Lynne Teaches Tech

Lynne Teaches Tech: What do all the components of a computer mean?

This is a revised version of this post.

If you’re buying a computer or laptop or even a phone, there’s a lot of jargon that might confuse you to look out for. It ranges from straightforward statistics to obscure facts to annoying “gotcha”s. This post aims to break them down.

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Lynne Teaches Tech: What are protocols and formats? How do they come to be?

This question was originally submitted via the survey.

This question, like our last reader-submitted question, is in three parts:

  • What exactly is a protocol?
  • What exactly is a format?
  • Can you give a short rundown of how standardisation in IT works?

I’ll answer them from top to bottom.

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Lynne Teaches Tech: Why does Windows need to restart to install updates so often?

There are many different system files that Windows needs in order to function. These files are often updated using Windows Update to add new features, fix bugs, patch security issues, and more.

Windows is unable to replace these files while they’re in use. This is for numerous reasons, both technical and practical.

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Lynne Teaches Tech: What are all the different types and versions of USB about?

Describing something like an Ethernet port is easy. You have one number to worry about: the speed rating. 100Mbps, 1Gbps, 10Gbps… It’s very simple.

USB, on the other hand, has two defining attributes: the type, and the version. Calling a USB port “USB 3.1” or “USB-C” doesn’t tell you the whole story.

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Lynne Teaches Tech: Why did everyone’s Firefox add-ons get disabled around May 4th?

Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, have implemented a number of security checks in their browser related to extensions. One such check is a digital certificate that all add-ons must be signed with. This certificate is like a HTTPS certificate – the thing that gives you a green padlock in your browser’s URL bar.

You’ve probably seen a HTTPS error before. This happens when a site’s certificate is invalid for one reason or another. One such reason is that the certificate has expired.

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Lynne Teaches Tech: Why does Windows install to drive C by default? Why not A?

CP/M, a very old operating system for very old computers, used drive letters to distinguish between each drive on a computer. the first drive would be drive A, then drive B, and so on. CP/M computers typically had two floppy disk drives (drive A and B). when a CP/M machine… Read More »Lynne Teaches Tech: Why does Windows install to drive C by default? Why not A?

Lynne Teaches Tech: Why does text on a webpage stay sharp when you zoom in, even though images get blurry?

images like PNG and JPEG files get blurry when zoomed in beyond 100% of their size. this is true of video files, too, and many other methods of representing graphics. this is because these files contain an exact description of what to show. they tell the computer what colour each… Read More »Lynne Teaches Tech: Why does text on a webpage stay sharp when you zoom in, even though images get blurry?