Month: March 2017

Tech Terms: Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications. Cloud computing is comparable to grid computing, a type of computing where unused processing cycles of all computers in a network are harnesses to solve problems too intensive for any stand-alone machine.

Internet-Based Computing

In cloud computing, the word cloud (also phrased as “the cloud”) is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase cloud computing means “a type of Internet-based computing,” where different services, such as servers, storage and application are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the Internet.

In its most simple description, cloud computing is taking services (“cloud services”) and moving them outside an organizations firewall on shared systems. Applications and services are accessed via the Web, instead of your hard drive. The services are delivered and used over the Internet and are paid for by cloud customer (your business), typically on an “as-needed, pay-per-use” business model. The cloud infrastructure is maintained by the cloud provider, not the individual cloud customer.

How it Works

Cloud computing applies traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power, normally used by military and research facilities, to perform tens of trillions of computations per second. In consumer-oriented applications such as financial portfolios, to deliver personalized information, to provide data storage or to power large, immersive online computer games.

To do this, cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers typically running low-cost consumer PC technology with specialized connections to spread data-processing chores across them. This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems that are linked together. Often, virtualization techniques are used to maximize the power of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Standards

The standards for connecting the computer systems and the software needed to make cloud computing work are not fully defined at present time, leaving many companies to define their own cloud computing technologies. Organizations choose cloud providers that satisfy their needs. Cloud computing systems offered by companies, like IBM’s “Blue Cloud” technologies, for example, are based on open standards and open source software which link together computers that are used to to deliver Web 2.0 capabilities like mash-ups or mobile commerce.

Organizations such as the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) and Open Grid Forum (OGF) are a few of the many organizations that have suggested some type of standard or suggested guidelines.

In the Data Center and for Small Business
Cloud computing has started to obtain mass appeal in corporate data centers as it enables the data center to operate like the Internet through the process of enabling computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner.

For a small and medium size business (SMB), the benefits of cloud computing is currently driving adoption. In the SMB sector there is often a lack of time and financial resources to purchase, deploy and maintain an infrastructure (e.g. the software, server and storage).

In cloud computing, small businesses can access these resources and expand or shrink services as business needs change. The common pay-as-you-go subscription model is designed to let SMBs easily add or remove services and you typically will only pay for what you do use.

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Tech Terms: Data

Data is distinct pieces of information, usually formatted in a special way. All software is divided into two general categories: data and programs. Programs are collections of instructions for manipulating data.

Data can exist in a variety of forms — as numbers or text on pieces of paper, as bits and bytes stored in electronic memory, or as facts stored in a person’s mind. Since the mid-1900s, people have used the word data to mean computer information that is transmitted or stored.

Strictly speaking, data is the plural of datum, a single piece of information. In practice, however, people use data as both the singular and plural form of the word, and as a mass noun (like “sand”).

Machine Readable Information

The term data is often used to distinguish binary machine-readable information from textual human-readable information. For example, some applications make a distinction between data files (files that contain binary data) and text files (files that contain ASCII data).
Also important to know is that in database management systems (DBMS), data files are the files that store the database information, whereas other files, such as index files and data dictionaries, store administrative information, known as metadata.

Data Phrases in Technology

As technology advances and changes, numerous phrases have been used over the years to describe data and how we use and analyze it, including structured and unstructured data, massive volumes of data is now called Big Data, while older phrases, like data integrity or data mining are still widely used today.

