What are Firewalls, FireWire, and FireWorks?

Do you feel like your computer is on fire? You might think so with some of the software and hardware titles being used. Today, I’m going to give a brief introduction to three “fire” products in hope of answering questions from some of our readers.

Firewalls. Firewalls are essentially boundaries that monitor and protect what and who are coming into and out of your computer. It’s easy to think that data comes into and out of your computer at one place–where you hook your modem or network cable into your computer. True, there are only one or two openings to place the cables, but behind the openings are a lot of holes called ports. Ports are not physical holes, rather ports are holes that receive data from the Internet. Internet programs on your computer are listening, or waiting, for the data to be sent through specific ports. Firewalls can help determine if data being sent to the ports is potentially harmful and not requested by you.

Think of a big slice of Swiss cheese, with all of the holes. Your firewall helps monitor what and who goes in and out of the holes in the cheese and hopefully only lets in and out what it is supposed to. A Firewall helps when someone is trying to access your computer and the information on it from the Internet without your permission.

FireWire. FireWire is the brand name that Apple computers uses for a high speed data transfer technology, called IEEE-1394 by the industry, (IEEE-1394 homepage). FireWire was developed to help transfer large files such as home movies and digital pictures among multimedia devices. Today’s digital camcorders and digital cameras often have built-in IEEE-1394 capabilities. Some external hard drives also use the IEEE-1394 high speed transfer standard. While Apple created and uses the name FireWire, most of the industry has adopted the name FireWire for use on their products. It is similar to saying, “I need a Kleenex,” which is actually a particular brand of tissue. Other companies use different names than FireWire. Sony, for example, uses the name i.LINK for their IEEE-1394 capable devices.

I will save a comparison of FireWire and USB 2.0 (another high speed transfer technology) products for a later time, but both work well for transferring large amounts of data to and from your multimedia equipment.

FireWorks. FireWorks is a web graphics design and production program developed by a company called Macromedia, which is now a part of Adobe (think Adobe acrobat reader). FireWorks is a great program for designing, creating, editing, and even animating graphics for use on the Web. The default file type used by FireWorks is .png, which is defined as a “portable network graphic” file. PNG files are useful creating transparent or very colorful graphics and pictures. Other common file types such as .bmp, .jpg, and .gif can be used when creating graphics and pictures in FireWorks.

In future blogs, I’ll compare FireWorks with other graphics design programs in hope of helping you decide on which program bests meets your needs.


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About Adam West

Adam is avid computer and electronics hobbyist. He and his young family call central Texas home. His love of the application of multimedia and electronics has lead him to Families.com, where he writes for the Computers, Internet, and Electronics blog. He understands the importance of providing understandable, relevant information about computers and electronics to Familes.com readers.On another front, Adam holds a Master of Science in Social Work degree and researches reasons for commitment and commitment-related decisions in dating and romantic relationships. He and his colleagues have developed an online educational tool for educating individuals about commitment-related decisions.