Glossary of Internet-Related Terms
ActiveX: Since most web pages are static documents with little interactivity, Microsoft created a programming language, called ActiveX, to remedy this situation. ActiveX “controls” promise to make the web-surfing experience comparable to that of highly produced CD-ROMS, where you can listen to music, watch animation and video clips, and interact with the program.
Adware: adware is considered to go beyond the reasonable advertising that one might expect from freeware or shareware. Typically a separate program that is installed at the same time as a shareware or similar program, adware will usually continue to generate advertising even when the user is not running the originally requested program.
AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port): This is a graphics card expansion port designed by Intel that resides on the motherboard of a computer. PCI graphics ports typically run at 33 MHz and have a maximum transfer rate of 132 MB/sec. AGP ports, on the other hand, run at 66 MHz and can transfer data up to 528 MB/sec. This allows games and applications to store and retrieve larger, more realistic 3D shapes and textures without slowing down the animation on the screen. Additionally, AGP cards can store graphics in system memory rather than video memory, which also helps improve performance. Because of these advantages, AGP cards will typically have better performance per MB of VRAM (Video RAM) than PCI graphics cards.
Anonymous FTP: A publicly available Internet file site. Users must sign on as anonymous and enter their email address to connect to an anonymous FTP site.
Applet: A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from full-fledged Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers across a network. The common rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.
Archie: A tool (software) for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites. You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it. By 1999, Archie had been almost completely replaced by web-based search engines. In the days when FTP was the main way people moved files over the Internet, Archie was very popular.
Arj files: A popular file compression/archival tool, available for UNIX/Linux, DOS/ Windows, and other operating systems. Files compressed in this manner typically have a .arj extension.
ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network): The precursor to the Internet. Developed in the late 60’s and early 70’s by the U.S. Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking to connect together computers that were each running different systems so that people at one location could use computing resources from another location.
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange): This is the world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111. The usual pronunciation is AS-KEY.
ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode): A networking technology that transfers data in packets or cells of a fixed size. Extremely small cells can be processed through an ATM switch fast enough to maintain data transfer speeds of over 600 mbps. Not to be confused with the bank machine ATM.
Attachment: A file that is included with an email message. Often, the file must be saved to the desktop before it can be opened. The recipient must have the appropriate application to use/view/listen to the contents of the file. You can attach any file, including word processing, spreadsheet, graphic, sound clip, or a complete application.
Autoresponder: A program or script on a mail server that automatically replies to e-mails received for a certain account. It is normally used to inform a person that has sent a message to a specific address that the message has been received and will be duly processed.
Backbone: A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
Back door: Remote administration programs that, once installed, allow other people to access and control your computer.
Bandwidth: This refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 57,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.
Baud: In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value – for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300= 1200 bits per second).
Binary: Information consisting entirely of ones and zeros. Also, commonly used to refer to files that are not simply text files, e.g. images.
Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal): A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII.
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System): The BIOS contains the code which results in the loading (booting) of a computer’s operating system e.g. Microsoft Windows. The BIOS also controls the flow of data to/from the operating system and peripheral devices, such as printer, hard disk, keyboard and mouse.
Bit (Binary DigIT): A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.
Bitmap: A bitmap is a map of dots, or bits (hence the name), that looks like a picture at a reasonable distance away from the screen. Common bitmap file types include BMP (the raw bitmap format), JPEG, GIF, PICT, PCX, and TIFF. Because bitmap images are made up of a bunch of dots, if you zoom in on a bitmap, it appears to be very blocky.
Blacklists: Lists of domains and IP addresses that have been reported or accused of sending spam.
Bleeding edge: the very newest of the new tools: things that no one’s quite sure are going to make it to mainstream. A play on the term “leading edge”.
Blog (weB LOG): A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger”. Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.
Bluetooth: This is a technology that enables wireless communication between Bluetooth-compatible devices. It is used for short-range connections between desktop and laptop computers, PDAs (like the Palm Pilot or Handspring Visor), digital cameras, scanners, cellular phones, and printers.
Bookmark: is adding a website’s address (URL) to the personal index or favourites list of your web browser. Rather than having to search for the website’s address at a later date, you simply select the web address from your bookmarks.
Bot: Derived from the word “robot,” a bot is a software program that performs repetitive functions, such as indexing information on the Internet.
Bounce: A bounced email is an email returned back to the server that sent it out. A bounced email is classified as either a “hard bounce” or a “soft bounce.” A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent address. A soft bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a temporary issue, like a full mailbox or an unavailable server.
Bps (Bits-Per-Second): A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 56K modem can move about 57,000 bits per second.
Broadband: refers to high-speed data transmission in which a single cable can carry a large amount of data at once. The most common types of Internet broadband connections are cable modems (which use the same connection as cable TV) and DSL modems (which use your existing phone line).
Browser: A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources. An example of a browser would be Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.
Browser Hijacker: this term covers a range of malicious software. The most generally accepted description for browser hijacking software is external code that changes your Internet Explorer settings. Generally your home page will be changed and new favourites will be added that point to sites of dubious content. In most cases, the hijacker will have made registry changes to your system, causing the home page to revert back to the unwanted destination even if you change it manually.
