Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2010 December 31

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December 31[edit]

What is XBee?[edit]

I have trouble finding an authoritative source for what XBee is.

For instance,

  • Is it a specification for a suite of high level communication protocols, like ZigBee (but distinct from ZigBee)?
  • Is it a (hardware) implementation of ZigBee?
  • Is it a (hardware) implementation of ZigBee, with particular characteristics (for example, physical dimensions)?
  • Is it a particular product, implementing ZigBee?
  • Is it a brand name for some wireless devices?
  • Is it a name for a series of integrated circuits (ICs)?

Sample page containing XBee:

--Mortense (talk) 00:55, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Though I'm unfamiliar with wireless devices like this, it seems to be "...a particular product, implementing ZigBee". See the entry for Digi International Inc. in Comparison of 802.15.4 radio modules#Integrated MCU + Transceiver modules. Astronaut (talk) 10:49, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you are right. From Series 1 XBee manual (linked from that page): "XBee and XBee-PRO are registered trademarks of Digi, Inc.". XBee (and XBee-PRO) is a series of OEM RF modules, and they all happen to have the same physical layout (wrt. to pins). And with this lead I actually found it on Wikipedia, Digi International, section "Embedded", subsection "Wireless": "XBee - family of small radios with compatible footprints". --Mortense (talk) 12:22, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

The metals that make up a CPU[edit]

I want to know what the gray colored non- magnetic metal in the center of the back of the CPU? I would also like to know the gold content ion the pins on the front of a CPU? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:53, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

I don't know for sure, but I would be surprised if the casing of a CPU was not aluminium - I assume you were asking about the casing rather then the semiconductor materials of the chip itself. As for the gold pins, the Gold plating article suggests the plating used on pins is "Bright hard gold... purity of 99.7-99.9% gold". You might find Integrated circuit packaging, or the many articles linked from there, useful. Astronaut (talk) 11:19, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
If you are speculating about the cost of melting them down, I seem to recall previous threads on here finding it was not an economical (or very safe) way to acquire precious metals. --Mr.98 (talk) 20:21, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Though not directly discussing CPU, This article goes through the process of obtaining gold from motherboards (and as Mr.98 pointed out, it is far from being lucrative) PrinzPH (talk) 20:38, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Why are cell phones so expensive?[edit]

Why are cell phones so expensive compared to other electronics? I have noticed many touchscreen internet and media tablets have for a long time offered everything single thing a cell phone does except phone calls and 2G/3G data and cost $200-300 less. Now, with Google Android there are more and more internet media tablets coming out. Why don't those smaller manufactures just add the 3G antenna/card into those to make them phones? Similar phones are selling for more than double. And with Google Android, frankly the lack "brand name" reputation is largely mitigated. Roberto75780 (talk) 11:24, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

You can buy a cellphone for under $20 in most countries, you can't buy a tablet for that price. Nanonic (talk) 16:05, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Oh I am also wondering, is Android free for OEM's to install on their devices? Doesn't this significantly reduce the cost of devoloping a phone or internet media table? Roberto75780 (talk) 11:27, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

