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Short Glossary

Short Internet Glossary

This is a short glossary of terms, hopefully written so that newbies can understand the world of computers and the Internet . This is not an exhaustive list, and any additions and/or corrections can be e-mailed to me. The Internet Primer has articles and information about the Internet, netiquette, abbreviations and smiley's, as well as descriptions and lessons in web design. An exhaustive Glossary can be found at Foldoc

Turning the computer on.

If you send email and it fails to arrive at its intended recipient for any reason (wrong user name, network failure, etc.), the message "bounces" and returns to you. The subject line in a bounced message usually says something like: "Undeliverable Mail" or "Message Undeliverable."

This is also a way to send a message to another person without changing the message. Bouncing a message includes all the headers and signature files.

A browser is software used to browse the web. Common browsers Netscape, MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer), Lynx, Mosaic, Amaya, Arena, Chimera, Opera, Cyberdog, HotJava.

A programming error that causes a program or computer system to perform erratically, produce incorrect results, or crash. The term bug was coined when a real insect was discovered to have fouled up one of the circuits of the first electronic digital computer, the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer).

(Pronounced like Johnny) A cache temporarily stores the information on a web page in your computer. If you request a page that is stored in a cache, Browsers can retrieve the page from the cache more quickly than retrieving the page again from it's location out on the network. Sometimes you may not want a page to be retrieved from a cache. The page you brought initially may no longer be identical to the page currently offered by the network. If a modification to a particular URL has occurred, you may want the updated page rather than the copy (now stale) stored in a cache. You can modify your cache preferences in Netscape under Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Cache. Internet Explorer users go to View > Internet Options > Temporary Internet Files > Settings.

The machine quits (freezes). Restarting the computer will get rid of the freeze, but may not solve the problem. Check the machine for viruses.

A point of insertion on the computer screen, often marked with a flashing line or block.

A database is a collection of information, typically organized to make common retrievals easy and efficient.

A desktop system is a computer designed to sit in one position on a desk. Industrial desktops are typically called workstations. On a Macintosh the desktop refers to the top level folder that includes all the files, directories, OS, software on the computer.

Data which is stored or transmitted as a sequence of discrete symbols from a finite set usually in binary (zero one). Compare cameras that use film and digital cameras.

A physical component used to add RAM to a computer. Similar to, but incompatible with, SIMMs.

A directory is a collection of files typically created for organizational purposes. A directory is itself a file, so a directory can alsocontain other directories. When you search on a computer the result lists the paths to directories and sub-directories and finally to the item you were searching for.

A disk is a physical object used for storing data. The hard drive on a computer is a disk. There is also a 5 1/2 inch floppy - called a floppy because it is floppy, then 31/2 disk , and the cd (compact disk). It is always used in conjunction with a disk drive. Some disks can be removed from their drives, some cannot. Hard drives are disks and storage capacity is growing. 40 gig1s of information is now common. CD1s hold 80 MB, a 3 1/2 floppy 1.4 MB.

A device for storing and/or retrieving data. Some drives (such as disk drives, zip drives, and tape drives) are typically capable of having new data written to them, but some others (like CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs) are not. Some drives have random access (like disk drives, zip drives, CD-ROMs, and DVD-ROMs), while others only have sequential access (like tape drives).

A frequently asked questions file attempts to provide answers for all commonly asked questions related to a given topic.

Fetch is a small program (for Mac's) that is used for uploading and downloading files from a server machine. It is similar to FTP except that it is software that is on the user's machine.

A file is what is created using software. This document is a file.

An extremely common type of removable disk. Also sometimes called "diskette".

The font is the style of letters, numberss, and other symbol. Fonts can be either fixed width or variable width and independently, either bitmapped or vectored. The size is typically measured in points. Fonts were originally designed by typographers from the first days of the printing press. For instance, Zapf dingbats are special characters designed by Herr Zapf, a typographer of the 18001s (?) to be used with his font.

The manner in which data is stored. Computer information can be stored in literally hundreds of different formats, and can represent text, sound, graphics, animations, etc. Some typical format suffixes: .txt, .doc, .jpg, .gif, .sea.

Anything visually displayed on a computer that is not text. (jpg, gif, mpg)

Graphical User Interface. This was a major step in the development of computers making the mouse possible. Instead of the command line input the user can now point the mouse at what is wanted and click. The use of pictures rather than just words to represent the input and output of a program. The program displays certain icons, buttons, dialogue boxes etc. in its windows on the screen and the user controls it mainly by moving a pointer on the screen (typically controlled by a mouse) and selecting certain objects by pressing buttons on the mouse while the pointer is pointing at them.

