Why Technical English

What is the difference between PDF, XPS and OOXML?

May 28, 2010
By  PB

PDF stands for Portable Document Format, XPS means XML Paper Specification and OOXML is a written abbreviation of Open Office XML (Extensible Markup Language). PDF is specified by Adobe, whereas XPS and OOXML are specified by Microsoft. PDF uses a proprietary binary format, XPS employs XML and ZIP. PDF has been extended over the years to support all types of documents. Acrobat is a standard viewer of Adobe although there are many other solutions.

The primary advantage of XPS over PDF is its cost. XPS is available royalty free on Windows XP (an optional installation of NET Framework 3.0 is necessary), Vista and Windows7. XPS Viewers are also available for Mac, Linux and Unix platforms. From the technical viewpoint a benefit of XPS consists in using an XML format. For this reason Adobe has evolved a format Mars, which is a PDF rewrite to XML.  A unique feature of XPS is supporting Microsoft HD Photo (JPEG XR). All Microsoft Office 2007 applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access contain possibility to ´Save As XPS´ and in addition to ´Save As PDF´, too. From a viewpoint of an electronic exchange of XPS documents profit is that users can put their digital signature on XPS documents.

However, the current Microsoft XPS viewer is very slow and has few capabilities. This time XPS resembles PDF but PDF has better features in all areas. XPS faces problems with many types of fonts, TrueType and knockouts.

The future of XPS is not clear – the Microsoft Company must improve this product – especially its speed. After that it could be a usable tool.



Speech and Handwriting Recognition in Windows 7

March 30, 2010

By P.B.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical experience with speech or handwriting recognition. However, I would like to get the experience and to use these new features of Windows 7 when communicating with my computer.

Speech recognition

It is included free as a part of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. The version in Windows 7 is actually unchanged, though some small improvements – such as an expanded dictionary – have been involved.

When a user wants to implement the function Speech recognition, he must do 3 steps:

  1. To set the microphone using a menu:  Start – Settings – Easy access – Speech recognition – Set the microphone.  For faster recognition it is necessary to have a good microphone (in order to avoid background noise). It is better to use a headset microphone than a desktop one.
  2. To learn speaking to the computer – the Windows contains a program which teaches users to use common commands (e.g. open the file, close the folder) in 30 minutes.
  3. To teach the computer to recognize user´s speech – during usage of speech recognition the computer improves its ability to recognize a specific user´s voice profile.

The function Speech recognition is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified).


Microsoft has been working on handwriting recognition for over 15 years (from Windows 3.0). There were Only 12 languages are available in the Windows Vista.  In the Windows 7 more languages are included and for us it is important that Czech language is in the package. The language, in which the operating system is installed, and English language as well can be always usable for handwriting recognition, but when you need to recognize handwriting in another language besides English, you must have Windows 7 Ultimate and download an additional package.

The reason why all languages, used in countries where Windows may be applied, aren’t included in Windows 7 is simple. For each new language it is necessary to collect samples of native handwriting, to analyze collected data and cleanse it. So, development of a new handwriting recognizer starts with a huge data collection effort. Millions words and characters of a written text are collected from tens of thousands of writers. The problems are that some languages have special characters or accents and people in different regions learn to write in different ways. Differences exist even between countries with the same language as between the UK and US, for example. Characters that may look visually very similar to you can actually be quite different to the computer. This is why it is necessary to collect real data about how characters, punctuation marks and other shapes are exactly written.

Before start of data collecting, recognizer developers configure collection tools, prepare documentation and compile language scripts in the labs. Once tools and scripts are ready, the labs are opened and volunteers may donate their handwriting samples. In the course of samples evaluating a gender, age, left handiness and educational background are taken into consideration. A collection session lasts 60-90 minutes. The donated data is then uploaded and stored in a Microsoft database for future use.


Kernel improvements in Windows 7

March 27, 2010
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  We continue in discussing Features new to Windows 7. This time some kernel improvements are argued. Join us!

