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  • Uses of FireWire

    FireWire Technology, an invention of Apple, was originally developed for high speed data transfer for computers. But today, there are several different uses for this technological advancement. Many major companies from various technological fields have bought into the FireWire technology and incorporate it into their devices.

    Digital video (DV) is one of the most common uses of FireWire technology. While FireWire is no longer the fastest data transfer technology available, it allows the recording of video on a digital video recorder (DVR) from a DV camcorder. It can allow the streaming of time code from a camera, as well as permit the user to control another connected device with play, rewind, etc.

    When digital tape was still used for recording on digital camcorders, USB was not compatible, because video data streamed constantly from the tape. FireWire was the obvious choice, as it was able to work with data stored on digital tape.

    However, now that DVDs, SD Cards, and Hard Drives are used in digital video technology, USB has again become the first choice in video recording. Today, professional audio systems make more use of FireWire than digital video. But machine vision systems like the Instrumentation & Industrial Digital Camera (IIDC), by Apple, uses FireWire as its standard.

    Automobiles have a use for FireWire technology. Only, it is not the same exact 1394 standard. In autos, it is the IDB-1394 Customer Convenience Port (CCP). FireWire has also been used for networking, as in PlayStation 2, and even wind power turbines. Today, it seems that FireWire may lose its hold to USB 3.0, at least in many purposes, as USB 3.0 is faster than FireWire technology. But, for now, FireWire technology still has several important uses.
  • FireWire vs. USB

    FireWire technology was the latest and greatest for its time, when it was released in 1995. But since USB technology came out in 2001, it has provided FireWire with consistent competition. FireWire was able to beat USB 2.0, but the new USB 3.0 is faster than the FireWire existing at the time of its release.

    The latest FireWire technological advancements are meant to compete with USB 3.0, allowing speeds of up to 6.5Gbit/s. But the technologies continue to battle for manufacturer and consumer preference.

    One of the differences between the two technologies is that USB relies on the host processor for managing the USB protocol. But FireWire uses the interface hardware to accomplish this, requiring little or no help from the central processing unit (CPU).

    Thus far, this has allowed FireWire to run higher level protocols without slowing the CPU and interrupting other functions. FireWire also uses two data buses for each section of the bus network, allowing FireWire to transfer data in both directions at the same time.

    In summary, FireWire has more simple bus networking, is more reliable for transferring data, provides more power along the chain and causes little to no interference with the CPU. With FireWire, two devices can have a “peer-to-peer” network. This means that either device can be the host or slave.

    But USB is staying right on FireWire’s tail and is the preferred choice for many devices and functions. If FireWire developers do not stay on top of it, USB technology may eventually eradicate FireWire.
  • FireWire History

    Development on FireWire technology began in the 1986, with the intention of replacing parallel SCSI bus technology and adding connectivity for digital audio and video devices. Apple was the company at the forefront of FireWire development. However, other major companies contributed to the technological advancement including Sony, IBM, and others.

    The IEEE 1394 High Speed Serial Bus, eventually called “FireWire” filled the need for a technology that supports the high-speed transfer of data between devices. As a serial bus, it transfers information one bit at a time, saving time, space, money, and usability from the older parallel buses.

    Apple completed FireWire technology in 1995. But from 1988 until completion, the project was called “Chefcat.” Ironically, the name came from Kliban’s artwork on one of the team member’s coffee mugs, Michael Teener. The team’s goal was to simplify and unify the connecting of computers and other devices.

    One of the contributions of the other major companies to the project was Sony’s “i.LINK.” Originally, the team had developed a connector with 6 signal circuits. But Sony’s idea was to remove the two power circuits and replace it with a separate power connector, so that the connector would be simplified to 4 circuits.

    Now that the FireWire has become established into the world of technology, one of its principle uses is for connecting data storage devices, as originally planned. But FireWire has also proved useful, and superior, for digital video, machine vision, and audio equipment used by professionals. While FireWire is not as fast as the new USB 3.0, it holds a place in homes and businesses that will last for some years to come.
  • Uses of USB Technology

    Originally, the USB flash drive was invented for storing and transporting data. While there is still controversy over who actually invented the technology first, it is clear that it was intended for this purpose.

    Documents, pictures, and videos are stored on individual flash drives that users can carry with them from home to work and wherever they may travel. Originally, the flash drive was carried around on a lanyard, but now they come with a keychain attached so the user can carry necessary data around with his or her car keys.

    USB technology was used to create MediTag flash drives. These are used to save vital medical information and are carried by the user in case of an emergency or some kind of disaster.

    Now that data security is one of the greatest concerns of individuals and businesses alike, flash drives are now used for the purpose of protecting information and keeping it on one’s person, or stored in a safe, rather than saved on a hard drive.

    New Secure USB Drives use encryption to add to the safety of USB. Using hardware instead of software to encrypt, the Secure USB Drive is able to encrypt the data with greater strength and added safety.

    Another use for USB technology is system administration. Computer technicians managing several computers will load the USB with software for configuration, troubleshooting, maintenance, and recovery. That way, the system administrator can just plug the USB into the affected computer and get to work on it.

    While there are too many USB uses to likely name them all here, one more of note is COFFEE. No, it’s not the brown stuff you drink in the morning. Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFFEE) is forensic software that police investigators and FBI can use to extract information from a suspect’s computer, without affecting the computer.
  • USB Computer Accessories

    The USB ports that come with almost every computer sold on the market today can work with a variety of accessories and other devices. The Universal Serial Bus connectors work for connecting the mouse and keyboard as well as printers, cameras, external hard drives and more.

