The Somewhat Complete Computer Glossary
Copyright 2001 by Joanne & Ron Vigneri
All Rights Reserved Rev: 12-28-0


3D:  Everybody knows what 3D is, but what is it in a computer?  3D is generally what is used to refer to the capabilities of the video card. Today's video cards use a variety of instructions built into the video card itself (not software) to achieve more realistic graphics in computer games that appear to have depth.  Most of today's video cards have these capabilities, but there are incredibly large differences between specific cards. These 3D capabilities are generally used for games, but high-end video cards are used for creating 3D models and 3D animation.  Many of the newer cards have a video RAM capacity of 64 MB.

3D Audio:  Again, this is for gaming more than anything else. Sound cards such as the SoundBlaster series use techniques that make your speakers present sound that sounds like it is coming from behind or beside you instead of in front of you where your speakers are.  The true effect is best with a set of four speakers.

3DNow!:  AMD's set of additional instructions that they integrated into their CPUs.  Similar to MMX and SSE/KNI, these instructions are intended to speed up CPU performance.  These only appear in AMD CPUs.

A {Back to TOP}

Absolute cell address:  A cell address in a spreadsheet that always refers to the same cell.

Access:  The ability to open and read and work on files.  Also, the name of a Microsoft database program.

Access arm:  The disk drive mechanism used to position the read/write heads over the appropriate track.

Access time:  The time interval between the instant a computer makes a request for a transfer of data from disk storage and the instant this operation is completed.

Accumulator:  The computer register in which the result of an arithmetic or logic operation is formed (related to arithmetic and logic unit).

Active hub:  A device used to amplify transmission signals in certain network topologies.  An active hub can be used either to add additional workstations to a network or to lengthen the cable distance between workstations and the file server.

Active window:  The window in Microsoft Windows with which the user may interact.

Add-on board:  An optional circuit board that conveniently modifies or enhances a personal computer’s capabilities. (i.e. Memory board, Sound Card, Video Board, Network Interface Card.)

Address:  (1) A name, numeral, or label that designates a particular location in RAM or disk storage. (2) A location identifier for nodes in a computer network.

Address bus:  Pathway through which source and destination addresses are transmitted between RAM, cache memory, and the processor. (See also data bus)

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line):  A digital telecommunnications standard for data delivery over twisted-pair lines with downstream transmission speeds up to 9 M bps.

AGP: Accelerated Graphics Port is a high speed connection only used by video cards, so there is only one of them in a computer (older computers do not have AGP). It is faster than PCI and has direct access to system memory so that the computer's memory can be used in addition to the video card's memory.  Default AGP speed is 66 MHz. 

Algorithm:  A standard method for computing something; essentially, a mathematical recipe.

Alpha:  A reference to the letters of the alphabet. (Compare with numeric and alphanumeric.)

Alphanumeric:  Pertaining to a character set that contains letters, digits, punctuation, and special symbols.   (Related to alpha and numeric.)

America Online (AOL):  An online information service.

Analog signal:  A continuous waveform signal that can be used to represent such things as sound, temperature, and velocity. (See also digital signal.)

Animation:  The rapid repositioning of objects on a display to create movement.

Anonymous FTP site:  An Internet site that permits FTP (file transfer protocol) file transfers without prior permission.

ANSI:  The American National Standards Institute is a nongovernment standards-settings organization that develops and publishes standards for “voluntary” use in the United States.

API (Application Programming Interface):  A defined interface between an application and a software service module or operating system component. Conventionally, an API is defined as a subroutine library with a common definition set that extends across multiple computer platforms and operating systems.

Apache:  An open source Web server that dominates the World Wide Web.   There are more Apache servers running than all other Web server systems combined.

Applet:  A small program sent over the Internet or an intranet that is interpreted and executed by Internet browser software.

Application generator:  A system development tool used to actually generate the system programming code based on design specifications.

Application icon:  A miniature visual representation of a software application oon a display.

Applications service provider (ASP):  An ASP is a company that provides software-based services and solutions to customers via the Internet from a server computer.

Application window:  A rectangular window containing an open, or running, application in Microsoft Windows.

Applications programmer:  A programmer who translates analyst-prepared system and input/output specifications into programs.  Programmers design the logic, then code, debug, test, and document the programs.

Applications software:  Software designed and written to address a specific personal, business, or processing task.

Architecture:  The particular selection, design, and interconnection of the main hardware and software components of a network.

Archive:  To back up data files.

