Month: May 2016

Tech Terms: Format

The term “format” has several meanings, related to 1) disk formatting, 2) page formatting, and 3) file formats.

1) Disk formatting

In order for storage media, such as a hard drive or flash drive to be recognized by your computer, it first needs to be initialized, or “formatted.” Formatting a disk involves testing the disk and writing a new file system onto the disk. This enables the computer to read the disk’s directory structure, which defines the way files and folders are organized on the disk.

You can use a disk utility program to format or reformat a disk. This will create a blank, empty disk for storing your files. Therefore, only format disks that don’t contain important data or make sure you have backed up your data before reformatting a disk!

When you reformat a disk, it will appear to be empty. This is because the directory structure has been rewritten, making the entire disk space available for writing new data. However, the old files are still on the disk. They just don’t show up since they are no longer included in the directory structure. So if you accidentally format a disk (which is pretty hard to do), you may be able to retrieve your files using a disk utility such as Norton Disk Doctor or DiskWarrior.

2) Page formatting

The term “format” can also be used to describe the page layout or style of text in a word processing document. When you format the layout of a page, you can modify the page size, page margins, and line spacing. When you format the text, you can choose the font and font size, as well as text styles, such as bold, underlined, and italics.

3) File formats

A file format refers to the way data is saved within a file. For example, some files are saved in a plain text format, while others are saved as binary files. Software developers often create proprietary file formats for their programs, which prevents the files from being used by other applications.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/format

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Tech Terms: Hard Drive

The hard drive is what stores all your data. It houses the hard disk, where all your files and folders are physically located. A typical hard drive is only slightly larger than your hand, yet can hold over 100 GB of data. The data is stored on a stack of disks that are mounted inside a solid encasement. These disks spin extremely fast (typically at either 5400 or 7200 RPM) so that data can be accessed immediately from anywhere on the drive. The data is stored on the hard drive magnetically, so it stays on the drive even after the power supply is turned off.

The term “hard drive” is actually short for “hard disk drive.” The term “hard disk” refers to the actual disks inside the drive. However, all three of these terms are usually seen as referring to the same thing — the place where your data is stored. Since I use the term “hard drive” most often, that is the correct one to use.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/harddrive

Tech Terms: IM

Instant Message.” Instant messaging, or “IMing,” as frequent users call it, has become a popular way to communicate over the Internet. Two people with the same IM client software can type messages back in forth in a private online chat session. IM software allows users to build a list of friends, or “buddies” and displays what other users are online. After seeing who is online, the user can open up chat sessions with as many other people as he or she wants. While I find it difficult to focus on one conversation at a time, apparently some teenage girls that can keep more than ten conversations going at once.

Instant messaging can be a much more efficient way to communicate with others than sending multiple e-mails back and forth. For this reason, IMing has become a useful tool among friends and co-workers. Some people even find it more convenient to IM their friends than to talk on the phone, which I do not understand.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/im

Tech Terms: Hacker

While this term originally referred to a clever or expert programmer, it is now more commonly used to refer to someone who can gain unauthorized access to other computers. A hacker can “hack” his or her way through the security levels of a computer system or network. This can be as simple as figuring out somebody else’s password or as complex as writing a custom program to break another computer’s security software. Hackers are the reason software manufacturers release periodic “security updates” to their programs. While it is unlikely that the average person will get “hacked,” some large businesses and organizations receive multiple hacking attempts a day.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/hacker

Tech Terms: Virus

Like a biological virus, a computer virus is something you don’t want to get. Computer viruses are small programs or scripts that can negatively affect the health of your computer. These malicious little programs can create files, move files, erase files, consume your computer’s memory, and cause your computer not to function correctly. Some viruses can duplicate themselves, attach themselves to programs, and travel across networks. In fact opening an infected e-mail attachment is the most common way to get a virus.

