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Usenet Downloads - What are Binaries-

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					A binary file, usually appended with the extension .bin is a file type that denotes the
contents of the file as the most basic of computer-readable information. The actual
purpose or human-readable content of binaries can be, essentially, anything.
  These files come in various types—such as "flat binaries"—which dictate how the
file will be handled by the computer. To understand what a binary actually is, it is
necessary to understand a bit about how a computer actually performs the enormous
diversity of tasks with which it is charged.
  Computer data is, ultimately, a string of 1s and 0s. These numbers correspond to the
conditions "on" and "off". Broken down to its most basic level, a computer is really
just a collection of switches which can be on or off to allow for different functions to
be performed.
  The power of a computer comes with the enormous complexity of the devices. A
binary file can contain thousands upon thousands of these on or off instructions and,
thus, can contain the code required for computers to perform very sophisticated
routines.
  Binaries which are designed to be viewed as text will generally use the ASCII
technology to convert the binary data into a human-readable format; numbers and
letters. If one were to open a binary file with an application that didn't interpret the
data correctly, they would likely see a string of garble or, perhaps, the actual 1s and 0s
that make up the file data.
  The means by which these files are opened is usually contained in a header. This
header determines how the computer will handle the file. An image, for instance, will
have a header identifying itself as being of one type or another which will allow the
computer to select the correct program for reading the contents.
  Binaries without a header are called "flat binaries". This data must be used in a very
specific way to make the content at all useful. Fortunately, flat binary files are usually
only used by programmers and other individuals with very advanced computer skills.
Programmers often refer to executable files as binaries.
  On services such as Usenet, the appellation binary is given to a great number of file
types, including text and images though the post in question will generally denote
what type of data is included as the attachment. Some newsreaders can automatically
determine this and select the appropriate program to view the data.
  Binaries are not as commonly-seen in general use as they are among computer
professionals or, at least, binaries are usually referred to by more specific terms. An
image file, for instance, may be correctly termed a binary but most users simply call it
an image.
  The same applies for text files and executable files. If one is using newsgroup
services, they'll likely run into this term more often than they would in other situations
but it is safe to regard the term as simply a generic way of referring to any computer
data.
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posted:2/23/2011
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