Galina Vitkova

The kernel is a central part of most computer operating systems. That is a component of an operating system which makes a bridge between applications and the actual data processing executed by hardware. The kernel is intended to manage communication between hardware and software components of a computer system. It means the kernel communicates with external devices (Input/Output devices: a keyboard, a mouse, disk drives, printers, displays, etc.), manages internal components (like RAM, CPU, HDD) and operates entire processes. The kernel controls all processes which are starting and running and decides which process will have access to the hardware and for how long.   


Fig. 1  (from Wikipedia)

A kernel connects the application software to the hardware of a computer


The kernel is a constituent of a series of abstraction layers, each relying on the functions of layers beneath itself. As a basic component of the operating system it merely corresponds to the lowest level of abstraction that is implemented in software. The abstraction layers simplify designing all the software and make its implementation feasible.   


Fig. 2 (from Wikipedia)

A typical vision of a computer architecture as a series of abstraction layers: hardware, firmware, assembler, kernel, operating system and applications

Several improvements and additions have been made to Windows 7 (and Server 2008 R2) kernel components, which have increased system performance and enabled more optimal use of available hardware resources. Some of them are as follows:

  • Support for up to 256 logical processors.
  • Introduction of the concept of “timer coalescing (joining)”: Multiple applications or device drivers, which perform actions on a regular basis, can be set to occur at once, instead of each action being performed in accordance with their own schedule.
  • Implementation of Device Containers: Before Windows 7, every device attached to the system has been treated as a single functional end-point, which has a set of capabilities and a “status”. This has been appropriate for single-function devices (such as a keyboard or scanner). But it does not accurately represent multi-function devices such as a combination printer/fax machine/scanner, or web-cams with a built-in microphone. In Windows 7, the drivers and status information for multi-function device can be grouped together as a single “Device Container”. Then this device container is presented to the user in the new “Devices and Printers” Control Panel as a single unit.  
  • Accomplishment of User-Mode Scheduling: The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 introduce a user-mode scheduling framework. On Microsoft Windows operating systems, scheduling of threads inside a process is handled by the kernel. This is sufficient for most applications. However, applications with large concurrent threading requirements, such as a database server, can profit from having a thread scheduler in-process. It occurs because the kernel no longer needs to be involved in context switches between threads. Due to this innovation threads can be created and destroyed much more quickly when no kernel context switches are required.

For more information about kernel innovations in Windows 7 and more English practice see Core operating system .

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/



Biofuels Reduce Emissions (part 1)

March 6, 2010
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 Special Interview Reveals How Czech Biofuels Are

Ing. Jiří Souček, CSc. (SoJ), who participated on biofuel research in the Czech Republic, answered questions posed by Galina Vitkova (ViG)

ViG:  According to REN21 the Czech Republic produced 18kTOE (thousand Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent) of bioethanol in 2007, in 2008 it counts 38kTOE (i.e. 0.1 % of total world production). Is this amount of practical importance? ViG: Podle údajů REN21 vyrobila ČR v r. 2007 bioetanolu v počtu 16 tis. tun ropného ekvivalentu, v 2008 – 38 tis. tun (0,1 % od celkové světové produkce biopaliva). Má to praktický význam?
SoJ:  In 2007 the law about obligation of biofuel usage in propellants didn´t exist. In 2008 60kTOE of bioethanol were produced whereas 20kTOE were exported and 30kTOE were imported. Consumption of bioethanol amounted to 50kTOE. As for biodiesel 75kTOE of it were produced while its consumption made 85kTOE.Minimal amount of biofuel additive to propellants is set by the Czech Republic law coming out from the Directive EU 203/30/ES. Since 2010 the minimal additive of bioethanol to gasoline will make 4.5 %, while biodiesel additive to diesel will amount to 6.3 %. It corresponds to consumption of about 100 kTOE of bioethanol and 200 kTOE of biodiesel. SoJ:  V roce 2007 nebyla zákonná povinnost použití biopaliv v pohonných hmotách. V roce 2008 bylo v ČR vyrobeno 60 tis. tun bioetanolu  a vyvezeno 20 tis. tun. Bylo dovezeno 30 tis. tun bioetanolu. Spotřebováno bylo 50 tis. tun. Dále bylo vyrobeno 75 tis. tun bionafty a spotřebováno 85 tis. tun.

