HavenZone Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Access Point

Example: "The coffee shop provides an access point for customers with Wi-Fi devices."

An access point provides wireless access to a network. Devices connected to an access point can communicate with other devices on the network. They may also connect to the Internet if the access point is linked to an Internet connection, which is commonly the case. Access points that use Wi-Fi are also called base stations.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. It is usually measured in bits per second, or "bps." You can think of bandwidth as a highway with cars travelling on it. The highway is the network connection and the cars are the data. The wider the highway, the more cars can travel on it at one time. Therefore more cars can get to their destinations faster. The same principle applies to computer data -- the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time.

Chip

Technically speaking, a computer chip is a piece of silicon with an electronic circuit embedded in it. However, the word "chip" is often used as a slang term that refers to various components inside a computer. It typically describes an integrated circuit, or IC, such as a central processor or a graphics chip, but may also refer to other components such as a memory module.

While "chip" is a somewhat ambiguous term, it should not be confused with the term "card." For example, a laptop might have a graphics chip embedded in the motherboard, while a desktop computer may contain a graphics card connected to a PCI or AGP slot. A graphics card may contain a chip, but the chip cannot contain a card. Similarly, a CPU may contain a chip (the processor), but it may also contain several other components. Therefore, the term "chip" can be used to refer to specific components, but should not be used describe multiple components that are grouped together.

Dashboard

Dashboard is a user-interface feature Apple introduced with the release of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. It allows access to all kinds of "widgets" that show the time, weather, stock prices, phone numbers, and other useful data. With the Tiger operating system, Apple included widgets that do all these things, plus a calculator, language translator, dictionary, address book, calendar, unit converter, and iTunes controller. Besides the bundled widgets, there are also hundreds of other widgets available from third parties that allow users to play games, check traffic conditions, and view sports scores, just to name a few.

The dashboard of widgets is accessed by clicking the Dashboard application icon, or by simply pressing a keyboard shortcut (F12 by default). Clicking a plus "+" icon in the lower-left hand corner of the screen provides the user with a list of all installed widgets. Clicking the widgets or dragging them onto the desktop makes them active. They can be individually closed by clicking the close box, just like other open windows. Pressing the keyboard shortcut (F12) makes them instantly disappear, removing them from view until the user needs them again.

End User

An end user is the person that a software program or hardware device is designed for. The term is based on the idea that the "end goal" of a software or hardware product is to be useful to the consumer. The end user can be contrasted with the developers or programmers of the product. End users are also in a separate group from the installers or administrators of the product.

To simplify, the end user is the person who uses the software or hardware after it has been fully developed, marketed, and installed. It is also the person who keeps calling the "IT guy" with questions about why the product isn't working correctly. Generally, the terms "user" and "end user" mean the same thing.

Favicon

favicon is a small website icon. Just like software programs can have custom file icons, websites can have custom icons that show up in a web browser. The term "favicon" is short for "favorites icon," since it is saved with any bookmarks or "favorites" you create. However, modern web browsers also display favicons whenever you visit a website. In some browsers, the favicon appears to the left of the URL, while other browsers display the favicon in the window tab, next to the page title.

The standard way to develop a favicon is to create an .ICO file with an image that represents the website. It should contain a 16x16 pixel image, but may also include a 32x32 icon, which can be displayed on Hi-DPI screens. The file must be named "favicon.ico" and uploaded to the root directory of the associated website. While favicons should be saved in the Windows ICO format, most web browsers (besides Internet Explorer) will display favicons saved as .GIF, .JPG, or .PNG files.

GPS

Stands for "Global Positioning System." GPS is a satellite navigation system used to determine ground position and velocity (location, speed, and direction). Though it was created and originally used by the U.S. military, GPS is now available to the general public all over the world. GPS navigation systems are currently installed in a number of luxury cars, complete with an LCD map that shows the driver exactly where in the world he is. Advanced car GPS units can actually speak the directions to a certain destination and tell the driver when to turn. Cool, huh?

Hibernate

If you are not going to use your computer for a few hours, it is a good idea to put it to sleep (also known as standby mode) to save power. If you are not going to use the computer for more than a day, it is usually best to turn it off. However, some Windows computer offer an option that combines the benefits of sleep mode and powering down the computer, called "Hibernate."

When you select Hibernate, the computer saves the current state of the system from the computer's RAM to the hard disk, then shuts down. When the computer is restarted, instead of going through the typical boot sequence, the previously saved state is automatically loaded into the RAM. The open windows and running programs from your previous session appear just as they were when the computer entered Hibernate mode. Basically, Hibernate mode acts like Standby mode, except the computer can be completely turned off. This is especially helpful for laptop computers, which will slowly lose their battery charge if they are left in sleep mode.

