Word of the Day: Bloatware

#WOTD (4)

Bloatware is software that uses an excessive amount of system resources, such as disk space and memory. While bloatware may refer to the first version of a software program, it most often describes programs that require increasing amounts of system resources with each new version.

It is generally considered good programming practice to develop efficient applications. A well-developed program should not require more RAM or disk space than necessary. However, in some cases a developer may prioritize a specific release date or new features over efficiency. This can result in a bloated application that uses far more storage space and memory than the previous version.

New versions of software programs typically include new features, which provide an incentive for users to upgrade. However, with each new release, the program’s system requirements may also grow. If left unchecked, after a few versions, a once efficient application can turn into bloatware. To avoid this, some software developers make an intentional effort to trim unnecessary features when adding new ones.

Common examples of software that may be considered bloatware include Microsoft Windows, Apple iTunes, and Adobe Reader.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Micron

#WOTD (3)

A micron is a small unit of measurement that measures length. It is another name for “micrometer,” which is one thousandth of a millimeter, or one millionth of a meter. An object that is only a single micron wide is not visible by the human eye. However, a human hair, which has a width around 50 micron, can been seen.

Microns are used in many industries, such as biology (e.g., to measure cell size) and chemical engineering (e.g., to measure particle filtration). They are also used in computing to measure the size of elements within integrated circuits and other components. Additionally, manufacturing specifications may state the dimensions of a product must fall within a certain micron number to meet quality control standards.

While a micron is extremely small, it is still too large to measure some computing components such as transistors and bus widths. These are often measured in nanometers, which are one thousandth of a micron, or one billionth of a meter.

NOTE: The term “micron” used is in both singular and plural cases. For example, one micron is half the length of two micron. While the term “micron” is still used in some industries, micrometers have become a more standard unit of measurement.

Word of the Day: Handshake

#WOTD (2)

In the real world, a handshake is a customary greeting between two people. Similarly, a computer handshake serves as a greeting between two computer systems. It is commonly used to initialize a network connection between two hosts.

A computer handshake may be completed between any two systems that communicate with each other on the same protocol. The two systems may be a client and server or simply two computers on a P2P network. The handshake confirms the identities of the connecting systems and allows additional communication to take place.

Handshaking over a network is commonly called a 3-Way Handshake or “SYN-SYN-ACK.” A successful handshake involves seven steps:

  1. Host A sends a synchronize (SYN) packet to Host B.
  2. Host B receives Host A’s SYN request.
  3. Host B sends a synchronize acknowledgment (SYN-ACK) message to Host A.
  4. Host A receive’s Host B’s SYN-ACK message.
  5. Host A sends an acknowledge (ACK) message to Host B.
  6. Host B receives Host A’s ACK message.
  7. The connection between the two systems is established.

When a system initiates a handshake, there are three possible outcomes:

  1. No response – If the system receiving the handshake is not available or does not support the protocol the initiating system uses, it may not respond to the request.
  2. Connection refused – The system receiving the handshake is available and understands the request, but denies the connection.
  3. Connection accepted – The system receiving the handshake is available, receives the request, and accepts the connection.

The third outcome listed above is the only the one in which the handshake is completed. If a handshake is successful, the two systems can begin communicating and transferring (data) over the established protocol. Examples of protocols that use handshaking include TCP, TLS, and SSL.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Leaf

#WOTD (2)

What does a computer’s hard disk have in common with a tall oak? While it may not look like a tree on the outside, the hard disk is organized the same way. Directories of files and folders on a hard drive are organized into branches, where each directory is a branch with files and folders. Folders make up the branches, while files are the leaves. Therefore a leaf is a file within a directory on your hard drive.

Technically speaking, a leaf is a node on a tree with no child nodes. Because files cannot have child nodes like folders can, they are always leafs. When referring to a tree structure, a leaf can also be called a leaf node.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Kerning

#WOTD (1)Kerning refers to the spacing between the characters of a font. Without kerning, each character takes up a block of space and the next character is printed after it. When kerning is applied to a font, the characters can vertically overlap. This does not mean that the characters actually touch, but instead it allows part of two characters to take up the same vertical space.

For example, when the characters A and V are placed next to each other, they can take up less total space if they overlap. This is because the right part of the A and the left part of the V fit together. If kerning is applied to the two characters, you could draw a vertical line straight down starting from the top left part of the V and it would go through the lower right part of the A.

Kerning is useful because it allows more text to be placed within a given amount of space. This allows longer articles to be placed in newspapers and magazines with limited space. It also looks more natural because when writing by hand, people often make characters overlap. Many text editing programs, as well as image editors such as Adobe Photoshop, allow the user to kern characters. These programs often include a kerning setting that enables the user to determine how tightly the characters fit together.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Veronica


The name actually stands for “Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Netwide Index to Computerized Archives.” Pretty weird, I know. The “rodent” part of the acronym refers to how the Veronica utility allows you to search all of the world’s gopher servers using keywords. (That’s about 10 million items from over 6,000 gopher servers.) After searching for the terms, Veronica displays a list of gopher menus and articles containing the key words you searched for. The more recent versions of Veronica can also search certain Web pages, newsgroups, and FTP sites.

Unlike most search engines, Veronica searches for keywords only in gopher server menu titles, and doesn’t look throught the entire text of documents. When searching with Veronica, you can use the logical operators AND, NOT, and OR to help narrow your search. Also, typing an asterisk (*) at the end of a word will match anything starting with that word. Sound familar to any Unix users?

– definition from TechTerms

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