Minimální množství přídavku biopaliv do pohonných hmot je stanoveno zákonem ČR, který vychází ze směrnice EU 203/30/ES. Od roku 2010 bude minimální přídavek bioetanolu do benzinu činit 4,5 % obj. a bionafty do motorové nafty 6,3 % obj. To odpovídá spotřebě cca 100 tis. tun bioetanolu a 200 tis. tun bionafty.

ViG:  What is, in your opinion, the main importance of biofuels for the Czech Republic? ViG: V čem je podle Vás největší přínos nebo největší význam biopaliv pro ČR? 
SoJ:  The importance of biofuels for production of heat, electricity and usage in propellants for the Czech Republic and other countries lies chiefly in:

  • substitute of fossil fuels which will be exhausted
  • decreasing emission of exhausted and greenhouse gases, which. improves environment
  • decreasing carbon dioxide emission, which declines our planet warming
  • diminution of dependence on oil and gas import
  • supporting  uncultivated farmlands usage.
SoJ:  Význam biopaliv používaných pro výrobu tepla, elektrické energie a jako motorová paliva je pro ČR a jiné země zvláště v tom, že:

  • nahrazují fosilní paliva, která jsou vyčerpatelná
  • snižuji exhalací výfukových plynů, tj. zlepšují životní prostředí
  • snižuji emisí oxidu uhličitého, snižuji riziko oteplování planety,
  • snižuji závislost na dovozu ropy a zemního plynu
  • napomáhají k využití neobdělávané zemědělské půdy.
ViG: Could you cite kinds of biofuels produced in the Czech Republic (bioethanol, biodiesel)?  ViG: Můžete uvést druhy biopaliva vyráběné v ČR (etanol, biodiesel)? 
SoJ:  In the Czech Republic bioethanol (alcohol) and biodiesel (MEŘO) are produced. SoJ:  V ČR se vyrábí  bioetanol (líh) a bionafta (biodiesel, MEŘO).
ViG:  Which plants are biofuels produced from in the Czech Republic?   ViG:  Z jakých rostlin se vyrábí biopalivo v ČR? 
SoJ:  In the Czech Republic bioethanol is produced from sugar beet and corn while is produced from oil rape. SoJ:  V ČR se vyrábí  bioetanol z cukrové řepy a z obilí a bionafty (biodiesel, MEŘO) z řepky olejné.
ViG:  Is it possible to import biofuels to the Czech Republic?  ViG:  Je možné dovážet biopaliva do ČR? 
SoJ:  Despite biofuel production capacities in the Czech Republic are bigger than their consumption bioethanol and biediesel are imported, too. On the other hand, Czech producers export these products. It is a free market.  SoJ:  Přestože výrobní kapacity na výrobu biopaliv v ČR jsou vyšší než spotřeba, bioetanol i bionafta se částečně dovážejí. Z druhé strany čeští výrobci biopaliv tyto produkty vyvážejí. Jde o volný trh.
ViG:  How can we prevent deforestation or pluvial woods or palm groves cutting (which already occurs)?  ViG:  Jak zabránit tomu, aby se nekácely deštné lesy, palmové háje (což už se stává?) 
SoJ:  Palm groves are not cut. Contrariwise, pluvial woods are cut for planting crops including foundation of palm plantations. This process, the goal of which is gain soil for planting, has been lasting for decades or hundreds of years. Nowadays this process is said to be activated  by palm oil usage for production of biodiesel. But this is not a crucial reason.According to the EU Directive on biofuels for road transport 2009/28/ES biofuel producers will be certified by set criteria of sustainability. One of the criterions is that feedstocks for biofuel production must not be grown up on soils with a large amount of carbon, which is typical for soils after cutting woods. SoJ:  Palmové háje se nekácejí. Naopak deštné lesy se kácejí pro výsadbu zemědělských plodin včetně zakládání palmových plantáží. Tento proces, jehož smyslem je získání zemědělské půdy, trvá několik desetiletí ba století. V současné době se uvádí, že proces je ovlivněn využitím palmového oleje na výrobu bionafty. Nejde však o rozhodující vliv.Podle nové směrnice EÚ o biopalivech pro silniční dopravu č. 2009/28/ES, budou výrobci biopaliv certifikování podle stanovených kriterií udržitelnost. Jedno z kritérií je, že suroviny pro výrobu biopaliv nesmí být pěstovány na půdách s velkou zásobou uhlíku, což je i půda po vykácených lesech. 
