mobilegeeks Blog


October 18th, 2011

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  • Access time: The performance of a hard drive or other storage device – how long it takes to locate a file.
  • Active program or window: The application or window at the front (foreground) on the monitor.
  • Alert (alert box): a message that appears on screen, usually to tell you something went wrong.
  • Alias: an icon that points to a file, folder or application (System 7).
  • Apple menu: on the left side of the screen header. System 6 = desk accessories System 7 = up to 50 items.
  • Application: a program in which you do your work.
  • Application menu: on the right side of the screen header. Lists running applications.
  • ASCII (pronounced ask-key ): American Standard Code for Information Interchange. a commonly used data format for exchanging information between computers or programs.
  • Adware: You will generally find that adware makes its way into your computer if you download or install a free program. The consequences of adware are not particularly serious, however, you will find yourself subjected to pop-ups and advertising that can be annoying and time consuming.
  • Antispam: Any software, hardware or process that detects unsolicited email messages/advertisements, often referred to as “spam” or “junk mail”. A spam filter detects spam and diverts it to a spam folder (junk mailbox).Backup drive: There are a number of external storage devices used to store data safely away from your computer and most people will use one of these for backup purposes. External drives come in a range of physical sizes and data storage capabilities. A common external drive is a USB flash drive, also known as a “jump drive” or “thumb drive”, which is a small flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.1 or 2.0 interface. USB flash drives are generally removable and rewritable. They are essentially used for the same purposes as floppy disks were, but are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more storage capacity and are more durable and reliable. Until about 2005, the majority of desktop and laptop computers came with floppy disk drives, however, most recent equipment has abandoned floppy disk drives in favour of USB ports.
  • Active-Matrix: Active-matrix technology is used in high-quality flat-panel displays, such as laptop screens and thin computer monitors. The images on active matrix screens are created by laying diodes, or small semiconductors, over a grid of ultra-small wires. When a current passes through the diodes, they light up in different colors, depending on the strength of the current. Thousands of these diodes next to each other form an image on the screen. To keep the diodes in an on or off state, active-matrix displays use transistors, which are not found in the lower-quality passive-matrix displays. The transistors help make the active-matrix displays brighter and give them more contrast than passive-matrix displays.
  • API: It stands for “Application Program Interface,” though it is sometimes referred to as an “Application Programming Interface.” An API is a set of commands, functions, and protocols which programmers can use when building software for a specific operating system. The API allows programmers to use predefined functions to interact with the operating system, instead of writing them from scratch.
  • AdSense: AdSense is an advertising program run by Google. Web site owners can enroll in this program to enable text and image advertisements on their sites. These ads are administered by Google and generate revenue on a per-click basis. Google utilizes its search technology to serve ads based on website content, the user’s geographical location, and other factors. Those wanting to advertise with Google’s targeted ad system may sign up through AdWords.
  • What is AIX: This stands for “Advanced Interactive Executive,” though some Linux fans have been known to refer to it as “Ain’t UNIX.” AIX is an operating system developed by IBM and is in fact Unix-based. It is typically used for enterprise servers and comes with a robust set of security options such as Kerberos V5 network authentication and dynamic secure tunnel authentication. AIX allows the system administrator to divide memory, CPU, and disk access between various jobs. The system supports IBM’s 64-bit POWER processor and is backwards-compatible with 32-bit applications. It also runs most Linux applications (after recompiling them) and has full support for Java 2. If all that jargon makes no sense to you, relax — AIX is not your typical consumer operating system. It is mainly used for servers in large businesses where IT geeks get to work with it.
  • Applet: This a Java program that can be embedded in a Web page. The difference between a standard Java application and a Java applet is that an applet can’t access system resources on the local computer. System files and serial devices (modems, printers, scanners, etc.) cannot be called or used by the applet. This is for security reasons — nobody wants their system wiped out by a malicious applet on some wacko’s Web site. Applets have helped make the Web more dynamic and entertaining and have given a helpful boost to the Java programming language.
  • AGP: This stands for “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. Becuase of these advantages, AGP cards will typically have better performance per MB of VRAM than PCI graphics cards.


  • Background: part of the multitasking capability. A program can run and perform tasks in the background while another program is being used in the foreground.
  • Bit: the smallest piece of information used by the computer. Derived from “binary digit”. In computer language, either a one (1) or a zero (0).
  • Backup: a copy of a file or disk you make for archiving purposes.
  • Boot: to start up a computer.
  • Bug: a programming error that causes a program to behave in an unexpected way.
  • Bus: an electronic pathway through which data is transmitted between components in a computer.
  • Byte: a piece of computer information made up of eight bits.
  • Blu-ray burning: A Blu-ray Disc is an optical storage disc intended to supersede the DVD format. Looking just like a standard DVD, its main uses are for storing high-definition video and other data such as PlayStation 3 video games, with up to 25GB of storage per single-layered disc and 50GB per dual-layered disc. The name Blu-ray is derived from the blue laser that reads the disc. Blu-ray burning is the process of recording audio-visual information onto a Blu-ray disc.
  • B2B: Business-to-business electronic commerce (B2B) typically takes the form of automated processes between trading partners and is performed in much higher volumes than business-to-consumer (B2C) applications.
  • Bitmap: Most images you see on your computer are composed of bitmaps. A bitmap is a map of dots, or bits (hence the name), that looks like a picture as long you are sitting a reasonable distance away from the screen. Common bitmap filetypes 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. Vector graphics (created in programs such as Freehand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw) can scale larger without getting blocky.
  • BMP: Short for “Bitmap.” It can be pronounced as “bump,” “B-M-P,” or simply a “bitmap image.” The BMP format is a commonly used raster graphic format for saving image files. It was introduced on the Windows platform, but is now recognized by many programs on both Macs and PCs.
  • Buffer: This is 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. For example, 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.
  • Bridge: When a road needs to extend across a river or valley, a bridge is built to connect the two land masses. Since the average car cannot swim or fly, the bridge makes it possible for automobiles to continue driving from one land mass to another. In computer networking, a bridge serves the same purpose. It connects two or more local area networks (LANs) together. The cars, or the data in this case, use the bridge to travel to and from different areas of the network. The device is similar to a router, but it does not analyze the data being forwarded. Because of this, bridges are typically fast at transferring data, but not as versatile as a router. For example, a bridge cannot be used as a firewall like most routers can. A bridge can transfer data between different protocols (i.e. a Token Ring and Ethernet network) and operates at the “data link layer” or level 2 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) networking reference model.
  • Byte: A byte is a set of 8 bits that represent a single character in the computer’s memory. Do not confuse this term with “bite,” as in taking a bite of a cookie, because that is totally different. While bits are often used to measure data transfer speeds, bytes are used to measure file sizes, hard disk space, and computer memory. Larger amounts of data are measured in units such as megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. For example, one kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes.
  • Beta Software: Before a commercial software program is released to the public, it usually goes through a “beta” phase. During this stage, the software is tested for bugs, crashes, errors, inconsistencies, and any other problems. Though beta versions of software used to be made available only to developers, they are now sometimes made available for the general public to test, usually through the software company’s Web site. However, because beta software is free, the programs usually expire after a period of time. If you choose to test a beta software program, don’t be surprised if it has multiple problems and causes your computer to repeatedly crash. After all, it is the beta version. You can tell if a program is still in beta by checking the program’s properties. If there is a “b” in the version number (i.e. Version: 1.2 b3) that means it’s a beta version.
  • Bookmark: Similar to a real-life bookmark, an Internet bookmark acts as a marker for a Web site. (In Internet Explorer, they’re called “Favorites”.) When using a Web browser, you can simply select a bookmark from the browser’s Bookmarks menu to go to a certain site. This way, you don’t have to go through the redundant process of typing in the Internet address each time you visit one of your favorite sites. Also, who remembers those 200-character addresses anyway?
  • Backlink: Backlinks are incoming links to a website. For example, a site with a lot of backlinks implies that many other sites link to that site.
  • Bus: While the wheels on the bus may go “round and round,” data on a computer’s bus goes up and down. Each bus inside a computer consists of set of wires that allow data to be passed back and forth. Most computers have several buses that transmit data to different parts of the machine. Each bus has a certain size, measured in bits (such as 32-bit or 64-bit), that determines how much data can travel across the bus at one time. Buses also have a certain speed, measured in megahertz, which determines how fast the data can travel.
  • Bot: This is an automated software program that can execute certain commands when it receives a specific input (like a ro-”bot”). Bots are most often seen at work in the Internet-related areas of online chat and Web searching. The online chat bots do things like greet people when they enter a chat room, advertise Web sites, and kick people out of chat rooms when they violate the chat room rules. Web searching bots, also known as spiders and crawlers, search the Web and retrieve millions of HTML documents, then record the information and links found on the pages. From there, they generate electronic catalogs of the sites that have been “spidered.” These catalogs make up the index of sites that are used for search engine results.


  • Card: a printed circuit board that adds some feature to a computer.
  • Cartridge drive: a storage device, like a hard drive, in which the medium is a cartridge that can be removed.
  • CD-ROM: an acronym for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory.
  • Chooser: A desk accessory used to select a printer, or other external device, or to log onto a network.
  • Clipboard: A portion of memory where the Mac temporarily stores information. Called a Copy Buffer in many PC applications because it is used to hold information which is to be moved, as in word processing where text is “cut” and then “pasted”.
  • Clock Rate (MHz): The instruction processing speed of a computer measured in millions of cycles per second (i.e., 200 MHz).
  • Command: the act of giving an instruction to your Mac either by menu choice or keystroke.
  • Command (apple) key: a modifier key, the Command key used in conjunction with another keystroke to active some function on the Mac.
  • Compiler: a program the converts programming code into a form that can be used by a computer.
  • Compression: a technique that reduces the size of a saved file by elimination or encoding redundancies (i.e., JPEG, MPEG, LZW, etc.)
    Control key: seldom used modifier key on the Mac.
  • Control panel: a program that allows you to change settings in a program or change the way a Mac looks and/or behaves.
  • CPU: the Central Processing Unit. The processing chip that is the “brains” of a computer.
  • Crash: a system malfunction in which the computer stops working and has to be restarted.
  • Cursor: The pointer, usually arrow or cross shaped, which is controlled by the mouse.
  • CD burning: CD (compact disc) burning is the process of assembling material such as video, audio or other data into a proper logical volume format to then be recorded (“burned”) onto a CD.
  • C C++: C is a high-level programming language that was developed in the mid-1970s. It was originally used for writing Unix programs, but now is used to write applications for nearly every available platform. Some nice things about the language are that it is easy to read, it is flexible (can be used for a wide variety of purposes), and C programs typically use memory very efficiently. C++, pronounced “C plus plus,” is a programming language that was built off the C language. The syntax of C++ is nearly identical to C, but it has object-oriented features, which allow the programmer to create objects within the code. This makes programming easier, more efficient, and some would even say, more fun. Because of the power and flexibility of the language, most programs today are written in C++.
  • CPU: Stands for “Central Processing Unit.” This is the 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. Every day, it’s compute this, compute that — you’d think the CPU would need a break after awhile. But no — it just keeps on processing. The CPU can also be referred to simply as the “processor.”
  • What is Computer Ethics: Ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the behavior of a group or individual. Therefore, computer ethics is set of moral principles that regulate the use of computers. Some common issues of computer ethics include intellectual property rights (such as copyrighted electronic content), privacy concerns, and how computers affect society.
  • Cache: This term is pronounced like “cash” — not “catch,” and definitely not “cashé.” There are many different types of caches but they all serve the same purpose. A cache stores recently-used information in a place where it can be accessed extremely fast. For example, a Web browser like Internet Explorer uses a cache to store the pages, images, and URLs of recently visted Web sites on your hard drive. With this neat strategy, when you visit a page you have recently been to, the pages and images don’t have to be downloaded to your computer all over again. Because accessing your computer’s hard disk is much faster than accessing the Internet, caching Web sites can speed up Web browsing significantly. Most Web browsers allow you to adjust the size of the cache in in browser preferenecs.
  • CPL: Cost Per Lead (CPL). A lead can be anything from an e-mail address for a newsletter to a complete survey that needs to be completely filled out and verified in order to get credit.


