Web Browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Explorer)

Definition: A web browser is an application that retrieves and presents content from the World Wide Web. It’s the tool that we use to “browse” the Internet. Much of the content that browsers display originate as HTML documents, though there are other formats. A browser takes those documents and sculpts them it into proper web pages—turning a indiscernible wall of text into images that are easily understood by average users. There are several different web browsers available, including: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc.

Explanation: Libraries use a classification system known as the Dewey Decimal System. The system uses numerals and decimals to mark the placement of a book. By using the system, you can easily pinpoint the location of a book, even in a large library. A web browser is a similar tool. By entering a specific URL (Uniform resource locator) into your browser's address bar, the browser brings the desired website up immediately. The URL acts much like the Dewey Decimal System, allowing you to find one website out of billions simply by knowing its specific address.

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Open source

Definition: Open source programs are programs that are open to modification by the community. Unlike closed source software, where the source code is kept under strict control, users can easily view and edit the source code of open source programs. Popular open source software include: Linux, GIMP, LibreOffice, and Apache.

Explanation: An easy way to think of open source software is to compare it to public documents. There are several government documents that are open to the public. However, there are also government documents that are closed to the public. To view these you must have the required security clearance, or viewing them could enter shaky legal grounds. The same goes for open versus closed source software.

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Definition: Initially released in 1995, the Apache HTTP Server is the most popular web server in the world, serving 54.2 percent of all active websites as of June 2013. Part of the reason for its success, is that it is an open source platform.

Explanation: At a basic level, the Apache HTTP Server takes a user's code, be it HTML, PHP, Python, etc., and executes and hosts it on its server. Think of Apache as a waiter at a restaurant. The cook, or user, prepares ingredients (code) into a meal. The waiter then delivers that meal to the diners that ordered it, just like the Apache HTTP Server delivers a website to a user.

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Definition: Hacking is the act of exploiting weaknesses in a computer program or network. Historically, hacking has had a negative connotation associated with it; however, within the hacking community there are hackers known as “black hats” and hackers known as “white hats.” Black hats are computer criminals; they exploit weakness in programs for many different reasons, but most of these reasons are illegal. White hats on the other hand, are often called “crackers.” They may work with companies or even the government. They're tasked with finding the exploits and fixing them before blacks hats do.

Explanation: Recently, there has been a boom in blogs discussing what are called "life hacks," simple exploits that you can take advantage of to make your everyday life that much easier. This recent trend isn't all that different than what computer hackers do. While they take advantage of exploits in computer programs using scripts and programs of their own, you can take advantage of every day items by finding exploits that get you more bang for your buck. Life hacks often revolve around finding new uses for items. For example, you could use a can opener to open a blister package. While exploits found by life hackers can make life easier, those found by computer hackers may have several different uses, from annoying people to criminal activity.

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Definition: A firewall is a form of software that monitors and controls a network’s traffic. Firewalls make distinctions between trusted and secure networks, and those that may be unsecure. Both computer operating systems and routers use firewalls to protect users from malicious programs like viruses.

Explanation: One way to think of about a firewall is to envision a five star restaurant. Just as a firewall applies a set of rules to both block and allow applications access to your network, a five star restaurant accepts and denies guests through the use of reservations. If a guest isn't trusted, i.e. not on the reservation list, he won't be allowed in the restaurant. Of course, perhaps the guest has a friend in the restaurant that can vouch for him. Then he is free to enter. The same is true of a fire wall. If an unknown program requires access to your network, you have the option to allow it to bypass the firewall.

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Definition: Computer viruses are, in some key aspects, very similar to organic viruses that affect living things. Just like real viruses, a computer virus infects a host (computer programs, data files, etc.) and uses them to replicate. Once a computer is infected, a virus may do a number of different things. Some are more annoying than harmful, forcefully displaying ads, while others can take-up hard disk space, or even steal your information. Virus are generally created with a purpose, and the vast majority of them affect users running Microsoft Windows. These users can guard against them by running a firewall or having an antivirus program installed.

Explanation: As was mentioned above, a computer virus shares many similarities with viruses that infect living things. Just as the bacteriophage infects bacteria to use as a host for its own replication, a computer virus infects programs to do the same.

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