Techn's: Technologies, Techniques, and Technicians' Technical Details
* terms in this section refer to the following when
they are being used as part of the title of this section:
- This includes things such as software protocols
- Information about how to set up one or more popular implementations of the technologies. The information here is likely to be fairly simple (or as simple as possible): More complex configurations may be discussed in other sections like the Tutorial Area.
- Technicians' Technical Details
- Other information which may be useful for a technician, such as the startup process of computer systems
The terms that this section was named after are not necessarily meant to be separate sub-sections of this section.
- User interface details (such as how to use a command line, and effective use of keyboard shortcuts) and networking details (such as how to determine whether a route is taken, including understanding netmasks).
- Pre-operating system
- Initial code (BIOS and its setup configuration stored in CMOS, Extensible Firmware Interface), initial/critical sections of the disk ( Master Boot Record/GUID Partition Table, file systems bounaries (primary partitions, logical drives, disklabel slices), boot sectors, boot loaders, drive overlay software (e.g. Ontrack Disk Manager and Micro House EZ-Drive, http://www.rigacci.org/docs/biblio/online/firmware/diskmgr.htm ), boot managers,
- Operating system details
- operating system kernels, startup configuration files, hardware abstraction layers, drivers, automatically started files
Some topics include:
Copying files (to remote).
via command line, via GUI.
- (Note: handling data with remote systems is handled by the networking section.)
- via command line, via GUI.
- Moving/renaming files.
- Recycle bin, delete, wipe.
- Making directories, removing directories.
- File system attributes/permissions.
- Editing a text file.
- Editing a binary file.
- Editing/copying disk sectors (importing/exporting to/from files).
- Editing contents of memory.
- Comparing data.
- Backing up data, and restoring to another location.
- Configurations: Environment variables, registry entries, sysctls.
- Copying files (to remote).
These are some key items that are needed to get networks up, and are a top priority to keep up because these items tend to be important, breaking other items if these are broken. People who are not active IT staff may not care much how these are implemented, as long as they are implemented and allow other things to work. Often the implementation could even change and many end users may not notice.
In many cases, nothing needs to be customized for a specific organization except, possibly, for the names and addresses of some key computer systems.
Key infrastructure protocols, such as
- Addressing, routing, special-use addresses
Other networking-heavy technologies
- file transferring/sharing (including website servers)
- communications technologies such as E-Mail
- network-based authentication (e.g. VPN password authentication, integration with a user database)
- database resources (with network access): Although the databases themselves, meaning the actual data, may often be custom for an organization, simply the presense of a database server may be more generalized.
- Key infrastructure protocols, such as
Using More/Configurable infrastructure/Providing additonal services: these services may require working implementations of some of the basic networking infrastructure. Also, these items may be more likely to configurations that are customized more frequently. For instance, the names of web sites, users, and databases may vary from one organization to another.
- Handling user administration (creation/etc.)
- other details about users (home directory locations, policies)
- configuring web sites (after the web server is set up)
- Specific databases used by an organization
- File storage details: where (file system directory structure / file heirarchy) and how (on what kind of media, what kind of file system, and what kind of file system features, such as redundancy, encryption, and/or compression, are used)
Behind the Scenes
Some of these steps are not noticed as often. For example, virtualization may be noticed by end users who notice a new server name, but most end users won't need to notice whether a new server was implemented by using virtualization. Disaster recovery may not be typically involving most end users except for noticing the positive effects of recovery if “disaster” occurs (even if only to a single file). Granted, in some organizations there may be one or more end users who are involved with helping a data backup process by phyically rotating media and transporting such media off-site, although since such people are likely to be relatively few in number compared to the end user base, the efforts taken by such media rotaters may be considered to be behind the scenes efforts.
In many cases, changes may be made without many people noticing.
Examples include: virtualization, backups, software which helps protect against malicious software and E-Mail.
- Techniques for troubleshooting general and specific events, and other data which may help with troubleshooting. (Naturally, details about how the technologies work is some data that may help immensely in reaching resolution.)
Supporting hardware can be a skill commonly viewed as necessary. A lot of information may also be in other sections that describe how to perform tasks that involve the hardware. For more information, consider checking out the rest of the site for information about a task that would commonly be done with such hardware.