To make your computer hibernate, select "Turn Off Computer" from the bottom of the Windows Start Menu. Then press and hold the Shift key when the dialog box appears. The "Standby" option should change to "Hibernate." If the Standby option does not change, you may need to enable Hibernate mode in Windows. This can be done by opening the "Power Options" control panel, clicking the Hibernate tab, and checking the box that says, "Enable hibernation."

IMAP

Stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol" and is pronounced "eye-map." It is a method of accessing e-mail messages on a server without having to download them to your local hard drive. This is the main difference between IMAP and another popular e-mail protocol called "POP3." POP3 requires users to download messages to their hard drive before reading them. The advantage of using an IMAP mail server is that users can check their mail from multiple computers and always see the same messages. This is because the messages stay on the server until the user chooses to download them to his or her local drive. Most webmail systems are IMAP based, which allows people to access to both their sent and received messages no matter what computer they use to check their mail.

Most e-mail client programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Mac OS X Mail allow you to specify what kind of protocol your mail server uses. If you use your ISP's mail service, you should check with them to find out if their mail server uses IMAP or POP3 mail. If you enter the wrong protocol setting, your e-mail program will not be able to send or receive mail.

Java

While most of the world uses "Java" as another term for coffee, the computer science world uses it to refer to a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. The syntax of Java is much like that of C/C++, but it is object-oriented and structured around "classes" instead of functions. Java can also be used for programming applets -- small programs that can be embedded in Web sites. The language is becoming increasingly popular among both Web and software developers since it is efficient and easy-to-use.

Java is a great programming language, but like Reading Rainbow says, you don't have to take my word for it. Sun Micorsystems describes Java as a "simple, object-oriented, distributed, interpreted, robust, secure, architecture-neutral, portable, high-performance, multithreaded, dynamic, buzzword-compliant, general-purpose programming language." And it removes stains like magic.

JavaScript

Like Java, this is a programming language designed by Sun Microsystems, in conjunction with Netscape, that can be integrated into standard HTML pages. While JavaScript is based on the Java syntax, it is a scripting language, and therefore cannot be used to create stand-alone programs. Instead, it is used mainly to create dynamic, interactive Web pages. For example, Web developers can use JavaScript to validate form input, create image rollovers, and to open those annoying pop-up windows. Like so many other things, we have to take the good with the bad.

Keylogger

keylogger is a program that records the keystrokes on a computer. It does this by monitoring a user's input and keeping a log of all keys that are pressed. The log may saved to a file or even sent to another machine over a network or the Internet.

Keylogger programs are often deemed spyware because they usually run without the user knowing it. They can be maliciously installed by hackers to spy on what a user is typing. By examining the keylog data, it may be possible to find private information such as a username and password combination. Therefore, keyloggers can be a significant security risk if they are unknowingly installed on a computer.

The best way to protect yourself from keylogger programs is to install anti-virus or security software that warns you when any new programs are being installed. You should also make sure no unauthorized people have access to your computer. This is especially true in work environments. You can also periodically check the current processes running on your computer to make sure no keyloggers or other malware programs are active. While it is unlikely that you have a keylogger programs installed on your computer, it is definitely worth it to check.

Localhost

"Localhost" refers to the local computer that a program is running on. For example, if you are running a Web browser on your computer, your computer is considered to be the "localhost." While this does not need to be specified when using a single computer, the localhost does need to be defined when running programs from multiple computers. For example, a network administrator might use his local machine to start a Web server on one system and use a remote access program on another. These programs would run from computers other than the localhost.

In the example above, the two non-local computers must be defined by their IP addresses. The local machine is defined as "localhost," which gives it an IP address of 127.0.0.1. This is considered a "loopback" address because the information sent to it is routed back to the local machine. Localhost is often used in Web scripting languages like PHP and ASP when defining what server the code should run from or where a database is located.

MAC Address

Stands for "Media Access Control Address," and no, it is not related Apple Macintosh computers. A MAC address is a hardware identification number that uniquely identifies each device on a network. The MAC address is manufactured into every network card, such as an Ethernet card or Wi-Fi card, and therefore cannot be changed.

Because there are millions of networkable devices in existence, and each device needs to have a unique MAC address, there must be a very wide range of possible addresses. For this reason, MAC addresses are made up of six two-digit hexadecimal numbers, separated by colons. For example, an Ethernet card may have a MAC address of 00:0d:83:b1:c0:8e. Fortunately, you do not need to know this address, since it is automatically recognized by most networks.