Argument:  That portion of a function that identifies the data to be operated on.

Arithmetic and logic unit:  That portion of the computer that performs arithmetic and logic operations. (Related to accumulator.)

Arithmetic operators:  Mathematical operators (add (+), subtract (-), multiply (*), divide (/), and exponentiation (^) used in programming and in spreadsheet and database software for computations.

ARP (Address Resolution Protocol):  The discovery protocol used by host computer systems to establish the correct mapping of Internet layer addresses, also known as IP addresses, to Media  Access Control (MAC) layer addresses.

Artificial Intelligence (AI):  The ability of a computer to reason, to learn, to strive for self-improvement, and to simulate human sensory capabilities.

AS (Autonomous System):  The term used to describe a collection of networks administered by a common network-management organization.  The most common use of this term is in interdomain routing, where an AS is used to descraibe a self-connected set of networks that share a common external policy with respect to connectivity, or in other words, networks that generally are operated within the same administrative domain.

ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit):  An integrated circuit that is an implementation of a specific software application or algorithm within a silicon engine.

ASII (American Standard Code for Information Inaterchange) :  A 7-bit or 8-bit encoding system.

ASCII file:  A generic text file that is stripped of program-specific control characters.

ASP (Active Server Pages):  Microsoft’s proprietary architecture for developing NT-based dynamic Web server pages.

Assembler language:  A programming language that uses easily recognized symbols, called mnemomics, to represent instructions.

Assistant system:  This knowledge-based system that hellps users make relatively straightforward decisions. (See also expert system)

Asynchronous transmission:  A protocol in which data are transmitted at irregular intervals on an as-needed basis. (See also synchronous transmission.)


AT/ATX:  These are two standard types of motherboards, cases, and power supplies.  An ATX motherboard generally must be used in an ATX case with an ATX power supply. When upgrading your computer, you need to know what type you have and what type you will be getting.  If they're not compatible they won't work.  ATX is becoming the norm, particularly for Pentium II, III, and Celeron computers.  Retail computers like Gateway, Dell, Packard Bell, and Compaq often have their own proprietary standards. These often cause problems and prevent users from upgrading their motherboards and other components. 

Attached file:  A file that is attached and sent with an e-mail message.

Attribute:  A field in a dimension table.

Audio file:  A file that contains digitized sound.

Audio mail:  An electronic mail capability that allows you to speak your message instead of typing it.

Authoring software:  Software that lets you create multimedia applications that integrate sound, motion, text, animation, and images.

Automatic teller machine (ATM):  An automated deposit/withdrawal device used in banking. {Back to TOP}

B {Back to TOP}

B-Channel:  Refers to a single, full-duplex physical ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) interface that operates at 64 Kbps.

Bad block table:  A list (kept on a hard disk) of storage on the disk that are physically unable to hold data reliably. The bad block table is usually duplicated on a label on the outside of the disk housing.

Backbone:  A system of routers and the associated transmission media that facilitates the interconnection of computer networks.

Back-end applications software:  This software on the server computer performs processing tasks in support of its clients, such as tasks associated with storage and maintenance of a centralized corporate database. (See also front-end applications software.)

Background:  (1) That part of RAM that contains the lowest priority programs. (2) In Windows, the area of the display over which the foreground is superimposed. (Contrast with foreground)

Backup:  Pertaining to equipment, procedures, or databases that can be used to restart the system in the event of system failure.

Backup file:  Duplicate of an existing file.

Badge reader:  An inpput device that reads data on badges and cards.

Bandwidth:  Bandwidth refers to the quantity of data that can travel through your Internet connection per second, typically measured in bits.  The greater the bandwidth of your connection, the more information you can send and receive per second.

Banner:  A page of a printout that gives information about the file being printed.  The banner page identifies the user who printed the file, the name of the file, the directory the file came from, the connection number of the workstation the file was printed from, and the date and time the file was printed.  It is the first page printed.

Banner Ad:  An advertisement placed on a Web page (often at top), which by convention is 60 pixels high and 468 pixels wide.  Other shapes and forms of advertisements are also called banner ads.

Bar code:  A graphic encoding technique in which printed vertical bars of varying widths are used to represent data.

Bar graph:  A graph that contains bars that represent specified numeric values by their length.

Batch processing:  A technique in which transactions and/or jobs are collected into groups (batched) and processed together.

Base I/O address:  The beginning address of an I/O port.  The base I/O address allows the microprocessor to find the correct port for communicating with a particular device.