  • Daisy chaining: the act of stringing devices together in a series (such as SCSI).
  • Database: an electronic list of information that can be sorted and/or searched.
  • Data(the plural of datum): information processed by a computer.
  • Defragment (also – optimize): to rearrange fragments of data into continuous blocks in memory or on a hard drive.
  • Desktop file: an invisible file in which the Finder stores a database of information about files and icons.
  • Dialog box: an on-screen message box that appears when the Mac requires additional information before completing a command.
  • Digitize: to convert linear, or analog, data into digital data which can be used by the computer.
  • Disk: a spinning platter made of magnetic or optically etched material on which data can be stored.
  • Disk drive: the machinery that writes the data from a disk and/or writes data to a disk.
  • Disk window: the window that displays the contents or directory of a disk.
  • Document: a file you create, as opposed to the application which created it.
  • DOS - acronym for Disk Operating System – used in IBM PCs.
  • DPI – acronym for Dots Per Inch: a gauge of visual clarity on the printed page or on the computer screen.
  • Download: to transfer data from one computer to another. (If you are on the receiving end, you are downloading. If you are on the sending end, you are uploading ).
  • Drag: to move the mouse while its button is being depressed.
  • Drag and drop: a feature on the Mac which allows one to drag the icon for a document on top of the icon for an application, thereby launching the application and opening the document.
  • Driver: a file on a computer which tells it how to communicate with an add-on piece of equipment (like a printer).
  • Data Extraction: Data extraction is the process of retrieving data from (often unstructured or poorly structured) data sources for further processing or data storage. The term data extraction is often applied when data is first imported into a computer from another source such as web pages, emails, documents, PDFs etc. However, the term is also often applied to the process of retrieving lost or corrupt data from a hard drive, which requires specialised software and the help of a professional.
  • Data security: Data security is the means of making sure that your data is kept safe from corruption and that access to it is properly controlled for privacy measures. One way to protect your data is to encrypt it. Data encryption is a process by which plain text data is converted into ciphertext, so that it cannot be read by unauthorised parties. You will often find that your emails, for example, come in encrypted form. Passwords are another critical part of data and network security, protecting users from outsiders logging in to their computer and accessing their network and email accounts.
  • Domain hosting: In order to establish a website, your registered domain name e.g. needs to be hosted by an Internet server for the storage of web pages that can then be viewed by people browsing the net. This service is usually offered by ISPs or web hosting specialists.Domains and domain names: A domain can be described as an area of control or a sphere of knowledge that identifies one or more IP addresses. Domains are indentified by a name, e.g., and are used in URLs to identify particular web pages. For example, in the URL, the domain name is The purpose of a domain is to call the presentation of web pages to be viewed through your web browser. Domain names need to be purchased and registered.
  • DVD burning: DVD burning is the process of recording (“burning”) video and audio data onto a DVD optical disc.
  • Daemon: The word “daemon” actually comes from the Greek language, meaning an “inner or attendant spirit” (Oxford American Dictionary). This is a fitting name, as a computer daemon is a constantly running program that triggers actions when it receives certain input. For example, a printer daemon spools information to a printer when a user decides to print a document. A daemon running on a mail server routes incoming mail to the appropriate mailboxes. Web servers use an “HTTPD” daemon that sends data to users when they access Web pages. While daemons were first used by the Unix operating system, they have also been incorporated into Mac OS X, which is Unix-based.
  • DBMS: Stands for “Database Management System.” In short, a DBMS is a database program. Technically speaking, it is a software system that uses a standard method of cataloging, retrieving, and running queries on data. The DBMS manages incoming data, organizes it, and provides ways for the data to be modified or extracted by users or other programs.Some DBMS examples include MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft Access, SQL Server, FileMaker, Oracle, RDBMS, dBASE, Clipper, and FoxPro. Since there are so many database management systems available, it is important for there to be a way for them to communicate with each other. For this reason, most database software comes with an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver that allows the database to integrate with other databases. For example, common SQL statements such as SELECT and INSERT are translated from a program’s proprietary syntax into a syntax other databases can understand.
  • Dead Link: A dead link is a link on the world wide web that points to a webpage or server that is permanently unavailable. Dead links are commonplace on the Internet, but they are considered to be unprofessional.
  • Default: This term is used to describe a preset value for some option in a computer program. It is the value used when a setting has not been specified by the user. For example, the default font setting in Netscape Communicator is “Times.” If you don’t go to the Netscape preferences and change it to something else, the “Times” font will be used — by default. Typically, default settings are set to what most people would choose anyway, so there’s often no reason to change them. However, if you’re one of those people who has to customize everything that you possibly can, then you can go ahead and change all the default settings you want. “Default” can also be used as a verb. If a custom setting won’t work for some reason, the program will “default” to the default setting. For example, say you’re working on computer that is on a network and you print something when there is no printer specified. If you’re lucky and don’t get some nasty error message, the print job will default to the default printer and your work will be printed.
  • Delete: Delete is computer terminology for remove or erase. You can delete text from a document of delete entire files or folders from your hard drive. When typing a document, you can remove characters behind the cursor by pressing the delete key. If you want to remove characters in front of the cursor, you can press the smaller delete key near the home and end buttons on the keyboard. You can also remove entire sections of text by selecting the text you wish to delete and pressing either delete button on the keyboard.
  • DHCP: Stands for “Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.” A network server uses this protocol to dynamically assign IP addresses to networked computers. The DHCP server waits for a computer to connect to it, then assigns it an IP address from a master list stored on the server. DHCP helps in setting up large networks, since IP addresses don’t have to be manually assigned to each computer on the network. Because of the slick automation involved with DHCP, it is the most commonly used networking protocol.
  • Digital: Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as on or off — 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data. CDs and DVDs can be used to store and play back high-quality sound and video even though they consist entirely of ones and zeros.
  • Direct3D: Direct3D is an application program interface (API) developed by Microsoft that provides a set of commands and functions for manipulating 3D objects. By using Direct3D commands, software developers can take advantage of many prewritten functions. This allows programmers to write significantly less code than if they had to write all the functions from scratch. Direct3D makes it relatively easy to manage three-dimensional objects, including lighting and shadows as well.
  • DLL: Stands for “Dynamic Link Library.” A DLL (.dll) file contains a library of functions and other information that can be accessed by a Windows program. When a program is launched, links to the necessary .dll files are created. If a static link is created, the .dll files will be in use as long as the program is active. If a dynamic link is created, the .dll files will only be used when needed. Dynamic links help programs use resources, such as memory and hard drive space, more efficiently.
  • Domain Name: A domain name is the unique name of a computer on the Internet that distinguishes it from the other systems on the network.
  • Dot Pitch: This is the measurement used to determine how sharp the display of a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor is. It is measured in millimeters and the smaller the number, the finer the picture. Most CRT monitors will have a dot pitch between .25 and .28. However, some large presentation monitors have dot pitches from .30 to .50 (which would make for really fuzzy images on a standard 17″ desktop monitor). The difference between a “dot” (as in dot pitch) and a pixel is that a pixel is mapped onto the dots on the screen. When the monitor is set to lower resolutions, one pixel encompasses multiple dots. So pixels are typically larger than the “dots” on the actual screen.
  • Drag: You can use your mouse to drag icons and other objects on your computer screen. Dragging icons from your desktop or an open window to another folder will move the objects to the new folder. You can also drag icons to the Trash (Mac) or the Recycle Bin (Windows) if you want to delete tehm. Some word processing programs allow you to select text and drag the selected text to another place in the document. To select the text, you may have to “drag” the mouse over the text you want to select.Dragging is an important technique for using today’s graphical user interfaces (GUIs). In fact, there are many other things you can drag besides icons. For example, you can drag the top of windows to reposition them, you can drag the scroll bar in open documents or Web pages to scroll through them, and you can drag messages to different folders in your mail program. Other programs, such as video games and image-editing programs use dragging to reposition items on the screen.
  • DSL: Stands for “Digital Subscriber Line.” It is medium for transferring data over regular phone lines and can be used to connect to the Internet. However, like a cable modem, a DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, even though the wires it uses are copper like a typical phone line.
  • DVD: Stands for “Digital Versatile Disc.” It can also stand for “Digital Video Disc,” but with the mulitple uses of DVDs, the term “Digital Versatile Disc” is more correct. Yep, the technology naming people just love to confuse us. A DVD is a high-capacity optical disc that looks like a CD, but can store much more information. While a CD can store 650 to 700 MB of data, a single-layer, single-sided DVD can store 4.7 GB of data. This enables massive computer applications and full-length movies to be stored on a single DVD
  • DVD-R: Stands for “Digital Versatile Disc Recordable.” A DVD-R looks the same as a regular DVD, but like a CD-R, it can be used to record data. Once a DVD-R has been “burned,” or written to, it cannot be written to again. A basic single-sided, single-layer DVD-R disc can store 4.7GB of data. Double-layer discs can store 8.5GB, while double-sided DVD-Rs can store 9.4GB.
  • DVI: Stands for “Digital Video Interface.” DVI is a video connection standard created by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). Most DVI ports support both analog and digital displays. If the display is analog, the DVI connection converts the digital signal to an analog signal. If the display is digital, no conversion is necessary.
  • Dashboard: Dashboard is a user-interface feature Apple introduced with the release of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. It allows access to all kinds of “widgets” that show the time, weather, stock prices, phone numbers, and other useful data. With the Tiger operating system, Apple included widgets that do all these things, plus a calculator, language translator, dictionary, address book, calendar, unit converter, and iTunes controller. Besides the bundled widgets, there are also hundreds of other widgets available from third parties that allow users to play games, check traffic conditions, and view sports scores, just to name a few.The dashboard of widgets is accessed by clicking the Dashboard application icon, or by simply pressing a keyboard shortcut (F12 by default). Clicking a plus “+” icon in the lower-left hand corner of the screen provides the user with a list of all installed widgets. Clicking the widgets or dragging them onto the desktop makes them active. They can be individually closed by clicking the close box, just like other open windows. Pressing the keyboard shortcut (F12) makes them instantly disappear, removing them from view until the user needs them again.
  • DDR: Stands for “Double Data Rate.” It is an advanced version of SDRAM, a type of computer memory. DDR-SDRAM, sometimes called “SDRAM II,” can transfer data twice as fast as regular SDRAM chips. This is because DDR memory can send and receive signals twice per clock cycle. The efficient operation of DDR-SDRAM makes the memory great for notebook computers since it uses up less power.
  • Debug: Computer programmers, like everybody else, are not perfect. This means the programs they write sometimes have small errors, called “bugs,” in them. These bugs can be minor, such as not recognizing user input, or more serious, such as a memory leak that crashes the program. Before releasing their software to the public, programmers “debug” their programs, eliminating as many errors as possible. This debugging process often takes a long time, as fixing some errors may introduce others. Debugging your windshield at a gas station is much easier than debugging a computer program.
  • Defragment: Defragmenting your hard disk is a great way to boost the performance of your computer. Though the term “defragment” sounds a little abrasive, it is actually a simple and helpful process. After all, a defragmented hard disk is a happy hard disk.
  • Desktop: Your computer’s desktop is much like a physical desktop. You probably keep a number of commonly used items on your desk such as pens, papers, folders, and other items. Your computer’s desktop serves the same purpose — to give you easy access to items on your hard drive. It is common to store frequently used files, folders, and programs on your desktop. This allows you to access the items quickly instead of digging through the directories on your hard drive each time you want to open them.
  • DHTML: Dynamic HTML or DHTML designates a technique of creating interactive web sites by using a combination of the static markup language HTML, a client-side scripting language (such as JavaScript) and the style definition language Cascading Style Sheets.
  • Digitize: When you “digitize” something, you convert it from analog to digital. For example, if you import a VHS tape from a VCR into your computer, you might use an analog-to-digital converter (DAC) to convert the analog signal to a digital stream of data. This is because computers are digital devices and can only read digital data.Digital files are created by taking samples of analog data, typically at the rate of several thousand per second. For example, a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, which is what standard audio CDs use, indicates that the audio is being sampled 44,100 times every second. Therefore, the higher the sampling rate, the better the quality of the digitized file.
  • Directory: In computing, a directory, catalog, or folder, is an entity in a file system which contains a group of files and other directories. A typical file system contains thousands of files, and directories help organize them by keeping related files together. A directory contained inside another directory is called a subdirectory of that directory. Together, the directories form a hierarchy, or tree structure.
  • DNS: The Domain Name Server (System) or DNS is a system that stores information about host names and domain names in a kind of distributed database on networks, such as the Internet. Most importantly, it provides an IP address for each host name, and lists the mail exchange servers accepting e-mail for each domain.
  • Dongle: This funny-sounding computer term has two widely different definitions that are completely unrelated:1. A security key. This is a little hardware device that plugs into the serial or USB port of a computer. Its purpose is to ensure that only authorized users can use certain software applications. If you have never seen a dongle, don’t be surprised. They are only used with expensive, high-end software programs that most people have never heard of, much less use. When a program that comes with a dongle runs, it checks the dongle for verification as it is loading. If it doesn’t find the dongle, the computer explodes. Well, not really — usually the program just quits. If more than one application requires a dongle, multiple dongles using the same port can be daisy-chained together. Basically, if you ever find yourself daisy-chaining multiple dongles together, you must be doing pretty well in life.2. A laptop Ethernet card adapter. This is a little connector that attaches to a PC card in a laptop on one end, and to an Ethernet cable on the other end. Since most PC (or PCMCIA) network interface cards are too small to connect directly to a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable, they need this little adapter that connects the card to the cable. (3Com cards that use an “X-Jack” connector do not need a dongle.) As far as why the name dongle is used, I have no idea.
  • Double Click: Double clicking involves clicking your mouse button quickly two times. To perform a double click, and not just two clicks, the mouse button must be pressed twice within a very short time, typically about half a second. Most operating systems allow you to lengthen or shorten the maximum time allowed for a double click, using the Mouse Control Panel or System Preference. A double click is recognized by your computer as a specific command, just like pressing a key on your keyboard. Double clicking is used to to perform a variety of actions, such as opening a program, opening a folder, or selecting a word of text. In order to double click an object, just move the cursor over the item and press the left mouse button quickly two times.
  • Driver: This term usually refers to the person behind the wheel of a moving car. In the computer world, however, a driver is a small file that helps the computer communicates with a certain hardware device. It contains information the computer needs to recognize and control the device. In Windows-based PCs, a driver is often packaged as a dynamic link library, or .dll file. In Macs, most hardware devices don’t need drivers, but the ones that do usually come with a software driver in the form of a system extension, or .kext file.
  • DTD: Stands for “Document Type Definition.” A DTD defines the tags and attributes used in an XML or HTML document. Any elements defined in a DTD can be used in these documents, along with the predefined tags and attributes that are part of each markup language. The following is an example of a DTD used for defining an automobile:





The above DTD first defines the header of the item as “Car Details.” Then it provides elements to define the make and model of the automobile. The “#PCDATA” data type means it can be any text value). The “ATTLIST” tag on the next line provides options for a specific element. In this case, it states that the model can have either two or four doors. The DTD then provides elements for the year and engine type of the car, followed by a choice of either a manual or automatic transmission for the engine.

The above example is a basic DTD that only uses a few data types. Document type definitions used for large XML databases can be thousands of lines long and can include many other data types. Fortunately, DTDs can be easily modified in a text editor whenever changes need to be made.

What is Database?
This is a data structure used to store organized information. A database is typically made up of many linked tables of rows and columns. For example, a company might use a database to store information about their products, their employees, and financial information. Databases are now also used in nearly all e-commerce sites to store product inventory and customer information. Database software, such as Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, and MySQL is designed to help companies and individuals organize large amounts of information in a way where the data can be easily searched, sorted, and updated.

While the first databases were relatively “flat” (limited to simple rows and columns), today’s relational databases allow users to access, update, and search information based on the relationship of data in one database to another. Certain databases even let users store data such as sound clips, pictures, and videos.

What is Debugger?
Even the most experienced software programmers usually don’t get it right on their first try. Certain errors, often called bugs, can occur in programs, causing them to not function as the programmer expected. Sometimes these errors are easy to fix, while some bugs are very difficult to trace. This is especially true for large programs that consist of several thousand lines of code.

Fortunately, there are programs called debuggers that help software developers find and eliminate bugs while they are writing programs. A debugger tells the programmer what types of errors it finds and often marks the exact lines of code where the bugs are found. Debuggers also allow programmers to run a program step by step so that they can determine exactly when and why a program crashes. Advanced debuggers provide detailed information about threads and memory being used by the program during each step of execution. You could say a powerful debugger program is like OFF! with 100% deet.

What is Degauss?
Ever wonder what that “degauss” button on your monitor does besides make a buzzing noise and cause the screen to go crazy for a second? Though that’s its main purpose, the degauss button has another useful feature. To understand it, you’ll first need to know that the earth has natural magnetic fields. The magnetic charges from these fields can build up inside your monitor, causing a loss of color accuracy. Degaussing scares the bad magnetism out of the monitor and fills it with good karma. If your monitor doesn’t have a degauss button, fear not — many new monitors automatically degauss themselves. If you have a flat-panel display, there is no degauss button because magnetism doesn’t build up in flat screen displays.

What is Desktop Publishing?
When documents and images are printed, they are “published.” Before computers became commonplace, the publishing process required large print presses that copied and duplicated pages. In order to print images and words on the same page, the text and graphics would have to printed separately, cut out, placed on a single sheet, taped in place, then copied and printed. Fortunately, computers with graphical user interfaces have enabled desktop publishing, which allows this process to be done electronically.

What is Dialog Box?
As the name implies, a dialog box serves to initiate a dialog with the user. It is a window that pops up on the screen with options that the user can select. After the selections have been made, the user can typically click “OK” to enter the changes or “Cancel” to discard the selections. It is customary for menu options that include an ellipsis at the end, such as “Preferences…” or “Save As…”, to open a dialog box when selected.

What is DIMM?
Stands for “Dual In-Line Memory Module.” It is a type of computer memory. A DIMM is a small circuit board that holds memory chips. It uses a 64-bit bus to the memory, whereas a single in-line memory module (SIMM) only has a 32-bit path. This allows DIMMs to transfer more data at once. Because DIMMs have faster data transfer capabilities than SIMMs, they have pretty much replaced SIMMs.

What is Dynamic Page?
Information on web pages which changes or is changed automatically. Sometimes it’s possible to spot this technique by looking at a page’s file extension.
Search engines will currently index dynamic content in a similar fashion to static content.