If a touchscreen internet and media tablets costs $200-300 less then a mobile phone with Google Android then it must be free...
To avoid any unnecessary controversy I'll offer a brief explaination of what I mean. You can find unsubsidised Android phones for US$200-$300 in various countries. So the question is confusing. What are these internet and media tablets? How much do they cost? What are their specs (capacitive or resistive? processor? memory? GPS? wifi? accelerometer? Screen size? Screen res? Cameras? Proximity sensor?)? What are the specs of the phones you're comparing them to. Are you sure you can't get phones with similar specs for similar prices? It's probably not unresonable to expect to pay US$50-100 extra for the added bits needed to make a phone. Also comparing a tablet to a phone is problematic, with the tablet you generally have a larger screen but can also afford to include a larger battery and bulkier hardware.
BTW for a variety of reasons people still do care about brands particular in developed countries. However there is I'm pretty sure a large number of cheapish Android phones available in China and these often are sold in other developing countries like India sometimes via local rebrands. From what I've read the Spice Mi300 someone discussed above appears to be one of those, sold in India and Malaysia but apparently a Chinese OEM. The Spice Mi300 isn't that cheap, in Malaysia it appears to be MYR699 i.e. about US$220 and you can get more established brands for that price (well may be not so easily in Malaysia) but it does have a capacitive touch screen and a 3.2 inch 480x320 screen (along with the normal stuff like GPS, wifi etc) which I don't know if you can get from a more established brand. Anyway some of these even make it to the developed markets on occassional although usually only from the more established Chinese brands from what I've seen. Note that in some countries and I suspect this includes the US, you may need various approval certs (e.g. FCC in the US) to be able to sell the phones commercially. The US of course uses different frequencies from much of Europe and Asia putting another crimp in to attempts to import phones not designed for there.
Nil Einne (talk) 15:57, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
An Archos 28 Android tablet (sold as a media player) is $100 retail and has all the stuff of a fairly fancy phone, except the 3G chip. So I do have to wonder why they don't just add phone functionality and charge a little more for it. (talk) 19:02, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

video download toolbar for opera 11[edit]

Is there any video download tool bar for Opera 11 available out there? I have used ant toolbar for IE and Firefox. It was great. Now I am looking for similar tool bar for Opera 11. Thanks--NAHID 11:49, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Mediawiki one click (or two click) add text editing[edit]

I would like to extend a Mediawiki install by having either a tab along the top of the article or an edit button that performs the following function: It adds a predefined text string to the article (at the end is fine) and then saves the edit. Ideally this would be a tabbed link at the top to the right of history, watch, etc. , but it can also be a edit toolbar button on the edit page. Could someone point me in the right direction how to do it , ideally in the first way? Thank you. --Rajah (talk) 15:41, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

That sounds like fairly simple PHP programming if you've already got the code running. If you don't know PHP, it is a pretty easy language with good online docs (, but doing a solid integration is going to require a code patch (unless I'm overlooking something). I don't understand why you'd want that: something like a "flag for attention" button? (talk) 19:07, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Article title shows wrong spelling[edit]

After the article Samuel Garner Wilder was moved to Samuel Gardner Wilder the spelling in the URL (Samuel_Gardner_Wilder differs from the article title. The redirect page Samuel Garner Wilder seems to be ok. The talk page Talk:Samuel Gardner Wilder shows the right spelling instead. In the HTML source text of the article the spelling without d can be seen in the tags

  • <title>
  • <h1 id="firstHeading" class="firstHeading">
  • <h2><span class="editsection">

and in other places as well. The [edit]-links are therefore not working. Could this be a parsing problem? The problem is also reported at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Hawaii#misspelled article name. --ThT (talk) 19:32, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Looks OK to me. You probably need to Purge. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 19:37, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. The null edit did the trick. --ThT (talk) 21:07, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Website Accessibility Question[edit]

Hello all, I'm developing a website (I am a noob and it's early-ish stages yet) and I have a question about accessibility - How do I build it in to the website? I'm currenty using a single CSS stylesheet to set the appearance of the site, and then building the content in html, is there any sort of widget I can add to site to do things like increasing the text size, use high-contrast colours etc., or do I need to build this in to the CSS doc? (I'm thinking something like the widget on the BBC site ).

