What do you call the @ symbol used in e-mail addresses?

Written By All Video Subscribers on Monday, September 13, 2010 | 11:28 AM

What do you call the @ symbol used in e-mail addresses?

The funny little a with its tail circling back around  it is probably one of the most commonly used symbols today. So it is truly amazing to learn that there is no official, universal name for it. The most accepted term, even in many other languages, is to call it the at sign. But there are dozens of different words used to describe it. A lot of languages use words that associate the shape of the symbol with some type of animal.
Here are a few examples of the many exotic terms associated with the @ symbol:

apestaart - Dutch for "monkey's tail"
snabel - Danish for "elephant's trunk"
kissanhnta - Finnish for "cat's tail"
klammeraffe - German for "hanging monkey"
kukac - Hungarian for "worm"
dalphaengi - Korean for "snail"
grisehale - Norwegian for "pig's tail"
sobachka - Russian for "little dog"


Before it became the standard symbol for e-mail, the @ symbol was typically used to indicate the cost or weight of something. For example, if you bought five oranges for $1.25 each, you might write it as 5 oranges @ $1.25 ea. It is still used in this manner on a variety of forms and invoices around the world.

The actual origin of the symbol is uncertain. It was used by monks making copies of books before the invention of the printing press. Since every word had to be painstakingly transcribed by hand for each copy of a book, the monks that performed the copying duties looked for ways to reduce the number of individual strokes per word for common words. So, the word at became a single stroke of the pen as @ instead of three strokes. While it doesn't seem like much today, it made a huge difference to the men who spent their lives copying manuscripts!

Another origin tale states that the @ symbol was used as an abbreviation for the word amphora, which was the unit of measurement used to determine the amount held by the large terra cotta jars that were used to ship grain, spices and wine. Giorgio Stabile, an Italian scholar, discovered this use of the @ symbol in a letter written in 1536 by a Florentine trader named Francesco Lapi. It seems likely that some industrious trader saw the @ symbol in a book transcribed by monks using the symbol and appropriated it for use as the amphora abbreviation. This would also explain why it became common to use the symbol in relation to quantities of something.
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Thailand’s Beautiful Soap Flowers

They look like beautiful exotic flowers, and they even smell the part, only unlike the real thing, Thai soap flowers last forever.

Although these days, soap flowers can be bought as souvenirs from all around Thailand, these scented masterpieces originated in the villages around Chiang Rai. When they weren’t too busy tending to their farms or working in the rice paddies, locals practiced carving on pieces of soap. Their hobby turned into a fine art, and the delicate soap flowers they sold at the local night markets soon captured tourists’ imagination.

The art of soap carving is passed down from generation to generation, and since it’s all done using a few carving knives, the beauty of the flowers depends a lot on the skill and finesse of the artist. Chiang Rai remains the best place to buy soap flowers as souvenirs, and visitors can witness the carving process first hand.

Take a look at the jaw-dropping soap flowers and tell me if you could ever use any of them for washing your hands. I’d maybe do it if it was the last piece of soap on Earth.












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How to handle the load of millions of visitors?

How to handle the load of millions of visitors?

One of the surprising things about Web sites is that, in certain cases, a very small machine can handle a huge number of visitors. For example, imagine that you have a simple Web site containing a number of static pages (in this case, "static" means that everybody sees the same version of any page when they view it). If you took a normal 500MHz Celeron machine running Windows NT or Linux, loaded the Apache Web server on it, and connected this machine to the Internet with a T3 line (45 million bits per second), you could handle hundreds of thousands of visitors per day. Many ISPs will rent you a dedicated-machine configuration like this for $1,000 or less per month. This configuration will work great unless:

* You need to handle millions of visitors per day.
* The single machine fails (in this case, your site will be down until a new machine is installed and configured).
* The pages are extremely large or complicated.
* The pages need to change dynamically on a per-user basis.
* Any back-end processing needs to be performed to create the contents of the page or to process a request on the page.

Since most of the large Web sites meet all of these conditions, they need significantly larger infrastructures.


There are three main strategies for handling the load:

1. The site can invest in a single huge machine with lots of processing power, memory, disk space and redundancy.
2. The site can distribute the load across a number of machines.
3. The site can use some combination of the first two options.

When you visit a site that has a different URL every time you visit (for example www1.xyz.com, www2.xyz.com, www3.xyz.com, etc.), then you know that the site is using the second approach at the front end. Typically the site will have an array of stand-alone machines that are each running Web server software. They all have access to an identical copy of the pages for the site. The incoming requests for pages are spread across all of the machines in one of two ways:

* The Domain Name Server (DNS) for the site can distribute the load. DNS is an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Each time a request is made for the Web server, DNS rotates through the available IP addresses in a circular way to share the load. The individual servers would have common access to the same set of Web pages for the site.
* Load balancing switches can distribute the load. All requests for the Web site arrive at a machine that then passes the request to one of the available servers. The switch can find out from the servers which one is least loaded, so all of them are doing an equal amount of work.The load balancer spreads the load among three different Web servers. One of the three can fail with no effect on the site.

The advantage of this redundant approach is that the failure of any one machine does not cause a problem -- the other machines pick up the load. It is also easy to add capacity in an incremental way. The disadvantage is that these machines will still have to talk to some sort of centralized database if there is any transaction processing going on.

Microsoft's TerraServer takes the "single large machine" approach. Terraserver stores several terabytes of satellite imagery data and handles millions of requests for this information. The site uses huge enterprise-class machines to handle the load. For example, a single Digital AlphaServer 8400 used at TerraServer has eight 440 MHz 64-bit processors and 10 GB of error checked and corrected RAM. See the technology description for some truly impressive specifications!
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Bipasha & John At Special Screening Of Dombivli Fast

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