ViG:  What about soil erosion, side-dressing soils for cultivation of plants for biofuel production?  ViG:  Co erose půdy, hnojení půdy při pěstování rostlin pro výrobu biopaliva? 
SoJ:  In my opinion, the soils should be used not only for food production, but yet for other needs of our society including energy demands. Formerly thermal energy was mostly got from woods. Today large pieces of land are used for cultivating plants for technical purposes like textile fibers (cotton, linen, hemp), paper (cellulose), biochemical products (sugars), etc. It concerns priorities, which are different in individual countries. Priority number 1 is food. In the Czech Republic agriculture covers all food needs, alongside 600 th. hectares of arable soil lie fallow, rape is cultivated on 350 th. hectares.Either we let the soils lie fallow without composting, weedy and scrubby or we use them for cultivation of required technical plants, which need the same composting as cultivating plants for food. SoJ:  Jsem toho názoru, že půda má být využívaná nejen pro produkci potravin, ale i pro další potřeby společnosti, včetně zabezpečení energie. Dříve většina tepelné energie byla získávána ze dřeva. Dnes jsou značné plochy využívány pro výrobu technických produktů, jako jsou textilní vlákna (bavlna, len, konopí) papír (celulóza) biochemické produkty (cukry) aj. Jde o otázku priorit, které jsou v různých zemích jiné. Prioritní je zabezpečení výživy. V ČR zemědělství plně pokrývá potřeby potravin, při čemž je 600 tis. ha orné půdy ponecháno ladem a řepka se pěstuje na cca 350 tis. ha.   Buď ponecháme další půdu ladem bez hnojení, na které budou růst plevele, nebo ji využijeme pro pěstování potřebných technických plodin, které vyžadují stejné hnojení, jako pěstování plodin pro výživu.
ViG:  What about enlarged consumption of water during cultivation of plants and biofuel production?  ViG:  Co se zvýšenou spotřebou vody při pěstování rostlin a výrobě biopaliva? 
SoJ:  Cultivating plants for energy production does not require enlarged consumption of water. The process of biodiesel production is not water-consuming, bioethanol production requires enlarged amount of water, but not extremely large. It is mainly about cooling water that circulates during the process. SoJ:  Při pěstování rostlin pro energetické účely není zvýšena spotřeba vody. Proces výroby bionafty není náročný na spotřebu vody, výroba bioetanolu má vyšší spotřebu ne však mimořádnou. Jde hlavně o vody chladící, které se ve výrobě cirkulují
ViG:  What is energy effectivity of Czech biofuels (the ratio of depleted energy to energy which is produced from biofuels)?  ViG:  Jaká je energetická efektivita českého biopaliva (poměr energie spotřebované na výrobu biopaliva k energii vyráběné z biopaliva)? 
SoJ:  Energy demandingness of biofuel production depends on row materials used and technological level of their cultivation, then on the technology of fuel production itself, on transporting row materials and biofuels, on usage of secondary products and energy calorific capacity of mass-produced biofuels. Main installations producing biodiesel expend for producing one TOE of biodiesel (MEŘO) 21 GJ energy (incl. rape cultivation), while produced biodiesel has 61 GJ energy capacity. It means the input energy is about triply valued.Energy demandingness of bioethanol production is larger, especially when it is made from corn.

Energy demandingness of conventional oil fuels is lesser than biofuel production.

SoJ:  Energetická náročnost výroby biopaliv závisí na použitých surovinách a úrovni technologie jejich pěstování, dále na technologii výroby vlastního biopaliva, na dopravě surovin a výrobků, na využití pobočných produktů a na energetickém obsahu vyráběného biopaliva. Hlavní výrobní jednotky bionafty v ČR spotřebují na výrobu jedné tuny paliva (MEŘO) 21 GJ energie (včetně pěstování řepky) a produkují se výrobky s energetickým obsahem 61 GJ. To znamená, že vložená energie se zhodnotí téměř trojnásobně.Energetická náročnost výroby bioetanolu je vyšší zvláště při výrobě z obilí. 