  • Ethernet: a protocol for fast communication and file transfer across a network.
    expansion slot – a connector inside the computer which allows one to plug in a printed circuit board that provides new or enhanced features.
  • Extension: a startup program that runs when you start the Mac and then enhances its function.
  • Email hosting: An email hosting service is an Internet hosting service that runs email servers. Email hosting services often offer premium email at a cost, as opposed to free email services such as hotmail or gmail. Email hosting services cater mostly to small and medium-sized businesses, while larger enterprises often run their own email hosting service. Email hosting providers allow for custom configurations and a large number of email accounts at the same domain name.
  • Email server: An email server (or mail server), also known as a mail/message transfer/transport agent (MTA), a mail router or an Internet mailer, is an application that receives incoming e-mail from both local users (people within the same domain) and remote senders and forwards outgoing email for delivery. Microsoft Exchange, qmail, Exim and sendmail are among the more common mail server programs. The term “mail server” is also loosely used to mean a computer acting as an MTA by running the appropriate software.
  • Extra memory: If your computer is becoming sluggish and slow it may be time to add more memory or RAM (Random Access Memory), which is your computer’s short-term memory – a temporary storage area for applications in use. DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) is a class of memory integrated circuits that preceded the single data rate (SDR) SDRAM, making higher transfer rates possible. DDR has since been superseded by DDR2 and DDR3 technology, which is used for high bandwidth storage of the working data of a computer or other digital electronic devices. A DIMM (Dual In-Line Memory Module) is a printed circuit board that holds memory chips and plugs into a DIMM socket on the computer’s motherboard. A SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module) is a smaller alternative to a DIMM, being roughly half the size, and is often used in systems that have space restrictions such as laptops and networking hardware like routers.
  • E-commerce: E-commerce (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as,, and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B). While companies like cater mostly to consumers, other companies provide goods and services exclusively to other businesses. The terms “e-business” and “e-tailing” are often used synonymously with e-commerce. They refer to the same idea; they are just used to confuse people trying to learn computer terms.
  • Error 403: Forbidden means; the request is forbidden. You don’t have an access to enter the site.
  • Error 503: Service Unavailable means; the server took too long to answer and the connection timed out.
  • Error 401: Unauthorized means; the client does not have the required privileges to access the site.
  • Error 400: Bad Request means; the request is incorrect.
  • EPC: EPC means Earnings Per Click.
  • Error 500: Internal Server Error means; the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request by the client for access to the requested URL.
  • End User: An end user is the person that a software program or hardware device is designed for. The term is based on the idea that the “end goal” of a software or hardware product is to be useful to the consumer. The end user can be contrasted with the developers or programmers of the product. End users are also in a separate group from the installers or administrators of the product. To simplify, the end user is the person who uses the software or hardware after it has been fully developed, marketed, and installed. It is also the person who keeps calling the “IT guy” with questions about why the product isn’t working correctly. Generally, the terms “user” and “end user” mean the same thing.
  • Emoticon: These are the little text-based faces and objects that you often see in e-mail and online chat. They help give the reader a sense of the writer’s feelings behind the text. For example, the classic =) face shows that the writer is happy about something or that his message in good humor. The =P face is used to show frustration or to say “Whatever…” Emoticons can also be used to create real-world objects. For example, a @–>–>— is supposed to be a long-stemmed rose, which you can use to show affection — pretty lame if you ask me. For a list of common and not-so-common emoticons, check out the Sharpened Emoticons Page.
  • Ethernet: Just to be clear, the first syllable is pronounced “eath” as in “Heath Bar,” not like “eth” as in Bethany. Some people find this out the hard way (ridiculing laughter), but at least you don’t have to. Ethernet is the most common type of connection computers use in a local area network (LAN). An Ethernet port looks much like a regular phone jack, but it is slightly wider. This port can be used to connect your computer to another computer, a local network, or an external DSL or cable modem.
  • Exbibyte: A exbibyte is a unit of data storage that equals 2 to the 60th power, or 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes.While a exabyte can be estimated as 10^18 or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes, a exbibyte is exactly 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes. This is to avoid the ambiguity associated with the size of exabytes. A exbibyte is 1,024 pebibytes and precedes the zebibyte unit of measurement.
  • EPS: Stands for “Encapsulated PostScript.” EPS is a PostScript image file format that is compatible with PostScript printers and is often used for transferring files between various graphics applications. EPS files will print identically on all PostScript-compatible printers and will appear the same in all applications that can read the PostScript format.
  • Error 401: Unauthorized means; the client does not have the required privileges to access the site.
  • Error 500: Internal Server Error means; the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request by the client for access to the requested URL.
  • Edutainmen: Edutainment is one of those combo words, like “guesstimate,” that combines two regular words into one term that really isn’t a word. As you may have guessed, “edutainment” is a blend of education and entertainment. This term is used to describe various forms of entertainment that also educate. Some examples include “Sesame Street,” shows on the Discovery channel.
  • Error 501: Not Implemented means; the server does not support the service type or the called protocol.
  • EUP: Stands for “Enterprise Unified Process.” EUP is a software development methodology that helps companies create software in an structured and organized manner. It is an extension of the Rational Unified Process (RUP), adding two new development phases — Production and Retirement. Since the RUP includes four phases, the EUP consists of six phases: Elaboration – The project’s architecture and required resources are further evaluated. Developers consider possible applications of the software and costs associated with the development. Construction – The project is developed and completed. The software is designed, written, and tested. Transition – The software is released to the public. Final adjustments or updates are made based on feedback from end users. Production – Software is kept useful and productive after being released to the public. Developers make sure the product continues to run on all supported systems and support staff provides assistance to users. Retirement – The product is removed from production, often called “decommissioning.” It can either be replaced or simply no longer supported. The release of a new version of software often coincides with the retirement phase of an older version.


  • Fibre channel: as applied to data storage and network topology.
  • File: the generic word for an application, document, control panel or other computer data.
  • Finder: The cornerstone or home-base application in the Mac environment. The finder regulates the file management functions of the Mac (copying, renaming, deleting…)
  • Floppy: a 3.5 inch square rigid disk which holds data. (so named for the earlier 5.25 and 8 inch disks that were flexible).
  • Folder: an electronic subdirectory which contains files.
  • Font: a typeface that contains the characters of an alphabet or some other letterforms.
  • Footprint: The surface area of a desk or table which is occupied by a piece of equipment.
  • Fragmentation: The breaking up of a file into many separate locations in memory or on a disk.
  • Freeze: a system error which causes the cursor to lock in place.
  • Firewall: A firewall essentially controls all network activity and ensures that you only share information and files that you choose to share. A firewall is a device or a set of devices configured to permit or deny computer applications based upon a set of rules and other criteria. It is part of a computer system or network designed to block unauthorised access while permitting authorised communications. Firewalls can be implemented in either hardware or software or a combination of both. They are often used to prevent unauthorised Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.These days, many broadband modems and routers come with in-built firewalls, so it is quite likely that you many not be required to purchase any further software or hardware in order to make sure your data is safe. However, any such in-built firewalls still need to be set up by experienced professionals to effectively protect your computers. Failure to do so may cost your business downtime and hassle in the future.
  • File server: A high-speed computer in a network that stores the programs and data files that are shared by users. It acts like a remote disk drive. The difference between a file server and an application server is that the file server stores the programs and data, while the application server runs the programs and processes the data.
  • Fixed Wireless Data: This implements point-to-point links between computers or networks at two locations, often using dedicated microwave or laser beams over line of sight paths. It is often used in cities to connect networks in two or more buildings without physically wiring the buildings together.
  • FAQ: Stands for “Frequently Asked Questions,” and can be pronounced “fak” or simply “F-A-Q.” An FAQ is a text file that is created to answer common questions a user may have about a certain software program or that a newcomer to a Web site might have regarding the site. Web sites will often refer visitors to an FAQ before asking them to e-mail their questions, which helps cut down on tech support. While FAQs are common for software programs and Web sites, FAQs can be written for other topics such as company information, computer hardware, technology standards, and video games.
  • FFA: A Free For All link page (FFA) is a web page set up to ostensibly improving the search engine placement of a particular web site.
  • File Extension: A file extension is a suffix at the end of a filename indicating what type of file it is. For example, in the filename “myreport.txt,” the .txt part indicates the file is a text document. Some other examples include “Document1.doc,” which is a Microsoft Word document, and “Image.psd,” which is a Photoshop document. While most file extensions are three characters in length, they can be anywhere from one to five characters long. The extension tells the computer’s operating system what program it should use to open the file. It also helps the user see what kind of file a certain document is by just looking at the filename. Both Windows and Mac OS X allow users to change file extensions, which can change the program the computer uses to open the file. While this may work for some files, it can also cause the file to not open at all. For example, if you change a file with a .txt extension to a .doc extension, Microsoft Word should open it. However, if you change a .txt file to a .psd file, Photoshop will not recognize it.
  • Firewall: While the term “firewall” creates a powerful visual picture, in reality, it doesn’t involve any fire or pyrotechnics. A computer firewall is used to protect a networked server or client machine from damage by unauthorized users. The firewall can be either hardware or software-based. A router is a good example of a hardware device that often has a built-in firewall. Software programs that monitor and restrict external access to a computer can also serve as firewalls. A network firewall allows only certain messages from the Internet to flow in and out of the network. So, I guess in a way it really is like a wall of fire. Well, sort of.
  • Flash: While “Flash” was the name of a popular superhero in the 1970′s, today the term refers to something completely different. When you see the term “Flash” on the Web, it most likely refers to Macromedia’s Web animation technology. Flash allows Web developers to incorporate colorful animations with text, shapes, and images into their Web pages. Because the technology is mainly vector-based, Flash animations typically don’t take up a lot of disk space. This means large animations can be downloaded relatively quickly. To view Flash content in your Web browser, you need to have the Flash plug-in. Fortunately, it comes standard with most browsers today. If you don’t have the Flash plug-in, you can get it directly from Macromedia.
  • Floppy Disk: Floppy disks have an interesting name, considering they do not appear to be “floppy.” However, if you take the actual disk out of the protective casing, you will discover that the disk is, in fact, rather flexible. It is coated with iron oxide and stores data magnetically, just like a hard disk.
  • Format: In order for storage media, such as a hard drive, to be recognized by your computer, it needs to be formatted. Formatting a disk involves testing the disk and writing a new directory structure, or “address table,” onto the disk. If you would like to erase or initialize a hard drive, you can use a disk utility program to reformat it. This will create an blank, empty disk for storing your files. While the disk appears to be empty, most of the files on the disk are actually untouched by the formatting process. When you format a disk, it creates a new address table, making the entire disk available for writing. However, the files are still on the disk — they just don’t show up since the are no longer part of the directory structure. So if you accidentally format a disk (which is pretty hard to do), you can still retrieve most of your files using an advanced disk utility such as Norton Disk Doctor or DiskWarrior.
  • Frames: Frames is the HTML extension that Netscape developed to divide a page up into several sub-pages.
  • FSB: Stands for “frontside bus.” The FSB connects the computer’s processor to the system memory (RAM) and other components on the motherboard. These components include the system chipset, AGP card, PCI devices, and other peripherals. Because the FSB serves as the main path from the processor to the rest of the motherboard, it is also called the “system bus.”
  • FAT32: This strange term refers to the way Windows stores data on your hard drive. “FAT” stands for “File Allocation Table,” which keeps track of all your files and helps the computer locate them on the disk. Even if a file gets fragmented (split up into various areas on the disk), the file allocation table still can keep track of it. FAT32 is an improvement to the original FAT system, since it uses more bits to identify each cluster on the the disk. This helps the computer locate files easier and allows for smaller clusters, which improves the efficiency of your hard disk. FAT32 supports up to 2 terabytes of hard disk storage. Unless you are a serious power user, that should be more than enough space for you.
  • Fiber-Optic Cable: This is a cable made up of super-thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials that can carry beams of light. Because a fiber-optic cable is light-based, data can be sent through it at the speed of light. Using a laser transmitter that encodes frequency signals into pulses of light, ones and zeros are sent through the cable. The receiving end of the transmission translates the light signals back into data which can be read by a computer. Because fiber-optics are based entirely on beams of light, they are less susceptible to noise and interference than than other data-transfer mediums such as copper wires or telephone lines. However, the cables are fragile and are usually placed underground, which makes them difficult and expensive to install. Some fiber-optic cables are installed above ground, but if they break, they often need to be completely replaced, which is not cheap. While copper wires can be spliced and mended as many times as needed, it is much harder to fix glass fiber-optic cables.
  • File System: Most people have several thousand files on their computer’s hard disk, so imagine how hard it would be to find anything if the files were not organized. Fortunately, all hard drives use a file system, which organizes all the files on the disk. The file system is created when you initialize or format your hard disk. It sets up the root directory and subsequent directories beneath it. The file system allows you to add new files and folders, which are added to different parts of the “file tree” on your hard disk.
  • Firewire: This high-speed interface has become a hot new standard for connecting peripherals (no pun intended). Created by Apple Computer in the mid-1990′s, Firewire can be used to connect devices such as digital video cameras, hard drives, audio interfaces, and MP3 players, such as the Apple iPod, to your computer. A standard Firewire connection can transfer data at 400 Mbps, which is roughly 30 times faster than USB 1.1. This blazing speed allows for quick transfers of large video files, which is great for video-editing professionals. If 400 Mbps is still not fast enough, Apple Computer released new PowerMacs with Firewire 800 ports in early 2003. These ports support data transfer rates of 800 Mbps — twice the speed of the original Firewire standard.
  • Flash Memory: Flash memory is a type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). Whew, that’s a mouthful. The name comes from how the memory is designed — a section of memory cells can be erased in a single action or in a “flash.” A common use of flash memory is to store the BIOS settings in a computer’s ROM. When the BIOS needs to be changed, the flash memory can be written in blocks, rather than bytes, making it easy to update. Most modems use flash memory for the same reason. Though flash memory was orginally used inside computers, it has invaded many other areas outside the box. Flash memory cards used for digital cameras, cellular phones, networking hardware, and PC cards. Though the memory’s read/write speed is not lightning fast, it is nice to be able to tote around a little card rather than a cumbersome hard drive.
  • Folder: Just like real world folders, folders on your hard drive store files. These files can be documents, programs, scripts, libraries, and any other kind of computer file you can think of. Folders can also store other folders, which may store more files or other folders, and so on. Folders allow people to organize their files in a way that makes sense to them. For example, a college student might store all her photos in a folder named “Pictures,” all her papers in a folder named “School Work,” and all her financial information (including the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans) in a folder named “Finances.” All these folders might reside within a folder called “My Documents.” The computer’s operating system also uses folders to store data such as system files, library files, and user preferences. Often, the folders that the system uses are locked, meaning users cannot alter their contents.
  • FPU: Stands for “Floating Point Unit.” The first computer processors were far better at dealing with integers than with real numbers (a.k.a. floating point numbers). So a separate FPU processor was developed to handle the floating point calculations. That way, when the CPU encountered a floating-point expresion (ie. 1.62 * 0.87359), it would send the calculation to the FPU. Since the FPU is specifically designed to handle floating-point math, it computes expressions involving real numbers more efficiently. While the first floating point units used to be manufactured as individual chips, they are now typically integrated into the CPU.
  • Freeware: Like shareware, freeware is software you can download, pass around, and distribute without any initial payment. However, the great part about freeware is that you never have to pay for it. No 30 day limit, no demo versions, no disabled features — it’s totally free. Things like minor program updates and small games are commonly distributed as freeware. Though freeware does not cost anything, it is still copyrighted, so other people can’t market the software as their own.
  • FTP: The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a software standard for transferring computer files between machines with widely different operating systems. It belongs to the application layer of the Internet protocol suite.
  • Favicon: A favicon (short for “Favorites icon”), also known as a page icon, is an icon associated with a particular website. A web designer can create such an icon, and many graphical web browsers—such as recent versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Safari, and Konqueror—can then make use of them. Browsers that support favicons may display them in the browser’s address bar, next to the site’s name in lists of bookmarks, and next to the page’s title in a Tabbed Document Interface.
  • File: A file is a collection of data stored in one unit, under a filename. This can be a document, a picture, an audio or video file, a library, an application, or other collection of data. Documents include text files, such as a Word documents, RTF (Rich Text Format) documents, PDFs, Web pages, and others. Pictures include JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, and layered image files, such as Photoshop documents (PSDs). Audio files include MP3s, AACs, WAVs, AIFs, and several others. Video files can be MPEG, MOV, WMV, or DV files, just to name a few. A library file is a unit of data that is referenced by a specific program or the operating system itself. These include plug-ins, components, scripts, and many others. An application is a program, or executable file. Programs such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple iTunes are both applications, but are also files. Like files, folders have names. However, folders themselves do not store any data. Instead, they can hold many files, which store the actual data.
  • FiOS: Stands for “Fiber Optic Service.” FiOS is a data communications service provided by Verizon that uses fiber optic cables to transfer data. FiOS is called a “Fiber to the Premises,” or FTTP service, since it brings fiber optic data transmission to residential homes as well as businesses. Since fiber optic technology sends data via pulses of light, it is the fastest method of transferring data.
  • Firmware: Firmware is a software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. It provides the necessary instructions for how the device communicates with the other computer hardware. But how can software be programmed onto hardware? Good question. Firmware is typically stored in the flash ROM of a hardware device. While ROM is “read-only memory,” flash ROM can be erased and rewritten because it is actually a type of flash memory. Firmware can be thought of as “semi-permanent” since it remains the same unless it is updated by a firmware updater. You may need to update the firmware of certain devices, such as hard drives and video cards in order for them to work with a new operating system. CD and DVD drive manufacturers often make firmware updates available that allow the drives to read faster media. Sometimes manufacturers release firmware updates that simply make their devices work more efficiently.
  • Flat File: A flat file database is a database that stores data in a plain text file. Each line of the text file holds one record, with fields separated by delimiters, such as commas or tabs. While it uses a simple structure, a flat file database cannot contain multiple tables like a relational database can. Fortunately, most database programs such as Microsoft Access and FileMaker Pro can import flat file databases and use them in a larger relational database.
  • Font: A font is a specific typeface of a certain size and style. For example, one font may be Arial 12 pt bold, while another font may be Times New Roman 14 pt italic. Most word processing programs have a Font menu that allows you to choose the typeface, size, and style of the text. In order to use a font, you must have it installed on your computer. Windows provides access to fonts using the Fonts control panel. The Mac OS stores fonts in a Fonts folder and includes a separate “Font Book” application for managing fonts.
  • Frame: In the computer world, a frame can be many different things. The different definitions of “frame” are listed below: Some Web sites use HTML frames, where the pages are broken up into various areas. Each area consists of an independent Web page. Frames allow the multiple Web pages to all show up in the same page. Graphics and desktop publishing programs also use frames. In these programs, frames are rectangular areas meant for inserting graphics and text. They allow users to place objects wherever they want to on the page. In video and animation, frames are individual pictures in a sequence of images. For example, a Flash movie you see on the Web may play 12 frames per second, creating the appearance of motion. Most video is shot at 24 or 30 frames per second, or FPS. FPS is often measured in 3D games as a way of checking how fast the graphics processor of a computer is.
  • Frozen:While this word describes the state of Minnesota from November to March, it also refers to an unresponsive computer. When a computer does not respond to any user input, it is said to be frozen. When a computer system freezes, or “locks up,” the screen stays the same and does not change no matter what buttons you press on your mouse or keyboard. Often, the cursor will not move when you move the mouse.
Firewall: A firewall essentially controls all network activity and ensures that you only share information and files that you choose to share. A firewall is a device or a set of devices configured to permit or deny computer applications based upon a set of rules and other criteria. It is part of a computer system or network designed to block unauthorised access while permitting authorised communications. Firewalls can be implemented in either hardware or software or a combination of both. They are often used to prevent unauthorised Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.
These days, many broadband modems and routers come with in-built firewalls, so it is quite likely that you many not be required to purchase any further software or hardware in order to make sure your data is safe. However, any such in-built firewalls still need to be set up by experienced professionals to effectively protect your computers. Failure to do so may cost your business downtime and hassle in the future.Firewall: A firewall essentially controls all network activity and ensures that you only share information and files that you choose to share. A firewall is a device or a set of devices configured to permit or deny computer applications based upon a set of rules and other criteria. It is part of a computer system or network designed to block unauthorised access while permitting authorised communications. Firewalls can be implemented in either hardware or software or a combination of both. They are often used to prevent unauthorised Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.These days, many broadband modems and routers come with in-built firewalls, so it is quite likely that you many not be required to purchase any further software or hardware in order to make sure your data is safe. However, any such in-built firewalls still need to be set up by experienced professionals to effectively protect your computers. Failure to do so may cost your business downtime and hassle in the future.


