A container format, or wrapper format, is a metafile format whose specifications describe how different data elements and meta data are arranged. Although container formats are used for a variety of file types within and across operating systems, the most frequent way the average computer user interacts with container formats is via multimedia files.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the machine recognition of printed characters. OCR software takes a scanned document, photograph, or other digital source that includes printed text, and uses sophisticated algorithms to search out letter patterns in the text, converting it from a non-machine-readable image to a machine-readable (and human-editable) ASCII text.
CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, is a term used to encompass technological tools used to differentiate humans from computers during online interactions–usually with a focus on preventing automated computer systems from abusing email services, repeatedly trying to enter passwords, or otherwise creating undue strain or security problems for networked services.
Metadata is data which describes other data, usually to provide additional information about the content of the original data. Digital cameras, for example, routinely include a wide range of metadata with each photograph they take. The photograph itself is the primary data, the metadata is data attached to that photograph such as the date of capture, the settings the camera used (EXIF data that includes such information as the shutter speed or aperture settings), and the file size.
Netiquette is a portmanteau of the words Internet and etiquette. Netiquette is broad term encompassing appropriate behavior on computer networks and the greater internet. Much like real-world etiquette governs things like appropriate dress, topics of discussion, methods of communication (such as wedding invitations and RSVP standards), and so on, netiquette seeks to provide similar structure to online interactions.
A URL, or Universal Resource Locator, is the convention by which domain names are combined with file path syntax to create human readable addresses for internet stored materials. This convention was proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, in 1994 as a method of making web-based resources more accessible.
Historically, a “mashup” referred to the blending of musical genres. While the term still retains that meaning in the music world, in computer lingo mashup has come to refer to the blending of multiple web applications (and their data) into a single interface or application.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a wireless non-contact data transfer system used for identification and tracking. The RFID chip is a small electronic module roughly the size of a grain of rice that contains a unique serial number and other information about the object to which it is attached. This information can be read over short distances (several meters or less) via special RFID readers which emit the proper radio frequency to both activate the chip and read the resulting transmission from the chip.
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is the unique numeric identifier attached to all devices on an IP-based network. Every client, server, and network device is assigned a unique IP address to ensure that it can send and receive data on the network without interfering or colliding with another networked device.
Progressive video, also known as progressive scanning, is a way of displaying video wherein each line of the video display is drawn in sequence. This is a direct contrast to interlaced video wherein the odd and then even lines are refreshed.
Interlaced video is a technique used to double the perceived frame rate of a video source without consuming extra bandwidth. Rather than increasing the total frame rate by two, interlacing instead alternates which lines of the display are refreshed in each pass creating the illusion of a higher refresh rate.
Unlike Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs) are designed to transmit data across geographic regions, countries, and even between continents. Large corporations routinely deploy WANs to connect geographically diverse employee populations, enabling them to connect easily to shared resources and conduct business as if they were sharing a massive company LAN.
Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a popular image format developed by CompuServe in the late 1980s. Originally created to replace a previous CompuServe created format RLE (which could only display black and white), the original version of the GIF was essentially just another image format in a sea of file formats.
Firmware is a set of operating instructions embedded in a computer system on a non-volatile memory chip. Common electronics like GPS units, network routers, and gaming consoles routinely have their operating instructions fully or partially stored as firmware.
Monitor calibration is the process of bringing your monitor into alignment, or calibration, with a known state. Simply adjusting your monitor so that it displays contrast and color in a fashion pleasing to you is not true calibration, as calibration involves linking the output of your display with the output of a device.
A heat sink is a passive heat exchanger added to computers and other heat-producing electronics to assist in cooling components. Heat sinks range from small and simple finned metal cubes attached to low-temperature components (such as embedded processors) to large tower-like structures with integrated fans attached to high-temperature components (multi-core CPUs and GPU chips).
A macro is a set of inputs mapped to a key, shortcut, or string of text so that the user is able to summon a large set of inputs with a minimal amount of input. Computer users create and deploy macros for everything from speeding up programming tasks to semi-automating repetitive and routine word processing entries.
The word codec is a portmanteau of “coder-decoder” and denotes the role of codecs in encoding/decoding digital data. Specifically, codecs refer to the hardware and/or software that encode and decode digital audio and video streams, such as those used for watching local digital video, streaming video over the Internet, video conferencing, and other multimedia applications.
File extensions are a type of metadata appended to the end of computer file names to indicate to the operating system what format the file is in. It is by this mechanism that Windows knows to open File.txt with Notepad, File.doc with Microsoft Word, and to attempt to lauch File.exe as an application.
FAQ is an acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. The practice of FAQ lists started in the 1980s on email discussion lists and Usenet discussion groups wherein regular users to various discussion forums found themselves answering the same questions from new users over and over again. Rather than continue to laboriously type out new answers for each wave of new users, established contributors started creating lists of frequently asked questions and their answers.
In computing and gaming an emulator is a piece of hardware or software designed to duplicate the behavior of another set of hardware/software. Modern computer users can employ emulators for myriad functions including emulating older computers (including their environments and programming languages) for educational purposes and emulating older game systems for entertainment purposes.