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Glossary of Technical Terms

  • ACPI is a new interfaces that allow Windows 2000 to control power management and device configuration.
  • A la carte Buying music one track at a time often for a single fee.
  • Access is the name of a Microsoft database package.
  • ActiveX controls, produced by Microsoft, can be linked to web pages and downloaded by an ActiveX-compliant browser. ActiveX controls turn web pages into software pages that perform like any other programme launched from a server. Also referred to as Active data Objects (ADO)
  • ADSL the domestic, high-speed data link.
  • Algorithm is a sequence of steps to solve a logical, programme or mathematical problem.
  • Apache is an open source web server often associated with Linux platforms.
  • Applet is a mini application on the Internet to enhance web pages normally written in Java.
  • Archive is for long-term storage and implies a special format.
  • ASCII files contain only ASCII text and control characters. Also called plain text.
  • ASCII, American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a number to represent letter, numbers, punctuation, and other symbols. Designed for English, it has no accents or graphics. Basic ASCII has 7 bits per character (for a total of 128 characters). Extended ASCII adds an additional 128 characters but they can vary between suppliers.
  • ASP, active server pages,  is a Microsoft way to provide interactivity on web pages, allowing data to be searched and displayed.
  • ATRAC 3: Sony's proprietary format for digital music downloads.
  • Attenuate, to lessen or cut down - Used when talking about sound waves.
  • Avatar: Graphical representation of beings (such as people in Second Life)
  • AVI: A type of video file used by Windows.
Index
  • Background means a task which is invisible to you, such as controlling your printer or virus scanning.
  • Backup is the process of creating duplicate data. A backup copy is not really secure unless it is properly stored.
  • Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be moved through a particular interface in a given period of time. A domestic telephone line has a small or narrow bandwidth compared to a fibre optic cable.
  • Batch file is the programme used by Microsoft to start your computer. AUTOEXEC.BAT loads a series of programs and sets your personal settings. In general terms a batch file is just one that runs one line after the other.
  • BBS, Bulletin Board System, popular in the 80s to download software and exchange information. This prepared the way for the Internet but then each had its own telephone number.
  • Beta testing is the phase of testing (after alpha) where real users use a new product before it goes on general release.
  • BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is used to boot the computer when it is turned on and then allows the operating system to communicate with your computer's hardware. It is the lowest level code and lives on a ROM chip on your computer's motherboard.
  • Blog: Diary-style personal website aka web 2.
  • Blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs as a connected community or social network.
  • Bluetooth is a very shortrange radio technology. It aims to simplify data synchronisation between Net devices and mobile computers
  • Bookmark

    Online resource supporting families of children with reading difficulties.  Useful site which explains what can affect children's ability to read and has a helpful page of advice on choosing books for children. www.bookmark.org.uk