  • Get info: a Finder File menu command that presents an information window for a selected file icon.
  • Gig: a gigabyte = 1024 megabytes.
  • Gateway: A gateway is either hardware or software that acts as a bridge between two networks so that data can be transferred between a number of computers. For example, when you send an e-mail to a friend or when you log in to a Web site, there is a gateway that allows the connection take place. Often, your connection to a Web site will involve many smaller connections to other servers along the way. In these cases, a number of gateways are used.
  • GIF: Graphics Interchange Format, this is a type of graphic image very common on online services and the Internet.
  • GIS: Stands for “Geographic Information Systems.” GIS tools are used to gather and analyze data about the surface of the earth. The data can be used to create charts, maps, and 3D models of the earth’s surface. This includes hills, mountains, trees, buildings, streets, rivers, and pretty much anything else. Sounds fun, but how is it used? Well, organizations such as the police and fire department can use the data to develop emergency routes. The government can use the data to measure the growth and expansion of cities or the depletion of forests. Most importantly, however, GIS can assist with special effects by simulating landscapes and terrain in action movies.
  • GPU: Stands for “Graphics Processing Unit.” Like the CPU (Central Processing Unit), it is a single-chip processor. However, the GPU is used primarily for computing 3D functions. This includes things such as lighting effects, object transformations, and 3D motion. Because these types of calculations are rather taxing on the CPU, the GPU can help the computer run more effienciently.
  • Gateway Page: Gateway Page are web pages that are created to rank high in search engines for particular phrases with purpose to seduce or hoax you to watch another page. They are also known as bridge pages, portal pages, zebra pages, jump pages, gateway pages, entry pages and by other names.
  • Gigabyte: A gigabyte is a measure of computer memory or disk space consisting of about one billion bytes (a thousand megabytes). The actual value is 1,073,741,824 bytes (1024 megabytes).
  • Gopher: The Gopher technology was invented at the University of Minnesota, whose mascot is, not surprisingly, the Golden Gopher. The gopher system allows people to search for and retrieve information using a text interface. The technology is based on a client-server structure, where a gopher client program is used to search gopher servers. These servers can store documents, articles, programs, and other information. Instead of hyperlinks, the gopher interface uses menus of links to other documents and programs.The University of Minnesota began a licensing program for the gopher technology in 1993 as the use of gopher was spreading rapidly over the Internet. However, this was around the same time that the World Wide Web was introduced. Because the Web used hypertext and images, it soon became the preferred way to search and browse for information. While there are still servers and client programs that use gopher technology, their use is not nearly as widespread as the Web.
  • GUI: Stands for “Graphical User Interface,” and is pronounced “gooey.” It refers to the graphical interface of a computer that allows users to click and drag objects with a mouse instead of entering text at a command line. Two of the most popular operating systems, Windows and the Mac OS, are GUI-based. The graphical user interface was first introduced to the public by Apple with the Macintosh in 1984. However, the idea was actually taken from an earlier user interface developed by Xerox.
  • Gibabyte: A gibibyte is a unit of data storage that equals 2 to the 30th power, or 1,073,741,824 bytes.While a gigabyte can be estimated as 10^9 or 1,000,000,000 bytes, a gibibyte is exactly 1,073,741,824 bytes. This is to avoid the ambiguity associated with the size of gigabytes. A gigibyte is 1,024 mebibytes and precedes the tebibyte unit of measurement.
  • GIGO: Stands for “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” It means that if invalid data is entered in a computer program, the resulting output will also be invalid. So if a program asked you to enter a letter of the alphabet and you decided to be funny and enter “3.14159″, there’s a good chance the results you would get back would be pretty messed up, or “garbage.” Because we computer users aren’t always smart enough to enter valid data, programmers have to take extensive mesaures to prevent GIGO errors.
  • GPS: Stands for “Global Positioning System.” GPS is a satellite navigation system used to determine ground position and velocity (location, speed, and direction). Though it was created and originally used by the U.S. military, GPS is now available to the general public all over the world. GPS navigation systems are currently installed in a number of luxury cars, complete with an LCD map that shows the driver exactly where in the world he is. Advanced car GPS units can actually speak the directions to a certain destination and tell the driver when to turn. Cool, huh?


  • Hard drive: a large capacity storage device made of multiple disks housed in a rigid case.
  • Head crash: a hard disk crash caused by the heads coming in contact with the spinning disk(s).
  • High density disk: a 1.4 MB floppy disk.
  • Highlight: to select by clicking once on an icon or by highlighting text in a document.
  • Hard drive: Hard drives are the primary storage medium built in to desktop and laptop computers as well as all servers and mainframe computers. They are also found in printers, digital music players and other computer-based devices. There are also removable/external hard drives that allow you to store data outside of your computer, often for backup purposes
  • Hacker: While this term originally referred to a clever or expert programmer, it is now more commonly used to refer to someone who can gain unauthorized access to other computers. A hacker can “hack” his or her way through the security levels of a computer system or network. This can be as simple as figuring out somebody else’s password or as complex as writing a custom program to break another computer’s security software. Hackers are the reason software manufacturers release periodic “security updates” to their programs. While it is unlikely that the average person will get “hacked,” some large businesses and organizations receive multiple hacking attempts a day.
  • Hard Disk: When you save data or install programs on your computer, the information is typically written to your hard disk. The hard disk is a spindle of magnetic disks, called platters, that record and store information. Because the data is stored magnetically, information recorded to the hard disk remains intact after you turn your computer off. This is an important distinction between the hard disk and RAM, or memory, which is reset when the computer’s power is turned off.
  • HDV: Stands for “High-Definition Video.” According to a consortium of manufacturers including Sony, JVC, Canon, and Sharp, it is a “consumer high-definition video format.” HDV is the next step up from Mini DV, which has been used in consumer digital camcorders for several years. The HDV technology allows high-definition video to be recorded on a Mini DV tape, using MPEG-2 compression.Of course, recording in high-definition requires an HD camcorder, such as the Sony HDR-FX1 or the JVC GR-HD1. These cameras are significantly more expensive than their Mini DV counterparts, but can capture much higher quality video. HDV uses a native 16:9 widescreen format, with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. This is a substantial improvement over Mini DV, which records video in a 4:3 format, with a maximum resolution of 500 horizontal lines. Most HDV camcorders allow the user to record in standard DV as well, but if you shell out a couple thousand dollars extra for a HDV camcorder, you might as well shoot everything in HD.
  • Hit: Hit is a request for a file on a webserver. Each HTML document and graphic file counts as a separate hit, so they aren’t an accurate representation of the number of different visitors to your site.
  • Hover: When you roll the cursor over a link on a Web page, it is often referred to as “hovering” over the link. This is somewhat like when your boss hovers over you at work, but not nearly as uncomfortable. In most cases, the cursor will change from a pointer to a small hand when it is hovering over a link. Web developers can also use cascading style sheets (CSS) to modify the color and style of link when a user hovers over it. For example, the link may become underlined or change color while the cursor is hovering over it.
  • HTTPS: HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the communication protocol of the World Wide Web. It was invented by Netscape Communications Corporation to provide authentication and encrypted communication and is used in electronic commerce.
  • Hyperlink: A hyperlink, or simply a link, is a reference in a hypertext document to another document or other resource. As such it would be similar to a citation in literature. However, combined with a data network and suitable access protocol, it can be used to fetch the resource referenced. This can then be saved, viewed, or displayed as part of the referencing document.
  • Halftone: A halftone image is made up of a series of dots rather than a continuous tone. These dots can be different sizes, different colors, and sometimes even different shapes. Larger dots are used to represent darker, more dense areas of the image, while smaller dots are used for lighter areas.
  • Hard Drive: The hard drive is what stores all you data. It houses the hard disk, where all your files and folders are physically located. A typical hard drive is only slightly larger than your hand, yet can hold over 100 GB of data. The data is stored on a stack of disks that are mounted inside a solid encasement. These disks spin extremely fast (typically at either 5400 or 7200 RPM) so that data can be accessed immediately from anywhere on the drive. The data is stored on the hard drive magnetically, so it stays on the drive even after the power supply is turned off.
  • Hard Drive: The hard drive is what stores all you data. It houses the hard disk, where all your files and folders are physically located. A typical hard drive is only slightly larger than your hand, yet can hold over 100 GB of data. The data is stored on a stack of disks that are mounted inside a solid encasement. These disks spin extremely fast (typically at either 5400 or 7200 RPM) so that data can be accessed immediately from anywhere on the drive. The data is stored on the hard drive magnetically, so it stays on the drive even after the power supply is turned off.
  • Home Page: This is the starting point or front page of a Web site. This page usually has some sort of table of contents on it and often describes the purpose of the site. For example, is the home page of When you type in a basic URL, such as “,” you are typically directed to the home page of the Web site. Many people have a “personal home page,” which is another way the term “home page” can be used.
  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a markup language designed for the creation of web pages and other information viewable in a browser.
  • Hub: This is a hardware device that is used to network multiple computers together. It is a central connection for all the computers in a network, which is usually Ethernet-based. Information sent to the hub can flow to any other computer on the network. If you need to connect more than two computers together, a hub will allow you to do so. If you only need to network two computers together, a simple crossover Ethernet cable will do the trick.
  • Hypertext: Hypertext is a user interface paradigm for displaying documents which contain automated cross-references to other documents called hyperlinks. Selecting a hyperlink causes the computer to display the linked document within a very short period of time.
  • Handle: In online chat, the name you use is often referred to as your screen name, or handle. So if you decided to name yourself MooCow123, that would be your handle. Handles are nice because they allow you to represent yourself without giving away your real identity. The term originated from CB radio, where people refer to each other by their “handles.”
  • HDTV: Stands for “High Definition Televsion.” HDTV is a high-quality video standard developed to replace older video formats often referred to as SDTV (standard definition television). While HDTV’s video quality is one of the most noticeable improvements over SDTV, HDTV includes a number of other important improvements as well.First of all, the HDTV signal is digital. Instead of an analog signal, used by traditional NTSC broadcasts, HDTV is always digital. This eliminates analog interference caused be electrical currents and magnetic fields. Secondly, HDTV uses a different aspect ratio than SDTV. While previous broadcasts used a 4:3 ratio (4 units wide for every 3 units tall), HDTV uses a ratio of 16:9. This wider aspect ratio more closely emulates how humans see the world, making the image appear more realistic. This ratio is also better for watching widescreen movies, which are recorded in widescreen for the same reason.True to its name, high definition television offers a much higher resolution than standard definition video. While a typical analog broadcast in the U.S. contains a maximum of 525 horizontal lines of resolution, an HDTV signal supports up to 1080. The three formats used by HDTV are 1080i (interlaced), and 720p and 1080p (progressive). HDTV’s higher resolution produces images that are much finer and contain more detail and more color than previous formats. HDTV also provides a higher-quality digital audio signal than SDTV and supports up to six audio channels compared to the two channels allowed previously.To watch HDTV, you need an HDTV-compatible television and a means of receiving an HDTV signal. HDTVs come in both 16:9 and 4:3 formats (for backwards compatibility). Some HDTVs include HDTV tuners for receiving over-the-air broadcasts, but others require the receiver to be bought separately. Fortunately, most cable and satellite TV companies offer HDTV-compatible boxes with their digital service plans.
  • HFS: Stands for “Hierarchical File System.” HFS is the file system used for organizing files on a Macintosh hard disk. When a hard disk is formatted for a Macintosh computer, the hierarchical file system is used to create a directory that can expand as new files and folders are added to the disk. Since HFS is a Macintosh format, Windows computers cannot recognize HFS-formatted drives. Windows hard drives are typically formatted using WIN32 or NTFS file systems.
  • Host: This is a computer that acts as a server for other computers on a network. It can be a Web server, an e-mail server, an FTP server, etc. For example, a Web host is what provides the content of Web pages to the computers that access it. A host is also known as the mother computer. Well, not really, I just made that up.
  • HTTP: HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the primary method used to convey information on the World Wide Web. The original purpose was to provide a way to publish and receive HTML pages.
  • Hyper-Threading: Hyper-threading is a technology developed by Intel Corporation. It is used in certain Pentium 4 processors and all Intel Xeon processors. Hyper-threading technology, commonly referred to as “HT Technology,” enables the processor to execute two threads, or sets of instructions, at the same time. Since hyper-threading allows two streams to be executed in parallel, it is almost like having two separate processors working together.