Any tips or good links are much appreciated. Happy new year Wikipedians ;) Darigan (talk) 20:16, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

You shouldn't worry about accessibility like that. You shouldn't be changing the text size. The person using the web browser will have set the text size the he or she likes. Changing it guarantees that your website is using a font size that he or she does not like. Further, web browsers have the "widgets" for changing text size built in (ie: pressing ctrl+ in firefox). So, you would be adding yet another method of changing font size to an application which already has at least 2 methods of changing font size already (a keyboard shortcut and a menu option). As for contrast, if a user needs high-contrast colors, the user will be using a high-contrast setting on his or her computer. So, they won't really see the difference if you switch from plain colors to high contrast. However, that is no excuse for doing something silly like putting purple text on a blue background. -- kainaw 20:24, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
After saying all of that, if you want an example of a website that automatically tries to change the font size dependent on the window size, you can see (and I must state that I am very opposed to changing font size - especially through JavaScript). -- kainaw 20:26, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Excellent, thank you Kainaw - That advice certainly makes things a bit easier for me. A few days ago I was linked to a domain/host thread you contributed to a while ago - You left some more advice there that I ended up finding quite useful, so thanks again (I must say, I have seen some sites with Javascript fontsize change tools, and the fontsize change really did screw with the overall look of the sites quite badly). Anyways, thats something I can scratch off the list, thanks Darigan (talk) 20:32, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

As a frequenter of many websites, I would like to echo the above advice; please don't use widgets and excessive javascript and weird size changing options etc - it confuses me, slows down my browser and makes me sad :( (talk) 20:51, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

How you organise links is important, make then easy to locate with sensible descriptions. Use alt for images. If you have an input box, make sure the cursor starts in a sensible place. It looks like you have already figured out to avoid flash and other plugins. Use semistandardurl directory structure such as /products /support and for Wikipedia interests make a copyright page or terms of use clear! Make sure there is a sensible back path from each page, otherwise you should also make your subdirectories come up with a meaningful page instead of an error message. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 21:21, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Some suggestions:
1) Have a "TEXT only" option, so people using screen readers will be OK. The simpler you can make the web site, the better. Here's an example of a simple weather page: [1].
2) Include a "Site map" to allow people to navigate more easily between pages.
3) Be sure to define the links in the same order they appear on the screen, since some screen readers will list them in that order, not in the order they appear.
4) Don't have any video or audio start automatically, as they can interfere with screen readers and magnifiers. StuRat (talk) 22:36, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks IP person, Grame & StuRat (This is why I love Wikipedia - People are always happy to help), I shall ensure that my site will not make you sad... or, at least not for the reasons you mentioned anyway ;)
Graeme - I am trying to make it make sense link-wise (If that makes sense). As regards error messages etc. (sorry if you encountered any - although you probably did), I have only uploaded the one page at the moment - An organised person might have built the majority of it off-line, but not me. I've got a programme called Xenu Link Sleuth that will check all the links for me and let me know where any go amiss (Its actually a pretty decent programme, free too). I think that you might be able to call the page that I linked to (if you were being generous) 'the softest of soft launches'. As regards the terms of use stuff, I had intended to slap creative commons licence info all over it, but with all the issues that cropped up with trying to make it live (and work out the FTP stuff) I had forgotten all about that, but will start working on it now, thanks for the reminder... got a good link for creative commons boilerplate?
StuRat - Per your point #4 - Nothing frustrates more than a site that automatically plays audio or video. I see what you mean about the text only stuff, so I'm going to look at that again. On the sitemap - I've always understood a sitemap to be a simple page with a list of links in the order that the site is layed out in... <<<googling>>>... you mean like: W3Schools' sitemap?
Anyways, back to work, its about 9/10 min to the New Year in London Town - Cheers all, and happy new year! Darigan (talk) 23:51, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that looks like a decent site map. It's basically just a linked index to the entire site, for those who forgot how to navigate to a certain page. StuRat (talk) 07:27, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
Sorry to be a pain in the backside, but is there some sort of CSS shortcut/trick for automatically generating a "Text Only" version of a site - I've seen some blogs and forums mention using the "Print Version" in some way... is this suitable, and if so, how do I do it? (Appreciating your patience, if you ever want any questions about the history of Co Wexford answered in return, please feel free to ask me) Darigan (talk) 00:19, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
It's probably not worth doing it on your end — someone who can only read (or prefers to read) text-only sites will surely use a browser that lets them throw out all of the images and process it in a text-only fashion. I think from this point of view you want to just do it all in good, kosher CSS/HTML, so that the browser can make smart decisions based on its customization.
In any case, what you can do is set up another stylesheet (say, "textonly.css") and you could use Javascript or a server side script to switch between which ones are displayed. By default you can tell the page to use one stylesheet for "screen"s (e.g. monitors) and a different one for "print" (printers) automatically (see the "media" attribute to the LINK tag). --Mr.98 (talk) 19:13, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
The problem with non-text-only sites is that they often depend on graphics to convey info. For example, to specify your location, they pop up a map which you must use to select your nation/state/province/city. If no text-only selection method is provided, then the accessibility software won't be able to do much with it. A secondary concern is the time it takes to download all those pics. I doubt that the accessibility software can prevent the downloads, but instead must download them, then discard them. This is problematic for those on dial-up modems or otherwise limited in download speed. StuRat (talk) 17:29, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
On the Creative Commons stuff, not to worry, I am now a fully paid up member of the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported and have added the requisite details and links to the footer of my pages ;) Darigan (talk) 01:46, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Best search engines[edit]

