Word of the Day: OASIS

Stands for “Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards.” To someone backpacking through the Sahara, this is not the type of OASIS you want to see. But is it a welcome sight in the computer science world. OASIS is a non-profit, global consortium that supports the development and adoption of e-business standards.

While it won’t quench your thirst in the middle of the desert, OASIS does provide several useful technology standards. Common standards regulated by the OASIS consortium include protocols, file formats, and markup languages. Hardware and software companies often work with OASIS to develop and institute standards that are efficient and effective.

The standards produced by OASIS are open standards, which means they can be used by any company or organization. This allows multiple companies to develop products based on the same standard, which offers a high degree of interoperability between different computer systems. For example, a file format standardized by OASIS may be supported by several different programs. Because each program can save files in the same format, the files can be opened by any of the programs without needing to be converted or translated. This makes transferring files between applications or even different systems a seamless process.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: OEM

Stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer.” This refers to a company that produces hardware to be marketed under another company’s brand name. For example, if Sony makes a monitor that will marketed by Dell, a “Dell” label will get stuck on the front, but the OEM of the monitor is Sony. You can also use the term as a verb, such as, “That Dell monitor over there is OEM’d by Sony.” That should impress your friends.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Analog

As humans, we perceive the world in analog. Everything we see and hear is a continuous transmission of information to our senses. This continuous stream is what defines analog data. Digital information, on the other hand, estimates analog data using only ones and zeros.

For example, a turntable (or record player) is an analog device, while a CD player is digital. This is because a turntable reads bumps and grooves from a record as a continuous signal, while a CD player only reads a series of ones and zeros. Likewise, a VCR is an analog device, while a DVD player is digital. A VCR reads audio and video from a tape as a continuous stream of information, while a DVD player just reads ones and zeros from a disc.

Since digital devices read only ones and zeros, they can only approximate an audio or video signal. This means analog data is actually more accurate than digital data. However, digital data can be manipulated easier and preserved better than analog data. More importantly, computers can only handle digital data, which is why most information today is stored digitally. But if you want to transfer video from old analog video tapes into your computer so you can edit them, you’re not out of luck. You can use a digital to analog converter (DAC) to convert the analog information into a digital signal that can be recognized by your computer.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: WiMAX

WiMAX is a wireless communications standard designed for creating metropolitan area networks (MANs). It is similar to the Wi-Fi standard, but supports a far greater range of coverage. While a Wi-Fi signal can cover a radius of several hundred feet, a fixed WiMAX station can cover a range of up to 30 miles. Mobile WiMAX stations can broadcast up to 10 miles.

While Wi-Fi is a good wireless Internet solution for home networks and coffee shops, it is impractical for larger areas. In order to cover a large area, multiple Wi-Fi repeaters must be set up at consistent intervals. For areas that span several miles, this is a rather inefficient method to provide wireless access and typically requires lots of maintenance. WiMAX, on the other hand, can cover several miles using a single station. This makes it much easier to maintain and offers more reliable coverage.

WiMAX is also known by its technical name, “IEEE 802.16,” which is similar to Wi-Fi’s technical specification of 802.11. It is considered the second generation broadband wireless access (BWA) standard and will most likely be used along with Wi-Fi, rather than replace it. Since WiMAX has such as large signal range, it will potentially be used to provide wireless Internet access to entire cities and other large areas. In fact, some proponents of WiMAX predict it will eventually spread Internet access to all parts of the globe.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: VFAT

Stands for “Virtual File Allocation Table.” Older Windows operating systems (Windows ME and earlier) used a file system called “FAT” or “FAT32.” The file system is what the operating system uses to organize and access files on the hard drive. VFAT, introduced with Windows 95, was an improvement to the basic FAT file system, allowing more information to be stored for each file. While the FAT file system can only store 8 characters for each file name, VFAT allows for file names up to 255 characters in length. Personally, I use the term VFAT to refer to the size of my cat.

– definition from TechTerms

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