  • Icon: a graphic symbol for an application, file or folder.
  • Initialize: to format a disk for use in the computer; creates a new directory and arranges the tracks for the recording of data.
  • Insertion point: in word processing, the short flashing marker which indicates where your next typing will begin.
  • Installer: software used to install a program on your hard drive.
  • Interrupt button: a tool used by programmers to enter the debugging mode. The button is usually next to the reset button
  • ICF: Stands for “Internet Connection Firewall.” ICF is a Windows XP feature that protects computers connected to the Internet from unauthorized access. When ICF is enabled, Windows keeps a log of incoming requests from other systems on the Internet. If the request is something the user has requested, like a Web page, the transmission will not be affected. However, if the request is unsolicited and is not recognized by the system, the transmission will be dropped. This helps prevent intrusion by hackers or malicious software such as spyware.While ICF limits incoming traffic from the Internet, it does not affect outgoing traffic. This means data sent from your computer is still vulnerable to viruses or other disruptions even when ICF is enabled. If you have multiple computers sharing the same Internet connection via ICS, you can enable ICF for all the computers. However, you should enable ICF for the router or system connected directly to the Internet connection, not for each individual system.
  • IDE: Stands for “Integrated Device Electronics.” It is the most widely-used hard drive interface on the market. The fancy name refers to how the IDE technology “integrates” the electronics controller into the drive itself. The original IDE standard could only support hard drives containing up to 540 MB of data. The new standard, EIDE (Enhanced-IDE), supports hard drives with over 50 GB of data and allows for data transfer rates that are over twice as fast as the original IDE.
  • IM: Stands for “Instant Message.” Instant messaging, or “IMing,” as frequent users call it, has become a popular way to communicate over the Internet. Two people with the same IM client software can type messages back in forth in a private “chat room.” The IM software can also keep a list of friends, or “buddies” and let the user know who else is online. After seeing who is online, the user can open up chat rooms with as many other people as he or she wants. While I find it difficult to focus on one conversation at a time, I have known some girls that can keep more than ten conversations going at once.
  • Impression: It is said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Well, in the wonderful world of the World Wide Web, publishers have thousands of chances each day. An impression is counted each time a Web page is shown to a visitor. Advertisers measure the reach of their ads by tracking ad impressions, or the number of times their ads are shown. The revenue that publishers generate based on 1,000 impressions is called CPM. Impressions are counted each time a page is visited by a user, so a single user can rack up numerous impressions for one website. However, publishers and advertisers are also interested in unique impressions, which count only the number of unique visits to a website. For example, if Greg views 3 pages on a website, while Mary views 4 and Kathy views 10, their visits would total 17 impressions, but only 3 unique impressions. Unique impressions are usually counted by sending a cookie to visitors’ browsers that expire in 24 hours. This way, if Greg visits the site on Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening, it would could as two unique impressions.
  • Install: Most software programs require that you first install them on your computer before using them. For example, if you buy Microsoft Office, you need to install it on your computer before you can run any of the included programs such as Word or Excel. You can install software from a CD or DVD, an external hard drive, or from a networked computer. You can also install a program or software update from a file downloaded from the Internet. Installing a software program writes the necessary data for running the program on your hard drive. Often the installer program will decompress the data included with the installer immediately before writing the information to your hard drive. Software updates, which are typically downloaded from the Internet, work the same way. When you run the update, the installer file decompresses the data and then updates the correct program or operating system. Installing software is usually a simple process. It involves double-clicking an installer icon and then clicking “I Agree” when the license agreement pops up. You may have to choose what directory on your hard disk you would like to install the software in, but often the installer will even choose that for you. Some software can be installed by simply dragging a folder or application program onto your hard drive. Either way, installing software is a rather simple process and should not be intimidating. If you can cook you dinner in the microwave, you can install your own software.
  • Interlaced: A common way to compress video is to interlace it. Each frame of an interlaced video signal shows every other horizontal line of the image. As the frames are projected on the screen, the video signal alternates between showing even and odd lines. When this is done fast enough, i.e. around 60 frames per second, the video image looks smooth to the human eye.Interlacing has been used for decades in analog television broadcasts that are based on the NTSC (U.S.) and PAL (Europe) formats. Because only half the image is sent with each frame, interlaced video uses roughly half the bandwidth than it would sending the entire picture. The downside of interlaced video is that fast motion may appear slightly blurred. For this reason, the DVD and HDTV standards also support progressive scan signals, which draw each line of the image consecutively.
  • Intranet: Contrary to popular belief, this is not simply a misspelling of “Internet.” “Intra” means “internal” or “within,” so an Intranet is an internal or private network that can only be accessed within the confines of a company, university, or organization. “Inter” means “between or among,” hence the difference between the Internet and an Intranet.
  • IP Address: An IP address is a unique number, akin to a telephone number, used by machines (usually computers) to refer to each other when sending information through the Internet using the Internet Protocol. This allows machines passing the information onwards on behalf of the sender to know where to send it next, and for the machine receiving the information to know that it is the intended destination.
  • IRQ:Stands for “Interrupt Request.” PCs use interrupt requests to manage various hardware operations. Devices such as sound cards, modems, and keyboards can all send interrupt requests to the processor. For example, when the modem needs to run a process, it sends an interrupt request to the CPU saying, “Hey, hold up, let me do my thing!” The CPU then interrupts its current job to let the modem run its process.
  • ISO: Stands for “International Organization for Standardization.” Yes, technically the acronym should be “IOFS,” but I guess ISO sounds better. The ISO works with standards institutes from over 150 countries to develop technology and product standards. These standards lead to a more efficient, safer, and cleaner development of products. It also leads to more standardized products for consumers.
  • IVR: Stands for “Interactive Voice Response.” IVR is a telephony technology that can read a combination of touch tone and voice input. It gives users the ability to access a database of information via phone. A typical IVR system has several menus of prerecorded options that the caller can choose from. While many choices are as basic as choosing a number, some options may require the caller to speak detailed information such as his name or account number. This input is read by the IVR system and is used to access the appropriate information in the database.
  • Icon: Ever since the Macintosh was introduced in 1984, icons have been the way we view files on computers. An icon on your computer screen represents an object or a program on your hard drive. For example, the folders you see on your desktop or in open windows are icons. The files that you see in those folders are also icons. The trash can on the Macintosh and the recycle bin on Windows are both icons as well.
  • IEEE: Stands for the “Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.” This is a non-profit organization that develops, defines, and reviews electronics and computer science standards. Though it is a U.S. based organization, standards developed by the IEEE often become International standards. Some examples of commonly-used products standardized by the organization are the IEEE 1284 interface (a.k.a. Parallel Port), which many printers use, and the IEEE 1394 interface (a.k.a. Firewire), which is a super-fast connection for digital video cameras, hard drives, and other peripherals.
  • Image Map: In HTML, a list of co-ordinates relating to a specific image, created in order to hyperlink areas of the image to various destinations. For example, a map of the world may have each country hyperlinked to further information about that country. The intention of an image map is to provide an easy way of linking various parts of an image without resorting to dividing the image into separate parts.
  • Infotainment: Infotainment is a combo word, like “fantabulous,” that combines two words into one. It refers to television shows, movies, websites, and software that blend information and entertainment together. For example, shows on the Food Network and Animal Planet provide information to the viewer, but are also fun to watch. Certain news broadcasts can also be considered infotainment, since they strive to be as entertaining as they are informational.Websites like and also have content that is both informational and entertaining. Software titles such as Grolier Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica serve primarily to inform, but are also geared to be entertaining, so they can be considered infotainment. While there is a blurry line between basic information and infotainment, if informational media makes an intentional effort to entertain, you can call it infotainment.
  • Installer: In order to install new software on your computer, you often need to run an installer program. This program unpacks compressed data included with the installer and writes new information to your hard drive. While some installers do not use compressed data, most use some level of compression since it reduces the size of the files included with the installer. This is especially helpful when downloading programs or software updates from the Internet. An installer can either install a new program on your computer or can update a program currently on your hard drive. It can also update or add files to your operating system. Most installers can be run by simply double-clicking the installer icon and then choosing the folder you want to install the software into. The nice thing about installers is that they do all the work for you, decompressing and writing the data on the hard drive. Once the installer is finished, you can often use the new or updated software right away. If any system files were installed, you will be asked to restart your computer before using the new software. This is because system files can only be loaded during the computer’s boot process.
  • What is Internet: Believe it or not, the Internet was created way back in 1969, during the Cold War, by the United States military. It was meant to be a “nuke-proof” communications network. Today, the Internet spreads across the globe and consists of countless networks and computers, allowing millions of people to share information. Data that travels long distances on the Internet is transferred on huge lines known collectively as the Internet backbone. The Internet is now maintained by the major Internet service providers such as MCI Worldcom, Sprint, GTE, ANS, and UUNET. Because these providers make huge amounts of revenue off the Internet, they are motivated to maintain consistent and fast connections which benefits everyday Internet users like you and me.
  • IO: Stands for “Input/Output” and is pronounced simply “eye-oh.” Computers are based on the fundamental idea that every input results in an output. For example, if you are running a word processor program and type a sentence on your keyboard, the text will appear on the screen. The keyboard is an input device and the screen is an output device. You might also print the text using a printer, which is another output device. The computer’s CPU handles all the I/O operations, sending the data it receives to the correct path. The path may be to the video card, to the hard drive, or to the RAM, just to name a few.
  • IPX: Stands for “Internetwork Packet Exchange.” (I didn’t know “exchange” started with an “x” either.) It is a networking protocol used to connect networks based on Novell’s NetWare. IPX is “connectionless,” meaning it doesn’t require connections to be maintained during an exchange of packets, like a phone call does. It can just pick up where it left off when a connection is temporarily dropped. Another nice thing about IPX is that it usually only loads when you log on to a network, so it doesn’t take up unnecessary resources. As some video game players may know, IPX used to be the standard protocol for network games. However, most video games now use the more robust TCP/IP protocol, which allows for long distance network gaming.
  • ISA: Stands for “Industry Standard Architecture.” ISA is a type of bus used in PCs for adding expansion cards. For example, an ISA slot may be used to add a video card, a network card, or an extra serial port. The original 8-bit version of PCI uses a 62 pin connection and supports clock speeds of 8 and 33 MHz. 16-bit PCI uses 98 pins and supports the same clock speeds.
  • ISP: An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a business or organization that offers users access to the Internet and related services. Most telecommunications operators are ISPs. They provide services like internet transit, domain name registration and hosting, dial-up access, leased line access and colocation.
  • ICS: Stands for “Internet Connection Sharing.” ICS allows multiple computers to connect to the Internet using the same Internet connection and IP address. For example, several computers in a household can connect to same cable or DSL modem using a router. As long as the router is connected to the modem, every computer connected to the router is also connected to the Internet. Network address translation (NAT) allows the computers to share the same IP address.
  • Illegal Operation: When a program on your computer has an error, you may see a message pop up on the screen saying, “Illegal Operation.” This is a rather tactless way of saying something went wrong with the program that was running. It could also be a fault with the operating system itself. The problem with the phrase “Illegal Operation” is that it seems to put the blame on you, the user. The fact is, the error was most likely caused by a bug in the program, and is certainly not your fault.
  • IMAP: Stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol” and is pronounced “eye-map.” It is a method of accessing e-mail messages on a server without having to download them to your local hard drive. This is the main difference between IMAP and another popular e-mail protocol called “POP3.” POP3 requires users to download messages to their hard drive before reading them. The advantage of using an IMAP mail server is that users can check their mail from multiple computers and always see the same messages. This is because the messages stay on the server until the user chooses to download them to his or her local drive. Most webmail systems are IMAP based, which allows people to access to both their sent and received messages no matter what computer they use to check their mail.Most e-mail client programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Mac OS X Mail allow you to specify what kind of protocol your mail server uses. If you use your ISP’s mail service, you should check with them to find out if their mail server uses IMAP or POP3 mail. If you enter the wrong protocol setting, your e-mail program will not be able to send or receive mail. For more information about IMAP, check out the IMAP Connection.
  • Inkjet: Inkjet printers are the most common type of consumer printers. The inkjet technology works by spraying very fine drops of ink on a sheet of paper. These droplets are “ionized” which allows them to be directed by magnetic plates in the ink’s path. As the paper is fed through the printer, the print head moves back and forth, spraying thousands of these small droplets on the page.While inkjet printers used to lack the quality and speed of laser printers, they have become almost as fast as laser printers and some can even produce higher-quality images. Even low-budget inkjet printers can now print high-resolution photos. The amazing thing is, as the quality of inkjet printers has improved, the prices have continued to drop. However, for most people, refilling the inkjet cartridges a few times will often cost more than the printer.
  • Integrated Circuit: An integrated circuit, or IC, is small chip that can function as an amplifier, oscillator, timer, microprocessor, or even computer memory. An IC is a small wafer, usually made of silicon, that can hold anywhere from hundreds to millions of transistors, resistors, and capacitors. These extremely small electronics can perform calculations and store data using either digital or analog technology.Digital ICs use logic gates, which work only with values of ones and zeros. A low signal sent to to a component on a digital IC will result in a value of 0, while a high signal creates a value of 1. Digital ICs are the kind you will usually find in computers, networking equipment, and most consumer electronics.Analog, or linear ICs work with continuous values. This means a component on a linear IC can take a value of any kind and output another value. The term “linear” is used since the output value is a linear function of the input. For example, a component on a linear IC may multiple an incoming value by a factor of 2.5 and output the result. Linear ICs are typically used in audio and radio frequency amplification.
  • InterNIC: Stands for “Internet Network Information Center.” The InterNIC is an organization created by the National Science Foundation to provide Internet information and domain name registration services. While the InterNIC was started as a joint effort between Network Solutions and AT&T, it is now run by the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
  • IP: Stands for “Internet Protocol.” It provides a standard set of rules for sending and receiving data through the Internet. People often use the term “IP” when referring to an IP address, which is OK. The two terms are not necessarily synonymous, but when you ask what somebody’s IP is, most people will know you are referring to their IP address. That is, most computer nerds or people who have read the glossary.
  • IRC: Stands for “Internet Relay Chat.” IRC makes it possible for people using the Internet to converse with each other in real time by typing messages back and forth. In order to talk to someone through IRC, you need to connect to the same IRC server. When you and others connect to the server, you can join a channel (a.k.a. chat room), and talk with the other people who have joined that channel. Usually, channels have specific topics like “teenchat,” “macusers,” or “folksingingmotorcyclists.” To connect to an IRC server, you’ll need a software program like Ircle (Mac) or mIRC (Windows). Most IRC programs also let you transfer files with other users, which is a cool feature, but has also led to a lot of software piracy.
  • ISDN: Stands for “Integrated Services Digital Network.” No, it’s not the same thing as the ISBN you see in books. ISDN is a data transfer technology, created in 1984, that can transfer data significantly faster than a dial-up modem. ISDN enables wide-bandwidth digital transmission over the public telephone network, which means more data can be sent at one time. A typical ISDN connection can support transfer rates of 64K or 128K of data per second. While these speeds are faster than what you can get with a dial-up modem, the newer DSL technology can support even faster transfer rates and is less costly to set up and maintain
  • IT: Stands for “Information Technology,” and is pronounced “I.T.” It refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies. Many companies now have IT departments for managing the computers, networks, and other technical areas of their businesses. IT jobs include computer programming, network administration, computer engineering, Web development, technical support, and many other related occupations. Since we live in the “information age,” information technology has become a part of our everyday lives. That means the term “IT,” already highly overused, is here to stay