The following 10 data-related definitions will help you to better understand the data and its role in information technology. Click each phrase to read the full Webopedia definition:

  • Big Data: A massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques.
  • Big Data Analytics: The process of collecting, organizing and analyzing large sets of data to discover patterns and other useful information.
  • Data Center: Physical or virtual infrastructure used by enterprises to house computer, server and networking systems and components for the company’s information technology (IT) needs.
  • Data Integrity: Refers to the validity of data. Data integrity can be compromised in a number of ways, such as human data entry errors or errors that occur during data transmission.
  • Data Miner: A software application that monitors and/or analyzes the activities of a computer, and subsequently its user, of the purpose of collecting information.
  • Data Mining: A class of database applications that look for hidden patterns in a group of data that can be used to predict future behavior.
  • Database: A database is basically a collection of information organized in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data.
  • Raw Data: Information that has been collected but not formatted or analyzed.
  • Structured Data: Structured data refers to any data that resides in a fixed field within a record or file. This includes data contained in relational databases and spreadsheets.
  • Unstructured Data: Information that doesn’t reside in a traditional row-column database. As you might expect, it’s the opposite of structured data.

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Tech Terms: DNS

(1) Short for Domain Name System (or Service or Server), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name http://www.example.com might translate to 198.105.232.4.

The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn’t know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.

(2) Short for digital nervous system,a term coined by Bill Gates to describe a network of personal computers that make it easier to obtain and understand information.

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Tech Terms: Uniform Resource Locator

URL is the abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator. It is the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. For example, http://www.webopedia.com is a URL. A URL is one type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI); the generic term for all types of names and addresses that refer to objects on the World Wide Web.

Parts of a URL

The first part of the URL is called a protocol identifier and it indicates what protocol to use, and the second part is called a resource name and it specifies the IP address or the domain name where the resource is located. The protocol identifier and the resource name are separated by a colon and two forward slashes.

URL

For example, the two URLs below point to two different files at the domain webopedia.com. The first specifies an executable file that should be fetched using the FTP protocol; the second specifies a Web page that should be fetched using the

HTTP protocol:
ftp://www.webopedia.com/stuff.exe
http://www.webopedia.com/index.html
Web Address is a URL with HTTP/HTTPS
The term “Web address” is a synonym for a URL that uses the HTTP or HTTPS protocol. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1994 and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) URI working group. Today, the format of the URL has not changed. The URL format is specified in RFC 1738 Uniform Resource Locators (URL).

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Tech Terms: Java

Java is a general purpose, high-level programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. A small team of engineers, known as the Green Team, initiated the language in 1991. Java was originally called OAK, and was designed for handheld devices and set-top boxes. Oak was unsuccessful, so in 1995 Sun changed the name to Java and modified the language to take advantage of the burgeoning World Wide Web.

Later, in 2009, Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems and took ownership of two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris.

Java Today

Today Java is a commonly used foundation for developing and delivering content on the Web. According to Oracle, there are more than 9 million Java developers worldwide and more than 3 billion mobile phones run Java.

In 2014 one of the most significant changes to the Java language was launched with Java SE 8. Changes included additional functional programming features, parallel processing using streams and improved integration with JavaScript. The 20th anniversary of commercial Java was celebrated in 2015.
Java: An Object-Oriented Language

Java is an object-oriented language similar to C++, but simplified to eliminate language features that cause common programming errors. Java source code files (files with a .java extension) are compiled into a format called bytecode (files with a .class extension), which can then be executed by a Java interpreter. Compiled Java code can run on most computers because Java interpreters and runtime environments, known as Java Virtual Machines (VMs), exist for most operating systems, including UNIX, the Macintosh OS, and Windows. Bytecode can also be converted directly into machine language instructions by a just-in-time compiler (JIT). In 2007, most Java technologies were released under the GNU General Public License.
Java on the Web

Java is a general purpose programming language with a number of features that make the language well suited for use on the World Wide Web. Small Java applications are called Java applets and can be downloaded from a Web server and run on your computer by a Java-compatible Web browser.

Applications and websites using Java will not work unless Java is installed on your device. When you download Java, the software contains the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which is needed to run in a Web browser. A component of the JRE, the Java Plug-in software allows Java applets to run inside various browsers.

Download Java Free
The official Java website provides links to freely download the latest version of Java. You can use the Java website to learn more about downloading Java, verify Java is installed on your computer, remove older versions, troubleshoot Java or or report an issue. After installing Java, you will need to restart your Web browser.