Energetická náročnost klasických ropných paliv je nižší než výroba biopaliv

ViG:  How much does biofuel transporting cost in the Czech Republic?  ViG:  Kolik činí náklady na dopravu biopaliva v ČR?
SoJ:  In view of using only own feedstocks for biofuel production and due to the fact that factories producing biofuels (refineries) are situated close to users transporting expenses are minimal. In comparison with the most of EU states they are very reasonable.   SoJ:  Vzhledem k tomu, že se k výrobě biopaliv využívají zemědělské produkty vlastní produkce a výrobní jednotky biopaliv jsou instalovány v blízkosti uživatelů (rafinerie) jsou dopravní náklady minimální a proti většině států EU jsou velmi příznivé.

Abbreviations used in the Interview

k, th. = thousand

TOE = Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent

kTOE = thousand of Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent                                               

 REN21 = Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century  

(http://www.ren21.net )


History of Microsoft Windows

October 29, 2009
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                                                        Composed by G. Vitkova using Wikipedia, the free enciclopedia

 1983 – Microsoft announced the development of Windows, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for its own operating system (MS-DOS), which it had shipped for IBM PC and compatible computers since 1981. Since then, Microsoft has delivered many versions of Windows, and the product line has changed from a GUI to a modern operating system.

1985 – The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, was released, but achieved little popularity.

1987 – Microsoft Windows version 2 came out, and proved slightly more popular than its predecessor. Later, two new versions were released: Windows/286 2.1 and Windows/386 2.1.

1990 – Microsoft Windows scored a significant success with Windows 3.0. Its user interface was finally a serious competitor to the user interface of the Macintosh computer.

1992 – In response to the impending release of OS/2 2.0, Microsoft developed Windows 3.1 , which included several minor improvements to Windows3.0 (such as display of True Type scalable fonts, developed jointly with Apple), but primarily consisted of bugfixes and multimedia support. Later Microsoft also released Windows 3.11, a touch-up to Windows 3.1 which included all of the patches and updates that followed the release of Windows 3.1 in 1992.


1992 July – Windows NT 3.1 arrived in Beta form to developers. Its features made Windows NT perfect for theLAN server market Windows NT version 3.51 was Microsoft’s entry into this field, and took away market share from Novell (the dominant player) in the following years.

1995 – Windows 95 was launched. After Windows 3.11 Microsoft began to develop a new user oriented version of the operating system. The system was designed to have support for 32-bit multitasking like OS/2 and Windows NT, although a 16-bit kernel would remain for the sake of backward compatibility. The Win32 API first introduced with Windows NT was adopted as the standard 32-bit programming interface, with Win16 compatibility being preserved through a technique known as „thunking“.

Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0, which features the new Windows 95 interface on top of the Windows NT kernel.

1998 – Microsoft released Windows 98. It included new hardware drivers and better support for the FAT32 (File Allocation Table) system, which allows support for disk partitions larger than the 2 GB maximum. The USB support in Windows 98 is far superior to the token, unreliable support provided by the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) editions of Windows 95. It also controversially integrated the Internet Explorer browser into the Windows GUI and Windows Explorer file manager. This act prompted the opening of the United States vs. Microsoft case. It dealt with Microsoft abuse of its hold on the PC operating system market to unfairly compete with companies such as Netscape.

1999 – Microsoft released the Windows 98 Second Edition, an interim release whose most notable feature was the addition of Internet Connection Sharing, which was a form of network address translation, allowing several machines on a LAN (Local Area Network) to share a single Internet Connection. The Second Edition was also much easier to use and much smoother than the first edition of Windows 98. Hardware support through device drivers was increased. Many minor problems present in the original Windows 98 were found and fixed which make it the most stable release of Windows 9x.

2000 February – Microsoft released Windows 2000. It was successfully deployed both on the server and the workstation markets.