Still, a separate section for some hardware-specific details seemed warranted. For example, this section may include specifications. Also, some details about supporting hardware, such as details bout low-level, hardware-oriented platforms (such as DirectX) may be covered in this section.
A lot of system customizations may be done Behind the Scenes, although some features (such as a change in the window interface) are not meant to be done in a way that has no noticable impact to average end users. This section is mainly about how computers interact with humans and, terrifyingly, vice-versa. (That a person might even think of performing an insane action, such as using a BFG with psDooM, may be a creepy enough thought to send shivers up spines.)
This section was initially designed to be basically about how to get computers to act with humans in desirable ways.
Additionally, there may be some information about how to perform some commonly desired tasks in some popular environments. e.g.: How to reboot a system, handle file associations (determining what programs are related to certain types of files), etc.
- Information on various file formats. This information may include references to software that can handle the formats. This information may include details, or references to details, such as technical specifications for the format.
This site may not initially be as focused on being a coding site. However, creating script/batch files is a fairly simple task when one is familiar with command line programs, and introducing flexability through concepts such as variables (especially command line parameters to the script), conditions, and loops are fundamentally very small steps of complexity above that, yet yield substantial power. (In some cases, such corrupting power might be just enough to be dangerous, and people should be familiar with their own limits.)
Naturally, there are various resources on the Internet for such things. Some of them may be:
- Using Technology
- Using Networking
- Using the Internet
- Using the World Wide Web
The general populations of many financially “developed” nations do seem to understand many options with the World Wide Web. Here are some of them that people may or may not know.
- Saving money
Before buying something (and surely a person would need to be extremely impoverished, and/or young, to never buy anything), money might be able to be saved by buying on the web. Before choosing to buy something on the web, see “Automatic Comparision Shopping” section under researching suppliers/marketplace offerings for some browser plug-ins that are (or, can easily be) generally completely unintrusive except for when they see alternatives that may be less expensive. With these browsers, the options may nicely be “install it and forget it”, except when they are actually ready to save money.
- Making money
Some details may be in the section about providing professional services, including the subsection about Job/career paths, and tips about getting jobs such as information in the section about marketing one's own self.
- Google Translate, Babelfish (@ BabelFish.com, or “Yahoo!”'s Babelfish which is the new home of the older AltaVista's Babelfish)
- Google Maps, MapQuest, Google Earth
There are various offline spell checkers. There are also some spell-checkers on the web. One option is to just put the word into Google, which will show definitions. With Google Instant, this can be especially handy. Other options may include Dictionary.com (which might redirect to dictionary.reference.com), or Merriam-Webster's m-w.com.
- Annoyance blocking
(This section may not
have been fully tested...
- Blocking Flash
Of course, one option would be to entirely disable/uninstall Flash. However, these blockers may presumably allow Flash to be installed.
This may have a benefit other than just being less annoyed during a web browsing session: See: PC World article: more battery lifespan by blocking Flash states that not having flash may offer “noticed battery life improvements; but more importantly, the laptop does not get as hot when it displays multiple tabs with Flash content in the browser.”
Chome may have this functionality now built in. See: Softpedia news indicates needing Google CHrome 6.0.490.1 dev (or, presumably, newer code) and using a “
--enable-click-to-play” command line switch. See also: HowToGeek: Guide to enabling Flashblock in Chrone.
Wikipedia's page about Flashblock states, “Flashblock does neither stop the download of Flash content nor does it prevent its execution completely.” “The extension uses XBL and CSS to prevent elements of Silverlight, Java applets, Macromedia Authorware, Adobe Director and Adobe Flash from being displayed. Flashblock does not prevent the elements from being downloaded.” (Citations removed from quote: The cited references were from Flashblock section @ MozDev: FAQ and Flashblock Cascading Stylesheet: CVS log.)
SuperUser page on FlashBlock and similar solutions notes there are at least two add-osn called FlashBlock: one by josorek and one by ruzanow.