Buffer: a small amount of data that is stored for a short amount of time, typically in the computer’s memory (RAM). The purpose of a buffer is to hold data right before it is used. When you download an audio or video file from the Internet, it may load the first 20% of it into a buffer and then begin to play. While the clip plays back, the computer continually downloads the rest of the clip and stores it in the buffer. Because the clip is being played from the buffer, not directly from the Internet, there is less of a chance that the audio or video will stall or skip when there is network congestion.
Burn-in: To test a new electronic device by letting it run for a while. Most electronics are tested in this way by their manufacturers or dealers, but you can do it yourself as well. For instance, you should leave a new computer on for 48 hours when you first get it to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Byte: A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.
Certificate Authority: An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connections.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface): A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the CGI program) talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard.
Cgi-bin: The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored.
Clickable image: A clickable image is any image that has instructions embedded in it so that clicking on it initiates some kind of action or result. On a web page, a clickable image is any image that has a URL or more than one URL embedded in it (i.e. hidden behind it). This can be accomplished simply by including an <A HREF> anchor tag in an HTML <IMG> (image) tag. Embedding more than one URL in an image requires constructing an image map.
Client: A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind of Client.
Co-location: Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on their own network.
Codec (coder-decoder): Most audio and video formats use some sort of compression so that they don’t take up a huge amount of disk space. Audio and video files are compressed with a certain codec when they are saved and then decompressed by the codec when they are played back. Common codecs include MPEG and AVI for video files and WAV and AIFF for audio files. Codecs can also be used to compress streaming media (live audio and video) which makes it possible to broadcast a live audio or video clip over a broadband Internet connection.
Cold boot: Start the computer by switching on the power. A cold boot recycles the computer’ s random access memory (RAM), thus removing any viruses that might be present in memory.
Compression: Reducing the size of files so they can be transported more easily either on a disk or over the Internet (usually phone lines). Before you can use files that have been compressed, you must uncompress them. On the PC, it’s also known as zipping files after the popular compression utilities Pkzip and Winzip. On the Mac, Stuffit! and Stuffit! Expander are the compression utilities of choice.
Cookie: The most common meaning of “Cookie” on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server.
Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browsers’ settings, the Browser may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a short time or a long time.
Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online “shopping cart” information, user preferences, etc.
When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular users’ requests.
Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their “expire time” has not been reached.
CPU (Central Processing Unit): This is pretty much the brain of your computer. It processes everything from basic instructions to complex functions. Any time something needs to be computed, it gets sent to the CPU. The CPU can also be referred to simply as the “processor” or “chip”.
The make and model of your CPU is usually dictated by the make and model of your motherboard (also known as the mainboard). You cannot simply remove the CPU from your PC and add a faster CPU chip.
A CPU chip upgrade usually includes a motherboard upgrade as well as a RAM memory upgrade.
Crash: The sudden failure of a software application, operating system, or a hardware device such as your computer’s hard drive. One of the most common reasons for computer crashes is that too many programs are being run at once. The first thing to try if your computer crashes is to reboot it.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheet): A standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS was developed for use with HTML in Web pages but is also used in other situations, notably in applications built using XPFE. CSS is typically used to provide a single “library” of styles that are used over and over throughout a large number of related documents, as in a web site. A CSS file might specify that all numbered lists are to appear in italics. By changing that single specification the look of a large number of documents can be easily changed.
Cyberspace: Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer. The word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.
Data: Any series of bits, characters, or objects that has meaning. Data is stored and transmitted by computers.
Data Encryption: a means of scrambling the data so that it can only be read by the person(s) holding the ‘key’ – a password of some sort. Without the ‘key’, the cipher cannot be broken and the data remains secure. Using the key, the cipher is decrypted and the data is returned to its original value or state. Each time one wishes to encrypt data, a key from the 72,000,000,000,000,000 possible key variations is randomly generated and used to encrypt the data. The same key must be made known to the receiver if they are to decrypt the data.
Data Mining: when a computer program, with or without your prior consent, transfers information gleaned from your computer’s storage device (usually the hard disk drive) back to the data mining software’s originating company. The information usually references where you have surfed and what you were looking at while you were surfing. Such programs are also referred to as adware programs.
Data transfer: the total size of files transferred by an account in a month. Sites with a lots of graphics, downloads, or streaming audio or video and a lot of visitors will require accounts with more available transfer.
Data transfer may also mean the sending and the receiving of files using an Internet connection.
DHCP: short for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. DHCP is a protocol for assigning a dynamic IP address to a device on a network. You would theoretically be assigned a different IP address every time you connect. The opposite of a DHCP provided IP address is a static IP address, which always remains the same regardless of how many times you connect.
Dial-up account: A dial-up account allows you to use your modem to make a connection to your provider’s system. Once you have dialed your provider’s local number and are connected, the provider then connects you directly to the Internet, where you can run any Internet navigation software (such as Internet Explorer).
DNS (Domain Name System): The Domain Name System is the system that translates Internet domain names into IP numbers. A “DNS Server” is a server that performs this kind of translation.
Domain Name: The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine. For example, the domain names:
can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more than one machine.
