Friday, 22 January 2010

What is a dongle?

You may have noticed that while talking about Tmobile I have not refered to a dongle. You may have even wondered why? Quite simply because the gadget you use to access the internet is not a dongle.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------don⋅gle /ˈdɒŋgəl, ˈdɔŋ‑/ [dong-guhl, dawng‑] –noun

a hardware device attached to a computer without which a particular software program will not run: used to prevent unauthorized use.



Years ago to ensure that a program was only used by one machine, and not copied onto many, a ‘dongle’ was inserted into the parallel port. The parallel port is where you plug in the printer. The dongle looks like a printer parallel plug, except it has a connector on both ends, rather than a connector and cable entry. On one end is the connection to mate with the back of the computer. The other end is identical to the connector in the back of your computer so you can still plug in the printer. So the dongle, a true dongle, in effect goes inline between the computer and the printer. It would not normally affect the operation of the printer. The ‘dongle uses some of the unused pins of the parallel port to introduce a code that the program had to search for before it would operate. 

This didn’t actually stop you loading the software on to many machines but to run the program it needed the dongle. If you had a licence for one copy then you had one dongle, two copies 2 dongles and so on . . . . . .

I suppose the day someone wired up two parallel printer leads to one connector so the dongle could be used by two machines sounded the death knell for the dongle as a security device. Though there are still some applications that use dongles.

What a dongle is not is a mobile broadband device. My USB broadband unit is, in effect, a mobile phone without butttons; not a dongle. It would seem that in the eighties they were good at inventing names for the new bits of kit that were being built all across the world. Today they are not so good. In fact they are positively lazy to such a degree that they steal words from other things to describe the latest bit of kit.

So I think we should call them Internet Access Gadget (IAG) Or Mobile Broadband Device (MBD), but dongle ? never!!!

Whatever you call them I am getting quite a collection.



Martin said...

Besides, it's such an ugly word!

Robbo said...

"USB 3G Modem" is my preferred name for them, been as that what they are!

Bohica said...

Why not call it a "Dingle"??

Maffi said...

Coz we're grown ups?

grey wolf said...

a gay person is persumably someone who is happy?Meanings change as dose the language, a blitter chip is now a graphics card,gazooks is that the time?I do regret many of the changes but have learnt to let the regrets go.

Maffi said...

Gay means exactly that and the new meaningwas a poltical theft to make the 'gay' community seem more respectable. They are to some extent gay in the olde world meaning. And it does have a meaning in the dictionary.

Dongle is still listed as a security device.

Dost thou mean Gadzooks.

grey wolf said...

indubitably! Wikipedia does give a definition which encompasses all the meanings you mentioned.

Maffi said...

Wikipeadia is not a world reknown source of the truth. Wiki is written by people who think they know what they are talking about as opposed to those who do know what they are talking about.

Wozie said...

Computer language was invented to bamboozle most of us I reckon.
It's like learning a foreign language to me.