10 Websites Geeks Of All Stripes Should Bookmark


websites for geeksWe geeks know what we are and revel in our existence as our place in society grows ever stronger. We are geeks, we are proud, and we’re not going anywhere. As the Internet becomes a bigger part of everybody’s lives, we are the ones who they, the non-geeks, will turn to for help and advice. And we will offer that help and advice without hesitation.

There are some fantastic resources on the Web for geeks, of all ages and all kinds. Be it computer geeks who like to mess around with the insides of machines or those more mainstream geeks (as I consider myself) who approach things from a more basic angle but then delve as deep as they need to in order to understand. The following are 10 websites for geeks that you should bookmark.

Lifehacker

websites for geeks

Lifehacker is a website which does exactly what its name suggests – provide life hacks. These are anything which can help solve an everyday problem in a new way, or aid productivity and efficiency. Within those boundaries, content on Lifehacker is diverse, with everything from personal finance to health, from cooking to photography. This is geekdom for those who want to better themselves.

How-To Geek

websites for geeks tech

How-To Geek is completely dedicated to computers and how they work. There is a constant stream of articles related to the topic, as well as forums with sections dedicated to all the major operating systems and specialized topics such as building your own PC. This is geekdom for those who know a little but want to know more.

TechRepublic

websites for geeks tech

TechRepublic is a vast resource with sections dedicated to blogs, downloads, galleries, and discussions, amongst others. Content is also segregated by the field of technology it belongs to; development, IT support, networks, etc.

This isn’t a site for everyone but rather those who already have some kind of connection to the tech sector. This is geekdom for professionals.

Ozzu

websites for geeks tech

Ozzu labels itself simply as ‘Webmaster Forum‘ and that’s a fitting description. This is news, information and resources for developers, programmers, and designers. There are forums for those with a passion for each of these professions, with a considerable amount of crossover included. A marketplace offering job opportunities in this field also features. This is geekdom for webmasters.

Neowin

geek websites

Neowin has tech news, reviews, features, and forums. It was once all about Microsoft and its products, but it has now evolved to cover Mac and Linux amongst other things.

It’s fair to say there is still a pro-Microsoft bias on the site though, which isn’t a bad thing considering all the pro-Apple bias on other sites. This is geekdom for fans of Windows.

Protonic

geek websites

Protonic is a site offering an invaluable service. If you need technical support for your computer, be it hardware- or software-related, then you can get it for free on Protonic.

You simply ask a question and a volunteer will answer it for you, offering assistance completely for free. This is geekdom for those in need.

ITProPortal

geek websites

ITProPortal delivers “24/7 Tech Commentary & Analysis.” This is around-the-clock news with a British bias, with different sections dedicated to different sectors of technology.

What differentiates ITProPortal from so many other sites is the added commentary, with a different spin often put on stories you may have already read elsewhere. This is geekdom for tech news junkies.

Gizmag

Gizmag is the place to spy on invention and innovation. While we all know about the new iPador Windows 8, we don’t always get to hear about the slightly zany, out-there gadgets in development. Which is where Gizmag comes in.

We’re talking flying cars and suction-cup shoes. Things that we may or may not all be using in the years to come but which are already out there now. This is geekdom for those who love gadgets.

Stackoverflow

Stackoverflow is a constantly updating stream of programming-related questions. If you’re the kind of person who likes reading questions about programming and on topics completely incomprehensible to ordinary people then Stackoverflow could be your nirvana.

I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t a clue what most of the questions on Stackoverflow are pertaining to, but James Bruce may well do. This is geekdom for those who are bigger geeks than me.

MakeUseOf

websites for geeks

MakeUseOf is awesome, obviously. If you’re reading this then you already know MakeUseOf is THE place for geeks to hang out. With more than 20 writers, all of whom have different interests and expertise in different fields, MakeUseOf will have something for everyone.

I myself,consider ” makeuseof ” the best!

There are Best Of Apps for a host of platforms, Guides and Cheat Sheets, a vast Directory of websites, and a forum for Questions and Answers. This is geekdom for the masses.

Conclusions

The 10 websites above represent geek heaven. These are where all geeks or would-be geeks should be hanging out on a daily basis. When combined with the 10 websites where cool computer geeks reside you should never be left needing a place to visit on the Web to gain your geek credentials.

As always we want to hear from you. So please let us know your thoughts on geeks, geek culture, and websites for geeks. If there are you visit on a regular basis that you feel should have made the list then link to it in the comments section below.

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What Is The Difference Between A Netbook, Notebook, Ultrabook, Laptop, & Palmtop?


difference between netbook and laptopIn a time not so long ago, the only choice to make between computing devices was between a hulking great desktop, or a laptop … which was still fairly huge. The constant miniaturation of technology and need for manufacturers to differentiate their products has now given us a smorgasboard of sizes; each with their own name. Let me show you the differences.