Usually, all of the machines on a given Network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names (matisse.net in the examples above). It is also possible for a Domain Name to exist but not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or business can have an Internet e-mail address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed Domain Name.
Download: Transferring data (usually a file) from another computer to the computer your are using. The opposite of upload.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber’s premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line, however, a DSL circuit is not a leased line.
A common configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.
Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both directions.
In theory ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second.
DSL is now a popular alternative to Leased Lines and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), being faster than ISDN and less costly than traditional Leased Lines.
Dynamic IP address: an address that is assigned to a computer every time it connects to the Internet. A dynamic IP address should be different every time as it is assigned to the connection by the Inernet Service Provider’s DHCP server. The opposite of a dynamic IP address is the static IP address.
EISA bus: A 32-bit bus for PCs built around 386, 486, or Pentium chips. EISA was developed as an alternative to IBM’s microchannel bus, and is more compatible with the original ISA bus. EISA computers can generally use ISA cards as well.
Email (Electronic Mail): Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. Email can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses.
Email header: The top portion of a received email message, containing information about the routing of the message. Message headers are not usually seen when you are reading your email, but may be viewed by invoking the view headers mode of your respective email program.
Emoticon: Another name for a “smiley”, an emoticon is a sequence of keyboard characters used to punctuate a message or posting by expressing the writer’s emotional state. For example:
Ethernet: A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. There is more than one type of Ethernet. By 2001 the standard type was “100-BaseT” which can handle up to about 100,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.
External viewer: A program that is launched or used by Web browsers for presenting graphics, audio, video, VRML, and other multimedia files found on the Internet. It’s sometimes referred to as a helper application. When you initially set up your browser, you configure the external viewers you want by associating them with file types extensions. This way, the browser knows what to do when these files are “clicked on.”
Ezine: an electronic magazine. Most of the time these are magazines that only exist in cyberspace.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions): FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject.
File extension: one or several letters at the end of a filename. Filename extensions usually follow a period (dot) and indicate the type of file. For example, .txt denotes a plain text file, .htm or .html denotes an HTML file. Some common image extensions are .jpg or .jpeg or .bmp or .gif. File extensions are used in both DOS and Windows-based files.
Finger: An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.
Fire Wall: A combination of hardware and software that separates a Network into two or more parts for security purposes.
Flame/Flaming: Flaming is reacting to someone’s newsgroup posting or email in a hostile manner by publicly chastising the person or bombarding the person with nasty email. Flaming may occur to users who ask stupid questions or who engage in behaviour that violates what is considered proper online netiquette (etiquette).
Flame War: A flame war occurs when two or more users flame each other in an escalating manner that threatens to continue unabated.
Foistware: software which is installed with completely unrelated programs. That means that there is no particular property in the software that makes it Foistware, but rather the context in which it was installed. An example of foistware would be an anti-virus program bundled with a word processor.
Frame: A format for web documents (or web pages) that divides the screen into segments, each with a scroll bar as if it were a “window” within the window. Usually, selecting a category of documents in one frame shows the contents of the category in another frame.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites.
FTP is a way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name “anonymous”, thus these sites are called “anonymous ftp servers”.
FTP was invented and in wide use long before the advent of the World Wide Web and originally was always used from a text-only interface.
Gateway: The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example America Online has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary email format and Internet email format. Another, informal meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.
Gigabyte: 1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring.
Gopher: Invented at the University of Minnesota in 1993 just before the Web, gopher was a widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet.
Gopher was designed to be much easier to use than FTP, while still using a text-only interface.
Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.
Hacker: Someone who uses their computer knowledge and expertise to gain access to a computer or network. Typically, this access is unauthorized.
Hardware: Physical equipment:- processors, screens, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, network routers, hubs, bridges, racking, disk drives, portable drives, etc. As the saying goes, if you can kick it, it’s hardware!
Hit: As used in reference to the World Wide Web, hit means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server.
Home page: Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. “Check out so-and-so’s new Home Page.”
Host: Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as SMTP (email) and HTTP (web).
HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear.
The “hyper” in Hypertext comes from the fact that in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or an image, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a “Web Browser”.
HTML is loosely based on a more comprehensive system for markup called SGML.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol): The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
Hypertext: Generally, any text that contains links to other documents – words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.
Image map: a graphic image divided into regions or “hotspots”, that when clicked, displays a web page that is linked to a particular region.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): IMAP is gradually replacing POP as the main protocol used by email clients in communicating with email servers.
Using IMAP an email client program can not only retrieve email but can also manipulate message stored on the server, without having to actually retrieve the messages. So messages can be deleted, have their status changed, multiple mail boxes can be managed, etc.
Information Superhighway: A global high-speed network of computers that serves thousands of users simultaneously, transmitting e-mail, multimedia files, voice, and video. The system links homes, offices, schools, libraries, and medical centers, so that textual and audiovisual information can be instantly accessed and transmitted from one computer screen to another. Only government types seem to refer to the Internet as the Information Superhighway.
IP number also known as IP address (Internet Protocol Number): Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, (e.g. 126.96.36.199).
Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number – if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Many machines (especially servers) also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.
