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Quiz: What the Dickens!

Since 1843, when Charles Dickens first saw publication of "A Christmas Carol," the classic tale has served many purposes. Here's our geeky version: for each computer-related question below, we've also supplied -- as a gift -- a snippet of Dickens' text, in which the term in question has been replaced by a blank. How many can you guess correctly?

1. In a technological context, this term describes a device that controls one or more other devices.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark ________!"

2. This is an open source Web development platform based on Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or Perl or Python).
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the ______-heat of the window, made pale faces ruddy as they passed.

3. In Physics, this is a particle of matter that uniquely defines a chemical element.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier particles descended in shower of sooty _______s, as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear hearts' content.

4. In a storage context, this is a system for archiving data such as business records and reports to one or more optical disks in a compressed but easily retrievable format.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: The ________ within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.

5. This is a software product that can clone the entire contents of a hard disk to another computer's hard disk or to storage media.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: "You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the __________. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

6. This term describes an observed phenomenon, by means of which human beings sense and record changes in the environment and in the universe.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: "Lead on," said Scrooge. "Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious _______ to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit"

7. This is a separate viewing area on a computer display screen in a system that allows multiple viewing areas as part of a graphical user interface.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a gothic _______ in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there.

8. In telecommunications, this is the unpredictable part of any network through which data passes between two end points.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: There were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the air on _________s like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts; and yet that face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the whole.

9. This is a network point that acts as an entrance to another network.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old _________ of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

10. In communications, this signal is a brief interruption in another, otherwise continuous, signal.
What is it?

A hint from Dickens: And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, hold hands with your partner, bow and curtsey; corkscrew; thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut -- cut so deftly, that he appeared to ________ with his legs...

How many could you guess correctly? Let us know!

Still feeling festive? Visit with the Quizzes of Festive Seasons Past on our Naughty or nice? page.

Read "A Christmas Carol" online.

This was last updated in December 2009

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These were a fun diversion on this cold rainy day!


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