Tech Terms | Abbreviations A–Z
FidoNet, Fork, Firmware, Flat-File CMS, Flat Rate, FOTA
FidoNet is a worldwide computer network that is used for communication between bulletin board systems (BBSes). It uses a store-and-forward system to exchange private (email) and public (forum) messages between the BBSes in the network, as well as other files and protocols in some cases.
The FidoNet system was based on several small interacting programs, only one of which needed to be ported to support other BBS software. FidoNet was one of the few networks that was supported by almost all BBS software, as well as a number of non-BBS online services. This modular construction also allowed FidoNet to easily upgrade to new data compression systems, which was important in an era using modem-based communications over telephone links with high long-distance calling charges.
The rapid improvement in modem speeds during the early 1990s, combined with the rapid decrease in price of computer systems and storage, made BBSes increasingly popular. By the mid-1990s there were almost 40,000 FidoNet systems in operation, and it was possible to communicate with millions of users around the world. Only UUCPNET came close in terms of breadth or numbers; FidoNet's user base far surpassed other networks like BITNET.
The broad availability of low-cost Internet connections starting in the mid-1990s lessened the need for FidoNet's store-and-forward system, as any system in the world could be reached for equal cost. Direct dialing into local BBS systems rapidly declined. Although FidoNet has shrunk considerably since the late 1990s, it has remained in use even today despite internet connectivity becoming more widespread.
Fork (software development)
In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct and separate piece of software. The term often implies not merely a development branch, but also a split in the developer community; as such, it is a form of schism. Grounds for forking are varying user preferences and stagnated or discontinued development of the original software.
Free and open-source software is that which, by definition, may be forked from the original development team without prior permission, and without violating copyright law. However, licensed forks of proprietary software (e.g. Unix) also happen.
The word "fork" has been used to mean "to divide in branches, go separate ways" as early as the 14th century. In the software environment, the word evokes the fork system call, which causes a running process to split itself into two (almost) identical copies that (typically) diverge to perform different tasks.
In the context of software development, "fork" was used in the sense of creating a revision control "branch" by Eric Allman as early as 1980, in the context of SCCS:
Creating a branch "forks off" a version of the program.
The term was in use on Usenet by 1983 for the process of creating a subgroup to move topics of discussion to.
"Fork" is not known to have been used in the sense of a community schism during the origins of Lucid Emacs (now XEmacs) (1991) or the BSDs (1993–1994); Russ Nelson used the term "shattering" for this sort of fork in 1993, attributing it to John Gilmore. However, "fork" was in use in the present sense by 1995 to describe the XEmacs split, and was an understood usage in the GNU Project by 1996.
In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for a device's specific hardware. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for more complex device software (allowing more hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device's complete operating system, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, computer peripherals, and others. Almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.
Firmware is held in non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, or flash memory. Changing the firmware of a device was rarely or never done during its lifetime in the past but is nowadays a common procedure; some firmware memory devices are permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device. This requires ROM integrated circuits to be physically replaced, or EPROM or flash memory to be reprogrammed through a special procedure. Firmware such as the ROM BIOS of a personal computer may contain only elementary basic functions of a device and may only provide services to higher-level software. Firmware such as the program of an embedded system may be the only program that will run on the system and provide all of its functions.
Before the inclusion of integrated circuits, other firmware devices included a discrete semiconductor diode matrix. The Apollo guidance computer had firmware consisting of a specially manufactured core memory plane, called "core rope memory", where data was stored by physically threading wires through (1) or around (0) the core storing each data bit.
A Flat-File Content Management System (in short Flat-File CMS) is a content management system in which the text contents are stored exclusively in files, which means that no relational database is required for its operation. By dispensing with a database, flat-file CMSs are not only suitable for inexpensive web hosting without a database, but also for web server performance that is not too high. In addition, compared to a content management system with a database, the maintenance effort is much smaller and the relocation of a website is easier. Templates (design templates) are available for the design, plugins are available for the functional extension. Most flat-file CMS are open source and therefore free of charge. BTW: such a Flat-File CMS with almost thousand web pages can be faster than a database-based CMS. You are surfing just now on such a website and the site building is fast enough if you are not sitting on the other side of the world, right?
A flat fee, also referred to as a flat rate or a linear rate refers to a pricing structure that charges a single fixed fee for a service, regardless of usage. Less commonly, the term may refer to a rate that does not vary with usage or time of use.
(abbr.:) Firmware Over The Air.
Distribution of new firmware version via a radio connection (e.g. UMTS, WLAN) to the mobile phone. No computer is needed and no PC software has to be installed. Important: First make a backup copy of the phone memory, if necessary also back up the call logs! Only do this when the battery is fully charged, otherwise connect to the charger first! Any interruption in the transfer process can render the mobile phone unusable! This usually means total economic loss, not only for older devices!