IRC (Internet Relay Chat): Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls.
ISA (Industry Standard Architecture): The bus architecture used in the IBM PC/XT and PC/AT. The AT version of the bus is called the AT bus and became a de facto industry standard. Starting in the early 90s, ISA began to be replaced by the PCI local bus architecture. Most computers made today include both an AT bus for slower devices and a PCI bus for devices that need better bus performance.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000 or 64,000 bits-per-second.
ISP (Internet Service Provider): An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money
JAVA: Java is a network-friendly programming language invented by Sun Microsystems.
Java is often used to build large, complex systems that involve several different computers interacting across networks, for example transaction processing systems.
Java is also becoming popular for creating programs that run in small electronic devices, such as mobile telephones.
A very common use of Java is to create programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called “Applets”), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.
JPEG (or JPG) (Joint Photographic Experts Group): JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.
Keylogger: a program that can monitor and record your every keystroke, exposing you to the risk of identity theft by revealing user names, passwords and other confidential information
Kilobyte: A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (210) bytes.
LAN (Local Area Network): A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
Leased Line: Refers to line such as a telephone line or fiber-optic cable that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.
Link Rot: a term used to describe the frustrating and frequent problem caused by the constant changing in URLs. A Web page or search tool offers a link and when you click on it, you get an error message (e.g., “not available”) or a page saying the site has moved to a new URL. Search engine spiders cannot keep up with the changes. URLs change frequently because the documents are moved to new computers, the file structure on the computer is reorganized, or sites are discontinued. If there is no referring link to the new URL, there is little you can do but try to search for the same or an equivalent site from scratch.
Linux: A widely used Open Source Unix-like operating system. Linux was first released by its inventor Linus Torvalds in 1991. There are versions of Linux for almost every available type of computer hardware from desktop machines to IBM mainframes. The inner workings of Linux are open and available for anyone to examine and change as long as they make their changes available to the public. This has resulted in thousands of people working on various aspects of Linux and adaptation of Linux for a huge variety of purposes.
Listserv: The most common kind of mail list, “Listserv” is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.
Login: actually has two meanings. It may be the account name used to gain access to a computer system or it may be the act of connecting to a computer system by giving your credentials (usually your “username” and “password”).
Lurker: An inactive participant in an online discussion who reads the discussion, but does not post. When joining a mailing list or newsgroup , it’s helpful to get familiar with the discussion before posting. When a lurker posts for the first time, it’s called “de-lurking.”
MAC address (Media Access Control address): (also hardware or physical address). Every device on the Local Area Network has a unique MAC address. It is used to identify devices and to control access to the network using MAC protocol.
Malware: A generic name for software which intentionally performs actions which can damage data or disrupt systems.
Megabyte: A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.
Meta Tag: A specific kind of HTML tag that contains information not normally displayed to the user. Meta tags contain information about the page itself, hence the name (“meta” means “about this subject”)
Typical uses of Meta tags are to include information for search engines to help them better categorize a page.
You can see the Meta tags in a page if you view the pages’ source code.
MicroChannel bus: A high-performance 32-bit bus architecture introduced by IBM with its PS/2 family in 1987. The microchannel bus has not been widely adopted by the industry. Also known as MCA, it is virtually an unknown entity today.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions): Originally a standard for defining the types of files attached to standard Internet mail messages. The MIME standard has come to be used in many situations where one computer programs needs to communicate with another program about what kind of file is being sent.
Mirror: Generally speaking, “to mirror” is to maintain an exact copy of something. Probably the most common use of the term on the Internet refers to “mirror sites” which are web sites, or FTP sites that maintain copies of material originated at another location, usually in order to provide more widespread access to the resource. For example, one site might create a library of software, and 5 other sites might maintain mirrors of that library.
Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator): A device that connects a computer to a phone line. A telephone for a computer. A modem allows a computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.
Mosaic: The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX all with the same interface. Mosaic really started the popularity of the Web. The source-code to Mosaic was licensed by several companies and used to create many other web browsers.
Motherboard (also known as Mainboard): The part of a PC which holds the essential parts of the system such as the working memory (both RAM and ROM) and the CPU. The motherboard usually provides a number of bus slots into which all the other components are plugged. These components may include the sound card, the video card or an ethernet card, although many newer motherboards include the sound, video and ethernet cards as built-in components.
MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3): the most popular compressed audio file format. An MP3 file is about one tenth the size of the original audio file, but the sound is nearly CD-quality. Because of their small size and good fidelity, MP3 files have become a popular way to store music files on both computers and portable devices.
MPEG: refers to a type of multimedia file, which is denoted by the file extension “.mpg” or “.mpeg”. These files are compressed movies that can contain both audio and video. Though they are compressed, MPEG files maintain most of the original quality of the uncompressed movie.
The MPEG organization (Moving Picture Experts Group), which works with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), develops standards for digital audio and video compression.
MUD (Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension): A (usually text-based) multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others are used for serious software development, or education purposes and all that lies in between. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact within their absence, thus allowing a world to be built gradually and collectively.
Multimedia: multimedia is the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes text, graphics, audio, video, etc. A presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a multimedia presentation.
