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Informatica – Manuale di teoria ed esercizi

Times when computing was strictly reserved for IT gurus are far away. Increasingly powerful hardware has laid the groundwork for ever more intuitive user interfaces that allow to take advantage of the technology in no time.

However, this great user-friendliness is not much useful when it becomes necessary to go beyond the simple setup of a password, someone asks you to manually configure an email account, or you need to manage your ADLS router at home. The problem is that under this superficial layer of ease of use, there it is still a need to know the world of tech concepts that remain essential to use the myriad of devices that surrounds us. This is true for simple do-it-yourself tasks, but particularly to deal with study and work.

These are the basic principles that guided me in the design ” Informatica – Manuale di teoria ed esercizi ” for the series Hoepli Test, a book intended primarily for those who must prepare university admission tests, public or military competitions, but which is also characterized as a valuable reference tool to learn the basic concepts necessary to address the world of computing, both in terms of hardware and software.

The arguments are organized for large thematic areas balancing synthesis and completeness to provide an effective tool that allows learning all that revolves around computing science, from the developments of the first computers to networks, the internet and the latest communication tools.

Each area is accompanied by numerous practical examples. At the bottom of each area there is a series of exercises, always complete with commented solution, for a quick learning.
The book ends with a glossary of terms to recall all the main concepts that must be part of everyone’s computer baggage.

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Beyond Wikipedia…

The word “encyclopedia” has now become synonymous with “Wikipedia”, and vice versa. In less than two decades this extraordinary reference tool has become the most important source of knowledge on the Internet. Unfortunately, for many people it has also become the only one, obsuring a loto of other works with a long history of excellence and quality. This evolution has also hampered the very concept of the encyclopedia and its function.

An encyclopedia is a reference work that contains information about a wide variety of topics or even just about specific subjects. The goal of giving a systematic form to human knowledge makes these tools the ideal vehicle for many study and research activities.

 

Academic Research

Traditionally, scholastic research involved a lot of consultation work accomplished between school, home and library. Today, these activities are increasingly limited to searching and printing a Wikipedia page at the expense of any further investigation. In fact, an encyclopedia should be a starting point, not the final one, offering good insights into more specific works. The best-known and accredited encyclopedias provide the opportunity to add more legitimate sources to research, presentations, and theses. Credibility is important because very often online sources have not been accurately verified.

Personal Research

Good personal culture is not only useful in lounges conversations, and encyclopedias are an ideal tool to develop and expand it. In addition to general works, there are encyclopedias about specific areas such as medicine, law, music, history, and so on. The latter provide more in-depth information than the general ones, while the former are an excellent starting point for venturing into greater depths.

Professional Research

General encyclopedias provide a comprehensive view of a wide variety of topics, while subject-specific ones provide detailed information on specific areas. Any profession that requires frequent consultations has certainly a dedicated encyclopedia. There are, for example, encyclopedias about psychiatry, law, economics, medicine and many other subjects. Professionals use it to control data, facts, events or to get more information on particular topics.

Not only paper…

The encyclopedia displayed in the living room library is a thing of the past, but it is important to remember that these reference tools have not lost their function. Each public and school library offers numerous works of this type. Moreover, over the last decades, technology innovoations allowed to completely change the way we access the knowledge. Traditional books are now offered in form of CDs / DVDs and online versions that make the consultation much more fast and efficient.

However, on the Internet we can find everything: works with a respected and consolidated name, and other more improvised ones that have the sole purpose of attracting visitors but which are often susceptible to inaccuracies, partiality and poor reliability.

Some good news

Talking about works with a long story of success and quality, I’d like to point out the release of some encyclopaedias in form of mobile apps. These apps can be used on a variety of mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Kindle) as well as on Windows 10 systems, they can be accessed offline (Internet connection not required), making them flexible tools to always bring with you.

Enciclopedia dell'arte
le Garzantine - Antichità classica
Enciclopedia dell’Arte
la Zanichelli 2017
Antichità classica
Garzantina Economia
Garzantina Filosofia
Garzantina Letteratura
Economia
Filosofia
Letteratura
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Online or printed dictionaries?

An increasing number of users prefer using online dictionaries than traditional printed versions. This figure is confirmed by the continuous decrease in the sales of these works in bookstores.

On the other hand, it is understandable that in the face of an expense that often exceeds 100 euros, many prefer to use the online or electronic versions, which are often free or available at much lower prices. However, putting aside for a moment the economic aspect, no wonder that the introduction of electronic and online dictionaries offers a true alternative to the traditional printed offer. Let’s see some pros and cons that may help to clarify tihis development.

Reference

dizionari-copiaIn a printed dictionary, the search for a lemma requires a certain mental and physical effort. You have to flip through the pages to find the correct section in alphabetical order, then you must scroll through the items until you find the one you want. This reading work can be tedious and time consuming, but often helps you to also find other terms in the context, making easy to learn new words, and helps you to keep your mind working, similar to “do mental arithmetic and not with the calculator”.