Base Memory address:  The beginning address of a block of memory.  A network interface board uses the base memory address as a buffer where both the computer and the network interface board can leave information and signal the other to pick it up.

Baud:  (1) A measure of the maximum number of electronic signals that can be transmitted via a communications channel.  (2) Bits per second (common-use definition).

BECN (Backward Explicit Congestion Notification):  A notification signal passed to the originator of traffic indicating that the path to the destination exceeds a threshold load level.  This signal is defined explicitely in the Frame Relay frame header.

BGP (Border Gateway Protocol):  An Internet routing protocol used to pass routing information between different administrative routing domains or AS (Autonomous Systems).  The BGP routing protocol does not pass explicit topology information.  Instead, it passes a summary of reachability between ASs.  BGP is most commonly deployed as an inter-AS protocol.

Binary:  A base-2 numbering system made up of a  “0” bit and a “1” bit.

Bindery:  A database maintained by the file server and used to monitor network resources.  The bindery contains a list of “objects” (users, groups, file servers, etc.) and their “properties” (rights, passwords, network addresses, etc.)

BIOS:  This is the Basic Input/Output System and is installed on the computer's motherboard.  It controls the most basic operations and is responsible for starting your computer up and initializing the hardware. It is data that is usually held in a ROM chip, which can be updated by "flashing". BIOS upgrades may correct errors, support new CPUs, support new hardware, etc.

Bit:  In a computer, all digital data is made up of bits and bytes.  When computers talk or write to each other, they represent all of the information as “ones and zeros”,  known as binary bits (1’s and 0’s) that comprise the binary code (based upon only two states, 1=ON and 0=OFF).

Bit-mapped graphics:  Referring to an image that has been projected, or mapped, to a screen based on binary bits. (See also raster graphics)

BPS (Bits per Second):  The standard measure of data transmission speeds.

Blocks:  A unit of stored data. 

BMP:  A popular format for bit-mapped files.

Boilerplate:  Existing text in a word processing file that can in some way be customized to be used in a variety of word processing applications.

Bold:  A font presentation attribute that thickens the lines of a character.

Boot:  The procedure for loading the operating system to RAM and readying a computer system for use.

Bootstrap (Bootstrap loader):  A program that starts a “cold” computer.  Generally, the bootstrap program tells the computer where to find the operating system software so that the computer can load the operating system.

Border router:  Generally describes routers on the edge of an AS (Autonomous System).  Uses BGP to exchange routing information with another administrative routing domain.  However, this term also can describe any router that sits on the edge of a routing subarea, such as an OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) area border router.

BRI (Basic Rate Interface):  A user interface to an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) that consists of two 64-Kbps data channels (B-channels) and one 16-Kbps signaling channel (D-channel) sharing a common physical access circuit.

Bridge:  A protocol-independent hardware device that permits communication between devices on separate local area networks.

Browsers:  Programs that let you navigate to and view the various Internet resources.

Buffer:  A storage area in RAM where data that is being transferred may be stored temporarily.  Data is placed in buffers when the devices handling the data processes it at different rates.  For example, a printer may not be able to process information as fast as a file server can send it.  Any information the printer is receiving but cannot process immediately is placed in a buffer until the information can be processed.

Bug:  A logic or syntax error in a program, a logic error in the design of a computer system, or a hardware fault. (See also debug)

Burner (CD-ROM): This is a device that allows you to save data to a CD-ROM.  Special CD-Rs are required for this.  They also allow you to make backup copies of your CDs. There is a large variety of types, including CD-R or CD-R/RW.  The latter has support for rewritable CDs, which can be erased and rewritten to, while CD-R only drives can only write to their CDs once. Like CD-ROM drives, burners can be IDE or SCSI.  SCSI is definitely preferable when it comes to burners, but a SCSI card is required.  Burners are generally quite picky and must have a constant stream of data to work properly.  If that stream is interrupted, the burn will fail.  This is one reason why SCSI burners tend to be better; SCSI devices can deliver a more reliable stream of data than IDE while other applications are being run as well.

Burstable:  The ability to use the full amount of bandwidth your connection can handle if needed at a given time.  You usually get billed only on your average bandwidth use.

Bus, Data: The primary bus inside a personal computer, used for transferring data.

Bus, Network:  The main network cable or line that connects network stations.

Bus or System Bus: This is just a collection of wires that transmit data from one component to another. 

