Media, in the computer world, refers to various types of data storage. For example, hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and USB drives are all different types of media. Optical media refers to discs that are read by a laser. This includes CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and all the variations of the two formats — CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, Blu-ray, and many others.
Optical media typically does not have as fast of a seek time as hard drives (the time it takes to access information on different parts of the disk), but it has many other advantages. Because optical discs are not based on magnetic charges like hard drives are, the discs are less likely to lose their data and have a longer shelf life — around seven times longer than magnetic media. The discs are also more durable than hard drives and are much cheaper to produce, making them great for backups and for transferring small amounts of data between different computers.
In general, “media” refers to various means of communication. For example, television, radio, and the newspaper are different types of media. The term can also be used as a collective noun for the press or news reporting agencies. In the computer world, “media” is also used as a collective noun, but refers to different types of data storage options.
Computer media can be hard drives, removable drives (such as Zip disks), CD-ROM or CD-R discs, DVDs, flash memory, USB drives, and yes, floppy disks. For example, if you want to bring your pictures from your digital camera into a photo processing store, they might ask you what kind of media your pictures are stored on. Are they on the flash memory card inside your camera or are they on a CD or USB drive? For this and many other reasons, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of what the different types of media are.
Stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol” and is pronounced “eye-map.” It is a method of accessing e-mail messages on a server without having to download them to your local hard drive. This is the main difference between IMAP and another popular e-mail protocol called “POP3.” POP3 requires users to download messages to their hard drive before reading them. The advantage of using an IMAP mail server is that users can check their mail from multiple computers and always see the same messages. This is because the messages stay on the server until the user chooses to download them to his or her local drive. Most webmail systems are IMAP based, which allows people to access to both their sent and received messages no matter what computer they use to check their mail.
Most e-mail client programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Mac OS X Mail allow you to specify what kind of protocol your mail server uses. If you use your ISP’s mail service, you should check with them to find out if their mail server uses IMAP or POP3 mail. If you enter the wrong protocol setting, your e-mail program will not be able to send or receive mail.
Stands for “Input/Output” and is pronounced simply “eye-oh.” Computers are based on the fundamental idea that every input results in an output. For example, if you are running a word processor program and type a sentence on your keyboard, the text will appear on the screen. The keyboard is an input device and the screen is an output device. You might also print the text using a printer, which is another output device. The computer’s CPU handles all the I/O operations, sending the data it receives to the correct path. The path may be to the video card, to the hard drive, or to the RAM, just to name a few.
The ports on the outside of a computer are commonly referred to as “I/O ports” because they are what connect input and output devices to the computer. Software developers use I/O to describe how a program will function, depending on what a user enters. For example, if the user presses the space bar key in a game, say “Super Jumper Man,” the character on the screen will jump. Multiply that by several thousand other scenarios of user input and you have yourself a computer game.
Utility programs, commonly referred to as just “utilities,” are software programs that add functionality to your computer or help your computer perform better. These include antivirus, backup, disk repair, file management, security, and networking programs. Utilities can also be applications such as screensavers, font and icon tools, and desktop enhancements. Some utility programs help keep your computer free from unwanted software such as viruses or spyware, while others add functionality that allows you to customize your desktop and user interface. In general, programs that help make your computer better are considered utilities. And unlike water and electric bills, computer utilities don’t send you a bill every month!
In the computer world, a frame can be many different things. The different definitions of “frame” are listed below:
Some Web sites use HTML frames, where the pages are broken up into various areas. Each area consists of an independent Web page. Frames allow the multiple Web pages to all show up in the same page.
Graphics and desktop publishing programs also use frames. In these programs, frames are rectangular areas meant for inserting graphics and text. They allow users to place objects wherever they want to on the page.
In video and animation, frames are individual pictures in a sequence of images. For example, a Flash movie you see on the Web may play 12 frames per second, creating the appearance of motion. Most video is shot at 24 or 30 frames per second, or FPS. FPS is often measured in 3D games as a way of checking how fast the graphics processor of a computer is.
When a road needs to extend across a river or valley, a bridge is built to connect the two land masses. Since the average car cannot swim or fly, the bridge makes it possible for automobiles to continue driving from one land mass to another.
In computer networking, a bridge serves the same purpose. It connects two or more local area networks (LANs) together. The cars, or the data in this case, use the bridge to travel to and from different areas of the network. The device is similar to a router, but it does not analyze the data being forwarded. Because of this, bridges are typically fast at transferring data, but not as versatile as a router. For example, a bridge cannot be used as a firewall like most routers can. A bridge can transfer data between different protocols (i.e. a Token Ring and Ethernet network) and operates at the “data link layer” or level 2 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) networking reference model.
The serial port is a type of connection on PCs that is used for peripherals such as mice, gaming controllers, modems, and older printers. It is sometimes called a COM port or an RS-232 port, which is its technical name. If that’s not enough to confuse you, there are two types of serial ports — DB9 and DB25. DB9 is a 9-pin connection, and DB25 is, you guessed it, a 25-pin connection.
A serial port can only transmit one bit of data at a time, whereas a parallel port can transmit many bits at once. The serial port is typically the slowest port you’ll find on a PC, if you find one at all. Most newer computers have replaced serial ports with much faster and more compatible USB ports.
If a software program is developed for mulitple operating systems, it is considered to be “multiplatform.” Since Microsoft Word runs on both the Windows and Macintosh platform, it is a mutliplatform application.
In the consumer gaming market, mutliplatform games run on more than one gaming machine. For example, a sports game developed for Xbox, Playstation, GameCube, and PC would be a multiplatform game. If a game is developed exclusively for one system, i.e. “The Legend of Zelda,” for Nintendo, it is not multiplatform. Gaming hardware manufacturers use exclusive software as a reason for consumers to buy their system.
Software that can run on multiple types of computer systems. For example, the graphics program Adobe Photoshop and the word processor Microsoft Word are both available for the Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Therefore, Photoshop and Word are considered to be crossplatform applications.
While “crossplatorm” is typically used to describe computer software, it can refer to hardware as well. For example, peripherals such as keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, and digital cameras that work on both Mac and PC are crossplatorm. Software and hardware that work on more than one platform are also called multiplatform.