Net event: Anything happening live on the Internet. Net events can include live chats and video and audio broadcasts.
Net lingo: The slang (jargon) commonly used on the Internet, mainly in chat rooms or newsgroup messages. You will eventually see such acronyms as LOL (Laugh Out Loud), ROTFL (Rolling On The Floor Laughing),
FWIW (For What It’s Worth), and others that will totally defy convention.
Netiquette: The etiquette on the Internet.
Netizen: Derived from the term citizen, referring to a citizen of the Internet, or someone who uses networked resources.
Netscape: A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The NetscapeTM browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
Network: Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet.
Network Address Translation (NAT): An Internet standard that enables a local-area network (LAN) to use one set of IP addresses for internal traffic and a second set of addresses for external traffic. A NAT box (usually built in to the router)located where the LAN meets the Internet makes all necessary IP address translations.NAT provides a type of firewall by hiding internal IP addresses from potential hackers.
Newbie: A new user of a technology, such as a computer, a certain computer program, or the Internet, is often referred to as a “newbie”. The term should not be deemed as derogatory, as we all have to start somewhere.
Newsgroup: a discussion group that is based on postings about a particular topic. Users post messages to a news server, which then sends them to other participating servers. Then, other users can access the newsgroup and read the postings. The groups can be either “moderated,” where a person or group decides which postings will become part of the discussion, or “unmoderated”, where everything posted is included in the discussion.
The main difference between email and a newsgroup message is that email is usually sent to an individual whereas a newsgroup posting is readable by all of those that subscribe to that particular newsgroup.
NIC (Network Interface Card): a computer circuit board or card that is installed in a computer so that the computer may be connected to a network. In a DSL connection, the NIC is connected to the DSL modem via a network cable. Most NIC’s today are for ethernet connections.
NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol): The protocol used by client and server software to carry USENET postings back and forth over a TCP/IP network. If you are using any of the more common software such as Netscape, Forte Agent, Internet Explorer, etc. to participate in newsgroups, then you are benefiting from an NNTP connection.
Node: Any single computer connected to a network.
OEM: usually means “original equipment manufacturer.” Sometimes it is referred to as “open-ended market” and used interchangeably with “bulk-pack”, “white box”, “brown box”, and “gray market”. Bulk-pack products usually do not have fancy packaging materials and are often produced in much higher volume, both of which result in much lower product prices. The OEM products are of the same quality and often carry the same manufacturer warranty as their retail counterparts (the single-pack). They often include supporting materials such as manuals and drivers when applicable.
Open Content: Copyrighted information (such as this Glossary) that is made available by the copyright owner to the general public under license terms that allow reuse of the material, often with the requirement (as with this Glossary) that the re-user grant the public the same rights to the modified version that the re-user received from the copyright owner.
Information that is in the Public Domain might also be considered a form of Open Content.
Open Mail Relay: A mail server program that will accept e-mails from a third-party and forward them to different third-party computers, totally bypassing your e-mail client
Packet Switching: The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks. Each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed along different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.
Password: A code used to gain access (login) to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. An example of a good password might be:
which is a mixture of numbers, upper-case and lower-case letters. Please do not ever be tempted to use the word “password” as your password. Don’t make it easy for someone to guess your password.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect): is a hardware bus designed by Intel and used in both PCs and Macs. Most add-on cards such as SCSI, Firewire, and USB controllers use a PCI connection. Virtually all new computers come equipped with PCI slots on the motherboard.
PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association): the “credit card” peripherals (modem, network card) that fit into the slots in a laptop computer are PCMCIA devices.
The PCMCIA slots come in three sizes, so please be certain of which version of the PCMCIA slot your laptop is equipped with prior to purchasing a peripheral.
PDA (Personal Data Assistant): The Palm Pilot and the Sony Clié are examples of PDA’s. These are usually small computer-like devices that fit easily into the palm of the hand.
PDF file: Abbreviation for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe Systems, that is used to capture almost any kind of document with the formatting in the original. Viewing a PDF file requires Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free from Adobe.
Ping: To check if a server is running. From the sound that a sonar system when they are searching for a submarine.
Pixel: short for “Picture Element.” These small little dots are what make up the images on computer displays, whether they are flat-screen (LCD) or tube (CRT) monitors. The screen is divided up into a matrix of thousands or even millions of pixels. Typically, you cannot see the individual pixels, because they are so small.
Plug-in: A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins. Macromedia Flash player would be an example of a browser plug-in.
POP (Point of Presence): A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines. So if an Internet company says they will soon have a POP in Belgrade, it means that they will soon have a local phone number in Belgrade and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network.
POP (Post Office Protocol): Post Office Protocol refers to a way that e-mail client software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain an account from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail. Another protocol called IMAP is replacing POP for email.
Popup: A new browser window that appears unrequested (by you) on your screen. A gratuitous, easily-programmed visual effect exploited by many web sites often to the consternation of the hapless user. Commonly used for advertisements. Particularly annoying are those termed exit popups: browser windows that spring to life when you leave a site or when you close a browser window. (Scripting languages call these “onUnload” and “onClose” events.)