2000 September – Microsoft introduced Windows ME (Millennium Edition), which upgraded Windows 98 with enhanced multimedia and Internet features. It also introduced the first version of System Restore, which allowed users to revert their system state to a previous “known-good” point in the case of system failure. System Restore was a notable feature that made its way into Windows XP. The first version of Windows Movie Maker was introduced as well.

2003 – Microsoft launched Windows Server 2003, a notable update to Windows 2000.

2006 – Microsoft released a thin-client of Windows XP Service Pack 2, called Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP).

2007 – Windows Home Server was announced by Bill Gates. It is a server product based on Windows Server 2003, designed for consumer use. This Server can be configured and monitored using a console program that can be installed on a client PC. Such features as Media Sharing, local and remote drive backup and file duplication are all listed as features.

2006 – Windows Vista was released on November 30 to business customers, following by user versions on January 30, 2007. Windows Vista intended to have enhanced security by introducing a new restricted user mode called User Account Control, replacing the “administrator-by-default” philosophy of Windows XP.

2008 – Windows Server 2008 was released on February 27. It builds on the technological and security advances first introduced with Windows Vista, and is significantly more modular than its predecessor, Windows Server 2003. This year later Microsoft announced Windows Server 2008 R2 as the server variant of Windows 7. Windows Server 2008 R2 will ship in 64-bit (x64x and Itanium) only.

Windows 7 ships in six editions:

  • Starter (available worldwide with new PCs only)
  • Home Basic (only available to emerging markets)
  • Home Premium
  • Professional
  • Enterprise (available to volume-license business customers only)
  • Ultimate (available to retail market with limited availability to OEMs)

Microsoft focuses on selling Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional. All editions, except the Starter edition, are available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Windows 8Development of the planned Windows 8 is secret detailed in public, although job listings have mentioned improved functionality for file access.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7


About renewables position just now

September 6, 2009

Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Renewable sources of energy are a hot problem till now. Many specialists, politicians and common peoples discuss advantages and drawbacks of alternative sources of energy. Especially solar, wind and water energy attract debatersˇ attention.

 Since 2004 several international organizations dealing with renewables have been established. The Political Declaration of the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, Germany in 2004 – initiated the establishment of a global policy network. One year later, in June 2005, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) was officially launched in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The strategy of the Network is directed by the Steering Committee of REN21 comprising eminent and prestigious specialists. The Steering Committee members work for various governments, private sector, and civil organisations over all the world. The Secretariat of REN21 is located in Paris, France, and is supported by the IEA.

REN21 strives to encourage the ideas and actions aimed at advance of renewable energy exploitation. Linking participants from the energy, development, and environment communities, REN21 sustains their successes and activities for the rapid expansion of renewable energy worldwide.

 In 2009 REN21 updated the Renewables 2007 Global Status Report, published in March 2008. The updated Report covers the most important changes in renewables worldwide between late 2007 and early 2009. The original 2007 report is available at http://www.ren21.net.

See below the aggregated data about the state-of-art in this industry



From the report we see that even if the renewable sector driven by policy has been expanding, its share in the worldwide energy production is insignificant. I wonder how this energy will be able to substitute in the near future the energy, which is produced by coal- or oil-fired power plants,

What about you dear colleagues? Does the problem concern you?


See Renewable energy – our downfall? By Ralph Ellis for more information


Reference: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ , www.ren21.net



INTERNET BACKBONE – What up is that?

July 29, 2009
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We are studying English and getting new knowledge about the topics to which the technical texts are dedicated

Compiled by Bartholomew I. Osegbe

To be able to understand what an Internet backbone is, let us remind what the Internet is and why we do need it.

The Internet is a global network of interconnected computers, enabling users to share information along multiple channels. Typically, a computer that connects to the Internet can access information from a vast array of available servers and other computers by moving information from them to the computer’s local memory. The same connection allows the computer to send information to servers on the network; that information is in turn accessed and potentially modified by a variety of other interconnected computers. A majority of widely accessible information on the Internet consists of inter-linked hypertext documents and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW). Computer users typically manage sent and received information with the help of web browsers. The end-users have no full control of all information. The service provider could block certain information from the end-users. Other software for users’ interface with computer networks includes specialized programs for electronic mail, online chat, file transfer and file sharing. Among further things the Internet has some common use in e-mail, the world wide web, remote access, collaboration, file sharing, streaming media, Internet telephony (VoIP).

