Hardware

RFID Definition

RFID Definition

Stands for “Radio-Frequency Identification.” RFID is a system used to track objects, people, or animals using tags that respond to radio waves. RFID tags are integrated circuits that include a small antenna. The are typically small enough that they are not easily noticeable and therefore can be placed on many types of objects.

Like UPC labels, RFID tags are often used to uniquely identify the object they are attached to. However, unlike UPCs, RFID tags don’t need to be scanned directly with a laser scanner. Instead, they can be recorded by simply placing the tag within the range of an RFID radio transmitter. This makes it possible to quickly scan several items or to locate a specific product surrounded by many other items.

RFID tags have many different uses. Some examples include:

  • Merchandise tags – These tags are attached to clothing, electronics, and other products to prevent theft from retail stores. These tags are typically deactivated at the place of checkout. Tags that have not been deactivated will sound the alarm system near the store’s exit.
  • Inventory management – Products stored in warehouses may be given RFID tags so they can be located more easily.
  • Airplane luggage – RFID tags may be placed on checked bags so they can be easily tracked and located.
  • Toll booth passes – E-ZPass and I-Pass receivers may be placed in automobiles, allowing cars and trucks to pass through toll booths without needing to stop. This enables drivers to make toll payments automatically.
  • Credit cards – Some credit cards have built-in RFIDs so they can be “waved” rather than “swiped” near compatible readers. The SpeedPass wand is an example of an RFID-only payment device.
  • Animal tags – RFID tags can be placed pet collars to make help identify pets if they are lost. Tags may also be placed on birds and other animals to help track them for research purposes.

The above list includes just a few of the applications of radio-frequency identification. There are many other existing and potential applications for RFID tags as well.

Internet

Bounce Definition

Bounce Definition

The term “bounce” has several different IT related meanings, yet none of them include bouncy balls. The most common definition of bounce used in the computer world refers to e-mail messages.

1. Returning E-mail

When you send an e-mail message to another person, the mail server processes the message and delivers it to the appropriate user’s mailbox. For example, if you send a message to “mrman@mail.com,” the mail.com server looks for a user named “mrman” to deliver the message to. If the user does not exist, the mail server may bounce the message back to the sender, saying “Sorry, that user does not exist.” These messages often come from “Mail Delivery Subsystem” and have a subject line that reads “Returned mail: see transcript for details.”

If you receive a bounced message, you may want to check the e-mail address you sent the message to and make sure it was typed correctly. If the address is correct, it may help to read the body of the bounced message for more details. The transcript may say something like “User quota over limit,” which means the recipient has reached his or her e-mail quota and must delete some messages and/or attachments in order to receive new mail. If this is the case, you may want to call the person or use an alternative e-mail address to let the person know he or she has some Inbox maintenance to do.

2. Restarting a Computer

The term “bounce” can also describe the process of rebooting or restarting a computer. For example, a workstation may need to be bounced after installing new software. Similarly, a Web server may be bounced if websites hosted on the server are not responding correctly.

3. Exporting Audio

“Bounce” can also describe the process of exporting several tracks in an audio mix to one mono track or two stereo tracks. This helps consolidate audio tracks after they have been mixed. Bouncing audio tracks limits the need for processing power since the computer only has to process one track instead of all the tracks individually. Digital Performer is the primary audio software program that uses bouncing to export audio.

4. Hiding a Network Connection

Finally, “bouncing” can also be used in networking to describe a method of hiding the source of a user’s network connection. This type of bouncing is often abbreviated “BNC.” Someone who bounces his network connection is called a “bouncer,” though this is not the same person who checks your ID at the bar.

None

Multiplatform Definition

Multiplatform Definition

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.

Technical

Crossplatform Definition

Crossplatform Definition

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.

Technical

I/O Definition

I/O Definition

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.

Hardware

Laptop Definition

Laptop Definition

Laptop computers, also known as notebooks, are portable computers that you can take with you and use in different environments. They include a screen, keyboard, and a trackpad or trackball, which serves as the mouse. Because laptops are meant to be used on the go, they have a battery which allows them to operate without being plugged into a power outlet. Laptops also include a power adapter that allows them to use power from an outlet and recharges the battery.

While portable computers used to be significantly slower and less capable than desktop computers, advances in manufacturing technology have enabled laptops to perform nearly as well as their desktop counterparts. In fact, high-end laptops often perform better than low or even mid-range desktop systems. Most laptops also include several I/O ports, such as USB ports, that allow standard keyboards and mice to be used with the laptop. Modern laptops often include a wireless networking adapter as well, allowing users to access the Internet without requiring any wires.

While laptops can be powerful and convenient, the convenience often comes at a price. Most laptops cost several hundred dollars more than a similarly equipped desktop model with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Furthermore, working long hours on a laptop with a small screen and keyboard may be more fatiguing than working on a desktop system. Therefore, if portability is not a requirement for your computer, you may find better value in a desktop model.

Hardware

ADC Definition

ADC Definition

Stands for “Analog-to-Digital Converter.” Since computers only process digital information, they require digital input. Therefore, if an analog input is sent to a computer, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is required. This device can take an analog signal, such as an electrical current, and digitize it into a binary format that the computer can understand.

