Network Administration: The Binary Windows Calculator

The Calculator program that comes with all versions of Windows has a special Scientific mode that many users don’t know about. When you flip the Calculator into this mode, you can do instant binary and decimal conversions, which can occasionally come in handy when you’re working with IP addresses.

To use the Windows Calculator in Scientific mode, launch the Calculator by choosing Start→All Programs→Accessories→Calculator. Then, choose the View→Scientific command from the Calculator menu. The Calculator changes to a fancy scientific model and all kinds of buttons appear, as shown in following illustration.

image0.jpg

You can select the Bin and Dec radio buttons to convert values between decimal and binary. For example, to find the binary equivalent of decimal 155, enter 155 and then select the Bin radio button. The value in the display changes to 10011011.

Here are a few other things to note about the Scientific mode of the Calculator:

  • Although you can convert decimal values to binary values with the scientific Calculator, the Calculator can’t handle the dotted-decimal IP address format that’s described later in this chapter. To convert a dotted-decimal address to binary, just convert each octet separately. For example, to convert 172.65.48.120 to binary, first convert 172; then convert 65; then convert 48; and finally, convert 120.

  • The scientific Calculator has several features that are designed specifically for binary calculations, such as AND, XOR, NOT, NOR, and so on.

  • The scientific Calculator can also handle hexadecimal conversions. Hexadecimal doesn’t come into play when dealing with IP addresses, but it is used for other types of binary numbers, so this feature sometimes proves to be useful.

  • Windows 7 does the scientific Calculator one step better by providing a Programmer mode which has even more features for working with binary numbers.