  • JSP: Stands for “Java Server Page.” This standard was developed by Sun Microsystems as an alternative to Microsoft’s active server page (ASP) technology. JSP pages are similar to ASP pages in that they are compiled on the server, rather than in a user’s Web browser. After all, they don’t call them “server pages” for nothing. However, JSP is Java-based, whereas ASP is Visual Basic-based. JSP pages are useful for building dynamic Web sites and accessing database information on a Web server. Though JSP pages may have Java interspersed with HTML, all the Java code is parsed on the server. Therefore, once the page gets to the browser, it is only HTML. JavaScript, on the other hand, is usually parsed by the Web browser, not the Web server. 
  • JavaScript: JavaScript, often mistyped as “Javascript”, is an object-oriented scripting language based on the concept of prototypes. The language is most well known for its use in websites. It was originally developed by Brendan Eich of Netscape Communications under the name Mocha and then LiveScript but then renamed to “JavaScript”. JavaScript has a syntax close to that of Sun Microsystems’ Java language. But beside name and syntax the language has more in common with Self than with Java. JavaScript was first standardized in 1997–1999 by ECMA under the name ECMAScript. The standard (as of December 1999) is ECMA-262 Edition 3, and corresponds to JavaScript 1.5. This is also now an ISO 16262 standard.  
  • Jumper: This is a small metal connector that acts as an on/off switch and is used to alter hardware configurations. A jumper is typically made of two wires and a small piece of metal. When the wires are connected by the metal piece, the jumper is turned on, completing the circuit. When the wires are disconnected, the jumper is turned off. Mulitple jumpers, referred to collectively as a jumper block, are often used to tell the computer how a certain device, such as a hard drive or a modem, is configured. They can be found on motherboards, sound cards, graphics cards, I/O cards, CD-ROM interface boards, modems, and hard drive controller boards, and others. 
  • JPEG: Joint Photograhic Experts Group – a common image format. Art and photographic pictures are usually encoded as JPEG files.


  • K: short for kilobyte.
  • Keyboard shortcut: a combination of keystrokes that performs some function otherwise found in a pulldown menu.
  • Kilobyte: 1024 bytes.
  • Kbps: Stands for “Kilobits Per Second.” Don’t confuse this with Kilobytes per second (which is 8 times more data per second). This term is commonly used in describing data transfer rates. For example, two common modem speeds are 33.6 Kbps and 56 Kbps.
  • Keystroke: A keystroke is typing one character (not stroking your keyboard like a cat). Every time you hit a key, you perform a keystroke. So 5400 keystrokes in one hour means hitting 5400 keys in one hour, or 90 keys a minute. Sometimes keystrokes per minute is used to measure typing speed instead of words per minute. After all, typing the word “hi” 50 times usually doesn’t take as long as typing “Nebuchadnezzar” 50 times.
  • Keyword Phrase: More than one Keyword, searched exactly as keyed (all terms required to be in documents, in the order keyed). Enclosing keywords in quotations ” ” forms a phrase in Search Engines. Some times a phrase is called a “character string.” 
  • Kernel: This is a term for the computing elite, so proceed at your own risk. To understand what a kernel is, you first need to know that today’s operating systems are built in “layers.” Each layer has different functions such as serial port access, disk access, memory management, and the user interface itself. The base layer, or the foundation of the operating system, is called the kernel. The kernel provides the most basic “low-level” services, such as the hardware-software interaction and memory management. The more efficient the kernel is, the more efficiently the operating system will run.
  • Keyword: A word searched for in a search command. Keywords are searched in any order. Use spaces to separate keywords in simple keyword searching.
  • Kibibyte: A kibibyte is a unit of data storage that equals 2 to the 10th power, or 1,024 bytes.While a kilobyte can be estimated as 10^3 or 1,000 bytes, a kibibyte is exactly 1,024 bytes. This is to avoid the ambiguity associated with the size of kilobytes. A kibibyte is 1,024 bytes and precedes the mebibyte unit of measurement.
  • Keyboard: As the name implies, a keyboard is basically a board of keys. Along with the mouse, the keyboard is one of the primary input devices used with a computer. The keyboard’s design comes from the original typewriter keyboards, which arranged letters and numbers in a way that prevented the type-bars from getting jammed when typing quickly. This keyboard layout is known as the QWERTY design, which gets its name from the first six letters across in the upper-left-hand corner of the keyboard.
  • Keyword Density: A property of the text in a web page which indicates how close together the keywords appear. Some search engines use this property for Positioning. Analysers are available which allow comparisons between pages. Pages can then be produced with the similar keyword densities to those found in high ranking pages. 
  • Kilobyte: A kilobyte is 2 to the 10th power, or 1,024 bytes.”But doesn’t ‘kilo’ means one thousand?” you ask. Well yes, but in the computer world, certain rules and guidelines don’t have the same influence they do in other areas of life. Just ask any computer programmer. A kilobyte is technically 1,024 bytes because it is measured by 2^10, which equals 1,024. However, kilobytes are often estimated as 10 to the 3rd power, or 1,000 bytes. While this makes it easier to add kilobytes together, estimating can throw off larger measurements. This is because 1,024 kilobytes equal one megabyte, 1,024 megabytes equal one gigabyte, and so on. Most small files on your computer are measured in kilobytes. For example, thumbnail images might use only 5 to 10KB of space. A larger 900×600 pixel JPEG image can take up 250KB of space. Text files are often less than 1KB. Most documents you save on your computer should be between 1 and 1,024KB. Anything larger than 1,024KB is measured in megabytes.


  • Landscape: in printing from a computer, to print sideways on the page.
  • Launch: start an application.
  • LCD/Flat screen: Short for liquid crystal display, LCD screens/monitors are made up of two sheets of polarising material with a liquid crystal solution between them. An electric current passed through the liquid causes the crystals to align so that light cannot pass through them. Each crystal, therefore, is like a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking the light. LCD panels were once used exclusively on laptop computers and other portable devices. Now, however, manufacturers offer full-size LCD monitors. There are many advantages of LCD screens. They weigh less and are much thinner than traditional CRT screens. They use less power, produce less heat and have no flicker so they result in less eyestrain. LCD monitors are brighter and also have less distortion, although they are more expensive.
  • LAN: LANs are typically high speed networks that connect computers, printers and other network devices together.
  • LDAP: Stands for “Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.” If you want to make directory information available over the Internet, this is the way to do it. LDAP is a streamlined version of an earlier directory standard called X.500. What makes LDAP so useful is that it works great over TCP/IP networks (unlike X.500), so information can be accessed through LDAP by anyone with an Internet connection. It is also an open protocol, which means directories can be stored on any type of machine (i.e. Windows 2000, Red Hat Linux, Mac OS X). To give you an idea of how an LDAP directory is organized, here are the different levels of a simple LDAP tree hierarchy: The root directory; Countries; Organizations; Divisions, departments, etc.; Individuals; Individual resources, such as files and printers. Most LDAP connectivity is done behind the scenes, so the typical user probably won’t notice it when surfing the Web. However, it is a good technology to know about. If nothing else, it is another term to impress your parents with.
  • Link: When you are browsing the Web and you see a highlighted and underlined word or phrase on a page, there is a good chance you are looking at a link. By clicking on a link, you can “jump” to a new Web page or a completely different Web site. While text links are typically blue and underlined, they can be any color and don’t have to be underlined. Images can also serve as links to other Web pages. When you move the cursor over a link in a Web page, the arrow will turn into a little hand, letting you know that it is a link. The term “hypertext” comes from the way links can quickly send you to another Web destination.
  • Linux: Pronounced “lihnuks,” this is a Unix-based operating system created by Linus Torvalds. His reason for developing it was that he wasn’t happy with the currently available options in Unix. So he did what anybody else would do, and created his own operating system. He freely distributed his OS, which helped it gain popularity. Today, Linux is used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Computer hobbyists (a.k.a. geeks) love it because it is very customizable and you can actually add your own code to the operating system. Linux is also the OS of choice for many Web hosting companies because it is far cheaper to set up and maintain than a Windows-based server. The current supported hardware platforms for Linux software are Intel, PowerPC, DEC Alpha, Sun Sparc, and Motorola.
  • Logic Gate: Logic gates perform basic logical functions and are the are the fundamental building blocks of digital integrated circuits. Most logic gates take an input of two binary values, and output a single value of a 1 or 0. Some circuits may have only a few logic gates, while others, such as microprocessors, may have millions of them. There are seven different types of logic gates.
  • Lossy: Lossy file compression results in lost data and quality from the original version. Lossy compression is typically associated with image files, such as JPEGs, but can also be used for audio files, like MP3s or AAC files. The “lossyness” of an image file may show up as jagged edges or pixelated areas. In audio files, the lossyness may produce a watery sound or reduce the dynamic range of the audio.
  • Latency: This is the amount of time it takes a packet of data to move across a network connection. When a packet is being sent, there is “latent” time, when the computer that sent the packet waits for confirmation that the packet has been received. Latency and bandwidth are the two factors that determine your network connection speed.
  • Leaderboard: As the average computer screen size has grown larger, the size of online advertisements as grown as well. The leaderboard ad, which was introduced in 2003, has a standard size of 728 pixels wide by 90 pixels tall (728×90). Compare this to its predecessor, the banner ad, which is 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels tall (468×60). Leaderboards can contain text, images, or even animations. When a visitor clicks on a leaderboard, he or she is directed to the advertiser’s website. While leaderboards are larger than the original banner ads, most Web developers have found ways to incorporate the ads in ways that are not too distracting to the user.
  • Link Farm: Link farm is a large group of web pages created that contain hyperlinks to one another or a specific other page. Link farms are normally created by programs, rather than by human beings. 
  • Listserv: This term looks like it’s missing an “e”, but that’s how it’s spelled. A listserv, or list server, is a small program that automatically sends messages to multiple e-mail addresses on a mailing list. When someone subscribes to a mailing list, the listserv will automatically add the address and distribute future e-mail messages to that address along with all the others on the list. When someone unsubscribes, the listserv simply removes the address. At least that is the way it supposed to work. Unfortunately, with some SPAM lists, unsubscribing only adds you to more lists.
  • Login: If you are ever asked to enter your username and password, you are being asked to enter your login information. A login is a combination of information that authenticates your identity. This could be a name and password or an ID number and security code. Many secure Web sites use login information to authenticate visitors before allowing them access to certain areas of the site. Unlike the words “brush” and “comb,” this term should not be used as both a noun and a verb. It should only be used as a noun, (you don’t login to a server, you log in to it).
  • LPI: Stands for “Lines Per Inch.” LPI is used to measure the resolution of images printed in halftones. Because halftone images are printed as a series of dots, the higher the LPI number, the more dense the dots can be, resulting in a finer resolution. Newspapers are typically printed in a resolution of 85 lpi, while magazines may use 133 lpi or higher. Because the naked eye can distinguish halftone dots up to about 120 lpi, you are more likely to notice the dots in newspaper print than in magazines. Of course, if you look closely enough, you may be able to see the dots in images printed in 150 lpi or more. But, in normal viewing, it is natural to see the dots as a continuous image even at 85 lpi.
  • LCD: Stands for “Liquid Crystal Display.” LCDs are super-thin displays that are used in laptop computer screens and flat panel monitors. Smaller LCDs are used in handheld TVs, PDAs, and portable video game devices. The image on an LCD screen is created by sandwiching an electrically reactive substance between two electrodes. This color of this substance can be changed by increasing or reducing the electrical current. Since LCD screens are based on the principle of blocking light (rather than emitting it), they use up much less power than standard CRT (Cathode-Ray Tube) monitors. 
  • Leaf: What does a computer’s hard disk have in common with a tall oak? While it may not look like a tree on the outside, the hard disk is organized the same way. Directories of files and folders on a hard drive are organized into branches, where each directory is a branch with files and folders. Folders make up the branches, while files are the leaves. Therefore a leaf is a file within a directory on your hard drive. Technically speaking, a leaf is a node on a tree with no child nodes. Because files cannot have child nodes like folders can, they are always leafs. When referring to a tree structure, a leaf can also be called a leaf node. 
  • Link Popularity: Link popularity is a measure of the quantity and quality of other web sites that link to a specific site on the World Wide Web. It is an example of the move by search engines towards off-the-page-criteria to determine quality content. In theory, off-the-page-criteria adds the aspect of impartiality to search engine rankings.
  • Localhost: “Localhost” refers to the local computer that a program is running on. For example, if you are running a Web browser on your computer, your computer is considered to be the “localhost.” While this does not need to be specified when using a single computer, the localhost does need to be defined when running programs from multiple computers. For example, a network administrator might use his local machine to start a Web server on one system and use a remote access program on another. These programs would run from computers other than the localhost. In the example above, the two non-local computers must be defined by their IP addresses. The local machine is defined as “localhost,” which gives it an IP address of This is considered a “loopback” address because the information sent to it is routed back to the local machine. Localhost is often used in Web scripting languages like PHP and ASP when defining what server the code should run from or where a database is located.
  • Lossless: Lossless compression reduces a file’s size with no loss of quality. This seemingly magical method of reducing file sizes can be applied to both image and audio files. While JPEGs and MP3s use lossy compression, newer compression algorithms, such as JPEG 2000 and Apple Lossless compression, can be used to create lossless compressed files. Lossless compression basically rewrites the data of the original file in a more efficient way. However, because no quality is lost, the resulting files are typically much larger than image and audio files compressed with lossy compression. For example, a file compressed using lossy compression may be one tenth the size of the original, while lossless compression is unlikely to produce a file smaller than half of the original size.