Bus Speed: This is a speed measured in MegaHertz that determines how fast the memory and CPU run.  Some recent "official" bus speeds supported by Intel are 100 and 133  MHz.  However, numerous others exist (75, 83, 103, 112, 124, 133, 153, etc.). High-quality memory is required for the higher bus speeds. The bus speeds usually determine the speed of the PCI and AGP buses as well. The default PCI bus speed is 33 and the default AGP bus speed is 66 MHz. The CPU speed is determined by a combination of the bus speed and multiplier (i.e. 100 bus speed x 4.5 multiplier = 450 MHz CPU speed).

Bus topology:  A computer network form that permits the connection of terminals, peripheral devices, and microcomputers along a properly terminated central cable. There is a continuous progression in increasing bus speeds. (Coaxial cable typically)

Button bar:  A software option that contains a group of pictographs that represent a menu option or a command.

Byte:  A byte is typically eight bits that represent a character in binary code. (See “bit” above) {Back to TOP}

C {Back to TOP}

C:  A transportable programming language that can be used to develop software.

C++ :  An object-oriented version of the C programming language.

Cache: It's said just like cash, but has an entirely different meaning. Cache memory is the fastest type of RAM available and is used in CPUs, hard drives, and a variety of other components. As with RAM, the more cache, the better, but CPU and hard drive cache generally cannot be upgraded. Pentium II CPUs have 512 KiloBytes of cache, and the high-end IBM 9LZX SCSI hard drives have a large 4 MegaBytes cache. Like RAM, data generally passes through cache memory before going to the component that is going to use it (the CPU). It holds the data for quick access as well.  The speed of the cache is also very important.  Pentium II CPUs have 512 k cache, and Celeron CPUs have 128 k of cache, but the Celeron cache runs at full CPU speed while the Pentium II's cache runs at 1/2 CPU speed.  Thus, there is a tradeoff that makes the Celeron run about as fast as the Pentium II CPU. There is a continuous progression toward increased cache levels.

Cache memory:  High-speed solid-state memory for program instructions and data.

Carrier:  Standard-fixed pin connectors that permit chips to be attached to a circuit board.

Cascading menu:  A pop-up menu that is displayed when a command from the active menu is chosed.

Cascading windows:  Two or more windows that are displayed on a computer screen in an overlapping manner.

Case:  The computer's case is nothing more than its shell or a skeleton.  The case performs the function of holding the computer together, cooling (with fans), and grounding the computer components through its steel.  Larger cases with a lot of expansion bays are preferable. This way you can have a lot of room to work in your case and be able to upgrade with more hard drives, DVD drives, burners, etc.  SuperMicro's SC750-A server tower is an example of a great case. It has a total of 8 external bays, plenty of room to work, and a great cooling setup with space for a lot of fans.  Tower cases are generally preferred over desktop cases because they have more room for expansion and better cooling capabilities. A case can be AT or ATX, differing in the way the holes are laid out to connect the motherboard to and the type of power supply if it comes with one. Cases generally come with power supplies, but it is often advisable to get them separately so that you can get high quality parts for both. 

CBQ (Class Based Queuing):  A queuing method by which traffic is classified into separate classes and queued according to its assigned class in an effort to provide differential forwarding behavior for certain types of network traffic.

CD production station:  A device used to duplicate locally produced CD-ROMs.

CD-ROM Burner: See Burner.

CD-ROM Drive:  A storage device into which an interchangeable CD-ROM is inserted for processing.

CD writer:  A peripheral device that can write once to a CD-R or CD-RW disk to create an audio CD or a CD-ROM.

CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable):  The medium on which CD writers create CDs and CD-ROMs.

CD-Rewritable (CD-RW):  This technology allows users to rewrite to the same CD media.

CD-ROM disk (Compact-Disk Read-Only Memory disk):  A type of optica laser storage media.

Celeron:  A line of Intel microprocessors designed for low-cost PCs.

Cell:  The intersection of a particular row and column in a spreadsheet.

Cell address:  The location (column and row) of a cell in a spreadsheet.

Central processing unit (CPU): See processor.

Centronics connector:  A 36-pin connector that is used for the electronic interconnection of computers, modems, and other peripheral devices.

CGM:  A popular vector graphics file format.

Channel:  The facility by which data are transmitted between locations in a computer network (e.g., terminal to host, host to printer).

Channel capacity:  The number of bits that can be transmitted over a communications channel per second.

CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol):  An authentication mechanism for PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) connections that encrypts the user password.

Character:  A unit of information that is usually composed of six, seven, or eight bits.  Also, a figure that is a unit of information, such as an “E”.