Readable English translations of widely recognized scripts have been released at World English Bible. Some other versions may not have “Intellectual Property” restritions because they pre-date implementation of copyright. The Gutenberg Project has released KJV and Douay-Rheims.
- Protection solutions
Free options may be available, mentioned by Protection software.
- Using optical readers
- e.g. cameras with QR Codes/similar, barcode scanners. e.g. OCR on text
- Audio and Video media
Some options/details may be at TOOGAM's Software Archive: Multimedia section.
- General info
This section may apply to mutliple categories of codecs (such as lossless audio and/or lossless video and/or some sort of lossy format(s)).
To some degree, video formats typically support audio data, so the video formats may be used for this purpose. However, that may be a fairly high amount of overhead, so it is common to have audio be implemented using a format (or subformat, within a container) that is designed for audio (rather than video). (Technically, video could be stored in audio as well, since information can be converted into different formats by using encapsulation. This isn't to say that such a thing would be particularly sane.)
See: Wikipedia's article comparing video codecs: section about software characteristics lists several codecs and features like whether they are lossy or lossless. Wikipedia's page about OpenCodecs.
- , such as Ogg (by Xiph.org), Matroska, WebM (by Google, based on Matroska), AVI, Apple's QuickTime, and Microsoft's ASF format (which was an acronym that has expanded to various meanings over the years, including Advanced Systems Format and Active Streaming Format).
- e.g. HuffYUV
- Note-based formats
- Music Instrament Digital Interface (“MIDI”)
- SMF files
Most well-known may be the Standard MIDI Format (“SMF”), most commonly represented with a
*.MID filename pattern, but rarely using
*.SMF instead, and occasionally using
*.midi. The files are much smaller than many other formats of digital audio because they simply include information about the notes. The sounds of the actual notes are not included as part of the file; therefore the same MIDI file can sound different when played by different players. This topic is covered in more detail by hardware section: subsection about MIDI sound. These sorts of music files have experienced some popularity, although they have become less popular as lossy file formats (beginning with
*.MP3 files) became popular. A significant reason to their loss of popularity was the non-standardization of samples, and some resulting implementations that were rather unspectacular.
Some devices other than computers, such as “player pianos”, may have supported MIDI formats during the 1980's and/or 1990's, before interconnectivity had become quite as widespread. (Hence why a “game port” on a PC was also known as a MIDI port.)
- Karaoke files
Fully quoting Wikipedia's page about MIDI: section on file formats:
MIDI-Karaoke (which uses the ".kar" file extension) files are an "unofficial" extension of MIDI files, used to add synchronized lyrics to standard MIDI files. SMF players play the music as they would a .mid file but do not display these lyrics unless they have specific support for .kar messages. These often display the lyrics synchronized with the music in "follow-the-bouncing-ball" or progressive highlighting of the lyric text fashion, essentially turning any PC into a karaoke machine. None of the MIDI-Karaoke file formats are maintained by any standardization body but they follow General MIDI standards.
(The original text on Wikipedia had some different formatting, notably including additional hyperlinks.)
A sort of container format which can allow files to include additional binary data beyond just the “SMF chunks”, which allows this file format to eliminate some of the restrictions of the older formats.
- Tracker Modules
Other formats do include “samples” of each sound that gets played, meaning that the file's bits included data about the sound of an “instrament”. Note that these virtual “instraments” do not need to sound anything like a traditional musical instrament. A “musical note” could sound like anything, including a voice. In addition to including the samples, though, the file formats include the “patterns”, which included detail about when to play each music note and possibly other information such as the length of time for a “note” to be played. The samples might even be able to be manipulated in ways other than length of time being played, such as containing pitch information. This could cause the sample to be altered, very similar to how a sample of a real musical instrament may have its pitch altered to play a note that sounds higher or lower.
Such formats have become known as “module” formats. Software that creates files using such module formats are called “trackers”, and so the files are sometimes called tracker files.
Using this sort of a file format, full control is provided over exactly how each virtual “instrament” should sound, but the sounds can be repeated and altered using very few bits of data, similar to MIDI files.