A common use for an ADC is to convert analog video to a digital format. For example, video recorded on 8mm film or a VHS tape is stored in an analog format. In order to transfer the video to a computer, the video must be converted to a digital format. This can be done using an ADC video conversion box, which typically has composite video inputs and a Firewire output. Some digital camcorders that have analog inputs can also be used to convert video from analog to digital.

ADCs may also be used to convert analog audio streams. For example, if you want to record sounds from a microphone, the audio must be converted from the microphone’s analog signal into a digital signal that the computer can understand. This is why all sound cards that have an analog audio input also require an ADC that converts the incoming audio signal to a digital format. The accuracy of the audio conversion depends on the sampling rate used in the conversion process. Higher sampling rates provide a better estimation of the analog signal, and therefore produce a higher-quality sound.

While ADCs convert analog inputs into a digital format that computers can recognize, sometimes a computer must output an analog signal. For this type of conversion, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is used.

NOTE: ADC can also stand for “Apple Display Connector,” which was a proprietary video connector developed by Apple. It combined DVIUSB, and AC power into a single cable. Apple stopped producing computers with ADC ports in 2004 in favor of the standard DVI connection.

Technical

DAW Definition

DAW Definition

Stands for “Digital Audio Workstation.” A DAW is a digital system designed for recording and editing digital audio. It may refer to audio hardware, audio software, or both.

Early DAWs, such as those developed in the 1970s and 1990s, were hardware units that included a mixing console, data storage device, and an analog to digital converter (ADC). They could be used to record, edit, and play back digital audio. These devices, called “integrated DAWs,” are still used today, but they have largely been replaced by computer systems with digital audio software.

Today, a computer system is the central user interface of most DAWs. Most professional recording studios include one or more large mixing boards connected to a desktop computer. Home studios and portable studios may simply include a laptop with audio software and a recording interface.

Since computers have replaced most integrated DAWs, audio editing and post-production is now performed primarily with software rather than hardware. Several audio production programs, commonly called DAW software, are available for both Macintosh and Windows systems. Some common crossplatform titles include Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, and Abelton Live. Other platform-specific DAW programs include Cakewalk SONAR for Windows and MOTU Digital Performer for Mac OS X.

Software

CGI Definition

CGI Definition

CGI has two different meanings: 1) Common Gateway Interface, and 2) Computer Generated Imagery.

1) Common Gateway Interface

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a set of rules for running scripts and programs on a Web server. It specifies what information is communicated between the Web server and clients’ Web browsers and how the information is transmitted.

Most Web servers include a cgi-bin directory in the root folder of each website on the server. Any scripts placed in this directory must follow the rules of the Common Gateway Interface. For example, scripts located in the cgi-bin directory may be given executable permissions, while files outside the directory may not be allowed to be executed. A CGI script may also request CGI environment variables, such as SERVER_PROTOCOL and REMOTE_HOST, which may be used as input variables for the script.

Since CGI is a standard interface, it can be used on multiple types of hardware platforms and is supported by several types Web server software, such as Apache and Windows Server. CGI scripts and programs can also be written in several different languages, such as C++Java, and Perl. While many websites continue to use CGI for running programs and scripts, developers now often include scripts directly within Web pages. These scripts, which are written in languages such as PHP and ASP, are processed on the server before the page is loaded, and the resulting data is sent to the user’s browser.

2) Computer Generated Imagery

In the computer graphics world, CGI typically refers to Computer Generated Imagery. This type of CGI refers to 3D graphics used in film, TV, and other types of visual media. Most modern action films include at least some CGI for special effects, while other movies, such as a Pixar animated films, are built completely from computer generated graphics.

 

Internet

Web Forum Definition

Web Forum Definition

A Web forum is a website or section of a website that allows visitors to communicate with each other by posting messages. Most forums allow anonymous visitors to view forum postings, but require you to create an account in order to post messages in the forum. When posting in a forum, you can create new topics (or “threads”) or post replies within existing threads.

Web forums are available for all kinds of topics. Examples include software support, help for webmasters, and programming discussions. While lots of Web forums focus on IT topics, they are not limited to information technology. There are forums related to health, fitness, cars, houses, teaching, parenting, and thousands of other topics. Some forums are general, like a fitness forum, while others are more specific, such as a forum for yoga instructors.

Since Web forums are comprised of user-generated content (UGC), they continue to grow as long as users visit the site and post messages. The webmaster of a Web forum simply needs to manage the forum, which may require moving, combining, and archiving threads. It may also involve monitoring postings and removing ones that are inappropriate. While this can be a large task for popular forums, most forum software, like vBulletin and phpBB, can filter out inappropriate content.

Because Web forums are constantly growing, they have become a large part of the Web. In fact, if you search for help on a certain topic, there is a good chance one or more forum pages will appear in the top results. After all, if you have a question about something, odds are you’re not the only one. You can use forums to glean knowledge from others who have shared your questions in the past. Conversely, you can help others by sharing your ideas and answers in an online forum.

NOTE: Web forums are also called Internet forums, discussion boards, and online bulletin boards.