    is the term used by Netscape when your browser remembers a web address. See also Favourite.
  • Boot or booting starts or resets your computer by running programmes to prepare the computer for use. See: Cold Boot, Warm Boot
  • Boot sector is located on the first track of floppy disks. This contains crucial information so it can spell disaster if it is corrupted.
  • Bot is an abbreviation of robot but used in a software context. A bot automates a computing function.
  • Browser is the software, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer, designed to view and use the WWW.
  • Buffer is an area of memory, sometimes called a 'cache', used to speed up access to devices by acting as temporary storage, so that everything does not grind to a halt while it is waiting for some device to respond. Helps maintain the flow by holding something in reserve.
  • Bug is an unintended action in a programme.
  • Burn make a permanent copy of a digital file on CD.
  • Bus is an electronic traffic lane for signals passing from one place to another. It is important that there are no collisions or that they are tidied up quickly. The width of this motorway affects the speed of a machine so a 32 bit bus is faster than an 8 bit bus.
  • Byte is 8 bits (binary digits) and treated as a unit , representing a character inside computers.
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  • Cache is a short-term store. The meaning varies with the context. In processors it may be some very short-term, ultra-fast memory where data and instructions are lined up ready for the CPU, so that 'the brain' is not kept waiting. Netscape uses 'cache' to refer to recently visited web pages which it stores for reference. Some of the on-board memory (RAM) is used as a cache, but some software or operating systems use it to store data that it might want quickly.
  • CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) is the sensor that turns light into a signal. They are used in digital cameras.
  • CDDB is a CD DB or compact disk database.
  • CD-R A standard for compact disk recording. Once written it cannot be changed. (If the process goes wrong it is known as a Frisbee, as the disk is useless.)
  • Chat room is an Internet facility to enable two or more people to exchange typed messages interactively.
  • Checksum is calculated to make sure data has not been corrupted.
  • Client is the term applied to a system that depends on a server for some data or service. See 'Server'
  • Cloud computing is a concept where much data and software is stored on Internet serves so that it can be accessed froma dumb terminal. Incorporates software as a service (SaaS)
  • Compression is what you do to files to eliminate wasted space (using packages such as WinZip)
  • Cookies are blocks of text placed in a file on your computer's hard disk. Websites can use cookies to identify users who revisit the site. Cookies contain login, preferences or registration information
  • CPS, Cycles Per Second, normally refers to alternating electrical supply (60 US, 50 Europe).
  • CPU Central Processing Unit is the chip that provides the processing power, but it is not the only factor affecting a machine's speed.
  • Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) produced Back Orifice as a remote administration tool. It has the potential for malicious misuse. If installed by a hacker, it has the ability to give them control of your system.
Index
  • Defragment is something you need to do to tidy up a disk. Files and fragments of files are moved around a disk as files are saved and deleted. Defragmenting software brings the files together in contiguous blocks.
  • Directories/folders are interchangeable words for a group of related files or documents.
  • DOI; digital object identifier - actionable id part of metadata.
  • DPI is dots per inch and used as a measure of print output quality. 100 is draft, 600 is very good and 1200 is perfection. No metric equivalent is in common use.
  • DLL, Dynamic Link Library, files contain often-used computer code that can be shared by different programmes. Programmers use library code to make their programmes smaller.
  • DNS, Domain Naming System, is the core of the WWW and turns site or domain names into internationally recognised numbers, just like a phone number.
  • Driver or device driver is a software routine that links a peripheral device to the operating system. Each device has its own specialised commands understood only by its driver.
  • Dye-sublimation printers use a ribbon permeated with solid dye which is heated to solidify on the paper.
  • EDI Electronic Data Interchange is a UN-sponsored set of standards for exchanging commercial data to allow for automated processing.
  • Email uses the Internet to deliver messages to other email addresses.
  • Encryption is the scrambling of data so it becomes difficult to unscramble and interpret.
  • EPICS EDI Product Information Standards - a data standard for exchanging product information for books and other media (see ONIX).
  • The EPUB format is the open eBook format recommended by The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) which is a ZIP format with some format files along with the content.
  • Extranet is a term applied to parts of the web that are not public as they are protected by firewalls and passwords. 
  • EXE is an 'executable file' or programme rather than a document or data file.
Index
  • FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
  • FAT, File Allocation Table used by Microsoft, located in the boot sector of the disk and stores the addresses of all the files contained on a disk. A popular target for viruses.
  • FAT, as in fat client, implies a complex collection of software code where a processing task is shared.
  • Favicon, a small icon that can be added to help identify a website. 16x16 pixels in size.
  • Favorite (US spelling) is the term used by MS Internet Explorer when your browser remembers a web address. See also Bookmark.
  • File attributes are characteristics assigned to a file or directory such as: Read Only, Archive or Hidden.
  • File path is the route on a disk you follow to find a file. See Root.
  • Firewall prevents computers communicating directly with an external computer or network. It consists of a barrier-computer through which all information passes. The firewall blocks data that does not conform to the rules set.
  • FireWire is a short, superfast data link popular with camcorders (officially IEEE 1394)
  • Firmware are the invisible bits of your computer which contain the BIOS and some or all of the operating system.
  • Folders/Directories are interchangeable words for a group of related files or documents.
  • Freeware is software that has been put in the public domain by its owner. You cannot judge a package by the amount you pay for it. Some freeware is outstanding - much is rubbish.
  • FTP, File Transfer Protocol, is a clever piece of software that negotiates with a file server to transfer files from a remote machine.
  • Gb is a Gigabyte or 1024 Megabytes (Mb) (1024 is 2 to the power of 10)
  • GIF, Graphics Interchange Format, format supporting 256 colours, transparency and 'dithering'. It is excellent for web buttons with simple design and a few colours.
  • GPS, Global Positioning System of satellites to find position on the surface.
  • Granularity; a property of data which allows it to be incorporated in a way determined by the user 
  • Grid has been defined as the Internet on steroids. 
Index
  • Hardware are the bits of a computer you can kick.
