Technology Practice Tips Podcasts

Practical law practice technology concepts in an accessible, conversational manner with Phil Brown and David Whelan

Technology Jargon: M through Q

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This is our third swipe at jargon, covering M through Q:  open source, queries, and the wireless N standard, among others.  If you haven't listened to our podcasts on A to F and G to L , you can add them to your list.
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Speaker Key:      PB Phil Brown

                                DW David Whelan

 

PB :  Hi, It's Phil Brown and I'm here with David Whelan and today we're going to start part three of our Jargon 2015 podcast.

DW :  Yes, if you've missed them, go back and listen to A through L on the previous two jargon podcasts and today we are going to start with M. What do you have for M?

PB :  M is for megabyte, so we all talk about a megabyte, but, very few people I think understand what the unit represents. It's just over a million bytes, the byte being the smallest unit I suppose available for memory and storage. To ball park it, one byte would be equivalent to about one typed character if we're using text. So if you're thinking about how much storage this is going to take up, you can equate it more or less depending on spacing and things like that on a one-to-one kind of ratio. So, how many pages would that be? Roughly, depending on your font and characters and whether you have any images, a megabyte would be somewhere between two hundred and fifty and five hundred pages of information. What do you have for N David?

DW :  N I have the letter N. When you buy wireless routers or get on wireless networks you used to buy wireless routers that had the letter B and that was the standard at the time so you'd get Wi-Fi 802.11b and that was where it began. And that was sort of a slow speed and then it slowly grew to 802.11a which seems a little bit backwards. And then a few years ago we went to 802.11n and that was the speed that you aimed for or the hardware that you tried to buy. And now we are going beyond N finally. N which never really stood for anything I always thought it meant new, but, it never stood for anything and it was a big leap up from the A's and the B's. And now we're going to AC, so if you're going looking for new wireless hardware, you want to make sure it's going be compatible with the AC protocol that's coming along which is promising and you know hundreds and hundreds of megabits per second throughput which is great if you are using it in your internal network inside your office.

PB :  And hopefully most of the routers and modems are backwards compatible.

DW :  Yes, I think from that perspective you should be fine. The trick or the thing to remember really with Wi-Fi hardware is even if it says you're going to get 800 megabits per second throughput, as soon as it hits your internet connection which is only 1 megabit per second, you lose 799, so it's great as far as internal use if you want to stream files from your server or if you want to stream movies from your server, it's great, but, you need to just keep that in mind that although you're getting higher, it is good, it's positive for internal use, it won't necessarily mean that your internet access gets better.

PB :  And it also just the last one last point I think is if you have a device on your network at home or on your Wi-Fi network, that is an 802.11b, even though you have an N router it's not going to go to that N protocol because it goes to the lowest common denominator on that network.

DW :  Right, yes, if you got 802.11b's or 802.11a's out there you want to make sure that you toggle them so they go to N if they can or frankly just update them because you're got that kind of old equipment you'd get a speed boost if you update it.

DW:  Okay, what's there for O?

PB :  O, I've chosen open source. It's software where the programming code is available to anyone. And you will see one of the advantages is that you're not working with proprietary software so there's no bowing down to one of the big guys if I can put it that way. And the other thing is there is sort of a lot of crowd-sourced improvements to open source software and you can either make your own improvements if that's possible, if you have the knowledge, or you can rely on others to tweak things as the software goes and there's regular updates and in theory can improve things quite a bit.

DW :  And I've heard though the flip side and the reason that law firms might not use it is "Well, I don't have anybody to call if order to get support because since it's open source in its community then I have to rely on the goodness of other people."

PB :  And that matter, I suppose, is one of the major downsides of open source is in terms of the tech support available. You're really going on you know Google searches and looking at boards and trying to find out fixes and workarounds that other people have worked out. Or you can throw your problem out there on one of these boards on the Internet and other people might be able to solve the problem for you as opposed to going through some thirty page FAQ from Microsoft or Apple or someone like that and then the little proviso at the bottom saying "Did this help you with your problem?"

DW :  I think the interesting thing about open source is how much of it we use without really realizing it and so if we use the Mozilla Firefox browser for example we're using open source software and I think we're going to see a trend. Certainly with Microsoft embracing Android and other environments Linux, we will see that they will be open sourcing more of their code as well and so that's the nice sort of sweet spot where you got an organization supporting it that's big enough to actually support it, but, it's still free to us to use or to play around with.

PB :  And I think there will be quite a bit more talk about open source software given some of the concerns people have these days with the larger companies potentially giving up encryption keys to various governments.

DW :  Right. So we'll have both free beer and free puppies.

PB :  That's right. And now the letter P. What do you have for P?

DW :  P: I like the word proxy, proxy is good, lawyers know what proxies are. In the terms of technology, a proxy really does the same thing that a proxy does in real life. It stands in the place of you. And a proxy can do some good things for you; it can allow you to route all of your network traffic through the proxy which will then protect your systems from behind that proxy by filtering out information that may be unique to those web browsers or computers. It will allow you to control how your traffic flows in and out of your environment. So it's a little bit like a security tool where you can funnel things and control what gets to the web and what doesn't. One of the benefits of using a proxy is that you can set it up so that it blocks out inappropriate sites. Web filtering is an obvious one and from a parent's perspective you might do it. But, even more importantly frankly is not the contents so much as the malware sites and bad sites like that where you just don't, you want to eliminate the ability of your staff or people in your law firm to even click out and potentially download malware and things like that. A proxy server can allow you to funnel everything through that and make sure that anything that's leaving your law firm or coming back into your law firm is coming from a place you want it to come from.

PB :  And the proxy doesn't have to be a physical server, it can be a virtual identity.

DW :  Yes. You can actually buy a computer and run all of your connections through it or you can buy a piece of hardware that acts as a proxy or you can just have this virtual identity, so it runs through it and then runs back.

PB :  Right.

DW :  All right. What's up for S? I'm sorry Q, we always forget Q.

PB :  Q is a tough one. And the best I could do was query. Queries are the sorts of things you would use to make inquiries of software for your computer to find out things like which of my ports are open? What's my IP address? Things like that.

DW :  Yeah and it's amazing really, it's one of those terms of art that I think lawyers would probably understand. It really is just asking, you're just asking things and so in Excel you may be using the Excel query language in order to ask what is in different cells and how to manipulate those? Of course, when you use a web search engine like Google you're obviously doing a query there so it's interesting really how many query languages we're surrounded by.

PB :  And that's part three of our jargon podcast. Stay tuned for part four.

DW :  Sounds good.