MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2009 (#42)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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30 MacDirectory DEPARTMENT AN APPLE A DAY > TECH TERMS MADE SIMPLE WORDS BY MARY ROSENTHOL Avatar > The embodiment of a person or idea. However, in the computer world, an avatar specifically refers to a character that represents an online user. Avatars are commonly used in multiplayer gaming, online communities, and Web forums. Online multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest allow users to create custom characters. These characters serve as the players' avatars. A World of Warcraft player may choose a Paladin with blue armor as his avatar. As the player progresses in the game, his character may gain items and experience, which allows the avatar to evolve over time. Avatars are also used in online communities, such as Second Life and The Sims Online. These avatars can be custom- designed to create a truly unique appearance for each player. Once a user has created an avatar, he or she becomes part of an online community filled with other users' avatars. Players can interact with other avatars and talk to them using text or voice chat. It's no surprise that "Second Life" refers to a virtual life that players live through their avatars. Captcha > A program used to verify that a human, rather than a computer, is entering data. Captchas are commonly seen at the end of online forms and ask the user to enter text from a distorted image. The text in the image may be wavy, have lines through it, or may be highly irregular, making it nearly impossible for an automated program to recognize it. Most captchas allow the user to regenerate the image if the text is too difficult to read. Some even include an auditory pronunciation feature. By requiring a captcha response, webmasters can prevent automated programs, or "bots," from filling out forms online. This prevents spam from being sent through Web site forms and ensures that wikis, such as Wikipedia, are only edited by humans. Captchas are also used by sites such as to make sure users don't bog down the server with repeated requests. The name "captcha" comes from the word "capture," since it captures human responses. It may also be written "CAPTCHA," which is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart." Checksum > A value used to verify the integrity of a file or a data transfer. It is a sum that checks the validity of data. Checksums are typically used to compare two sets of data to make sure they are the same. Some common applications include verifying a disk image or checking the integrity of a downloaded file. If the checksums don't match those of the original files, the data may have been altered or corrupted. Cloud Computing > This refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. These services are offered from data centers all over the world, which collectively are referred to as the "cloud." This metaphor represents the intangible, yet universal nature of the Internet. The idea of the "cloud" simplifies the many network connections and computer systems involved in online services. Any user with an Internet connection can access the cloud and the services it provides. Since these services are often connected, users can share information between multiple systems and with other users. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) > An XML-based system that allows users to aggregate content into a reader (kind of like an inbox). An RSS Reader allows blogs and news sties to download updates directly to a user's desktop. Social Media > Refers to sites where users are generating content and sharing information; including social networking sites, bookmarking sites, podcasts, blogs, microblogging sites, forums and more.

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