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10 key technologies you couldn't live without

The keys to a digital age in an analogue world

So you don't care about Unicode, XML, and digital signal processing? Well, you couldn't get through your day without them. Here are the 10 most important technologies you use but never think about.

Managed code

Microsoft's .NET is a managed code environment. Programming is a lot more complicated than it used to be.

Modern operating systems are like onions, with layers upon layers of subsystems to interconnect and manage. Worse, bugs and unnoticed security flaws, even ones that may have once seemed trivial, can be serious threats in the net-connected era.

For a growing number of developers, the solution is to use platforms designed to relieve some of the burden. Programs written for such managed-code environments as Java and Microsoft's .NET don't run on the bare hardware the way traditional programs do.

Instead, a virtual machine acts as an intermediary between the software and the system. It's like a robot nanny for computer programs, silently taking care of memory management and other housekeeping drudgery while keeping an eye out for potential security violations before they happen.

To an end user, a managed-code program may seem no different than a traditional one, but software that runs in a virtual machine makes for a more reliable, stable, and secure computing experience. And with .NET rapidly becoming the preferred platform for Windows development, managed code may soon be the norm, rather than the exception.

NEXT PAGE: transistors

  1. The keys to today's digital age
  2. Unicode
  3. Digital signal processing
  4. Managed code
  5. Transistors
  6. Why you couldn't live without XML
  7. Nonvolatile RAM
  8. Lithium ion batteries
  9. Voice over IP (VoIP) calls
  10. Graphics acceleration
  11. High-speed net access

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