  • Measurements (summary):
    *a bit = one binary digit (1 or 0) *”bit” is derived from the contraction b’it (binary digit) -> 8 bits = one byte
    *1024 bytes = one kilobyte
  • *K = kilobyte
    *Kb = kilobit
    *MB = megabyte
    *Mb = megabit
    *MB/s = megabytes per second
    *Mb/s = megabits per second
    *bps = bits per second
    i.e., 155 Mb/s = 19.38 MB/s
  • MB – short for megabyte.
  • Megabyte – 1024 kilobytes.
  • Memory – the temporary holding area where data is stored while it is being used or changed; the amount of RAM a computer has installed.
  • Menu – a list of program commands listed by topic.
  • Menu bar – the horizontal bar across the top of the Mac¹s screen that lists the menus.
  • Multi finder – a component of System 6 that allows the Mac to multi task.
  • Multi tasking – running more than one application in memory at the same time.
  • MAC Address: Stands for “Media Access Control Address,” and no, it is not related Apple Macintosh computers. A MAC address is a hardware identification number that uniquely identifies each device on a network. The MAC address is manufactured into every network card, such as an Ethernet card or Wi-Fi card, and therefore cannot be changed. Because there are millions of networkable devices in existence, and each device needs to have a unique MAC address, there must be a very wide range of possible addresses. For this reason, MAC addresses are made up of six two-digit hexadecimal numbers, separated by colons. For example, an Ethernet card may have a MAC address of 00:0d:83:b1:c0:8e. Fortunately, you do not need to know this address, since it is automatically recognized by most networks.
  • Macintosh: This is the name of the computers that are made by Apple Computer. The first Macintosh was introduced in 1984 and was seen as a major innovation in computing ease-of-use. The Macintosh was the first personal computer to use a graphical user interface (GUI), which allowed the user to interact with the operating system by using a mouse to click and drag objects. Since 1984, Apple has continually revised and upgraded the Macintosh product line and now makes both laptop and desktop versions of the Macintosh. The Macintosh product line includes the following models: Power Mac – a high-performance desktop computer for professionals; PowerBook – a high-performance laptop computer for professionals; iMac – a creatively designed consumer desktop computer; iBook – a laptop computer for students and home users; eMac – an all-in-one desktop computer for educators and entry-level consumers; Mac mini – a super-small, fully functional computer sold without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse.
  • Malware: Short for “malicious software,” malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. In Spanish, “mal” means “bad,” making the term “badware,” which is a good way to remember it (even if you’re not Spanish). Common examples of malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. Viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer’s hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Spyware can gather data from a user’s system without the user knowing it. This can include anything from the Web pages a user visits to personal information, such as credit card numbers. It is unfortunate that there are software programmers out there with malicious intent, but it is good to be aware of the fact. You can install anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities on your computer that will seek and destroy the malicious programs they find on your computer. So join the fight against badware and install some protective utilities on your hard drive!
  • Mebibyte: A mebibyte is a unit of data storage that equals 2 to the 20th power, or 1,048,576 bytes. While a megabyte can be estimated as 10^6 or 1,000,000 bytes, a mebibyte is exactly 1,048,576 bytes. This is to avoid the ambiguity associated with the size of megabytes. A mebibyte is 1,024 kibibytes and precedes the gibibyte unit of measurement.
  • Megahertz: One megahertz equals one million cycles per second and is used to measure transmission speeds of electronic devices. The most common area you’ll see Megahertz used is in measuring processor clock speed (i.e. an 800 Mhz Pentium III). However, megahertz only measures the clock speed of the processor (how many cycles it can handle per second) — not the overall performance. Because megahertz measures only a single aspect of a processor, it is possible that a 500 MHz PowerPC G4 is faster overall than an 800 Mhz Pentium III. Mac users love to stress this point.
  • Menu Bar: A menu bar is a horizontal strip that contains lists of available menus for a certain program. In Windows programs, the menu bar resides at the top of each open window, while on the Mac, the menu bar is always fixed on the top of the screen. Despite this major difference, the menu bar serves the same purpose on each platform.
  • Metadata: Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item’s content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe the Web page’s content. Most search engines use this data when adding pages to their search index.
  • MIDI: Stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface.” It is a connectivity standard that musicians use to hook together musical instruments (such as keyboards and synthesizers) and computer equipment. Using MIDI, a musician can easily create and edit digital music tracks. The MIDI system records the notes played, the length of the notes, the dynamics (volume alterations), the tempo, the instrument being played, and hundreds of other parameters, called control changes. Because MIDI records each note digitally, editing a track of MIDI music is much easier and more accurate than editing a track of audio. The musician can change the notes, dynamics, tempo, and even the instrument being played with the click of button. Also, MIDI files are basically text documents, so they take up very little disk space. The only catch is that you need MIDI-compatible hardware or software to record and playback MIDI files. 
  • Mirror: A mirror is something that you can see your reflection in. Most mirrors consist of a sheet of glass with a sheet of metal behind it. When light hits the metal, it reflects onto the glass and produces the image you see. In the computer world, however, a mirror is a Web or FTP server that has the same files on it as another server. Its purpose is to provide an alternate way to access files when the main server is so swamped with people connecting and downloading files that other people can’t get through. Unlike real-life mirrors, when you download a picture off a mirror server, the image isn’t backwards.
  • Modem: The word modem is actually short for Modulator/Demodulator. (There’s something you can really impress your friends with). A modem is a communications device that can be either internal or external to your computer. It allows one computer to connect another computer and transfer data over telephone lines. The original dial-up modems are becoming obsolete because of their slow speeds and are being replaced by the much faster cable and DSL modems. 
  • Mouse: A mouse is a handheld pointing device for computers, involving a small object fitted with one or more buttons and shaped to sit naturally under the hand. The underside of the mouse houses a device that detects the mouse’s motion relative to the flat surface on which it sits.
  • Multimedia: As the name implies, multimedia is the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes text, graphics, audio, video, etc. For example, a presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a “multimedia presentation.” Educational software that involves animations, sound, and text is called “multimedia software.” CDs and DVDs are often considered to be “multimedia formats” since they can store a lot of data and most forms of multimedia require a lot of disk space. Due to the advancements in computer speeds and storage space, multimedia is commonplace today. Therefore, the term doesn’t produce the same excitement is once did. This also means it is not as overused as it was back in the late ’90s. Thank goodness.
  • Mac OS: This is the operating system that runs on Macintosh computers. It is pronounced, “mack-oh-es.” The Mac OS has been around since the first Macintosh was introduced in 1984. Since then, it has been continually updated and many new features have been added to it. Each major OS release is signified by a new number (i.e. Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9). Since the core of the Mac OS was nearly decades old, Apple decided to completely revamp the operating system. In March of 2001, Apple introduced a completely new version of the Mac OS that was written from the ground up. The company dubbed it “Mac OS X,” correctly pronounced “Mac OS 10.” Unlike earlier versions of the Mac OS, Mac OS X is based on the same kernel as Unix and has many advanced administrative features and utilities. Though the operating system is much more advanced than earlier versions of the Mac OS, it still has the same ease-of-use that people have come to expect from Apple software.
  • Macro: A macro is a set of individual commands for use as a group within a program, such as Excel, Word or Access. The macro executes just as a batch file or JCL file.
  • Mbps: Stands for “Megabits Per Second.” One megabit is equal to one million bits or 1,000 kilobits. While “megabit” sounds similar to “megabyte,” a megabit is roughly one eighth the size of a megabyte (since there are eight bits in a byte). Mbps is used to measure data transfer speeds of high bandwidth connections, such as Ethernet and cable modems. 
  • Media: In general, “media” refers to various means of communication. For example, television, radio, and the newspaper are different types of media. The term can also be used as a collective noun for the press or news reporting agencies. In the computer world, “media” is also used as a collective noun, but refers to different types of data storage options.Computer media can be hard drives, removable drives (such as Zip disks), CD-ROM or CD-R discs, DVDs, flash memory, USB drives, and yes, floppy disks. For example, if you want to bring your pictures from your digital camera into a photo processing store, they might ask you what kind of media your pictures are stored on. Are they on the flash memory card inside your camera or are they on a CD or USB drive? For this and many other reasons, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of what the different types of media are. 
  • Memory: Just like humans, computers rely a lot on memory. They need to process and store data, just like we do. However, computers store data in digital format, which means the information can always be called up exactly the way it was stored. Also, unlike our memory, the computer’s memory doesn’t get worse over time.
  • Meta Search Engine: Meta search engines are search engines that search other search engines. Confused? To put it simply, a meta search engine submits your query to several other search engines and returns a summary of the results. Therefore, the search results you receive are an aggregate result of multiple searches.
  • Metafile: A metafile can refer to two different types of computer files. The first is a file that describes the contents of other files. This type of metafile may contain metadata, which defines a group other files and gives a summary of what data they contain. The second type of metafile is most often used in computer graphics. These files define objects and images using a list of coordinates. They are typically used for vector images, such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, and EPS files, but can include raster images as well. 
  • Mini DV: Most digital camcorders record video and audio on a Mini DV tape. The cassettes measure 2.6 x 1.9 x 0.5 inches (L x W x H), while the tape itself is only .25 inches thick. A Mini DV tape that is 65 meters long can hold an incredible 11GB of data, or 80 minutes of digital video. The small size of Mini DV tapes has helped camcorder manufacturers reduce the size of their video cameras significantly. Some consumer cameras that use Mini DV tapes are smaller than the size of your hand. Because Mini DV tapes store data digitally, the footage can be exported directly to a computer using a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable. So if you want to record video and edit it on your computer, avoid the SVHS and Hi-8 options and make sure to get a camera that uses Mini DV.
  • Mirror Site: Mirror site is an exact copy of another Internet site (often a web site). Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information, and are of particular value as a way of providing reliable access to large downloads. 
  • Moodle: Stands for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.” Moodle is an open source course management system, orginally developed by Martin Dougiamas. It is used by thousands of educational institutions around the world to provide an organized interface for e-learning, or learning over the Internet. Moodle allows educators to create online courses, which students can access as a virtual classroom. A typically Moodle home page will include a list of participants (including the teacher and students) and a calendar with a course schedule and list of assignments. Other Moodle features include online quizzes, forums, where students can post comments and ask questions, glossaries of terms, and links to other Web resources.
  • MP3: Stands for “MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3.” It is 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. There are also many Web sites, like and, that maintain huge archives of audio files in MP3 format.
  • Multiplatform: If a software program is developed for mulitple operating systems, it is considered to be “multiplatform.” Since Microsoft Word runs on both the Windows and Macintosh platform, it is a mutliplatform application. In the consumer gaming market, mutliplatform games run on more than one gaming machine. For example, a sports game developed for Xbox, Playstation, GameCube, and PC would be a multiplatform game. If a game is developed exclusively for one system, i.e. “The Legend of Zelda,” for Nintendo, it is not multiplatform. Gaming hardware manufacturers use exclusive software as a reason for consumers to buy their system.
  • Mac OS X: Mac OS X, pronounced “Mac Oh-Es Ten,” is the current version of the operating system used on Apple Macintosh computers. If you happen to pronounce it “Mac OS X,” computer nerds and dedicated Mac users will be quick to correct you. While the name may be a bit confusing, Mac OS X is an advanced, user-friendly operating system. Previous versions of the Mac OS, were based on the original Macintosh operating system, released in 1984. In the late 1990′s, many computer users felt Windows had “caught up” to the Mac OS and Apple’s operating system began to appear a bit dated. So Apple completely revamped the Mac OS and created a new operating system from the ground up. While much of the code used to build Mac OS X was written from scratch, a lot was taken from the NEXTSTEP operating system. NEXTSTEP was a Unix-based system that ran on NeXT computers, which are no longer in production. NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1997 and Steve Jobs was hired as interim CEO. Apple developers took the Unix-based code from NEXTSTEP and combined it with the graphical user interface (GUI) of Mac OS 9. The result was a stable, high-performance operating system that had the stability of Unix and the intuitive interface of the Macintosh. Mac OS X 10.0 was released in 2001. Since the initial release, Apple has released several major updates to Mac OS X, at a pace of roughly one update a year. The list of OS X versions include 10.0 Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther, and 10.4 Tiger. Mac OS X 10.5 is expected to be called Leopard. 
  • Mainframe: A computer used to control large databases, perform high volume transaction processing, and generate reports from large databases.
  • What is MCA: Stands for “Micro Channel Architecture.” It is an expansion bus created by IBM that was used in the company’s PS/2 desktop computers. An expansion bus allows additional cards to be connected to the computer’s motherboard, expanding the number of I/O ports. These include SCSI, USB, Firewire, AGP, and DVI connections, as well as many others.
  • Megabyte: A megabyte is 2 to the 20th power, or 1,048,576 bytes.It can be estimated as 10 to the 6th power, or one million (1,000,000) bytes. A megabyte is 1,024 kilobytes and precedes the gigabyte unit of measurement. Large computer files are typically measured in megabytes. For example, a high-quality JPEG photo from a 6.3 megapixel digital camera takes up about 3MB of space. A four minute CD-quality audio clip takes up about 40MB of space and CDs can hold up to 700MB of space.
  • Memory Stick: Memory Stick is a type of flash memory developed by Sony. It is used to store data for digital cameras, camcorders, and other kinds of electronics. Because Memory Stick is a proprietary Sony product, it is used by nearly all of Sony’s products that use flash media. Unfortunately, this also means Memory Stick cards are incompatible with most products not developed by Sony. Memory Stick cards are available in two versions: Memory Stick PRO and Memory Stick PRO Duo. Memory Stick PRO cards are 50mm long by 21.5mm wide and are 2.8mm thick. Memory Stick PRO Duo cards are 31mm long by 20mm wide and are only 1.6mm thick. High-speed versions of Memory Stick media support data transfer rates up to 80Mbps, or 10 MB/sec, which is fast enough record high-quality digital video.
  • Meta Tag: Meta tags are used to provide structured data about data. 
  • Microprocessor: This little chip is the heart of a computer. Often referred to as just the “processor,” the microprocessor does all the computations like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. In PCs, the most popular microprocessor used is the Intel Pentium chip, whereas Macintosh computers use the PowerPC chip (developed by Motorola, IBM, and Apple).
  • The speed of a microprocessor is measured in megahertz, or cycles per second. But higher megahertz doesn’t always mean better performance. Though a 600-MHz chip has a clock speed that is twice as fast as a 300-Mhz chip, it doesn’t mean that the computer with the 600-Mhz chip will run twice as fast. This is because the speed of a computer is also influenced by other factors, such as the efficiency of the processor, the bus architecture, the amount of memory available, and the software that is running on the computer. Some processors can complete more operations per clock cycle than other processors, making them more efficient than other processors with higher clock speeds. This is why the PowerPC chip is typically faster than Pentium chips at that are clocked at higher megahertz.
  • MIPS: Stands for “Million Instructions Per Second.” It is a method of measuring the raw speed of a computer’s processor. Since the MIPS measurement doesn’t take into account other factors such as the computer’s I/O speed or processor architecture, it isn’t always a fair way to measure the performance of a computer. For example, a computer rated at 100 MIPS may be able to computer certain functions faster than another computer rated at 120 MIPS. The MIPS measurement has been used by computer manufacturers like IBM to measure the “cost of computing.” The value of computers is determined in MIPS per dollar. Interestingly, the value of computers in MIPS per dollar has steadily doubled on an annual basis for the last couple of decades.
  • Mnemonic: A mnemonic (pronounced “nemonic”) is a pattern that can be used as an aid for memorizing information. Most often, this pattern consists of letters or words. For example, the phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine” can be used to help music students remember the notes of the staff, E, G, B, D, and F. The name “Roy G. Biv” is often used to memorize the order of colors in a rainbow (or other light spectrum) — Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. 
  • Motherboard: Also known as the mainboard or logic board, this is the main circuit board of your computer. If you ever open your computer up, the biggest piece of silicon you see is the motherboard. This is where you’ll find the CPU, the ROM, memory expansion slots, PCI slots, serial ports, USB ports, and all the controllers for things like the hard drive, DVD drive, keyboard, and mouse. Basically, the motherboard is what makes everything in your computer work together. Each motherboard has a collection of chips and controllers that is known as the “chipset”. When new motherboards are developed, they often use new chipsets. The good news is that these boards are typically more efficient and faster than their predecessors. The bad news is that you may not be able to add certain memory and CPU upgrades to older motherboards. Of course, that’s typical of the computer industry.
  • MPEG: Stands for “Moving Picture Experts Group.” The MPEG organization, which works with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), develops standards for digital audio and video compression. The group constantly works to develop more efficient ways to digitally compress and store audio and video files. The term MPEG also 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. This is why many videos on the Web, such as movie trailers and music videos, are available in the MPEG format.
  • MySQL: MySQL, pronounced either “My S-Q-L” or “My Sequel,” is an open source relational database management system. It is based on the structure query language (SQL), which is used for adding, removing, and modifying information in the database. Standard SQL commands, such as ADD, DROP, INSERT, and UPDATE can be used with MySQL. MySQL can be used for a variety of applications, but is most commonly found on Web servers. A website that uses MySQL may include Web pages that access information from a database. These pages are often referred to as “dynamic,” meaning the content of each page is generated from a database as the page loads. Websites that use dynamic Web pages are often referred to as database-driven websites. Many database-driven websites that use MySQL, such as, use a Web scripting language like PHP to access information from the database. MySQL commands can be incorporated into the PHP code, allowing part or all of a Web page to be generated from database information. Because both MySQL and PHP are both open source (meaning they are free to download and use), the PHP/MySQL combination has become a popular choice for database-driven websites.


