Monday, February 15, 2010

Simple Symbols

With all the new gadgets that have come out in the past decade, comes a whole bunch of jargon and technical terms that may seem confusing. You'll find these on most electronic and computer devices.

Power symbol: You'll usually see one of these two symbols on the power switch of your device. The one on the left is more prevalent on laptops and computers, while the one on the right is usually found on mobile phones.



USB: This is the most common connector for modern electronics. Cameras, mice, keyboards, external storage devices like flashdrives or hard drives, celfones, iPods and other music players. One caveat, there are currently 2 versions of USB, 1.1 and 2.0 if you're using a USB hub, and you have both 1.1 and 2.0 devices plugged in, the newer and faster 2.0 devices will slow down to 1.1 speeds. If you must have both devices, try not to have them plugged into the same main computer port (you're computer is most likely to have more than one USB port anyway)

Firewire: even though Firewire is an Apple trademark, it is the most common name for IEEE1394... also known as i.Link on Sony products, and IEEE 1394 on products not willing to pay Apple for use of the name Firewire. This is found on more high end devices, and was initially targeted at professional applications. Video cameras, professional hard drives, high end audio interfaces, and the like, all use Firewire. Firewire is generally faster than USB but more expensive, so not very common on entry level computers and laptops. There are currently 2 versions of Firewire, 400 & 800. Like USB, if a FW400 device is found within the same hub, the FW800 devices will slow down to match the slowest device in the chain. Most of the newer computers only have the new Firewire 800 plug, but not to worry, FW400 can still use this, just buy an adapter.

There are 3 kinds of physical Firewire plugs

4 pin






6 pin






Firewire800 or 9 pin









Bluetooth: Although mainly used for mobile phone headsets, BT has far more uses than just a simple handsfree set. Designed to eliminate all short (ideally within 3ft, although BT effective range is 30ft) cables, Bluetooth devices are capable of printing, exchanging files, playing audio, and a few more simple tasks.


So far, these are the most common symbols I've been asked the meaning of. Feel free to contribute your own, or post a photo of a symbol you've been curious about.

Past Tech Gospels

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