Character set:  The group of characters a computer can recognize and process.  PC-compatible computers use an extended ASCII character set which extends from decimal 0 to 255.

Chief Information Officer (CIO):  The individual responsible for all the informatiooon services activity in a company.

Chips/Chipsets:  These are the little pieces of silicon that hold computer information and instructions.  Just about any computer component has at least one chipset on it. Motherboard chipsets control the basic input/output of the computer.  Video card chipsets control the rendering of 3D graphics and the output of images to your monitor.  The CPU is just a very important chip.  Common motherboard chipsets include the BX, i810, i820, and many others.

Choose:  To pick a menu item or icon in such a manner as to initiate processing activity.

CIR (Committed Information Rate):  A Frame Relay term describing a minimum access rate at which the service provider commits to provide the customer for any given Permanent Virtual Circuit (PVC).

CISC  (Complex Instruction Set Computer):  A computer design architecture that offers machine language programmers a wide variety of instructions. (Contrast with RISC.)

Click:  A single tap on a mouse’s button. (Switch contact)

Client application:  (1) An application running on a networked workstation or PC that works in tandem with a server application. (See also server application.) (2) An object linking and embedding the application containing the destination document.

Client Computer:  Typically a PC or a workstation that requests processing support or another type of service from one or more server computers. (See also server computer)

Client program:  A software program that runs on a PC and works in conjunction with a companion server program that runs on a server computer. (See also server program)

Clients and Servers:  Servers, or host computers, “serve” data (ranging from simple text files to software) to a client.

Clip art:  Prepackaged electronic images that are stored on disk to be used as needed in computer-based documents.

Clipboard:  An intermediate holding area in internal storage for information en route to another application.Allows transfers of Screen Shots when used with Print Screen key on the keyboard.

Clone:  A hardware device or a software package that emulates a product with an established reputation and market acceptance.

Cluster:  The smallest unit of disk space that can be allocated to a file.

CMOS RAM:  Random access memory for storing system configuration data (number of drives, type of drives, amount ;of memory, etc.).  The CMOS RAM is battery operated and is not available to the computer’s operating system. (Part of the BIOS system)

Coaxial cable:  A shielded wire used as a medium to transmit data between computers and between computers and peripheral devices. Type RG-58 used in Ethernet 10Base 2 network wiring.

COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language):  A third-generation programming language designed to handle business problems.

Code:  (1) The rules used to translate a bit configuration into alphanumeric characters and symbols. (2) The process of compiling computer instructions into the form of a computer program. (3) The actual computer program.

Cold Boot:  To reload a computer’s operating system by turning the computer’s power off and then back on. (If a computer has a reset switch, a cold boot can be performed without turning the power off and on.)

Colocation: To utilize an existing data center to host a server for another party. A network can be hosted on equipment owned by one party in a data canter or location of a second party. Second party rents space and support to the first party to host the first party's equipment.

Color Depth: Refers to the number of colors displayed to the monitor by the video card.  The more colors used, the more realistic the display. With photographs, changing the computer's color depth may or may not help if the picture is limited to a small amount of colors.  Common color depths are 256 colors, 16-bit (65,000 colors), 24-bit, and 32-bit (millions of colors). 24-bit and 32-bit are difficult to differentiate between, but 16-bit and particularly 256 colors will show a noticeable lack of quality or realism. 

Command:  An instruction to a computer that invokes the execution of a preprogrammed sequence of instructions.

Common carrier:  A company that provides channels for data transmission. (ILEC, CLEC types of telephone local exchange carriers)

Communication buffers:  Areas in the memory of a file server or bridge that are set aside to temporarily hold packets arriving from the various network stations until the file server or bridge is ready to process them and send them to their destination.  Also called “routing buffers.”

Communications channel:  The facility by which data are transmitted between locations in a computer network.

Communication medium:  The physical device that carries a signal (data) from one place to another.  A communication medium may be wiring (such as coaxial cable, twisted-pair cable, or dual-twisted-pair cable), or it may be a non-wire medium such as fiber optics, infrared, or microwave.

Communications protocols:  Rules established to govern the way data in a computer network are transmitted.

Communications server:  The LAN component that provides external communications links.

Communications software:  (1) Software that enables a microcomputer to emulate a terminal and to transfer files between one computer and another computer. (2) Software that enables communication between remote devices in a computer network.

Compact disc-recordable:  See CD-R and CD-RW.