    Because USB technology was designed for plug-and-play use, most of these accessories and devices will know what to do once connected to the USB port of the computer. For example, a wireless adapter for a wireless mouse and keyboard can be plugged in and, within seconds, the wireless mouse and keyboard are interacting with the computer.

    USB technology was designed to solve the problem of less effective and more confusing ports like the parallel port, the serial port, and card slots. Each of these ports had there drawbacks including slow application, and not having enough ports for the number of accessories or devices.

    Printers used to be confined to parallel printer ports. Now, most come with a USB connection, which is faster than the parallel ports were. Modems were bound to the serial port, but if an individual had a modem and a PDA or digital camera that required the same port, he would have to choose which accessory to plug in at a given time.

    The devices that came with their own cards would fit into card slots. But the variety of card sizes made it challenging to find the right accessory for an individual computer and these slots were limited as well. USB was invented to unify and simplify the use of peripherals with computers.

    Today the accessories and devices available with USB technology include, among other things, webcams, flight yokes, mice, telephones, modems, printers, scanners, joysticks, speakers, keyboards, video phones, external hard drives and, of course, USB flash drives.
  • Powered USB Technology

    USB was intended for plug-and-play use. But standard USB is not able to keep up with the increasing demands on its technological capabilities. Standard USB only provides a +5V current for attached peripherals.

    For plugging in a mouse and keyboard, this will suffice. But the 500mA provided at each port won’t perform for items much more demanding than that. If a peripheral needs extra power, brick power (an external power source) will be required. This takes at least a little technical know-how.

    IBM and FCI/Berg wanted to address this problem because it was affecting the original plan of plug-and-play use of USB technology. IBM soon earned a patent for the connection scheme of their PoweredUSB.

    Inside a powered USB is a cable for standard USB communication and two pairs of additional wire for added power. The PoweredUSB is capable of hot-plugging, supporting a variety of devices.With a power supply of up to +24V DC and up to 6 amps per connector, the PoweredUSB is adjustable for the power needs based on the keyed voltage.

    The PoweredUSB connector is compatible with standard USB peripherals, but is an improvement on standard USB connectors as it has a locking mechanism. Now users of PoweredUSB technology can enjoy the original plug-and-play that was intended by the inventors of USB.
  • History of USB Technology

    Drama and modern science are interwoven in the history of USB technology. It is hard to say who actually invented the technology, as there are four separate claims to the invention of the USB flash drive.

    Trek Technology and Netac Technology have battled it out for patent rights. In Singapore, Trek won a suit, but a UK court revoked one of their patents. Netak Technology has taken several big companies to court: Lenovo, Aigo, PNY Technologies, Sony, Acer, and Tai Guen Enterprise.

    Pua Khein-Seng of Malaysia, the CEO of Phison Electronics Corp of Taiwan, states that he developed the first one-chip flash controller. Dov Moran of M-Systems also claims to have invented the USB flash drive. The battle goes on.

    Needless to say, at some point, someone invented the technology. IBM and Trek Technology were the first to manufacture and sell USB flash drives in 2000. With a capacity of 8 MB, the storage was quadruple what floppies could hold.

    Lexar introduced, also in 2000, a Compact Flash card that also used a USB connection. Uncontested, Lexar takes credit for the invention of the USB cable and a card reader/writer. The USB cable eliminated the need for a USB hub, allowing a wider range of uses with various devices.

    Today, USB technology is still limited by the maximum capacity of NAND flash technology. Hard drives are able to process much more quickly than flash technology allows. But USB technology will not be going anywhere soon as it is portable, convenient, flexible, and is still used on a large scale for everything from camcorders to printers.
  • Communication in the Middle Ages

    During medieval times, communication was limited by the difficulty and tediousness of travel. Letters were written on parchment (which is made of the dried skin of animals) and with quill pens dipped in jars of ink.

    Books did exist. However, rather than a printing press doing all the work, it took a team of scribes, illuminators, and bookbinders quite some time to make just one book. These books were made of several thin pieces of parchment bound together.

    The book of Kells, dated before the 16th century, is a remnant that remains from this period. Only the wealthiest of individuals and the church could afford books, so the poorer classes never saw anything like them.

    Calligraphy is something that was utilized regularly, in the Middle Ages. Using special letters in writing generally indicated stature and importance. Irish rounded calligraphy was one of the original forms of calligraphy. Italic writing, on the other hand, was designed for speed and efficiency, which led to the eventual development of the way we write today.

    Some of the more interesting manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages are illuminated manuscripts. These are old documents that utilized shape, design, and color to give meaning to words. For example, images of people, animals, and plants were abstract and symbolic. The writing and books of the Middle Ages contributed much to the way we communicate in the modern age.

  • Ancient Communications

    Communication is as old as time- literally. As far back as 30,000 B.C., the oldest known cave drawing was created in the Chauvet Cave. Cave paintings are some of the oldest known forms of communication, perhaps before there was any other form of written language.

    Perhaps the oldest calendar system known was developed by the Cro-Magnon people of 15,000 years ago. They had created a system for keeping track of days and years, and communicated it through cave paintings.

    As illustrations slowly developed into the more advanced use of symbols, petroglyphs are carved into cave walls, rather than merely painted. Many of these, dating back as far as 10,000 B.C., contain both illustrations and symbols, indicating an advance in communication.

    Pictograms seem to have been the next development, as ancient cultures around the world, in 9,000 B.C. and after, began using simplified pictures to communicate. Hieroglyphs were developed from these simple pictures, used to tell historic stories and record them in stone.

    Finally, ideograms were the last to precede the actual alphabet, for communication. Ideograms are symbols that represent an idea, not necessarily just one word. Ancient communications such as these tell us that human kind has nearly always been interested in the recording of history and passing down that history from one generation to the next.

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