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Tech Terms: HTTP

HTTP is short for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and this protocol defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.
For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page. The other main standard that controls how the World Wide Web works is HTML, which covers how Web pages are formatted and displayed.

HTTP is a Stateless Protocol

HTTP is called a stateless protocol because each command is executed independently, without any knowledge of the commands that came before it. This is the main reason that it is difficult to implement Web sites that react intelligently to user input. This shortcoming of HTTP is being addressed in a number of new technologies, including ActiveX, Java, JavaScript and cookies.
HTTP Status Codes are Error Messages
Errors on the Internet can be quite frustrating — especially if you do not know the difference between a 404 error and a 502 error. These error messages, also called HTTP status codes are response codes given by Web servers and help identify the cause of the problem.

For example, “404 File Not Found” is a common HTTP status code. It means the Web server cannot find the file you requested. This means the webpage or other document you tried to load in your Web browser has either been moved or deleted, or you entered the wrong URL or document name.

Knowing the meaning of the HTTP status code can help you figure out what went wrong. On a 404 error, for example, you could look at the URL to see if a word looks misspelled, then correct it and try it again. If that doesn’t work, backtrack by deleting information between each backslash, until you come to a page on that site that isn’t a 404. From there you may be able to find the page you’re looking for.

Custom 404 Error Pages

Many websites create custom 404 error pages that will help users locate a valid page or document within the website. For example, if you land on a 404 File Not Found page via Webopedia.com, a custom error page will load providing quick links to on-site navigation and site search features to help you find what you were looking for.

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Tech Terms: Black Hat SEO

In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology, black hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus only on search engines and not a human audience, and usually does not obey search engines guidelines.

Some examples of black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, invisible text, doorway pages, adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping (changing the webpage entirely after it has been ranked by search engines).

Black Hat SEO Usage

Black hat SEO is more frequently used by those who are looking for a quick financial return on their Web site, rather than a long-term investment on their Web site. Black hat SEO can possibly result in your Web site being banned from a search engine, however since the focus is usually on quick high return business models, most experts who use Black Hat SEO tactics consider being banned from search engines a somewhat irrelevant risk.

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Tech Terms: White Hat SEO

In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology, white hat SEO refers to the usage of optimization strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follows search engine rules and policies.
For example, a website that is optimized for search engines, yet focuses on relevancy and organic ranking is considered to be optimized using White Hat SEO practices. Some examples of White Hat SEO techniques include using keywords and keyword analysis, backlinking, link building to improve link popularity, and writing content for human readers.
White Hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their website. Also called Ethical SEO.

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Tech Terms: Duplicate Content – SEO

In SEO (search engine optimization) terminology, it is content (or text) that has been copied or reused from other Web pages. Duplicate content is often used to help boost keyword density, however some search engines, including Google, filters duplicate text and may penalize your site, resulting in a lower keyphrase position, when you use duplicate content.

Examples of duplicate content would be a Web page that offers a “printer friendly” version of content, or a news aggregation Web page that copies news headlines and content from stories from other sources online without making changes to the text. Duplicate content may also be created when websites offer mobile or local versions of sites or pages.

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Tech Terms: Web Analytics

Web analytics is a generic term meaning the study of the impact of a website on its users. Ecommerce companies and other website publishers often use Web analytics software to measure such concrete details as how many people visited their site, how many of those visitors were unique visitors, how they came to the site (i.e., if they followed a link to get to the site or came there directly), what keywords they searched with on the site’s search engine, how long they stayed on a given page or on the entire site and what links they clicked on and when they left the site.

Web Analytics Software

Web analytic software can also be used to monitor whether or not a site’s pages are working properly. With this information, Web site administrators can determine which areas of the site are popular and which areas of the site do not get traffic. Web analytics provides these site administrators and publishers with data that can be used to streamline a website to create a better user experience.

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