The physical portion of the computer.

Usually written in the language that we are trying to learn. Almost all programs and computers have help, but unless we learn the terms, it isn't much help.

A keyboard is another input device. Computer keyboards include extra keys and functions such as Control, Alt, and Command to facilitate using the computer. Often there are keyboard shortcuts to simplify various tasks. Math-related keys are typically called "keypads".

Acronym for "Local Area Network." LANs are now commonplace in most businesses, allowing users to send email and share resources such as files, printers, modems, etc. Currently, most larger companies are connection their LANs to the Internet, allowing users to connect to resources within or outside the LAN.

Computer programs are written in a variety of different languages. Different languages are optimized for different tasks. Common languages include Java, C, C++, ForTran, Pascal, Lisp, and BASIC. HTML is also a language.

A laptop is any computer designed to to be carried around.

log on
To log on to another machine using a user name and password. When you retrieve your e-mail, you log on to the remote computer using your user name and passwrod and your mail is downloaded onto your machine.

Mailing List
A list of email addresses used to forward messages to groups of people. When you subscribe to a mailing list, you receive all mail sent to that list. memory
Memory denoted how much space a computer has. The hard drive space (memory) is the capacity of the computer. This can only be increased by replacing the hard drive. RAM (Random Access Memory) is the room that a computer has for running applications. RAM is increased by purchasing memory chips (DIMM's and SIMM's). The most common types of memory are RAM, ROM, and flash.

The screen.

A mouse is the physical object moved around to control a pointer on the screen, and the pointer itself. The plural of computer mouse is "mouses". (We do not why.)

This originally indicated integration of various types of programs including audio, still graphics and video. Events are multi-media if more than one type of media is used, usually simultaneously: dance music, lights with video played on walls or screens.

A network is computers connected to each other.

A newbie is a beginner to the online world and computers.

A notebook is a small laptop with similar price, performance, and battery life.

The operating system is the software program that runs the computer. Common OS1s include Windows '95, MacOS, Linux, UNIX, Solaris, AIX, Windows NT.

Personal computer properly refers to any desktop, laptop, or notebook computer system.

A personal digital assistant is a small battery-powered computer intended to be carried around by the user rather than left on a desk.

Peripherals are hardware additions: scanners, printers, external floppy drives, cd burners, speakers.

The smallest distinct point on a computer display is called a pixel.

A platform represents a computer's family. It is defined by the processor on the hardware side and the OS on the software side. Later version Macintosh1s can run both Microsoft and Mac platforms.

A printer is a hardware that will print information onto paper.

The processor (also called central processing unit, or CPU) is the part of the computer that works with the data and runs the programs. There are two main processor types in common usage today: CISC and RISC. Some computers have more than one processor and are called "multiprocessor".

A program is a series of instructions for a computer, telling it what to do or how to behave. Programs are written tp perform specific functions, such as a billing program. Programs include software.

Read-only memory is similar to RAM only cannot be altered and does not lose its contents when power is removed.

A scanner is a hardware that will scan an image into software and produce a computer file of that image.

A server provides various services for an entire network. La Plaza has server machines that the users log into to access the WWW and send and recieve e-mail.

Shareware is software made for profit that allows a trial period before purchase.

Keyboard characters used in text e-mail to denote emotions. Also called emoticons.

An ASCII text file that can be automatically attached to the bottom of a piece of email or newsgroup posting that identifies the sender. Many signatures (or "sigs") use symbols and characters to create images or words to make the sig more interesting.

Software are the programs that are used to create the files and operate the computer.

Suffixes are the abbreviations following a file that identify the type of file that it is: .jpg, .gif (images) .txt , .doc (text) .mpg, (movie)

Hopefully what you get when you call a help line! La Plaza has a support page which can answer questions converning connecting, e-mail, viruses, and other questions.

T user
The operator of a computer.

TCP/IP is a protocol for computer networks. The Internet is built on top of TCP/IP.

Universal Seriel Bus is a serial port that offers many of the best features of SCSI without the price. Faster than many types of parallel port, a single USB port is capable of chaining many devices without the need of a terminator.

virtual memory
Hard drive disk space is made to substitute for the more expensive RAM space. Some programs will not work with Virtual memory turned on.

word processor
A program designed to create text documents. Common word processors include MS-Word, WordPerfect, AppleWorks , and GeoWrite.

What you see is what you get; an adjective applied to a program that attempts to exactly represent printed output on the screen. Related to WYSIWYM but quite different.