Popup blocker: A program that helps to prevent unsolicited windows from appearing on your screen; these windows usually contain advertisements.
Port: On the Internet, port often refers to a number that is part of a URL, appearing after a colon (:) right after the domain name. Every service on an Internet server listens on a particular port number on that server. Most services have standard port numbers, e.g. Web servers normally listen on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case the port number must be specified in a URL when accessing the server, so you might see a URL of the form:
This shows a web server running on a non-standard port (the standard HTTP port is 80).
Portal: Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a “Portal site” has a catalog of web sites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main “point of entry” (hence “portal”) to the Web.
POST (Power-On Self Test): When a computer boots up, it starts by executing hard-wired instructions stored in the BIOS. These instructions do a check of the various essential machine functions, and then turn control of the system over to the boot loader routine stored on the hard drive. The series of instructions the BIOS does are called the Power-On Self Test, abbreviated POST.
POTS: Plain Old Telephone System. A non-enhanced telephone line may be referred to as a POTS line.
Posting: A message entered into a network communications system.
PPP (Point to Point Protocol): The most common protocol used to connect home computers to the Internet over regular phone lines.
Most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make TCP/IP connections and thus be really and truly on the Internet.
PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet): is a specification for connecting multiple computer users on an Ethernet local area network to a remote site through common customer premises equipment (ie: modem). PPPoE combines the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), commonly used in dialup connections, with the Ethernet protocol, which supports multiple users in a local area network. The PPP protocol information is encapsulated within an Ethernet frame.
Protocol: On the Internet “protocol” usually refers to a set of rules that define an exact format for communication between systems. For example the HTTP protocol defines the format for communication between web browsers and web servers, the IMAP protocol defines the format for communication between IMAP email servers and clients, and the SSL protocol defines a format for encrypted communications over the Internet.
Protocol: On the Internet “protocol” usually refers to a set of rules that define an exact format for communication between systems. For example the HTTP protocol defines the format for communication between web browsers and web servers, the IMAP protocol defines the format for communication between IMAP email servers and clients, and the SSL protocol defines a format for encrypted communications over the Internet.
Proxy Server: A Proxy Server sits in between a Client and the “real” Server that a Client is trying to use. Clients are sometimes configured to use a Proxy Server, usually an HTTP server. The clients makes all of it’s requests from the Proxy Server, which then makes requests from the “real” server and passes the result back to the Client. Sometimes the Proxy server will store the results and give a stored result instead of making a new one (to reduce use of a Network). Proxy servers are commonly established on Local Area Networks
PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): The regular old-fashioned telephone system.
Pull: To request data from another program or computer. The World Wide Web is based on a pull technology where the client browser must request a Web page before it is sent.
Push: In client/server applications, to send data to a client without the client requesting it.
Queue: A queue is a list of jobs that are waiting to be processed. When a job is sent to a queue, it is simply added to the list of jobs. Computer programs often work with queues as a way to order tasks. For example, when the CPU finishes one computation, it will process the next one in the queue.
Quick Time: a multimedia technology developed by Apple Computer. It is a popular format for creating and storing sound, graphics, and movie (.mov) files. Though it is an Apple technology, QuickTime software is available for both the Mac and the PC.
QWERTY: This term is used to describe a standard (Latin alphabet-based) keyboard. Why? Because the first six keys in the upper-left part of the keyboard spell out Q-W-E-R-T-Y.
RAM (random access memory): is the place in a computer where the operating system, application programs, and data in current use are kept so that they can be quickly accessed by the computer’s processor. RAM chips are installed on the motherboard and the capacity and access speed of the RAM chips is relational to the computer’s performance. You can never go wrong by having 512 megabytes of fast-access RAM in your computer.
As there are so many different types, speeds and storage capacities of RAM on the market, you really should consult a computer professional (ie: computer store) prior to purchasing RAM for your computer.
Real player: a plug-in required to listen to audio encoded in the Real Audio format.
Real Time: refers to a system that responds to input immediately. A real time anti-virus program would catch the existence of a virus-infected file before the virus had a chance to infect your operating system. A real time spell checker would immediately inform you of a misspelled word.
Refresh: Depending on what browser you’re using, when you hit the refresh or reload button, your computer will bring up the same page you’re looking at with updated information on it.
Registry: This is a database used by Microsoft Windows to store configuration information about the software installed on a computer. This information includes things like the desktop background, program settings, and file extension associations. VERY IMPORTANT: you should not edit the registry if you don’t know what you’re doing because it could disable your computer.
Resolution: how many pixels a monitor can display. A small monitor may have a resolution or 640 x 480, which means there are 640 pixels horizontally across the screen and 480 pixels vertically. Some other common monitor resolutions are 800 x 600, 1,024 x 768, and 1,280 x 1,024. The higher the resolution, the more information that can be displayed on the screen. Using higher resolution monitor settings will make using your browser more enjoyable as you will not have to use the slider bars to continually maneuver about the screen.
Resolve: The term used to describe the process by which domain names are matched with corresponding Internet Protocol (IP) numbers. Resolution (not to be confused with screen or monitor resolution) is accomplished by a combination of computers and software, which use the data in the Domain Name System to determine which IP numbers correspond to a particular domain name. Basically, it is translating a number to the name you see in your browser for the web site you are visiting.
