Talking Tech Friday – aWare

Some discussions with some colleagues over the past week or so have made me realize that many librarians like to toss around techish terms without really understanding what they mean.  Today I thought I’d put up a little glossary about some various “-wares” to help you be more aware and really sound like you know what you’re talking about.


Hardware – these are the physical components of a computer system.  It includes all the bits and pieces inside (if you talk about the CPU, motherboard, buses, and hard drive, you’ll really sound like you know what’s going on) as well as external components such as keyboard, mouse, monitor, cords, etc.

Software – these are the programs and applications that run on your computer. Pretty much, if it’s not hardware, it’s software.

Freeware – software that is available at no cost.  Most open source programs are freeware

Shareware – software that is often offered for free on a trial basis or with limited functionality.  One usually has to pay for the software for full access.

Middleware– software that allows different computers to run programs or processes over a network. An OPAC is an example of middleware – it connects a database (the ILS) to a web server to allow users to search library holdings on the web.

Malware– malicious software.  Any computer virus is considered malware

Spamware – software that provides information to spammers, such as lists of email addresses.

Spyware – a type of malware (which is a software!) which collects information about how you use your computer without your knowledge or consent.

Crapware – software you don’t want on your computer. This could be pre-installed software that came with the computer but doesn’t do anything useful, or it could be software that’s bundled in an application you DO want – for example, I don’t want Safari automatically checked for download whenever I get an update for iTunes.  I have a PC and I’m happy with Firefox.  Crapware is very much a matter of personal opinion, but something to be on the lookout for whenever installing new programs.

Adware – software which automatically displays advertisements on your computer or browser.  If you’re web surfing and an ad pops up, that’s adware.  Sometimes this is annoying but harmless, sometimes it’s a form of malware.

Well, they’re flashing the lights on me at work, so I’ve exhausted my wares for today.  However, aside from Wikipedia, How Stuff Works is a great resource for brushing up on your computer knowledge.


~ by Anali on August 14, 2009.