When I looked into this in the past, I found out that some search engines share their content with other search engines. Is there a list anywhere of the best independent search engines? For example, if the best search engine is Google, what is the next best engine that does not simply use Google's content? The search engine or List of search engines articles does not give such a list.

Second question, is Dogpile the best metasearch engine? Thanks (talk) 20:49, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

We might be able to answer your question if you tell us what your definition of "best" is. How would you test "best"? Search result relevance to the query topic you're thinking of? Accuracy of guessing the correct topic when multiple meanings have to be disambiguated? Number of relevant results? Easiest-to-read results page? Opinion polls? « Aaron Rotenberg « Talk « 23:32, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
...least number of annoying adverts?....--Shantavira|feed me 13:26, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

If I'm searching for some information that is only to be found on an obscure little-visited website, then the best search engine would be the one most likely to find it. (talk) 14:13, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

This site lists what it calls the "top ten alternative search engines", they appear to be niche-related engines, but, without knowing what niche you're interested in, I couldn't possibly direct you to a suitable search engine. That being said, as long as the obscure website that you're talking about has been crawled by any of the big engines (personal preference being google), then it is less about the search engine you use, and more about how you use it. You might benefit from having a look at this blog post which includes some handy google search tips. Also, when visiting google, you might benefit from using the more option, or the advanced search options. Let us know if you have any luck searching. Darigan (talk) 18:15, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
I did use the word "if" at the start - did you see it? (talk) 22:32, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Let me put it another way: which search engines use the content from other search engines? For example, the Yahoo! Search article says it is "powered by" Bing. So if you have searched on one of the two already, there would be no point searching on the other one as you would just get the same results. What other search engines are "powered by" other search engines?

And which search engines have the largest database? (talk) 22:32, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

I did see the word "if" - But that could be used as a hypothetical term (which appears to be the way you used it), or as a colloquial way of saying "thats what I want/am going to do". Anyways, to your further explanation of your query, and specifically to your Bing/Yahoo example. Just found a source that states that Bing and Yahoo do use the same algorithm, but manage to produce different search engine results.
On the issue of databse sizes, I'm afraid that I can't find any good sources on that - The only thing close is an article on the google blog that shows they had hit an indexing milestone of 1Trillion indexed pages in 2008... Darigan (talk) 13:39, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
Not really, the article says that Bing truncates the results to the first five followed by - surprise surprise - advertising, whereas Yahoo shows more of the results. (talk) 22:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
??? The article linked to above doesn't really mention the advertising at all (it does say some was removed). It mentions that the first 5 results are shown along with other searches Bing thinks may be useful Nil Einne (talk) 10:58, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
You are right, it was the "Laptop Brands" and "Laptop Buying Guides" that gave me that idea. Nevertheless the results are the same, they are just edited and displayed somewhat differently. If you are looking for obscure information with few sources then you would get the same results displayed. (talk) 00:10, 5 January 2011 (UTC)