Null

When a variable has no value, it considered to be null. Having a null value is different than having a value of 0, since 0 is an actual value. However, when used in a boolean test, both null and zero result in a FALSE value. Programmers often use boolean tests to determine whether a variable has been given a value or not.

Output Device

Any device that outputs information from a computer is called, not surprisingly, an output device. Since most information from a computer is output in either a visual or auditory format, the most common output devices are the monitor and speakers. These two devices provide instant feedback to the user's input, such as displaying characters as they are typed or playing a song selected from a playlist.

While monitors and speakers are the most common output devices, there are many others. Some examples include headphones, printers, projectors, lighting control systems, audio recording devices, and robotic machines. A computer without an output device connected to it is pretty useless, since the output is what we interact with. Anyone who has ever had a monitor or printer stop working knows just how true this is. Of course, it is also important to be able to send information to the computer, which requires an input device.

Parse

No, this is not a typo of the word "sparse." The word "parse" means to analyze an object specifically. It is commonly used in computer science to refer to reading program code. For example, after a program is written, whether it be in C++, Java, or any other language, the code needs to be parsed by the compiler in order to be compiled. Web scripts, written in scripting languages such as Perl or PHP, need to be parsed on the Web server so that they can output the correct HTML to a user's browser.

Parsing can also refer to breaking up ordinary text. For example, search engines typically parse search phrases entered by users so that they can more accurately search for each word. Some programs can parse text documents and extract certain information like names or addresses. Spreadsheet programs can turn formatted documents into tables with rows and columns by parsing the text. As you can see, the ways to parse are clearly not sparse.

Quad-Core

Example: "Apple's Mac Pro workstations have quad-core CPUs."

Quad-core CPUs have four processing cores. These cores act as separate processors, but reside in a single chip. A quad-core CPU can process instructions using all four cores at the same time, but the computer's software must support multiprocessing in order to use the four cores effectively.

Raw Data

Raw data is unprocessed computer data. This information may be stored in a file, or may just be a collection of numbers and characters stored on somewhere in the computer's hard disk. For example, information entered into a database is often called raw data. The data can either be entered by a user or generated by the computer itself. Because it has not been processed by the computer in any way, it is considered to be "raw data." To continue the culinary analogy, data that has been processed by the computer is sometimes referred to as "cooked data."

Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a way for the Windows operating system to run with the minimum system files necessary. It uses a generic VGA display driver instead of the vendor-specific driver, which means you will likely be working with only 16 colors in a resolution of 640x480. Safe Mode also turns off all third-party drivers for other peripherals such as mice, keyboards, printers, and scanners. In basic Safe Mode, networking files and settings are not loaded, meaning you won't be able to connect to the Internet or other computers on a network.

So why would I ever want to boot in Safe Mode? Well, that's a good question. Sometimes, Windows may not fully load after an unexpected crash and the only way to get the computer to boot is to use Safe Mode. Once you have successfully booted the computer in Safe Mode, you can run a disk utility program to repair corrupted files or directories on the hard drive. You can also reboot into Safe Mode to see your display when you get a "Sync Out of Range" message on your screen.

There may also be times when your computer is performing sluggishly and becomes annoyingly slow. Booting into Safe Mode will allow you to diagnose the problem and determine which files are slowing down the computer. When calling technical support, the support person may ask you to boot into Safe Mode to begin the troubleshooting. To boot your Windows computer into Safe Mode, hold down the F8 key while the computer is starting up. Then select Safe Mode from the list of boot options.

Script

A computer script is a list of commands that are executed by a certain program or scripting engine. Scripts may be used to automate processes on a local computer or to generate Web pages on the Web. For example, DOS scripts and VB Scripts may be used to run processes on Windows machines, while AppleScript scripts can automate tasks on Macintosh computers. ASP, JSP, and PHP scripts are often run on Web servers to generate dynamic Web page content.

Script files are usually just text documents that contain instructions written in a certain scripting language. This means most scripts can be opened and edited using a basic text editor. However, when opened by the appropriate scripting engine, the commands within the script are executed. VB (Visual Basic) scripts, for example, will run when double-clicked, using Windows' built-in VB scripting support. Since VB scripts can access and modify local files, you should never run a VB script that you receive as an unknown e-mail attachment.

Terabyte

A terabyte is 2 to the 40th power, or 1,099,511,627,776 bytes.

It can be estimated as 10 to the 12th power, or 1,000,000,000,000 bytes. A terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes and precedes the petabyte unit of measurement. While today's consumer hard drives are typically measured in gigabytes, Web servers and file servers may have several terabytes of space. A single 500GB hard drive can also be called a half-terabyte drive.