ROM (Read-Only Memory): Memory containing hardwired instructions that the computer uses when it boots up, before the system software loads. In PCs, the instructions are read from a small program in the ROM, called the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).
Route: A “route” is the path followed by a TCP/IP packet as it passes from it’s source to it’s destination.
Router: A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more Packet-Switched networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the source and destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.
Search Engine: A (usually web-based) system for searching the information available on the Web.
Some search engines work by automatically searching the contents of other systems and creating a database of the results. Other search engines contain only material manually approved for inclusion in a database, and some combine the two approaches.
Secure Server: A Web server that supports any of the major security protocols, like SSL, that encrypt and decrypt messages to protect them against third party tampering. Making purchases from a secure Web server ensures that a user’s payment or personal information can be translated into a secret code that’s difficult to crack.
Security Certificate: Contains information about who owns the certificate, certificate issuer, a unique serial number or other unique identification, expiration dates, and encrypted information that can be used to verify the information held within the certificate.
Server: A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running.
A single server machine can (and often does) have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.
Shareware: software that is freely distributed for a small fee paid on an “honor system.” You are not required to pay the fee to try the program, but if you like the software enough to use it, you are expected to send the fee directly to the creator.
Shockwave: A multimedia program. Also a plug-in that lets you experience cool sounds and 3D motion.
Signal-To-Noise Ratio: When used in reference to newsgroup activity, ‘signal- to-noise ratio’ describes the relation between amount of actual information in a discussion, compared to their quantity. More often than not, there’s substantial activity in a newsgroup, but a very small number of those articles actually contain anything useful.
SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol): If you have a dial-up account to an Internet service provider, you are using either PPP or SLIP to make your connection to the Internet. Although SLIP is easy to install and use, it does not provide the error correction or negotiation features that PPP has. For this reason, PPP has rapidly replaced SLIP as the more common standard.
Smiley: A type of emoticon that lets you show how you’re feeling by using symbols to create faces.
SMTP: (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): The main protocol used to send electronic mail from server to server on the Internet.
SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol): A set of standards for communication with devices connected to a TCP/IP network. Examples of these devices include routers, hubs, and switches.
SPAM: Spam is an inappropriate attempt to use an email address as a broadcast or advertising medium by sending the same message to any number of people who do not want or ask for the message.
Spammer: A spammer is someone who sends spam and/or someone that allows the use of their computer(s) to send out spam.
Spider: Computer robot programs, referred to sometimes as “crawlers” or “knowledge-bots” or “knowbots” that are used by search engines to roam the World Wide Web via the Internet, visit sites and databases, and keep the search engine database of web pages up to date. They obtain new pages, update known pages, and delete obsolete ones. Their findings are then integrated into the “home” database.
Spyware: any software that covertly gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without the user’s knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that may be downloaded from the Internet. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else.
SQL (Structured Query Language): A specialized language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application will have its own slightly different version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer): A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet.
Stack: can also be short for a network protocol stack. In networking, connections between computers are made through a series of smaller connections. These connections, or layers, act like the stack data structure, in that they are built and disposed of in the same way.
Static IP address: a static IP address is a a unique and unchanging IP address that is assigned to a computer by its Internet Service Provider (ISP). The static IP is meant to be its permanent address on the Internet while using that particular ISP. The opposite of a static IP address is a dynamic IP address.
Streaming: is when a multimedia file can be played back without being completely downloaded first.
T-1: A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 lines are commonly used to connect large LANs to the Internet.
T-3: A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now included with every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.
Telnet: Telnet is an Internet protocol that allows you to connect to another computer on the Internet. After providing a name and password to logon to the remote computer, you can enter commands that will be executed as if you were entering them directly on the remote computer.
Terminal: A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer – the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.
Terminal Server: A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.
Toolbar: a row, column, or block of onscreen buttons or icons that, when clicked, activate certain functions of the program. For example, the standard toolbar in Word includes buttons for changing text to italic, bold, or other styles.
Trojan Horse: A computer program is either hidden inside another program or that masquerades as something it is not in order to trick potential users into running it. For example a program that appears to be a game or image file but in reality performs some other function. The term “Trojan Horse” comes from a possibly mythical ruse of war used by the Greeks sometime between 1500 and 1200 B.C.
Troll: An individual who regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand – they simply want to utter flame bait. Trolls exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, “Oh, ignore him, he’s just a troll”.
TSR (Terminate and Stay Ready): A program that loads itself into random access memory (RAM) and remains there so that it can be instantly activated. The TSR is removed from memory when the computer is turned off.
Twain: a graphics and imaging standard that allows companies to make drivers for scanners and digital cameras. Nearly all scanners on the market today are TWAIN-compliant, meaning the way they interact with your computer is based on the TWAIN standard.
Unix: Unix is the standard computer operating system of the World Wide Web. Since TCP/IP, the networking protocol of the Internet, has been built into Unix for decades (and thus is very robust and mature), and because of all the other benefits of Unix as a platform for multi-user software, UNIX naturally became the standard operating system for Internet servers as the Internet moved into wide use.