  • Hits are a measure employed to gauge the activity of a website. Each component part of a page, such as graphic images, registers another hit. A single page can record multiple 'hits'. (See Sessions)
  • MHz, Mega Hertz, is a measure of cycles per second. In processors the faster the processor can run, the more work it can do.
  • Hotmail is a system run by Microsoft to provide easy-access email for Internet users.
  • HTML, HyperText Markup Language, the instructions that dictate what you see on screen when using a browser is the hypertext markup language used for HTTP.
  • HTTP - HyperText Transport Protocol is the communications protocol used to connect servers on the World Wide Web and then transmit HTML pages to the client's browser. There are some other protocols in use, so web addresses begin with an http://
  • HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.
  • ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) related to Firewall technology.
  • Internet is a worldwide community of computers that forms a robust system to exchange data. It hosts the emails system, FTP  and WWW systems. 
  • IMAP, Internet Message Access Protocol, a newer email protocol that can be used instead of POP if the server permits it
  • Impression is used to refer to a page visited on a website, often in the context of advertising.
  • IIS, Internet Info Server, is the part of the Internet definition that allows FTP and ASP to work.
  • iPod, Apple Computer's portable digital player for their proprietary AAC and MP3 files.
  • IRC, Internet Relay Chat, is like simultaneous email as the user types their reply immediately.
  • ISP, Internet Service Provider, is a company that provides access to the Internet and email for a fee.
  • JPEG, Joint Photographic Experts Group, pronounced 'jay-peg', which is a close relative of the MPEG format used in DVDs. Most images on the web are in jpeg format. An updated version, jpg2, is now available.
  • JSP are Java Server Pages. Java is a language developed by Sun and now supported by most platforms via what is called a 'virtual machine'.
  • JavaScript runs inside a Web browser, if it is able to interpret the instructions, but does not have access to your machine resources.
  • Key can be the numbers to unlock a code, but also used by Windows Registry to store settings.
Index
  • Latency is the time between requesting data and the start of the actual data transfer.
  • LCD, Liquid Crystal Display, provides low-power consumption, flat visual displays.
  • Linux is a free operating system with the functionality but not the compatibility of Microsoft's products.
  • Logic bomb is a type of Trojan horse but one that is activated when a situation such as a date arrives.
  • Macros are mini-programmes associated with Microsoft's Office software.  They are easy to write, so are popular targets for viruses, as the user file provides good camouflage.
  • Malware is a generic term covering software that attempts to attack a computer.
  • Metadata; Information attached to digital data to enhance its searchability, but not normally displayed.
  • Microblog: Such as Twitter allow short messages, typically 140 characters so a bit like SMS
  • Modem is the black box that converts digital signals to a format that allows them to travel over a communication link. Stands for Modulator/Demodulator but the technology and options have now become much more complex.
  • Mozilla is the organisation that has developed the open source code used by most browsers.
  • MP3, Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Files are highly compressed audio data. A digital music file format that takes up much less storage space.
  • MPG4: Multi-layered format for audio and/or video, which is an open standard i.e. agreed by all major computer and software companies and none of them own it. Apple iTunes uses a variety of MPG4 (AAC).
  • MS-DOS, Microsoft Disk Operating System, developed for the original IBM PC, provides the functional pillar supporting Windows.
  • Multi-tasking is the concurrent execution of several jobs.
  • MySQL is an open source development of SQL and often associated with Linux.
  • Napster is/was an innovative company that allowed users to exchange files, particularly associated with music files. Instead of holding the files centrally they moved from one personal computer to another. Napster facilitated this with some good software.
  • Net nanny is a type of software that filters out web pages with innocent words like SusSex.
  • Net neutrality implies that the ISP treats all sites and pages without any weighting or favour for particular sites.
  • ODP, Open Directory Project, listing all the website by a team of volunteer editors
  • Object is a computer word for thingie or bit. The world of computer software consists of objects.
  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is a company that develops, produces and sells consumer hardware. Computer software supplied when you buy a new machine is supplied OEM.
  • ONIX (ONline Information Exchange) is a subset of EPICS developed as a possible international standard for EDI by publishers, for the transmission of product information to bibliographic agencies, Internet booksellers and others.
  • OOP (Object Oriented Program) describes a programming language which allows the code to be broken into functional 'chunks' or 'objects'.
  • Open Source is a trend to make the code of software available to experts who are willing to contribute to improve and maintain an application. The software is then provided at little or no cost to users and is generally of exceptional quality. Mozilla, Linux, MySQL, Open Office and PHP are notable examples.
  • Operating System provides the personality of a computer and enables you to interact with your computer. The operating system controls all the housekeeping in a computer.
Index
  • Packet is a set of information including a header with control information such as the destination followed by the data.
  • Page views is another measure of a website activity. One page would include many items or 'hits'.
  • PIE (Persistent Identification Element)  a technology that uses Macromedia's Flash MX to track you without using cookies.
  • PCI slot is a high performance Peripheral Component Interconnect.
  • PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) is a consortium of computer manufacturers who devised the three standards for the credit card-size adapter cards used in many notebook computers.
  • PDA Personal Digital Assistant, or handheld device with computing power.
  • PDF Portable Document Format a popular document viewing format offering a free reader - owned by the company Adobe.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) was originally an architecture where each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities in contrast to Client-Server architectures. But now it is a way for users to become part of a web-based way of exchanging files, including music files, often bypassing payment of rights.
  • Permalink (short for "permanent link) is a URL that gives a specific Web address to each posting, allowing blog entries to be bookmarked by visitors or linked to from other websites. Giving your blogs a permalink avoids the problem when a blog server stores a blog in a dynamic database where its 'address' keeps changing.   
  • PGP, Pretty Good Privacy, some freeware for encrypting data files and email messages. If you want privacy, this is about as good as it gets.
  • PHP is a scripting language similar to ASP for creating dynamic pages from data stored on a server.