Such file formats represent a superior ratio of quality per bit compared to MIDI files (which really did not have any defined quality to speak of) or lossy recordings (which take up more bits, and may even be of lower quality). However, such files did not seem to take off in mainstream popularity beyond a smaller number of niche groups, such as the “demoscene”. Perhaps it was because creation software wasn't quite so easy, or because some creators would prefer using MIDI files so that they wouldn't need to be concerned with issues surrounding intellectual property rights related to the sampled sounds. Perhaps a factor was simply that MS WiMP (Windows Media Player) did not provide native support for these files, but it did support other files.
There are multiple MOD formats that use MOD or mod as part of the filename. Many software players can support multiple MOD file format variations. Some early software supporting this sort of format was released for Amiga computers, and so this is sometimes referred to as the Amiga mod format.
- Some other formats
*.S3M files and their predecesor of ScreamTracker's
*.STM files, Impulse Tracker's
*.IT files, Triton's Fast Tracker 2's “extended module”
Such files are created with “audio tracker” software. Wikipedia's list of audio trackers not only list such programs, but compares some of them.
- Other sound
- The file format of storing a Vorbis audio file within a more generic Ogg container is often called the “Ogg Vorbis” file format.
- AAC (“Advanced Audio Coding”)
- AAC may be free to play (but have some cost when commercially supporting the format in some way other than just playing a file). Wikipedia's article on “Advanced Audio Coding” (“AAC”) file format: section about licensing and patents
MP3 is older than AAC, and more limited, but was the first lossy audio file format that experienced substantial widespread mainstream popularity, and remains regularly used. An Intel 80486 could play an MP3 file, perhaps with some difficulty (when using a player in DOS). Later processors, that are faster, will have an easier time playing an MP3 file.
Video formats may/generally involve a “container” format. Options may include Theora (typically stored in an Ogg container file, and is typically called the “Ogg Theora” file format), and others.
- “Copy protection”/“Digital Rights”)
- Content Scramble System
- Wikipedia's article on libdvdcss: “Comparison with DeCSS” section says, “Unlike DeCSS, libdvdcss has never been legally challenged.”
This had been legally challenged, although the legal cases against software developer Jon Lech Johansen have ended, with him achieving acquittal. Information learned after DeCSS became a bit popular may have helped with the creation of libdvdcss, which may be less encumbered by legal issues. (Today, simply using libdvdcss is recommended.)
- Software supporting CSS
Wikipedia's page about Fluendo: section about “Fluendo Products” notes “Fluendo products are made available together with their respective patent licenses which means that” the software options “are completely legal worldwide.” Wikipedia's page about Fluendo: section about “Fluendo DVD Player” says “Fluendo DVD Player is one of the first products that can be bought that allows legal/licensed DVD playback for Unix/Linux users”. Also, “A version for OpenSolaris was released in November 2009.” “In October 2010 Fluendo DVD Player became the first application for sale in Ubuntu 10.10's Software Center.” (Hyperlinks/references removed from text quoted by Wikipedia.)
Have it? Enjoy the freebee program. Don't have it? The program may not be freely available, nor available for direct purchase. Wikipedia's page on LinDVD says “LinDVD from Corel is a commercial proprietary software for Linux for the playback of DVDs and other multimedia files.” “This is currently available only through manufacturers.” “Certain distributions like Mandriva have included this software in their commercial Linux distributions, and Dell is now preinstalling it on their Ubuntu systems.” InterVideo's page on LinDVD says “LinDVD, InterVideo's Linux software DVD player, is currently available only to manufacturers for evaluation and integration.” “Available only to manufacturers”
Available for Linux and Windows
More options for seeing DVDs from within Linux might show up on Wikipedia's comparison of video player software: section about operating system requirement.
Some software may be designed for performing common actions related to options that affect how a device behaves. For example, software may use a “configuration” file which contains a description of options that specify how a device behaves. The software may use this configuration file to communicate with a remote device and alter how that remote device acts. In addition to updating remote configurations, another common activity may be to retrieve data from a device, such as seeing what configuration options are currently in use, or what details the logs contain. Those logs might describe how the device has actually been used, like describing how much network traffic is sent over a cable.
Technical information related to the content that people may be tested on when seeking to achieve a formal industry-recognized certification. See also: formal credentials.