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GEEK GLOSSARY / TECH TERMS

System-on-Chip designs have been pivotal in the development of powerful but energy efficient mobile electronics. Compared to a traditional computing system where functions are performed by discrete components (the CPU, GPU, sound processor, etc.), the SoC design packs everything onto a single chip. It is this miniaturization that allows a single chip in a modern smartphone to handle the core processing needs of the device as well as decode video, audio, and manage the extras on the device like motion sensors and cameras.

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A Bookmarklet is special type of web browser bookmark that extends the functionality of the bookmark system. While a traditional bookmark is a static entry that contains the title and URL of the bookmarked page, bookmarklets instead contain snippets of JavaScript that acts upon the current web page in some manner.

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A bookmark is a digitally stored location intended to facilitate the user’s quick return to a previous location (just like a physical bookmark helps the user return to their last location in a book).

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Vampire devices are electronic devices that still draw power even when the device appears to be off. In some cases the the draw is quite small as is the case with an electronic transformer which carries a steady 1 watt load when the device attached to it is turned off. In other cases the draw can be surprisingly high, as is the case with many cable boxes and other media peripherals that consume a significant amount of power when they are powered off (as they do a variety of tasks behind the scenes such as updating programming schedules, recording and downloading content, etc.)

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Compared to a traditional blog–wherein posts are usually developed like essays–microblogs quite tiny, focused on short snippets of content and typically only include very short commentary and/or photo, video, or other multimedia elements.

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A Blog (a portmanteau of “web” and “log”) is a website that contains stories and updates in reverse chronological order–the most recent entries appear at the top of the front page, and you browse backwards to move through the past articles. Blogs exploded in popularity the late 1990s with the advent of sites like Open Diary, Live Journal, and Blogger, which made it easy for individuals without web design experience or their own web host to have a personal blog.

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Ultrabooks are high-end subnotebooks. Although the term has become synonymous with very lightweight yet full size laptop computers, it’s actually a trademark of computer company Intel and has specific criterion. The specifications cover battery life (5 hours or better), height (21 mm or thinner), time from hibernation resume (7 seconds or better) and, as you would expect, and Intel processor.

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Netbooks are a class of subnotebooks. Introduced in late 2007, the tiny laptops are optimized for long battery life, low weight, and cost. Netbooks typically feature a screen ranging from 6-12″ in size, weigh around 2 pounds, and have 5-10 hour battery run times.

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Subnotebooks are a class of portable computers designed to be smaller and lighter than a typical laptop computer, yet still run a full fledged operating system (such as Windows 8) and not a lightweight mobile-device operating system (such as Windows CE).

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Peer-to-Peer (P2P) systems rely on direct system-to-system connections without a central infrastructure or server system facilitating the transmission of data or resources. P2P systems are utilized in situations where it is ideal to distribute loads across many users. In the case of BitTorrent (a type of distributed file sharing system), files are not stored on a central server, but instead are shared piece-by-piece in a distributed network composed of many users. This makes it easy to get popular files quickly and it protects the network from being shut down by outside authorities.

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Radio buttons are a special type on-screen button found within application user interfaces. A radio button functions such that if you select one of the available options (say, printing in color instead of black and white), any other entry you made will be automatically deselected.

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Color space is an abstract mathematical system used to describe colors using numerical values. While there are dozens of color space models, the two the average person comes in contact with on a day to day basis are RGB and CMYK. The RGB (Red Green Blue) color space is the color space used for computer monitors and all derivative screen types (tablets, smartphones, etc. all have RGB-based screens). CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK) color spaces are used for printing. Whether on a home printer or high end dye-sublimation printer, those four colors are combined to create millions of different shades.

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Televisions, computer monitors, phone and tablet displays, and other display screens use RGB color (all the colors you see via that display are composed of tiny red, green, and blue pixels adjusted to varying degrees of intensity to create a wide range of potential colors). Another way of saying this is that computers and related equipment use an RGB color space.

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Web Crawlers, also known as Web Spiders, are programs that search for information on the World Wide Web. Web Crawlers are most widely employed by search engine companies and are used to create ever-growing indexes of web pages and their content. At its most elementary, a Web Crawler visits a known web page and then explores all the links on that web page (discovering new web pages in the process and repeating the sequence on them). Content that is not accessible to Web Crawlers is known as the Deep Web.

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The Deep Web is web-based content that is not found in search engine results. Unlike Darknets, wherein the content is explicitly encrypted and kept from public view, most of the Deep Web content is invisible to search engines and their users simply because there are no links pointing the content. For example, if you created a website and never published the individual URLs of the page or linked to them from a publicly accessible main page, the chances that a search engine would find and index those pages are next to zero.

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A Darknet is a network within a network operated expressly to facilitate the distribution of files, information, and communications while concealing the identity of participants. The content of the Darknet is not accessible to those outside of the Darknet and/or not the specific intended recipient of the communication. Examples of modern Darknets include the TOR network and Freenet.

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TOR, or The Onion Router, is the world’s largest implementation of onion routing communication techniques. The TOR system is composed of thousands of volunteers around the world who run TOR proxy servers. When someone connects to the TOR proxy network, their communications are encrypted and passed through a series of TOR proxies. Any TCP-based application that supports standard SOCKS proxy protocols can be connected to the TOR network.

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Onion Routing is a method used for anonymous communication over wide area networks. Much like the heart of an onion is wrapped in many layers, messages sent through Onion Routing are wrapped in layer after layer of encryption. Each layer of encryption corresponds to a stop on the route and the layer is peeled away (decrypted) before being passed forward. The very last layer of encryption is removed by the recipient and the message is revealed.

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A common feature of email discussion lists and newsgroup discussions, a digest is a daily or weekly summary distributed to the users. Digests make it easy to read over all the new developments of that day (or week) at once instead of slogging through multiple individual emails or postings.

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Backlighting is the process by which displays are lit via light shined through them towards the user. Smartphone screens, computer monitors, television sets, and other common display interfaces are lit by LED or fluorescent lights in this fashion.

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Produced by the ARM Ltd., based out of the UK, ARM chips are RISC-based microprocessors widely used in smartphones, ebook readers, game consoles, and a wide array of other consumer electronics where having a small chip with low power needs and passive cooling capabilities is a necessity.

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Toshiba Link (TOSLINK) is an optical interface that links audio-capable devices using the S/PDIF standard over fiber optic cables. TOSLINK is capable of transfer rates of up to 1.2 Gbps. TOSLINK ports are found on a wide variety of consumer electronics including DVD players, cable boxes, amplifiers, and other home audio/video equipment.

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Sony/Philips Digital InterFace (S/PDIF) is a serial interface for transferring digital audio from DVD, CD, and other disc-based players to stereo amplifiers, television sets, and other equipment.

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A NIC, or Network Interface Card, is the piece of hardware that provides a connection between the computer and a computer network. Historically, a NIC was a discrete expansion card added into a computer to provide access to a hard wired network such as an Ethernet or Token Ring LAN.

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In computing, a queue is a list of processes to be completed that obey a first-in-first-out rule. One of the most common queues around is the print queue; if ten users around the office all send a document to be printed, the documents will be temporarily stored in the printer’s queue in the order in which they were received. This queue will then be emptied using a first-in-first-out process with the last received document the last to be printed.

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