Compatibility:  Pertaining to the ability of computers and computer components (hardware and software) to work together.

Compile:  To translate a high-level programming language into machine language in preparation for execution.

Compiler:  A program that translates the instructions of a high-level language to machine language instructions that the computer can interpret and execute.

Compound document:  A document, such as a word processing document, that contains one or more linked objects from other applications.

CompuServe:  An online information service.

Computer:  An electronic device capable of interpreting and executing programmed commands for input, output, computational, and logical operations.

Computer competency:  A fundamental understanding of the technology, operation, applications, and issues surrounding computers.

Computer matching:  The procedure whereby separate databases are examined and individuals common to both are identified.

Computer monitoring:  Observing and regulating employee activities and job performance through the use of computers.

Computer network:  An integration of computer systems, terminals, and communications links.

Computer operator:  One who performs those hardware-based activities needed to keep production information systems operational in the computer environment.

Computer system:  A collective reference to all interconnected computing hardware, including processors, storage devices, input/output devices, and communications equipment.

Computer virus:  See virus.

Computer-aided design (CAD):  Use of computer graphics in design, drafting, and documentation in product and manufacturing engineering.

Computer-aided software engineering (CASE):  An approach to software development that combines automation and the rigors of the engineering discipline.

Computer-based training (CBT):  Using computer technologies for training and education.

Computerese:  A colloquial reference to the language of computers and information technology.

Configuration:  The computer and its peripheral devices.

Configuration hardware:  (1) The equipment used on a network (file servers, workstations, printers, cables, network interface boards, bridges, hubs, routers, etc.), and the way it is connected—the physical layout of a network. (2) The specific type of hardware installed in or attached to the computer itself, such as disk subsystems, network interface boards, memory boards, printer boards, etc. (3) A specific set of parameters selected for an electronic computer board or adapter.

Configuration software:  The procedure that prepares software programs to run on the computer’s specific hardware, operating system, memory capacity, peripherals, etc.

Connection number:  A number assigned to any workstation that logs in to a file server; It may be a different number each time that a workstation logs in.  The file server’s operating system uses connection numbers to control each stations communication with other stations.

Connectivity:  Pertains to the degree to which hardware devices, software, and databases can be functionally linked to one another.

Console:  The monitor and keyboard from which you actually monitor and control computer (standalone, client, or server) activity and operation. 

Context-sensitive:  Referring to an on-screen explanation that relates to a user’s current software activity.

Controller address:  The number that is physically set (usually with jumpers) on a hard disk controller board, and which is used by the operating system to locate the controller on a disk channel.

Controller board:  A device that enables a computer to communicate with a particular device (disk, network interface card, tape drive, etc.).  The controller board manages input/output and regulates the operation of its associated device.

Control unit:  The portion of the processor that interprets program instructions, directs internal operations, and directs the flow of input/output to or from RAM.

Cookie:  A message given to the user’s Web browser by the Web server being accessed.  The cookie is a text file containing user preference information.

Cooperative processing:  An environment in which organizations cooperate internally and externally to take full advantage of available information and to obtain meaningful, accurate, and timely information. (See also intercompany networking.)

CoS (Class of Service):  A categorical method of classifying traffic into separate classes to provide differentiated service to each class within the network.

CPE (Customer Premise Equipment):  The equipment deployed on the customer’s site when the customer subscribes (or simply connects) to a carrier’s access service.

CPU: The CPU is the computer's control center.  Think of it as the brain that does all the thinking (computation), thus it is called the Central Processing Unit.  The actual CPU is about 1.5 inches square, yet it is the most critical part of the computer.  Having a fast CPU (measured in MegaHertz) greatly aids in the overall speed of your computer.  Visit my CPU Page. 

Cracker:  An overzealous hacker who “cracks” through network security to gain unauthorized access to the network. (Also see hacker)

Crash:  A slang term that means hardware or software has stopped working properly.

Cross-platform technologies:  Enabling technologies that allow communication and the sharing of resources between different platforms.

CRT (Cathode-Ray Tube):  The video monitor component of a terminal.

Cryptography:  A communications crime-prevention technology that uses methods of data encryption and decryption that securely  scramble codes sent over communications channels.

CSMA/CD access method (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection):  A network access method in which nodes on the LAN must contend for the right to send a message. Senses data packet collisions, if none, then allows any node access to send data.

CSU/DSU (Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit):  A Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) device that provides the telephony interface for circuit data services, including the physical framing, clocking, and channelization of the circuit.

