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GEEK GLOSSARY / TECH TERMS

HyperText Markup Language is the text language that defines all of the content on every web page that you visit, and is even used in most email clients to display the text you’re reading right now.

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The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is one of the core networking protocols used to run the Internet. ICMP differs from other transport protocols such as UDP and TCP in that it is not usually used to exchange data between systems but instead used as a diagnostic mechanism.

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Routers are a vital component of home and business network connectivity. While a simple hub or a network switch can do the job of linking your computers together into a local network (to share files, play LAN-enabled games, or share a printer), you need a router for the critical task of linking two networks together.

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If you need to connect multiple wired devices to your network–such as a laser printer, computer, DVR, and so on–you need a switch. A network switch is a telecommunication device that relays messages from devices connected to it and then transmits them only to the specified receiving device on the network. Switches are more advanced than hubs–hubs are “dumb” network devices in that they simply repeat every message sent to them to every other device on the network. Switches also include mechanisms for avoiding and detecting message collision.

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RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a form of storage technology that combines multiple disk drives into one logical storage unit. RAID can be implemented at the hardware or software level, and comes in a variety of RAID schemes based on the needs of the end user. The RAID hardware or software is what distinguishes the arrangement of disks from simply being a Jumble of Hard Disks (JOHD) arrangement. RAID specifically links each hard drive in the array together into some sort of scheme that either increases performance, data redundancy, or both in a manner that could not be achieved by simply adding more hard drives to a static system.

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A firewall is a network security tool designed to monitor network traffic and allow or block network activity based on a set of predetermined rules. The firewall acts as a bridge between an internal network and an external network.

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The Power Supply Unit (PSU) is one of the most critical components of a computer system. The PSU is responsible for converting the mains AC (the power from the outlet) into low-voltage and properly regulated DC power for the hardware components of the computer can safely utilize. Manufacturing defects in a Power Supply Unit can have catastrophic consequences for the attached hardware.

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In computing, form factor refers to the specifications of the motherboard and encompasses the physical size, mounting hole pattern, power supply type, the back-panel ports, and other design parameters.

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The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is the proverbial brain of the computer. Modern CPUs are made from silicon and have a very high density of integrated circuits etched into silicon wafers.

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Bluetooth is a widely adopted wireless standard designed to replace cables for low-power data transmission over short spaces. The standard was developed by Swedish technology and telecommunications giant Ericsson in the early 1990s. Early versions of Bluetooth were not widely adopted thanks to poor cross-device implementation and security issues. Later upgrades to the standard increased security and manufacturers more closely adhered to design guidelines.

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Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of standards for close-proximity communication between smartphones and similar mobile electronics. NFC is built upon existing Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) standards but expands functionality by enabling two-way communication and encryption.

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An internet meme is a concept that spreads by the internet and may take on the form of a image, video, hashtag, website, or may simply be a word or phrase. Memes spread organically and by mechanisms similar to those of evolutionary biology including mutation and replication as well as pressures like competition and differentiation within their environment–the term was originally coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

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Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) are a sub-genre of role-playing video games focused on player interaction in a virtual world. Unlike traditional stand-alone RPG games, the majority of the player’s in-game experience is not with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) controlled by the game itself but with characters controlled by other players who are connected to the game via the internet.

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In computing terms, Communication Latency is the time it takes for a data packet to be received by the remote computer. Most computer users, and especially gamers, refer to this communication latency simply as lag.

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BitTorrent is a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing protocol designed to reduce bandwith overhead and decentralize the distribution of files. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files on the Internet today and the most frequently used P2P protocol. Estimates regarding how much Internet traffic is driven by BitTorrent activity at any given moment range from 40-70% of the total global Internet activity.

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Secure Digital (SD) cards are a form of non-volatile memory used for storage in portable devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, MP3 players, and other mobile electronics.

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MPEG Audio Layer III, most commonly called MP3, is a digital audio storage format currently the de facto standard for both portable consumer audio devices and internet streaming audio.

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HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a digital cabling standard for audio/video transmission that replaced previously used analog cabling standards such as Component video cables. HDMI is commonly used for digital televisions, projectors, and included on many modern computer monitors.

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SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an encryption technology most commonly used by web browsers to ensure that the information transmitted between the browser and the web server is private and unaltered. Active SSL connections are most frequently indicated by  a change in the host URL from HTTP://somehost.com to HTTPS://somehost.com, and in most modern browsers the inclusion of a padlock icon or other indicator in the address bar to further signal the secure connection.

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Wi-Fi  is the common term used to denote the radio-frequency standards outlined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 protocol for wireless local area networks (WLAN). Since almost every modern WLAN is based off the IEEE 802.11 standard, the term Wi-Fi has become synonymous with it.

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Bandwidth, when used in the computational terms, is the amount of data that can be transferred over a given connection in a set period of time. The speed of many things such as internet connections, local network connections, and even local connections between host computers and peripherals are frequently described in terms of bandwidth.

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Ergonomics is a scientific discipline concerned with studying the interaction of human beings with their environment. The principle focus of most ergonomic inquiries is to minimize the impact of equipment and user-interfaces on the human body. Machines and devices with poor ergonomic design can yield an increase in repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal injuries–injuries which can compound over time to yield long-term disabilities.

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Every time you interact with your computer, smart phone, or game console using a system of on-screen buttons, icons, and other interface elements to do so, you’re experiencing one of the miracles of modern computing: the GUI (Graphic User Interface).

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Right now you’re looking at a computer screen, reading this definition. The color scheme of the page, the individual letters, and the negative space surrounding those letters are all composed of pixels–tiny little electronically toggled points of color and light on the screen.

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USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a cabling standard developed in the mid-1990s in order to decrease the number of peripheral interfaces on the market and create a streamlined standard for future peripherals and interfaces. Development began in 1994 by a consortium composed of Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel. Later revisions to the standard included development work by Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Lucent Technologies.

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