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Old 02-05-2006, 04:16 PM   #1
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Computer Terminology Facts

(Note: This is a work in progress. This also was taken, with permission, from to help this forum.)

What is USB?
What is a Flash Drive?
What is plug-and-play?
What is hot-swapping?
What is WiFi?
What is Bluetooth?
What is a LAN?
What is a WAN?

What is USB?
Just about every computer that you buy today comes with one or more USB or Universal Serial Bus ports on the back, which support data transfer rates up to 12Mbps(Megabits per second). These USB connectors let you attach up to 127 peripheral devices on each port such as mice, modems, keyboards and printers to your computer quickly and easily. It also supports plug-and-play and hot-swapping or plugging.

A few computer manufacturers first began including support for USB back in 1996, but it wasn’t until the release of the best-selling iMac in 1998 that USB became widespread. It is eventually expected to replace the older parallel and serial ports.

USB ports now come in 2 versions, 1.0 and the newer 2.0, which is backwards compatible with 1.0. That means the older version 1.0 will work with the newer version 2.0. You can also connect USB 2.0 devices to 1.0 ports but they will only function at the older standard speeds.

What is a Flash Drive?
A flash drive is a small, portable flash memory card that plugs into a computer’s USB port and functions as a portable hard drive with up to 2GB of storage capacity. They are small enough to be carried in a pocket and can plug into any computer with a USB drive. They are more durable than an external hard drive because they do not contain any internal moving parts. They are also called pen drives, key drives or simply USB drives.

What is Plug and Play?
Plug and Play (PnP) is a capability developed by Microsoft for its Windows 95 and later operating systems that gives users the ability to plug a device into a computer and have the computer recognize that the device is there. The user doesn't have to tell the computer. In many earlier computer systems, the user was required to explicitly tell the operating system when a new device had been added by setting DIP switches, jumpers, and other configuration elements. Microsoft made Plug and Play a selling point for its Windows operating systems. A similar capability had long been built into Macintosh computers.

With Microsoft's participation, Plug and Play has now been replaced by an open, industry standard, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which uses Internet protocols for seamless device plug-in.

What is hot swapping?
Hot swapping is the ability to remove and replace components of a computer while it is operating. Once the appropriate software is installed on the computer, one can plug and unplug the device without rebooting. An example of this is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) that allows a user to add or remove peripheral devices such as a mouse, keyboard, or printer.

What is WiFi?
WiFi is the wireless way to handle networking. It is also known as 802.11 networking and wireless networking. The big advantage of WiFi is its simplicity. You can connect computers anywhere in your home or office on a Wireless LAN without the need for wires, with or without a wireless router and WiFi network cards. The computers connect to the network using radio signals, and they can be up to 100 feet or so apart.

What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a new industrial specification for wireless personal area networks (PANs). It is the latest development in wireless technology and provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, laptops, PCs, printers and digital cameras via a secure, low-cost, globally available short range radio frequency. It is designed for low power consumption, using radio frequencies in the 2.45 GHz range to transmit information over short distances of generally 33 feet (10 meters) or less. By embedding a Bluetooth chip and receiver into products, cables that would normally carry the signal can be eliminated.

What is a LAN?
A LAN is a Local Area Network. A computer network that spans a relatively small geographical area such as in an office or at home, which share the same resources eg. printers, file servers and/or internet connections through ethernet cables or WIFI.

What is a WAN?
A WAN is a Wide Area Network. A computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs). Computers connected to a wide-area network are often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites. The largest WAN in existence is the Internet.
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