Current drive:  Distinct, concentric storage areas on a hard disk (roughly corresponding to tracks on a floppy diskette).  Generally, the more cylinders a hard disk has, the greater its storage capacity. (See also Default Drive)

Current Window:  The window in a GUI in which the user can manipulate text, data, or graphics.

Cursor, graphics:  Typically an arrow or a cross hair that can be moved about a monitor’s sceen by a point-and-draw device to create a graphic impage or select an item from a menu.

Cursor, text:  A blinking character that indicates the location of the next keyed-in character on the display screen.

Cursor-control keys:  The arrow keys on the keyboard that move the cursor vertically and horizontally.

Custom programming:  Program development to create software for situations unique to a particular processing environment.

Cyberphobia:  The irrational fear of, and aversion to, computers.

Cylinder:  A disk-storage concept.  A cylinder is that portion of the disk that can be read in any given position of the access arm.  (Contrast with sector.) {Back to TOP}

D {Back to TOP}

D-Channel (Data Channel):  A full-duplex control and signaling channel on an ISDN BRI (Basic Rate Interface) or PRI (Primary Rate Interface).  The D-Channel is 16 Kbps on an ISDN BRI and 64 Kbps on a PRI.

Data:  Representations of facts.  The raw material of information. (Plural of datum.)

Database:  On a network, a collection of data (fields and tables) organized and stored on disk by network users, usually through use of a special application program.

Data bits:  A data communications parameter that refers to a timing unit or packet structure.

Data bus:  A common pathway between RAM, cache memory, and the processor through which data and instructions are transferred. (See also address bus)

Data cartridge:  Magnetic tape storage now usually in a cassette format.

Data communications:  The collection and distribution of the electronic representation of information between two locations.

Data compression:  A method of reducing disk-storage requirements for computer files.

Data entry:  The transcription of source data into a machine-readable format.

Data file:  This file contains data organized into records.

Data flow diagram:  A design technique that permits documentation of a system or program at several levels of structure.

Data mining:  An analytical technique that involves the analysis of large databases, such as data warehouses, to identify possible trends and problems.

Data path:  The electronic channel through which data flows within a computer system.

Data processing (DP):  Using the computer to perform operations on data.

Data processing (DP) system:  Systems concerned with transaction handling and record keeping, usually for a particular functional area.

Data transfer rate:  The rate at which data are read/written from/to disk storage to RAM or a device or other data path like a network cable.

Data/voice/fax/modem:  A modem that permits data communication with remote computers via a telephone line link and enabling telephone calls and fax machine simulation via a PC.

Data warehouse:  An approach to database management that involves moving existing operational files and databases from multiple applications to a data warehouse.

Database:  The integrated data resource for a computer-based information system.

Database administrator (DBA):  The individual responsible for the physical and logical maintenance of a database.

Database software:  Software that permits users to create and maintain a database and to extract information from the database.

DCE (Data Communications Equipment):  A device on the network side of a User-to-Network Interface (UNI).  Typically, this is the Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), such as a modem or Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit (CSU/DSU).

DDR: This is a new type of RAM called Double Data Rate RAM.  It is used in some of the newer video cards such as the Nvidia GeForce cards.

DE (Discard Eligible):  A bit field defined within the Frame Relay header indicating that a frame can be discarded within the Frame Relay switch when the local queuing load exceeds a configured threshold.

Debug:  To eliminate bugs in a program or system. (See also bug.)

Decision support system (DSS):  An interactive information system that relies on an integrated set of user-friendly hardware and software tools to produce and present information targeted to support management in the decision-making process. (Contrast with management information system and executive information system.)

Decode:  To reverse the encoding process. (Contrast with encode)

Decoder:  That portion of a processor’s control unit that interprets instructions.

Dedicated keyboard port:  A port built into the system board specifically for the keyboard.

Dedicated mouse port:  A port built into the system board specifically for the cursor-control device.

Default:  A value or option that is chosen automatically when no other value is specified.  For example, if a word processing program has a preset page length, it is called the “default” page length.

Default drive:  The drive that a workstation is currently using.  The drive prompt (A, C, etc.) identifies the default drive letter.

Default options:  Preset software options that are assumed valid unless specified otherwise by the user.

Default server:  The file to which your default drive is mapped.  In other words, the drive you are currently using is mapped to a particular file server; therefore, that file server is your default server.  Any commands you enter will be directed automatically to the default server unless you specify otherwise.

Defragmentation:  Using utility software to reorganize files on a hard disk such that files are stored in contiguous clusters.