Upload: Transferring data (usually a file) from the computer you are using to another computer. The opposite of download.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator): is the techie term for the location of a file or resource on the Internet. The URL will always include the type of protocol being used e.g. http for a Web page or ftp for the address of a specific file which is to be downloaded. An example URL using the http protocol is
USB (Universal Serial Bus): is a “plug and play” interface between a computer and peripherals (like audio players, digital cameras, joysticks, keyboards, and printers), which lets you plug in a device without adding an adapter card or even restarting your PC.
UUENCODE (Unix to Unix Encoding): A method for converting files from Binary to ASCII (text) so that they can be sent across the Internet via email.
Veronica (Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives): Developed at the University of Nevada, Veronica was a constantly updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher servers. The Veronica database could be searched from most major gopher menus. Veronica has been made obsolete by web-bases search engines.
VESA bus: ran at the speed of the processor rather than at a speed of 8.33 MHz. It could even access memory at the same speed and gave a theoretical throughout of 128 to 132 MB/sec. It was popular only for two years, as it was compatible only with the 486 processor and FSB speeds of 33 MHz.
Virus: A computer virus is defined as “a program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes.” In essence, a virus is an uninvited intruder to your computer system that has one of two purposes: to be a nuisance or to be destructive.
Virus Definition File: The data files that the anti-virus program needs in order to be able to recognize a file as being either a virus or as being virus infected.
VPN (Virtual Private Network): Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet , but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is “virtually” private. A typical example would be a company network where there are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet the two offices merge their networks into one network, but encrypt traffic that uses the Internet link.
VRAM: Pronounced “vee-ram.” A form of DRAM specially suited for video adapters. VRAM differs from common DRAM in that it features a “dual-ported” design allowing two devices to access it at once. Thus the CRT controller, which converts bits and bytes in video memory to pixels on the screen, and the CPU, which manipulates the contents of video memory, can access VRAM simultaneously. In video boards fitted with the less expensive DRAM, performance suffers somewhat because the CRT controller and the CPU must takes turns accessing the video buffer.
WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers): A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked (scored) according to how relevant the hits are, and that subsequent searches can find more stuff like that last batch and thus refine the search process.
Walled Garden: A browsing environment that controls the information and Web sites the user is able to access. This is a popular method used by ISPs in order to keep the user navigating only specific areas of the Web, whether for the purpose of shielding users from information — such as restricting children’s access to pornography — or directing users to paid content that the ISP supports.
WAN (Wide Area Network): Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.
Warm boot: To restart the computer by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del simultaneously on your system’s keyboard or to press the restart button on the front of your computer’s case.
Wave (.wav) file: Wave is the standard form for uncompressed audio on a PC and the files usually have a .wav file extension. Since a wave file is uncompressed data – as close a copy to the original analog data as possible – it is therefore much larger than the same file would be in a compressed format such as mp3 or RealAudio. Audio CDs store their audio in, essentially, the wave format. Your audio will need to be in this format in order to be edited using a wave editor, or burned to an audio CD that will play in your home stereo.
Web: short for World Wide Web
Web page: A document designed for viewing in a web browser. Typically written in HTML. A web site is made of one or more web pages.
Web ring: a way of interlinking related Web sites so that people can visit many similar Web sites by just following the “Web ring” link on each page. Most Web rings allow people to browse backwards or forwards through the sites in the ring, or choose to visit individual sites from a list.
Web site: The entire collection of web pages and other information (such as images, sound, and video files, etc.) that are made available through what appears to users as a single web server. Typically all the of pages in a web site share the same basic URL, for example the following URLs are all for pages within the same web site:
The term has a somewhat informal nature since a large organization might have separate “web sites” for each division, but someone might talk informally about the organizations’ “web site” when speaking of all of them.
Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity): A popular term for a form of wireless data communication, basically Wi-Fi is “Wireless Ethernet”.
Wma files: WMA is a format similar to MP3. This is essentially a competing format created by Microsoft and used primarily in Windows Media Player and other compatible programs. Microsoft claims that Windows Media files are even better than MP3 files, but MP3 files are still much more prevalent on the internet.
Worm: A worm is a virus that does not infect other programs. It makes copies of itself, and infects additional computers (typically by making use of network connections) but does not attach itself to additional programs; however a worm might alter, install, or destroy files and programs.
WWW (World Wide Web): World Wide Web (or simply Web for short) is a term frequently used (incorrectly) when referring to “The Internet”. WWW has two major meanings.
First, loosely used, the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools.
Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers), more commonly called “web servers”, which are the servers that serve web pages to web browsers.
XML (eXtensible Markup Language): A widely used system for defining data formats. XML provides a very rich system to define complex documents and data structures such as invoices, molecular data, news feeds, glossaries, inventory descriptions, real estate properties, etc.
ZIP file: A way to use data compression to shrink the size of a file or a group of files. You make a file smaller by zipping it, send it to your friends, and let them unzip it on their computer to bring it back to full size. You can identify a zipped file because its address will end in .zip. If the file does have a .zip file extension, you must have some sort of un-Zip installed on your computer. The most common one is Winzip.