Order of size

Generally speaking, we can actually give a fairly broad ranking of these names by size, from smallest to largest:

  1. Palmtop
  2. Netbook
  3. Ultrabook
  4. Notebook
  5. Laptop

It may be more accurate to say this is in order of portability – since you can get a biggerscreensize on a particular ultrabook than you would on a particular notebook; however, the notebook would be thicker and heavier.

With that out of the way, let’s look at some examples of each and their defining characteristics. All of these devices share one characteristic though: they all feature a clamshell design – that is, they had a screen in the lid, and it opens and closes like a clamshell; we won’t be talking about tablets or touchscreen mobile devices here.

Palmtops

The smallest devices that could give you a full computing experience, most palmtops ran a special low powered version of Windows called Windows CE, but there were later models running that could run regular Windows XP. With the advent of smartphones, the palmtop computer was made obselete and you can’t really buy one today (though you could probably track a few down in second hand shops in Japan). These devices had a screensize of around6–7 inches. (Pictured: the HP–760LX)

difference between netbook and laptop

Netbooks

With a screensize of around 9 –10 inches, netbooks were quite popular before the iPad launched. They represented a truly portable full computing platform, with a tactile keyboard(ie, one you can actually push the buttons on rather than simply touch).

Although impractical for daily use, they run Windows so you can use all the applications you’re used to – as opposed to a tablet or mobile phone, which can’t run regular Windows applications.

Their popularity has declined in recent years, but you can certainly still buy them for around $200 – $500. They are suitable for daily computing tasks, but gaming and intensive applications like Photoshop or video editing are not possible. (Pictured: the Asus EEE-pc)

difference between netbook and notebook

Ultrabooks

These are the new breed of “ultra-portable notebook” – typically weighing less than 1.5kg, and extremely thin. The word was invented by PC manufacturers as a direct response to the Apple Macbook Air, the first true “ultrabook”. Despite the thin profile of ultrabooks (less than 2cm), screen sizes can often rival “normal” notebooks – anywhere from 11 to 15 inches. Most are equipped with SSD hard drives – these are silent, lighter, and much faster than regular HDDs, giving an “instant on” feel that avoids lengthy boot-up times. Although much faster, SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, so you’ll get less GBs for your money – just128gb wouldn’t be unusual in an ultrabook. Ultrabooks also typically don’t have a DVD-drive, so bear this in mind if you’re shopping for a laptop to play your DVDs on.

Suitable for most computing tasks and lightweight gaming, they will struggle with the higher end 3D games. Ultrabooks can vary in price between around $700 to $1500. (Pictured: the Macbook Air)

difference between netbook and notebook

Notebooks and Laptops

Historically, a laptop was a little larger, designed to be a replacement for a desktop that could still sit in your lap. Notebooks were simply a little smaller than laptops – something you could carry around anywhere, synonymous with a paper “notebook”. Nowadays however, there is no distinction. Manufacturers will use the terms notebook and laptop interchangeably; and it’s rare to see the term laptop used at all now.

Notebook is a bit of a catch-all. Anything that isn’t any of the above, is a notebook, so attempting to define price ranges is impossible; top of of the line notebooks can go as high as $4000. Screen sizes vary between 12 – 18 inches, though 15″ is the average. You can get notebooks with a powerful graphics card too for 3D gaming, though this isn’t true for all notebooks. Notebooks will usually have a DVD-drive and large hard disks; if they didn’t they would probably be termed ultra-books instead. (Pictured: a top-end Alienware notebook, an incredibly powerful machine)

difference between netbook and laptop

By James Bruce makeuseof.com

What is a “Web Server” ?


what is a web serverIf there is one thing that causes the most confusion for people that are new to the web design game, it’s the concept of a web server.  When most people think of a “server”, they think of a physical machine like a big computer system sitting in some chilled computer room somewhere, or at the very least some computer system sitting in the basement of some hackers house.

So what is a web server? The truth is that a server in this sense is technically software. It’s literally a service that runs on a computer and “serves” information to multiple clients. This process doesn’t require a huge server or even a single PC. A web server (or multiple web servers for that matter) can be installed on a USB using software likeXAMPP and others.

Of course, the typically web server setup is web server software like Apache running on a dedicated computer system, or you can just use the web hosting features built into most operating systems, like IIS for Windows or just setting up Ubuntu as a web server.  The truth is that setting up a web server that can deliver web pages to the web browsers of other computers is actually the easy part. The slightly more complicated aspect of web servers is delivering dynamic content with forms or other page content that accepts user input, processes it, and then creates new custom pages on the fly.