The prefix "tera" comes from the Greek word meaning "monster." So, if you have a 500GB hard drive, you could say you have half a monsterbyte of disk space. If nothing else, it sure sounds impressive.

For a list of all the different units of measurements, view this Help Center article.

Abbreviation: TB

Unix

Also known as UNIX, though the letters do not stand for anything. The Unix operating system was first created in Bell Labs way back in the 1960s. It became popular in the 1970s for high-level computing, but not on the consumer level. Since a lot of Internet services were originally hosted on Unix machines, the platform gained tremendous popularity in the 1990s. It still leads the industry as the most common operating system for Web servers.

Still, Unix remains somewhat of an ambiguous operating system, as there are many different versions of it. Some examples include Ultrix, Xenix, Linux, and GNU, which, making things even more confusing, all run on a number of different hardware platforms. Most people do not ever need to use Unix, but computer geeks seem to have the need to use it as much as possible.

VoIP

Stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol," and is often pronounced "voip." VoIP is basically a telephone connection over the Internet. The data is sent digitally, using the Internet Protocol (IP) instead of analog telephone lines. This allows people to talk to one another long-distance and around the world without having to pay long distance or international phone charges.

In order to use VoIP, you need a computer, an Internet connection, and VoIP software. You also need either a microphone, analog telephone adapter, or VoIP telephone. Many VoIP programs allow you to use a basic microphone and speaker setup. Others requires VoIP phones, which are like regular telephone handsets, but typically connect to your computer via USB. Analog telephone adapters allow you to use regular phones with your computer. IP phones are another option that connect directly to a router via Ethernet or wirelessly. These phones have all the necessary software for VoIP built in and therefore do not require a computer.

The largest provider of VoIP services is Vonage, but there are several other companies that offer similar services. While Vonage charges a monthly service fee, programs like Skype and PeerMe allow users to connect to each other and talk for free. However, these free services may offer fewer connections, lower audio quality, and may be less reliable than paid services like Vonage.

VoIP is also referred to as IP telephony, Internet telephony, and digital phone.

WAN

Stands for "Wide Area Network." It is similar to a Local Area Network (LAN), but it's a lot bigger. Unlike LANs, WANs are not limited to a single location. Many wide area networks span long distances via telephone lines, fiber-optic cables, or satellite links. They can also be composed of smaller LANs that are interconnected. The Internet could be described as the biggest WAN in the world. You could even call the Internet a Super WAN BAM if you wanted to. Or maybe not.

XHTML

Stands for "Extensible Hypertext Markup Language." Yes, apparently "Extensible" starts with an "X." XHTML is a spinoff of the hypertext markup language (HTML) used for creating Web pages. It is based on the HTML 4.0 syntax, but has been modified to follow the guidelines of XML, the Extensible Markup Language. Therefore, XHTML 1.0 is sometimes referred to as HTML 5.0.

Because XHTML is "extensible," Web developers can create their own objects and tags for each Web page they build. This gives the developers more control over the appearance and organization of their Web pages. The only requirement is that the custom tags and attributes are defined in a document type definition (DTD), that is referenced by the XHTML page.

XHTML pages must also conform to a more strict syntax than regular HTML pages. While Web browsers are rather lenient and forgiving of HTML syntax, XHTML pages must have perfect syntax. This means no missing quotes or incorrect capitalization in the markup language. While the strict syntax requires more meticulous Web page creation, it also ensures Web pages will appear more uniform across different browser platforms.

XML

Stands for "Extensible Markup Language." (Yes, technically it should be EML). XML is used to define documents with a standard format that can be read by any XML-compatible application. The language can be used with HTML pages, but XML itself is not a markup language. Instead, it is a "metalanguage" that can be used to create markup languages for specific applications. For example, it can describe items that may be accessed when a Web page loads. Basically, XML allows you to create a database of information without having an actual database. While it is commonly used in Web applications, many other programs can use XML documents as well.

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing website owned by Google that allows users to watch other people's videos and publish their own. It allows both professional and amateur users to post videos, which can be viewed by anyone in the world with an Internet connection

Zip

Windows users will see this term a lot when looking for files on the Internet. A zip file (.zip) is a "zipped" or compressed file. For example, when you download a file, if the filename looks like this: "filename.zip," you are downloading a zipped file. "Zipping" a file involves compressing one or more items into a smaller archive. A zipped file takes up less hard drive space and takes less time to transfer to another computer. This is why most Windows files that you find on the Internet are compressed.



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