  • Nanosecond: one billionth of a second. ( or, the time between the theatrical release of a Dudley Moore film and the moment it begins to play on airplanes).
  • Native mode: using the computers original operating system; most commonly used when talking about the PowerPC can run software written for either the 80×0 systems, or the PowerPC¹s RISC code.
  • NuBus: expansion slots on the Mac which accept intelligent, self-configuring boards. NuBus is a different bus achitecture than the newer PCI bus and the boards are not interchangable.
  • NAS box (network attached storage): A file-level computer data storage connected to a computer network providing data access to heterogeneous network clients.
  • Name Server: A name server translates domain names into IP addresses. This makes it possible for a user to access a website by typing in the domain name instead of the website’s actual IP address. For example, when you type in “,” the request gets sent to Microsoft’s name server which returns the IP address of the Microsoft website. Each domain name must have at least two name servers listed when the domain is registered. These name servers are commonly named and, where “servername” is the name of the server. The first server listed is the primary server, while the second is used as a backup server if the first server is not responding.
  • NetBIOS: Stands for “Network Basic Input/Output System.” NetBIOS was introduced in 1983 by IBM as an improvement to the standard BIOS used by Windows-based computers. The BIOS provides an interface between the computer’s operating system and the hardware. As the name implies, NetBIOS adds support for networking, including the ability to recognize other devices connected to the network.
  • 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 originated sometime around 1990 and supposedly comes from the English phrase, “new boy,” which refers to someone in their first year of public schooling. In online chat rooms, veteran net users like to call anybody who asks an easy question a newbie. If you ever get called a newbie, just shake it off — everybody has to learn sometime.
  • NNT: Stands for “Network News Transfer Protocol.” For a message to be posted to a newsgroup, it must be sent through this protocol that interacts between news servers and newsreader programs. NNTP is basically the software foundation of a newsgroup server. It is what queries, distributes, posts, and retrieves news articles. Not too exciting, I know. But what do you expect — this is computer terminology.
  • NTFS: Stands for “New Technology File System.” NTFS is a file system introduced by Microsoft with Windows NT and is supported by subsequent versions of Windows, such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP. (The file system is how the operating system organizes and accesses files on the hard drive.) NTFS has a number of advantages over the older file system, named FAT, or file allocation table. One major advantage of NTFS is that it incorporates features to improve reliablity. For exmaple, the new technology file system includes fault tolerance, which repairs hard drive errors without displaying error messages. It keeps detailed transaction logs, which tracks hard drive errors. This can help prevent hard disk failure as well as make it possible to recover files if the hard drive does fail.
  • Null Character: A null character is a character with all its bits set to zero. Therefore, it has a numeric value of zero and can be used to represent the end of a string of characters, such as a word or phrase. This helps programmers determine the length of strings. In practical applications, such as database and spreadsheet programs, null characters are used as fillers for spaces.
  • NAT: Stands for “Network Address Translation.” NAT translates the IP addresses of computers in a local network to a single IP address. This address is often used by the router that connects the computers to the Internet. The router can be connected to a DSL modem, cable modem, T1 line, or even a dial-up modem. When other computers on the Internet attempt to access computers within the local network, they only see the IP address of the router. This adds an extra level of security, since the router can be configured as a firewall, only allowing authorized systems to access the computers within the network.
  • Netiquette: Netiquette, or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting others’ privacy and not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, online chat, and newsgroups. For example, people that spam other users with unwanted e-mails or flood them with messages have very bad netiquette. You don’t want to be one of those people. If you’re new to a newsgroup or online chat room, it may help to observe how people communicate with each other before jumping in.
  • Newsgroup: A newsgroup is an Internet-based discussion about a particular topic. These topics range from sports, cars, investing, teen problems, and some stuff you probably don’t want to know about. Users post messages to a news server which then sends them to a bunch of 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.
  • NOC: Stands for “Network Operations Center.” It is the central location where a company’s servers and networking equipment are located. The NOC may reside either within a company’s campus or at an external location. Smaller businesses and organizations often have an internal NOC, in which local technicians administer and monitor the servers. Larger companies may have a NOC setup at a location developed specifically to house server equipment.
  • NTSC: National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) is the most prevalent video standard in North America. NTSC uses 525 lines per frame (as opposed to 625 with PAL) and frame rate is 30 frames per second (as opposed to 25 with PAL). This gives NTSC smoother motion but also lower resolution than PAL.
  • Nybble: A nybble, sometimes spelled “nibble,” is a set of four bits. Since there are eight bits in a byte, a nybble is half of one byte. While it may take the average person several nibbles to equal one bite of a cookie, in the computer world, two nybbles always equal one byte. The four bits in a nibble allow it to have 16 possible values, which is the same as one hexadecimal digit. Therefore, a nybble is sometimes referred to as a “hex digit.” In data communications, nybbles are sometimes called “quadbits,” because of the four bits that make up each nybble.
  • Native File: When you save a file using a certain program, the file is often saved in a proprietary format only that program can recognize. For example, if you save a Microsoft Word document, it is saved as a Word document (i.e. mydocument.doc). This is a native Word file — that is, the file format is native to the Microsoft Word application and may not be recognized by other programs. When you use the “Save As…” command to save a file, you may be given the option to save the file in a different format. For example, you might be able to save a Word document as a plain text (.txt) file or a rich text (.rtf) file. These formats are not native to Microsoft Word, but can still be opened by the Microsoft Word program. Similarly, Adobe Photoshop saves files as Photoshop documents (.psd files), but can also save them in .jpg and .gif formats, among others.
  • Network: A set of computers linked to one another for data sharing, or the link itself.
  • NIC: Stands for “Network Interface Card.” Pronounced “nick,” this is the card that physically makes the connection between the computer and the network cable. These cards typically use an Ethernet connection and are available in 10, 100, and 1000 Base-T configurations. A 100 Base-T card can transfer data at 100 Mbps. The cards come in ISA and PCI versions and are made by companies like 3Com and LinkSys. So if you want to connect your computer to a network, you better get yourself a NIC.
  • Node: Any system or device connected to a network is also called a node. For example, if a network connects a file server, five computers, and two printers, there are eight nodes on the network. Each device on the network has a network address, such as a MAC address, which uniquely identifies each device. This helps keep track of where data is being transferred to and from on the network. 
  • Null: When a variable has no value, it considered to be null. Having a null value is different than having a value of 0, since 0 is an actual value. However, when used in a boolean test, both null and zero result in a FALSE value. Programmers often use boolean tests to determine whether a variable has been given a value or not.


  • Operating system: the system software that controls the computer.
  • Optical disk: a high-capacity storage medium that is read by a laser light.


Palette: a small floating window that contains tools used in a given application.
Partition: a subdivision of a hard drives surface that is defined and used as a separate drive.
Paste: to insert text, or other material, from the clipboard or copy buffer.
PC: acronym for personal computer, commonly used to refer to an IBM or IBM clone computer which uses DOS.
acronym for Peripheral Component Interchange – the newer, faster bus achitecture.
Peripheral: an add-on component to your computer.
Point – (1/72″) 12 points = one pica in printing.
Pop-up menu: any menu that does not appear at the top of the screen in the menu bar. (may pop up or down)
Port: a connection socket, or jack on the Mac.
Power PC: a processing chip designed by Apple, IBM and Motorola (RISC based).
Power Mac: a family of Macs built around the PowerPC chip.
Print spooler: a program that stores documents to be printed on the hard drive, thereby freeing the memory up and allowing other functions to be performed while printing goes on in the background.

Parental control: A special browser or filtering program designed to disallow websites that are deemed not suitable for children. Such programs may screen web pages by word content, site rating or by URL, using an updated database of objectionable sites or any combination of these techniques. Certain operating systems also have their own parental control functions that allow parents to prevent children logging on to the computer at certain times of the day, control access to games, restrict file transfers and keep children from running specific programs. 



  • RAM: acronym for Random-Access Memory.
  • Reset switch: a switch on the Mac that restarts the computer in the event of a crash or freeze.
  • Resize box: the small square at the lower right corner of a window which, when dragged, resizes the window.
  • RISC: acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computing; the smaller set of commands used by the PowerPC and Power Mac.
  • ROM: acronym for Read Only Memory; memory that can only be read from and not written to.
  • Root directory: the main hard drive window.


  • Save: to write a file onto a disk.
  • Save as – (a File menu item): to save a previously saved file in a new location and/or with a new name.
  • Scroll: to shift the contents of a window to bring hidden items into view.
  • Scroll bar: a bar at the bottom or right side of a window that contains the scroll box and allows scrolling.
  • Scroll box: the box in a scroll bar that is used to navigate through a window.
  • SCSI: acronym for Small Computer System Interface.
  • SCSI address: a number between zero and seven that must be unique to each device in a SCSI chain. Fast and Wide SCSI devices will allow up to 15 SCSI Ids (hexidecimal); however, the length restriction (3 meters) is such that it is virtually impossible to link 15 devices together.
  • SCSI port: a 25 pin connector on the back of a Mac (native SCSI port); used to connect SCSI devices to the CPU. Some SCSI cards (like the ATTO) have a 68 pin connector.
  • SCSI terminator: a device placed at the end of a SCSI chain to complete the circuit. (some SCSI devices are self-terminating, or have active termination and do not require this plug).
  • Serial port: a port that allows data to be transmitted in a series (one after the other), such as the printer and modem ports on a Mac. Server – a central computer dedicated to sending and receiving data from other computers (on a network).
  • Shut down: the command from the Special menu that shuts down the Mac safely.
  • Software: files on disk that contain instructions for a computer.
  • Spreadsheet: a program designed to look like an electronic ledger.
  • Start up disk: the disk containing system software and is designated to be used to start the computer.
  • Surge suppressor: a power strip that has circuits designed to reduce the effects of surge in electrical power. (not the same as a UPS)
  • System file: a file in the System folder that allows your Mac to start and run.
  • System folder: an all-important folder that contains at least the System file and the Finder.
  • 32 bit addressing: a feature that allows the Mac to recognize and use more than 8MB of memory.
  • Server: A server is a computer program that provides services to other computer programs and their users in the same or other computers. The computer that a server program runs in is also often referred to as a server (though it may be used for other purposes as well).
  • Small Business Server: A Windows-based server suite by Microsoft that can support up to 75 users. It includes the current server version of Windows as well as Exchange Server (email), ISA Server (Internet security), SQL Server (database), FrontPage (Web authoring), Shared Fax Service and SharePoint collaboration tools. The Small Business Server package started with Windows 2000.
  • Spyware: Spyware does not create copies of itself and you will not lose data as a result of its operation. What it will do is cause your computer to start up and operate more slowly, causing plenty of irritation. The main aim of these programs is to infiltrate your computer to find personal information, and that can be very damaging to your or your clients’ privacy and security.


  • Title bar: the horizontal bar at the top of a window which has the name of the file or folder it represents.
  • Terminal server: Hardware or software that connects multiple computer terminals to a host computer. Years ago, it was a stand-alone front-end processor attached to a mainframe computer or facilities within a central computer. Today, however, it is software in a network server.


  • Upload: to send a file from one computer to another through a network.
  • Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS): a constantly charging battery pack which powers the computer. A UPS should have enough charge to power your computer for several minutes in the event of a total power failure, giving you time to save your work and safely shut down.
  • UPS: acronym for Uninterruptible Power Source.


  • Vaporware: “software” advertised, and sometimes sold, that does not yet exist in a releasable form.
  • Virtual memory: using part of your hard drive as though it were “RAM”.
  • Viruses: A virus is essentially a computer program that loads itself into your system undetected. It can lead to you losing valuable data, using up memory or at worst, total malfunction of your computer. These viruses can multiply and migrate to other computers on your network or via email, infecting the computers of your family, friends, colleagues and clients!





  • WORM: acronym for Write Once-Read Many – an optical disk that can only be written to once (like a CD-ROM).
  • Web server: A computer program that delivers content such as web pages, using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) over the World Wide Web. Housed in a computer, it serves requested HTML pages or files. A Web client is the requesting program associated with the user. The Web browser in your computer is a client that requests HTML files from Web servers.
  • Website: A set of interconnected web pages on the World Wide Web, usually including a homepage, generally located on the same server, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organisation.
  • Wireless PAN: Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) connect devices within a relatively small area. Bluetooth, for example, provides a WPAN for connecting a headset to a laptop. ZigBee also supports WPAN applications. Wi-Fi PANs are becoming more popular as manufacturers have begun integrating Wi-Fi into various electronic devices. Intel My WiFi and Windows 7 virtual Wi-Fi capabilities have made Wi-Fi PANs simpler and easier to set up and configure.
  • Wireless LAN: Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a term used to describe products that belong to a class of wireless local area network (WLAN) devices based on the IEEE 802.11 standards, which is by far the most widespread WLAN class today. 
  • Wireless MAN: Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks are a type of wireless network that connects multiple Wireless LANs.
  • WiMAX: is the term used to refer to wireless MANs.
  • Wireless WAN: Wireless Wide Area Networks are wireless networks that generally cover large outdoor areas. They can be used to connect various branches of a business or as a public Internet access system.  


Wireless PAN: Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) connect devices within a relatively small area. Bluetooth, for example, provides a WPAN for connecting a headset to a laptop. ZigBee also supports WPAN applications. Wi-Fi PANs are becoming more popular as manufacturers have begun integrating Wi-Fi into various electronic devices. Intel My WiFi and Windows 7 virtual Wi-Fi capabilities have made Wi-Fi PANs simpler and easier to set up and configure.




  • Zoom box: a small square in the upper right corner of a window which, when clicked, will expand the window to fill the whole screen.

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