  • Phishing uses 'spoofed' e-mails and fraudulent websites to fool recipients into divulging data and hijacks trusted brands to convince recipients to respond to them.
  • PIM, Personal Information Manager, normally a set of applications typically including a phone list, calendar, note taker, scheduler, reminder and a calculation function. Often found on PDAs and mobile phones.
  • ping is a tool used to test if host can be reached on the IP network. Ping sends “echo request” packets to the target. By timing the interval and response rate, ping estimates the round-trip time and reliability between the hosts.
  • ping aggregator is linked to the RSS system. A ping is sent out when content is updated and the aggregators often parse the content or feed the ping to other services.
  • Pixel is a dot on the screen: from Picture Element.
  • Plastic piano is a term for keyboards. So 'playing the plastic piano' is writing.
  • Platform is the hardware on which a system is based.
  • 'Plug & Play' implies that a product will work straight out of the box as soon as you connect it to your computer. It is rarely that simple, but it implies that the manufacturer has tried to simplify the process of installing hardware.
  • Plug-in is a programme that adds some function to a browser.
  • Podcast is a term coined for streaming audio to an iPod audio player.
  • POP 1)Post Office Protocol, used to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. Version one in the mid-80s was called POP2, used SMTP to send messages. POP3, works with or without SMTP. 2) Short for Point of Presence, a phone number provided by an ISP so that users can access their mail and the internet.
  • QR code is a 2 dimensional barcode - the QR stands for "Quick Response" as it was intended to allow contents to be decoded at high speed.
  • RAID, Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a technique to use multiple disks to provide security and speed for stored data and websites.
  • Real is a proprietary name of the firm that supplies Real Audio and Real Player
  • RFC, Request For Comment, refers to a discussion document or proposal. 
  • RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is the technology used in security tags to allow them to be interrogated by a reader.
  • Ripping is the process of converting CD music tracks to MP3, or similar, files. (From ripping-off)
  • Root directory is the starting point for a family of directories/folders in which computer files are stored. Normally separated with a / (slash).
  • RSS, is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary. RSS is an XML-based format for content distribution. Webmasters provide headlines pointing to fresh content and consumers monitor the feeds from aggregator to find what is new.
  • RTF, Rich Text Format Files, supported by Microsoft, are ASCII text files and some formatting commands. Good document format for communicating with others via e-mail.
Index
  • Self-extracting files decompresses themselves into their components when run. Software authors and others often use this file type to transmit files and software via the Internet, since the compressed files conserve disk space and reduce download time. See Zip.
  • Semantic web is being developed to allow different data sets to relate to each other to allow for a better organisation of web content. Also called web3.
  • Server is a generic name given to a computer which stores information for other computers or does some work for computers which are connected to it. See Client
  • Session is a good measure of a website's visitors. It measures the number of separate visitors to a site. It does not record the number of pages visited which is another valid measure of activity.
  • Shareware is software distributed for evaluation without cost, but that requires payment to the author for full rights.
  • Skype A service offering phone calls over the Internet
  • SME Small or medium enterprise.
  • SMS Text massages sent by mobile phone using the sideband
  • SMTP Simple Mail Transport Protocol, is the Internet email delivery format, used to transmit email messages between servers and sometime to clients.
  • SCORM Sharable Content Object Reference Model is a standard for tagging training material to allow users to access it in their own way.
  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is used for information exchange, usually using HTTP. W3C specifications: http://www.w3.org/TR/SOAP/
  • Spam originally applied to irrelevant posting to newsgroups. Now applied to all bulk email, also known as ‘unsolicited commercial email’ (UCE).
  • SQL, Structured Query Language, developed by IBM for unskilled users to perform database queries. Now supported by all relational databases.
  • SSL is the 'secure socket layer' through which encrypted traffic passes to keep it secure.
  • Stream Listen to digital audio or video whilst online. Implies that it is being delivered more or less as you listen.
  • String is just a series of letters, numbers or other characters. It has no specific meaning so is usually qualified. E.g. 'Password string'
  • TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, is the communications protocol used by UNIX systems and the Internet.
  • Tech Directory an open source, definitive tech directory can be found at: http://www.techweb.com/encyclopedia/
  • Template files load default configuration settings. You can set up your own templates in most packages which produce documents.
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a good format for saving all the details and is the standard in the publishing business where Mac computers dominate the desktop.
  • TOR Project stands for The Orion Router and is one of the divers for the Dark Web
  • Top-Level Domain (TLD) are the last bit or bits of an Internet address such as .com
  • Thumbnail is a small version of a picture used for preview purposes normally about 150 pixel square.
  • Thin, as in 'thin client', implies that the amount of code at the user end is small. The term 'skin' or 'envelope' is also applied to situations where most of the processing is done elsewhere e.g. WAP phone has a thin web client.
  • Time bomb is some malicious software set to be triggered by a specific date or time.
  • Trap door used to be provided by software engineers to allow them access to the core of an application for the purpose of monitoring or maintenance, but the dangers are obvious.
  • Trojan horse is a malicious programme that pretends to be a benign application. It is not a virus, as it does not replicate itself, but can be just as destructive.
Index
  • USB is Universal Serial Bus, used in modern (2000 onwards) PCs for adding peripherals and offers 'Plug & Play'.
  • Unix, a multi-user, multiprocessor operating system developed by AT&T in the early 1970s and taken over by universities. It is the main operating system used by the Internet servers.
  • UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) is more often known as spam.
  • UPC (User Provided Content) Websites which provide space and structure for members to add content.
  • URL, Universal Resource Locator, is the official name for the web page address normally starting http://
  • VAR, Value Added Reseller, is a company which resells hardware with some added software or function.
  • VBS, Visual Basic Script, is the latest incarnation of one of the first user-friendly languages, BASIC. Can now be embedded in almost everything.
  • Virus is a computer programme file capable of attaching to disks or files and replicating itself, normally without the user knowing. Some work when the infected file is run while others sit in memory and open, modify or infect other files. Viruses