In order to enable proper access to some of the Internet’s uses, the Internet backbone is necessary. The Internet backbone refers to the main “trunk” connections of the Inernet. It is made up of a large collection of interconnected data routes of high capacity and core routers that carry data across the countries, continents and oceans, across the whole world. The Internet backbone consists of many different networks. Usually, the term is used to describe large networks that interconnect with each other and may have individual ISPs (Internet service provider) as clients. For example, a local ISP may provide service to individual homes or businesses using the bandwidth that it purchases from another company with the backbone network. The conditions for applying to become an Internet backbone service provider should be made simple to encourage competition, which will eventually drive down cost, create jobs and provide excellent service. Backbone networks are usually commercial, academic, educational, or government owned, such as military networks.

Below the European ring from “An Atlas of Cyberspaces” is depicted – the Atlas was worked out by Martin Dodge, see also http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/cybergeography//martin/martin.html.

PS: The topic of the post was presented by Bartholomew I. Osegbe within the English lesson at the Faculty of electrical engineering.



We are studying English and getting new knowledge about

the topics the technical texts are dedicated to.

Dictionary – your best helper in mastering English words

May 24, 2009

By Galina Vitkova 

General delineation

A dictionary (according to WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia) is a book or collection of alphabetically listed words in a specific language with definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and other information. Besides, it could be a book of alphabetically listed words in one language with their equivalents in another.

In many languages, words can appear in many different forms, but only the undeclined or unconjugated form appears as the headword in most dictionaries. Even if dictionaries are most commonly published in the form of a book, some newer dictionaries, e.g. StarDict and the New Oxford American Dictionary are dictionary software running on PDAs or computers. There are also many online dictionaries accessible via the Internet.

Specialized dictionaries

A specialized dictionary focuses upon a specific subject field. Specialized dictionaries are categorized into three types:

For example, the 23-language Inter-Active Terminology for Europe is a multi-field dictionary, the American National Biography is a single-field, and the African American National Biography Project is a sub-field dictionary.

A language for specific purposes (LSP) dictionary is a dictionary that is determined to describe a variety of one or more languages used by experts within a particular subject field. At the same time LSP dictionaries are often made for semi-experts and for users who may be beginners regarding a particular subject field.

In contrast to LSP dictionaries LGP (language for generic purposes) dictionaries are made to be used by an average user. LSP dictionaries may have one or more functions. For example, they may have communicative functions such as help users to translate texts, help users to understand texts and help users to produce texts. Dictionaries may also have cognitive functions such as help users to develop knowledge in general or about a specific topic, e.g. the birthday of a famous person and the inflectional paradigm of a specific verb.

Another variant of a specialized dictionary is the glossary, an alphabetical list of defined terms in a specialised field. The simplest dictionary, a defining dictionary, provides a core glossary of the simplest meanings of the simplest concepts. From these concepts, others can be explicated and defined, in particular for those who are first learning a language. In English, the commercial defining dictionaries typically include only one or two meanings of fewer than 2000 words. With these, the rest of English, and even the 4000 most common English idioms and metaphors, can be derived.


Dictionaries for languages for which the pronunciation of words is not apparent from their spelling, such as the English language, usually afford the pronunciation, often using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For example, the definition for the word dictionary might be followed by the (American English) phonemic spelling: /ˈdɪkʃəˌnɛri/. American dictionaries, however, often use their own pronunciation spelling systems, for example dictionary [dĭkʹshə-nârʹē] while the IPA is more commonly used within the British Commonwealth countries. However others use an ad hoc notation; for example, dictionary may become [DIK-shuh-nair-ee]. Some on-line or electronic dictionaries provide recordings of words being spoken.

