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Thread: Computer and Internet Terms and Acronyms

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    Computer and Internet Terms and Acronyms

    A name that is substituted for a more complicated name. For example, a simple alias may be used instead of a more complicated mailing address or for a mailing list.

    A computer program written in Java for transfer over the web.

    A search utility used on the Internet to locate files in FTP sites, these files are generally public domain files that anyone can download.

    A graphical representation of a person in a chat room. The word comes from Hindu mythology in which spirits come down and inhabit bodies.

    Describes the capacity at which a given communications channel, such as ordinary copper telephone line, can transfer information; increasing bandwidth increases the speed at which data transfer takes place. The greater the bandwidth, the greater amount of data can be transferred.

    Baud Rate
    A measurement of how quickly a modem transfers data. Although, strictly speaking, this is not the same as bits per second, the two terms are often used interchangeably.

    BBS (Bulletin Board System)
    A service accessible via modem or other connection through which users may exchange messages privately or post messages to a publicly accessible forum; may or may not have Internet access.

    Basic Input Output System. This is the basic set of instructions that tell the computer how to act.

    Short for binary digit; either a 1 or a 0; the smallest unit into which digital information may be broken.

    BPS (Bits per Second)

    A measure of the speed of data transmission; the number of bits of data that can be transmitted each second. Modems are generally measured by their BPS rate (14.4K - 14400 BPS, 28.8K - 28800 BPS)

    Boot up
    The process of turning on the computer, which includes a number of functions that are performed automatically every time the power switch is turned on.

    A client software program used to search networks, retrieve copies of files and display them in an easy-to-read, often graphical, format. Browsers such as SPRY Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer are used to access information on the World Wide Web.

    A collection of eight BITS.


    A software program that provides access to network resources by working with information stored on a server.

    Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. A CMOS computer circuit consumes very little power and is used in computers to keep track of the system setup information, data, time, type of disk and hard drives, etc. that a computer has installed. The CMOS information is powered by the computer's on-board battery. So if the on-board battery fails, the information in CMOS is lost.

    An unexpected shutdown either of a program or the whole system.; sometimes traumatic, always frustrating ; often fixable by turning off the computer and turning it back on; results in losing any unsaved work. Can also be used in instances of a hard disk physically being damaged.

    A term coined by author William Gibson. It describes the imaginary space in which computer users travel when "surfing" the Internet.

    In UNIX, a program running all the time in the "background" (that is, unseen by users), providing special services when required. An example of a daemon is biff, which lets you know when mail arrives.

    E-mail (Electronic Mail)
    A means of sending typed messages from one computer to another, over a network or the Internet.

    Frequently Asked Question. This is often a file which new users can refer to when using a new service or piece of Internet software. It contains answers to frequently asked questions, hence the name.

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    File Transport Protocol (FTP)
    A service for moving an electronic file of any type from one computer to another over the Internet.

    The dedicated area where people come together to discuss issues, hobbies, or news. Also called newsgroups.


    Software provided free by its originator. See shareware.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
    An area or document dedicated to answering common questions.

    GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)
    One of two popular systems used to compress the size of image files so they require less bandwidth to transfer on the Web.

    An Internet service for locating and delivering electronic files. The Gopher interface includes a directory tree and a set of menus which can be used for exploring the Internet and downloading files.

    This is an acronym for Graphical User Interface. Examples are Windows and Apple's Macintosh operating system. The concept originated in the early 1970s at Xerox's PARC laboratory.

    Home Page
    The opening page of a World Wide Web document, sometimes called the welcome page.

    A computer connected directly to the Internet. A service provider's computer is a host.

    HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
    This is an acronym for HyperText Mark-up Language which is used to format information so that it can be structured and made accessible to the World Wide Web (WWW). The language itself is a simplified derivative of SGML, a widely used standard developed in the mid 1980's. The technique employed is to encase the information in special markers (called tags) which tell the WWW applications how the text is to be interpreted.

    HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
    The protocol that forms the basis of World Wide Web technology. HTTP is the set of rules governing the software that transports hyperlinked files along the Internet.

    Integrated Drive Electronics. An interface used mainly by hard drives and CD-ROM drives to connect to the computer.

    IP (Internet Protocol)
    The standard protocol used by systems communicating across the Internet.

    IP Address
    A digital code that precisely locates a computer connected to the Internet.

    IRC (Internet Relay Chat)
    A software tool that makes it possible to hold real-time keyboard conversations online.

    ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
    Large bandwidth telephone line. Allows you to transfer information quickly.

    Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) Graphic Format
    A commonly used compression technique for graphics images on the Internet.

    LAN (Local Area Network)
    The regional server or servers your computer is connected to. These in turn are connected to other servers creating a network in your office, home, etc.

    MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group)
    A video file compression system used on the web.

    PC (Personal Computer)
    Usually refers to what 's commonly known as an IBM-compatible computer, made by any one of dozens of manufacturers or backyard entrepreneurs.

    Portable Document Format. A document format read by Adobe System's Acrobat viewer. This format is excellent for displaying instruction manuals and other large documents in a "web-ready" state.

    An acronym for Privacy Enhanced Mail

    A helper application that works within a browser. It adds more functionality to a browser commonly associated with the Netscape Navigator browser software.

    Generally, port refers to the hardware through which computer data is transmitted; the plugs on the back of your computer are ports. On the Internet, port often refers to a particular application. For instance, you might telnet to a particular port on a particular host. The port is actually an application.

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    Small Computer Systems Interface. An set of standards used by an input device to interface with the computer. SCSI systems can "daisy-chain" up to 7 seven devices to a single connection. In other words, one device can connect to other device, and to another until it connects to the computer. Because several devices can connect to one single input connection, each device must be properly terminated for the entire chain of devices to work.

    Search Engine
    A tool used which matches key words you enter with titles and descriptions on the Internet. It then displays the matches allowing you to easily locate a subject. Similar to a card catalog, but not as efficient. Common search engines are Webcrawler, Yahoo, Alta Vista, Infoseek, and Lycos.

    A computer or its software that "serves" other computers by administering network files and network operations. Three types of Internet servers are Web servers, e-mail servers, and Gopher servers.

    Software that is freely distributed, but the author expects payment from people who decide to keep and use it.

    Same as "cruise." The random, aimless exploration of web pages achieved through following links that look interesting within a document.

    The process of transferring information from one computer to another, generally from a client to a server. For example, you upload a file from your computer to another.

    see World Wide Web (WWW).

    Web Page
    A single screen (document) on a Web site.

    Web Site
    The location of published hypertext content. Physically, a Web site can occupy an entire Web server or a part of a server; or it can be spread out among different servers as long as its sections are all linked, directly or indirectly, to the same home page.

    WWW (World Wide Web)
    An acronym for the World Wide Web. The WWW is a hypermedia retrieval system for information. The newest medium of the Internet. Based on hypertext, the Web provides a quick and easy method of delivering and receiving information files which are read by a browser. The Webs ability to transfer files containing not just text but also graphics, sound, and video makes it the most versatile of all the Internet services.

    WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
    Pronounced "wizziwig," it is a generic term meaning what you see on your screen is what is going to print out on your printer.

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