We all know it’s hard enough to get a computer to work well when it is healthy, let alone when it has been attacked by a virus. Therefore, it is better to prevent an attack than to try and cure it. There are many antivirus programs available that scan incoming files for viruses before they can cause damage to your computer. Some of these programs include Norton AntiVirus, McAfee VirusScan, and Virex. It is a good idea to have one of these programs on your computer to prevent a virus attack. It is also important to update your virus definitions file at least once a month so that your anti-virus program can check for all the latest viruses. It’s a lot like having a glass of orange juice every morning — it keeps your computer’s immune system strong and healthy.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/virus

Tech Terms: Configuration

In the computing world, when people talk about their computer configuration, they are referring to the technical specifications, or the “tech specs” of their computer. These specs typically include processor speed, the amount of RAM, hard drive space, and the type of video card in the machine. While there are many other advanced specifications that you could list, if you know the four mentioned above, most computer geeks will grant you acceptance into their conversation.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/configuration

Tech Terms: Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that allows computers and other devices to communicate over a wireless signal. It describes network components that are based on one of the 802.11 standards developed by the IEEE and adopted by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Examples of Wi-Fi standards, in chronological order, include:

802.11a
802.11b
802.11g
802.11n
802.11ac

Wi-Fi is the standard way computers connect to wireless networks. Nearly all modern computers have built-in Wi-Fi chips that allows users to find and connect to wireless routers. Most mobile devices, video game systems, and other standalone devices also support Wi-Fi, enabling them to connect to wireless networks as well. When a device establishes a Wi-Fi connection with a router, it can communicate with the router and other devices on the network. However, the router must be connected to the Internet (via a DSL or cable modem) in order to provide Internet access to connected devices. Therefore, it is possible to have a Wi-Fi connection, but no Internet access.
Since Wi-Fi is a wireless networking standard, any device with a “Wi-Fi Certified” wireless card should be recognized by any “Wi-Fi Certified” access point, and vice-versa. However, wireless routers can be configured to only work with a specific 802.11 standard, which may prevent older equipment from communicating with the router. For example, an 802.11n router can be configured to only work with 802.11n devices. If this option is chosen, devices with 802.11g Wi-Fi chips will not be able to connect to the router, even though they are Wi-Fi certified.

NOTE: The name “Wi-Fi” is similar to “Hi-Fi,” which is short for “High Fidelity.” However, “Wi-Fi” is not short for “Wireless Fidelity,” but is simply a name chosen by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/wi-fi

Tech Terms: TFT

Stands for “Thin Film Transistor.” These transistors are used in high-quality flat panel liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). TFT-based displays have a transistor for each pixel on the screen. This allows the electrical current that illuminates the display to be turned on and off at a faster rate, which makes the display brighter and shows motion smoother. LCDs that use TFT technology are called “active-matrix” displays, which are higher-quality than older “passive-matrix” displays. So if you ever see a TFTAMLCD monitor at your local computer store, it is a “thin-film transistor active-matrix liquid crystal display.” Basically, it is a high-quality flat screen monitor.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/tft

Tech Terms: Buffer

A buffer contains data that is stored for a short amount of time, typically in the computer’s memory (RAM). The purpose of a buffer is to hold data right before it is used. For example, when you download an audio or video file from the Internet, it may load the first 20% of it into a buffer and then begin to play. While the clip plays back, the computer continually downloads the rest of the clip and stores it in the buffer. Because the clip is being played from the buffer, not directly from the Internet, there is less of a chance that the audio or video will stall or skip when there is network congestion.

Buffering is used to improve several other areas of computer performance as well. Most hard disks use a buffer to enable more efficient access to the data on the disk. Video cards send images to a buffer before they are displayed on the screen (known as a screen buffer). Computer programs use buffers to store data while they are running. If it were not for buffers, computers would run a lot less efficiently and we would be waiting around a lot more.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/buffer

Tech Terms: ATM

Stands for “Asynchronous Transfer Mode.” Most people know of ATMs as automated teller machines — those friendly boxes that allow you to withdraw cash from your bank or credit account while charging you a ridiculous surcharge for the service. In the computer world, however, ATM has a different meaning. Asynchronous Transfer Mode is a networking technology that transfers data in packets or cells of a fixed size.

ATM uses 53-byte cells (5 bytes for the address header and 48 bytes for the data). These extremely small cells can be processed through an ATM switch (not an automated teller machine) fast enough to maintain data transfer speeds of over 600 mbps. The technology was designed for the high-speed transmission of all forms of media from basic graphics to full-motion video. Because the cells are so small, ATM equipment can transmit large amounts of data over a single connection while ensuring that no single transmission takes up all the bandwidth. It also allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to assign limited bandwidth to each customer. While this may seem like a downside for the customer, it actually improves the efficiency of the ISP’s Internet connection, causing the overall speed of the connection to be faster for everybody.

Source: http://techterms.com/definition/atm