Higher level websites like that can be hosted on the simple web servers you might enable using software like Apache, but the ability to process the input from users and automatically create new web pages that respond to that input is the work of web scripting languages and platforms like PHP, Java and more.

Alas, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s take a look at the basic setup of a web server, and then we can explore some of those more advanced areas once our theoretical web server is running properly.

What is a Web Server and How Does It Work?

To understand the architecture of a web server, you need to first understand how the path of an exchange between a remote web browser and a web server actually works.

The path of communication starts when someone opens a web browser and types in the name of a website. When the user does this and hits enter, the browser goes out to the Internet in search of where that website is stored – in other words, what web server holds the web page file that will display that information.

How the browser figures that out isn’t really the scope of this article, but if you’re curious, you can learn more about it at the article Guy wrote about it, or check out the Internet guide thatJustin wrote. The bottom line is that the user’s own ISP directs the web browser to special servers on the Internet called DNS servers, which help convert that domain – like MakeUseOf.com – to the address known as a unique IP address where that server can be accessed.

The browser then establishes a connection with the web server via its IP address, requests the specific web page, and the web server responds by “serving” the file. The very basic web page is an .htm or .html file. The typical default page for most websites is index.htm, which is what most web servers assume is being requested when a browser asks for just a domain. So if you look for “TopSecretWriters.com“, my web server will send you the index.htm file that’s stored on the first level public directory of that web server. Your browser then knows how to interpret that HTML code and properly display it to you.

Here’s what that simplified path looks like.

what is a web server

Obviously, the Internet isn’t quite that simple. If it was, there would be a whole lot more webmasters in the world. The thing is, setting up a web server that can be accessed from anywhere in the entire world over the Internet isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t for the feint of heart either.

Setting up a simple web server that can serve up simple HTML files is fairly easy. If you have a Windows 7 computer, all you have to do is open up “Programs and Features” in the Control Panel, click on “Turn Windows features on or off“, and then click the checkbox next to “Internet Information Services” – this is IIS.

what is a web service

By default, IIS will not enable an FTP server along with it, so you’ll need to click that checkbox as well if you’d like to have an FTP server also available on your computer. This is a good idea if you intend on sending files to the web server remotely via some FTP client.

Either way, the moment IIS is enabled on a Windows PC, any HTML file stored in a “c:\inetpub\wwwroot” directory will be available to any other computer to view with a web browser, so long as that computer can access your computer. You can see your default website (and create others) by going to Admin Tools, and selecting “Internet Information Service“.

what is a web service

What this means is that even if your computer isn’t on the Internet and is only on a Corporate LAN, any other user on a computer plugged into that LAN can type the IP address or name of your computer into their web browser, and access the web pages that you’ve stored on your computer. You’ve just set up a simple web server.

Running Scripts & Programs

That’s a simple web server, but what if you want to do interesting things like have the user fill out forms and access a back-end database? What if you want to host a WordPress blog? You can’t do those things on a regular, simple web server, because in order to do that you need server side scripting enabled.

A web server needs to have those actually installed on the server in order for it to work. Such languages include Ruby, Java, PHP, C++, .Net, and many more. It is actually pretty surprising how many languages you have to choose from to write web applications, but that’s exactly what you can do – write applications that can run on a web browser.

If you want to save a little bit of time, you can go through and use one of our guides to set up XAMPP on your computer. This is one option – there are others – that essentially provides a working web server application that includes Apache (the web server that hosts content on your PC), the PHP programming language, the Perl programming language, and a convenient MySQL database.

Once you’ve installed these additional layers on top of your regular web server, your system now looks more like below.

what is a web server

Now, remote computers access your web server, and either get regular static files, or if your content is dynamic – such as if you’re using a WordPress blog where all the pages are dynamically created every time the page is loaded – the web server will run that language and return the content via the script output into a unique, new web page file.  If necessary, the script may even access data in your SQL Database stored on the server.

As you can see, once you start adding the additional layer of programming languages and a back-end database where you can store information, the things that you can do with a website really become nearly unlimited. And, if you back up all folders and files for your website, you can really plop down your website into any other server with the same setup. This is why USB-hosted web servers using XAMPP is so cool, because you can literally take the USB stick and host your website from just about any computer.

As you can see, a web “server” is less about the actual computer, and it’s more about the software that makes it all work. It’s web server software that lets you open up those web files to the entire world.

Have you ever thought about having your own web server, or even hosting your first website? Did this article clarify the whole thing a little more for you? Share your own thoughts and experiences with web servers. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

By Ryan Dube makeuseof.com