Types of dictionaries

Bilingual · Biographical · Conceptual · Defining · Electronic · Encyclopedic · LSP · Machine-readable · Maximizing · Medical · Minimizing · Monolingual learner’s · Multi-field · Phonetic · Picture · Reverse · Rhyming · Rime · Single-field · Specialized · Sub-field · Visual


Helpful references

Sun in the Forecast

May 13, 2009

By Martin Wolny

The solar revolution of the last two decades has made solar energy an increasingly powerful force in the energy arena. Solar panels (arrays of photvoltaic cells) convert sunlight to electricity. Solar panels are typically constructed with crystalline silicon, which is used in other industries (such as the microprocessor manufacturing), and the more expensive gallium arsenate, which is exclusively produced for use in photovoltaic (solar) cells. Other, more efficient solar panels are assembled by depositing amorphous silicon alloy in a continuous roll-to-roll process. The solar cells created within this process are called Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells, or A-si. Solar Panels constructed using amorphous silicon technology are more durable, efficient, and thinner than their crystalline counterparts.

Panels make use of renewable energy from the Sun, and are a clean and environmentally sound means of collecting solar energy. In direct sunlight on the surface of the equator, solar panels get the best: a maximally efficient photovoltaic cell about 1/5m in diameter creates current of approximately 2 amps at 2 volts. However, due to the Earth’s atmospheric interference, solar panels will never perform as well as solar panels exposed directly to the Sun’s rays. Years of overheating and physical wear can, after all, reduce the operation efficiency of the photovoltaic unit. Solar cells become less efficient over time, and excess energy is released into its thermally conductive substrate as infrared heat.

Solar energy originates in the depths of our Sun. The Sun endures a continuous stream of thermonuclear explosions as hydrogen atoms are fused into helium atoms. We encounter the resultant energy as radiation that strikes the surface of the Earth. Solar panels convert this solar radiation into useful electrical energy and store them in batteries for our use. Enough solar radiation strikes the Earth every day to meet Earth’s energy needs for an entire year. Solar panels help us harvest this energy and convert it to usable energy to meet the everyday needs of modern life.

NOTE: We study English discussing real technical issues. Join us, let us know your opinion about usage of solar energy. G. Vitkova

Troublesome robots – discussion following up

February 27, 2009

Prepared by Galina Vitkova

In 2007 three ground-crawling US war robots SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) deployed to fight in Iraq, These units were the first remote controlled robots armed with machine guns. In addition to the guns, the SWORDS can be loaded up with the optional X-ray kit to check out suspicious packages or objects. In fact, it was a huge step forward for robotics in warfare. Never before armed robots had been deployed in a war.

SWORDS robots are a modified version of track-wheeled bomb disposal devices in use around the world. Soldiers operate the robots with a specially modified laptop, completed with joystick controls and a ’kill button’ that terminates its functions if it goes awry. The devices are supposed to be most helpful during raids on suspected enemy compounds. Putting the machine in a situation where there is a high risk of an unexpected attack or trap-style explosion may minimise casualties. The SWORDS´ uses are limited by the quality of the terrain and the intensity of the battlefield mission.

While the concept of robots at war conjures images of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator movie character, current models are more mundane. Far from taking on human characteristics, the robots look like small stripped-down tanks (see the picture below).


In Iraq, however, the SWORDS robots were almost immediately pulled off the battlefield, before firing a single shot at the enemy. Nobody knew why until the US Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey revealed it at the RoboBusiness conference in April 2008 in the USA. Obviously, one of the robots went rogue: “the gun started moving when it was not intended to move” said Fahey. He added there had been chilling incidents in which the SWORDS combat bot had swivelled round and evidently attempted to train its machine-gun on its human comrades. It seems that the incident left people spooked enough to pull the plug on the operation”. In other words, the SWORDS swung around in the wrong direction, and the plug got pulled fast.

Reporters of that time wrote alert American troops succeeded suppressing the traitorous killer robots before the inevitable spree of mechanised massacre began. Fahey didn’t say just how, but conceivably the rogue robots may have been overpowered with help from more trustworthy airborne kill machines, or perhaps prototype electropulse zap bombs.

No humans were hurt, but it seems that the struggle was sufficiently terrifying. It may be some time before American troops are ready to fight alongside robots again.





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