Word of the Day: Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency that was introduced in 2009. There is no physical version of the currency, so all Bitcoin transactions take place over the Internet. Unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning it is not controlled by a single bank or government. Instead, Bitcoin uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment network made up of users with Bitcoin accounts.

Bitcoins can be acquired using two different methods: 1) exchanging other currencies for bitcoins, and 2) bitcoin mining. The first method is by far the most common and can be done using a Bitcoin exchange like Mt. Gox or CampBX. These exchanges allow users to trade dollars, euros, or other currencies for bitcoins.

The other method, bitcoin mining, involves setting up a computer system to solve math problems generated by the Bitcoin network. As a bitcoin miner solves these complex problems, bitcoins are credited to the miner. While this seems like an easy way to earn bitcoins, the Bitcoin network is designed to generate increasingly more difficult math problems, which ensures new bitcoins will be generated at a consistent rate. Additionally, the Bitcoin protocol and software are open source to make sure the network isn’t controlled by a single person or entity.

When you obtain bitcoins, your balance is stored in a secure “wallet” that is encrypted using password protection. When you perform a bitcoin transaction, the ownership of the bitcoins is updated in the network and the balance in your wallet is updated accordingly. Bitcoin transactions are verified by the bitcoin mining systems connected to the network, so there is no need for a central bank to authorize transactions.

Since bitcoins are transferred directly from person to person, the transaction fees are small (around $0.01 per transaction). Additionally, there are no prerequisites for creating a Bitcoin account and no transaction limits. Bitcoins can be used around the world, but the currency is only good for purchasing items from vendors that accept Bitcoin.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Bespoke

The term “bespoke” comes from England where it originally referred to custom or tailor-made clothing. In recent years, however, the term has been applied to information technology (IT), and refers to custom services or products.

For example, bespoke software is software customized for a specific purpose. Bespoke programs may include custom accounting software for a certain company or a network monitoring tool for a specific network. Because bespoke software is custom-made for a specific purpose, bespoke programs are also considered vertical market software.

Another area where bespoke is used in the computer industry is in reference to websites. A bespoke website is one that is custom-built, often from scratch, to suit the needs of a business or organization. This may include a custom layout, custom database integration, and other extra features the client may require. Because bespoke websites must be individually tailored to a client’s needs, they often take longer to develop and are more expensive than websites built from templates.

Finally, bespoke can also be used to refer to hardware. Computer companies, such as Dell, HP, and Apple may provide customers with custom options for the systems they buy. For example, one person may choose to build his system with a high-end graphics card for video production, while another person may choose a basic graphics card, but may add additional RAM so her computer will be able to run several programs at once. These custom configurations are sometimes referred to as bespoke systems.

Word of the Day: Loop

In computer science, a loop is a programming structure that repeats a sequence of instructions until a specific condition is met. Programmers use loops to cycle through values, add sums of numbers, repeat functions, and many other things.

Loops are supported by all modern programming languages, though their implementations and syntax may differ. Two of the most common types of loops are the while loop and the for loop.

– definition fro TechTerms

Word of the Day: Defragment

Defragmenting your hard disk is a great way to boost the performance of your computer. Though the term “defragment” sounds a little abrasive, it is actually a simple and helpful process. After all, a defragmented hard disk is a happy hard disk.

Adding and deleting files from your hard disk is a common task. Unfortunately, this process is not always done very efficiently. For example, when you delete a bunch of little files and add a new large file, the file may get broken up into mulitple sections on the hard disk. The computer will still read the newly added file as a single valid file, but the drive will have to scan multiple parts of the disk to read it. Because hard disk seek time is one of the most significant bottlenecks in a computer’s performance, this can drag down your computer’s speed quite a bit. If you have a ton of “fragmented” files on your hard disk, you might hear extra grinding, sputtering, and other weird noises coming from your computer.

You computer does not like having fragmented files any more than you do. This is why defragmenting your hard disk is such a good idea. When you start to hear extra grinding sounds, or your computer doesn’t open files as quickly as it did before, it’s time to defragment. With Windows, you can use the pre-installed Intel defragment program to defragment your hard disk. You can also use a commercial software program like Norton Utilities to defragment your hard disk more efficiently and with more options. For Mac users, a disk utility such as DiskWarrior or Tech Tool Pro is the only way to do it. If you use your computer daily, defragmenting your hard drive once a month should keep the fragment-fiends away.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Diode

A diode is an electrical component designed to conduct electric current in only one direction. It has two ends (or terminals), each with an electrode of a different charge. The “anode” end has a positive charge relative to the negatively charged “cathode” end. Current naturally flows in the direction from the anode to the cathode.

Diodes commonly serve as switches, allowing or preventing the flow of current. For example, current can be stopped by simply reversing an active diode inside an electrical circuit. Flipping the diode back to the original position will allow electricity to continue flowing through the circuit. Multiple diodes within a circuit can be used as logic gates, performing AND and OR functions.

While current generally flows through a diode in one direction, in some cases the current can be reversed. If the negative voltage applied to a diode exceeds the “breakdown voltage,” the current will begin flowing in the opposite direction. The breakdown voltage of a typical diode ranges from -50 to -100 volts, though the amount can be significantly less or more based on the design and materials used in the diode. Some diodes can be damaged by the reverse flow of current, while others are designed to allow current to flow in both directions. Zener diodes, for instance, are designed with specific breakdown voltages for different applications.

Another common type of diode is a light-emitting diode, or LED. Light emitting diodes generate visible light when current passes between the anode and cathode though a space called the p-n junction. The electrical charge in this space produces light in different colors depending on the charge and materials used in the diode.

– definition from TechTerms

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