Networked: Using technology like a boss
Greetings humanoids. Do you have masses of devices all connected with wires? Do you copy music to your SD card or through iTunes to get it on your phone? Have you still not figured out how to print pictures you've taken on your phone and left them there? You noob, what's wrong with you?! This is going to hopefully be a series where we try and rectify that and bring together all of those islands of devices that you have and make them work with each other instead of by themselves.
Before we get into any practical stuff it's always worth covering the basics so that we're all starting on the same page. If I do go a bit crazy later on and start talking in mumbo jumbo please do stop me and send a virtual slap my way. The first and most obvious thing you've all heard of is with this type of stuff is 'the cloud'.
What is the web? It's a bunch of servers that store stuff that your computer/phone visits to see. A good analogy is museums or galleries; If you want to see the Mona Lisa you need to go to the art gallery where it is. The idea s the same for websites. This website here is stored on giffgaffs servers and you're visiting it in the same way that you'd go to a gallery to see the Mona Lisa. The cloud is an extension of that in that you request specialist providers to store your stuff which you can go visit or take home with you. The main difference is that digital stuff allows for an infinite number of copies so you can store things in as many museums as you like and make copies and alterations.
The role of routers in the home is always misunderstood; to most it's a way of connecting to the internet but that's only half of its job. To understand the role of routers we need a tiny history lesson in the difference between networks and the internet.
A network as you might expect is a series of things connected to one another and talking to each other, a computer talking to another computer or a server for example (a server is just a computer that's made up of mostly hard drives to store files, the name server comes from its role; which is to serve those files out to other devices on the network). Networks have existed for decades but the internet has been revolutionary because it allowed your network to talk to other networks. So now your home network can talk to Facebooks network, or Amazon and Googles network. The key phrase here being YOUR NETWORK. Yes you have your own network. One of the roles of a router is to connect all of the devices attached to it to each other and also to allow them to talk to other networks. Your router at home connects all of the computers and phones attached to it each other as well as to the internet in what's called a local area network (LAN) or 'home network'. The home network is often ignored because most see a router as a means to connect to the internet and nothing else but it also acts as a gateway to let all other devices connected to it talk to each other. We're going to be using both home networks and the internet in this series with a big emphasis on home networks and making them accessible when you're not at home.
See you soon
There's lots of alleys we can go down from here but next time we'll be going over some cloud storage and file sync like Dropbox and P2P solutions like Bit Torrent Sync. Simple ideas that can have huge practical benefit and the first step on the ladder to becoming a zen technology master.
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