newly-discovered breed of fish that keeps your teeth clean, tastes delicious and dissolves in water.
generated with The Prior-Art-O-Matic

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: Kitteh (146.101.201.---)
Date: October 26, 2006 08:39AM

I don't get what the fuss is all about.

I have to be honest - I did check some of the code using an on-line translator out of curiosity. It doesn't ruin the overall nature of the books for me though - they're still just as cheeky! - bring on the next one please!!!!!

01001110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100100 00100000 01001001 00100000 01101100 01100101 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101111 01100001 01110011 01110100 00111111

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: October 26, 2006 09:36AM

Kitteh, it is by your elbow.

Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: ffordefan (
Date: October 27, 2006 04:09PM


Re: Sloppy Binary
Posted by: ffordefan (
Date: October 27, 2006 04:12PM

Uhh...I mean, I think I meant to say:
01001110 01101111 01110111 00101100 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110101 01101100 01100100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100011 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110011 01101111 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110100 01100101 01100001 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01000010 01100001 01110100 01110100 01100101 01101110 01100010 01110101 01110010 01100111 00111111

Sorry about that bit of slop. I just wanted to entertain.

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