    Combating the menace of viruses relies upon collective protection. If enough computers have good virus detection software, they slow the spread and increase the chance of detection for this unpleasant fact of computing life. Be a good citizen, buy some good software and keep it updated.

    These are some of the good guys. Most let you download the latest virus definitions and fixes if you have become infected.

    are normally specific to a particular operating system. Not all viruses display symptoms.
Index
  • W3C World Wide Web Consortium  http://www.w3.org/
  • 'Walled garden' is a site that is invisible to the outside world.
  • Web 2.0 is a term coined to identify sites that use powerful servers to assemble pages relevant to users needs rather than relying on a structure imposed by the designer. Blogs and comments are hallmarks of this technology.
  • Web 3  see Semantic web
  • Web slice is a Microsoft term for a concept that is similar to RSS.
  • WSDL (Web Service Definition Language) provides a formal description of a web service. A WSDL file is all you need to use a web service. http://www.w3.org/TR/wsdl
  • Widget is a piece of code that can be installed in another HTML site so that it can run using resources from the site that generated the code.
  • WiFi is the accepted acronym for the wireless networking standard 802.11b,g. Name of a global alliance offering wireless communications.
  • WMA: Windows Media format for digital media

  • WMM: Wi-Fi Multimedia - gives streamed data priority over packets of data.

  • WPA: WiFi protected Access uses Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP).

  • WPA2: Wi-Fi Protected Access 2™provides data encryption via the AES.
  • Wizard is a term popular with Microsoft as a way to guide you step-by-step through a task.
  • Worms are parasitic computer programmes that replicate, but unlike viruses do not infect, programme files. Worms can send the copies to other computers via a network. Worms often spread.
  • WWW, World Wide Web, is the set of protocols that allows pages to be shared over the Internet.
  • WYSIWYG, 'What You See Is What You Get', implies that what is on the screen is what will be printed out. This might not sound impressive but you should have seen the early software!
  • XML, Extensible Mark-up Language, allows data to be displayed on a different platform (not just computer screens).
  • ZIP archive files contain compressed files. They are popular because multiple files can be compressed and put into a single file, saving disk space and transfer time.
  • 'Zero day', is used to denote threats where the race to create a patch that will close the threat has not started ie, the computer community is not yet alert to the danger.
Index   Glossary of Printing and Publishing terms   Acronyms


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