Searching an electronic dictionary is much quicker, often you can just type a few characters to go directly to the desired entry. You can also do full search text for phrases or idioms to find all matching entries. This is a very useful option for those who travel abroad and want to find local idioms leveraging the phraseology.

Convenience

A printed dictionary does not require electricity or an Internet connection, and it does not crash due to software or hardware problems. Moreover, it is useful in many circumstances, for example, where specific regulations prohibit the use of electronic devices, in locations without Internet coverage, on planes that prohibit the use of electronic devices, while conducting tests, etc.

By contrast, an electronic dictionary can be brought anywhere, on a PC or a smartphone, without the weight and bulk of a volume of thousands of pages. Not only, the amount of information that it can provide is absolutely greater than that of a printed dictionary.

Cost

The problem of the cost has certainly contributed to the significant decrease in sales of the traditional printed volumes. A good dictionary can still cost more than 100 euros, although there are often pocket versions available at a lower cost.

In the electronic world, there is an extremely wide range of free or cheap dictionaries. Just connect and you can quickly download a dictionary in a few seconds to find what you’re searching for, not to mention the continuous availability of multilingual dictionaries online.

Updates

The traditional printed versions were updated with new editions published after many years, often just before the exhaustion of stocks.

An online dictionary can be updated in any moment, both in terms of software and content. The wide spread of social media helped to increase the interaction with the users, so they can contribute to the development of the content with comments and suggestions, or by creating specialized or custom dictionaries (unfortunately, not always with satisfactory results).

Quality

All the best printed dictionaries were created by experienced teams of linguists through a long and accurate editorial work. Important authors (and publishers) have helped to create works recognized worldwide for their quality. This is confirmed by the fact that dictionaries are often known by the name of the author (some examples: “Zingarelli”, “Gabrielli” or “the Devoto Oli”) which immediately denotes the content (Italian rather than English Dictionary) and consequently the reliability of the content.

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In the case of electronic and online dictionaries, it is often not clear who is the author, who chose and edited the entries and what sources were used. Much of the free offers is made with the sole purpose to get the largest possible number of users to whom pouring out banner ads. Even the social media impact, mentioned above, and the development of online communities contribute to a greater confusion: the higher interaction with users can help and accelerate the content creation, but often this is not subject to adequate quality control procedures.

Fortunately, all the historically printed material accumulated is not wasted and the same versions of the dictionaries that are on paper are now being increasingly transformed into reference tools available on the Web or in the form of applications for the various operating system platforms. These proposals often have a cost, which, however, is generally lower than the corresponding printed version, and is certainly compensated by the quality of the product.

An example of an online offer is the one proposed by the Italian eLexico.com website, where you can find the leading dictionaries published in Italy. A subscription allows access at any time to the desired dictionary with the possibility to also download an offline version.

Another interesting initiative comes from our collaboration with Edigeo, who is publishing many of the best known Italian dictionaries and encyclopedias (check out the catalog) in the form of app for Android and iOS mobile devices, and PCs and smartphones using Windows 10. The apps are available in major online store and offer an interesting solution especially for those who make intensive and professional use of these reference tools (translators, students, travelers, etc.).

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Manuale del redattore 2.0

One of the areas that has experienced, and is experiencing a radical change as a result of the technological advances that have occurred in recent decades is certainly the publishing industry and the professionals roles that are part of its supply chain, such as, editors, translators and graphics.

These figures, established over time thanks to consolidated processes mainly based on old analogic technologies, have been completely revolutionized by the introduction of a whole new world of digital tools. PCs, scanners, printers, and tablets supported by a myriad of programs and formats, not to mention Internet and new way to use related content, have led in recent decades a rapid evolution of the publishing production methods.

This requires new levels of expertise crossing traditional specialization barriers. An editor need to know the tools to use to produce a book on paper or an e-book, a translator must struggle with machine translation and cat tools, a designer may need to manage the same content for print and for the Web, with obvious differences.

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Two published works, edited by Edigeo on behalf of Editrice Bibliografica, describe this great transformation. The first volume, Manuale di redazione, was published in 1998, and constitutes a strong reference on the traditional editing techniques.

Faced with the changes that have occurred in recent years, it has set the need to propose a new instrument of knowledge that would address the many and varied topics, from the use of the Internet in writing to the digital document management, from image processing to development of digital products.

This new Manuale del redattore 2.0, also edited by Edigeo (with my contribution for some chapters), stands alongside to offer a roadmap in a world characterized by an extraordinary wealth of innovative solutions that change the way of work in the publishing sector. Its goal is to provide a useful insight of a changing world rather than answers that the rapid evolution of technology would make soon obsolete.