Delimiter:  A symbol or character that signals the beginning or end of a command or  parameter within a command.  For example, in the command CHKVOLA: B:, the blank space between A: and B: is a delimiter that marks two distinct parameters.  Other delimiters include the comma (,), the period (.), the slash (/), and the colon (:).

Density:  The number of bytes (or bits, pixels, dots, etc.) per linear length or unit area of a recording medium.

Desktop:  The screen in Windows upon which icons, windows, a background, and so on are displayed.

Desktop PC:  A nonportable personal computer that is designed to rest on the top of a desk. (Contrast with laptop PC and tower PC forms)

Desktop publishing software (DTP):  Software that allows users to produce near-typeset-quality copy for newsletters, advertisements, and many other printing needs, all from the confines of a microcomputer.

Destination:  The computer or network station, directory, drive, printer, etc., to which data is sent.

Destination application, clipboard:  The software application into which the clipboard contents are to be pasted. (Contrast with source application)

Detailed system design:  That portion of the systems development process in which the target system is defined in detail.

Device controller:  Microprocessors that control the operation of peripheral devices.

Device driver software:  Software that contains instructions needed by the operating system to communicate with the peripheral device.

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol):  A protocol that is used on server or end-system computers to automatically obtain an IP (Internet Protocol) host address, subnet mask, and local gateway information.  A DHCP server dynamically supplies this information in response to workstation (client) or end-system broadcast requests.

Diagnostic:  A procedure used to detect and isolate a malfunction or mistake.

Dialog box:  A window that is displayed when the user must choose parameters or enter further information before the chosen menu option can be executed.

Dial-up connection:  Temporary modem-based communications link with another computer.

Dial-up:  A dial-up Internet account allows you to use a computer with a modem and appropriate software to connect to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  The software “dials” the ISP’s access numbers and you can then send e-mail, browse the World Wide Web or engage in other Internet activities.

Digital:  A reference to any system based on discrete data, such as the binary nature of computers.

Digital Camera:  This is a camera that does not use film, but instead stores the photographs in a digital format in memory on the camera. These images can then be downloaded to a computer. 

Digital convergence:  The integration of computers, communications, and consumer electronics, with all being digitally compatible.

Digital ID:  A digital code that can be attached to an electronic message that uniquely identifies the sender. A digital code identity for a client of a network, computer device or program.

Digital signal:  Electronic signals that are transmitted as in strings of 1s and 0s. (See also analog signal)

Digital video disk (DVD):  The successor technology to the CD-ROM that can store up to 10 gigabytes.

Digitize:  To translate data or an image into a discrete digital format that can be interpreted by computers.

Digitizer tablet and pen:  A pressure-sensitive tablet with the same x-y coordinates as a computer-generated screen.  The outline of an image drawn on a tablet with a stylus (pen) or puck is reproduced on the display.

DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module): A small circuit board, capable of holding several memory chips, that has a 64-bit data path and can be easily connected to a pC’s system board. (Contrast with SIMM)

Dimmed:   A menu option, whish is usually gray, that is disabled or unavailable.

Direct conversion:  An approach to system conversion whereby operational support by the new system is begun when the existing system is terminated.

Direct-access storage device (DASD):  A random-access disk storage device.

Direct memory access (DMA):  A technology that may increase file server speed.  The file server processor passes parameters to a special integrated circuit (chip) that controls the reading and writing of memory, independent of the file server processor.  This enables the file server processor to perform other tasks. (Most Intel x86-based machines, perform better when DMA is not used.)

Directory:  (1) A logical portion of disk space that is named.  The user creates directories (folders) and assigns them names.  A directory may be part of another directory, and may contain several other directories.  The different “levels” of directories on any disk form a hierarchical “directory structure”.  Directories contain files, grouping them together conveniently. (2) The list of files that are contained in a directory.  This list is displayed when the DOS directory command DIR is issued at any directory level.

Directory caching:  A method of decreasing the time it takes to determine a files’ location on a disk.  The file allocation table and directory entry are written into the file servers’ memory.  A files’ location can then be read from memory, which is much faster that reading from the disk.

Directory name:  A name that both identifies a directory and reflects its position within a directory structure.  On a network, the full directory name lists the name of the file server, the volume, and each subdirectory leading down to the directory you need to access.  The directory name is also called the directory path.

Directory path:  See Directory Name.

Directory server:  A data warehouse that keeps track of all the users of a system as well as all the resources available on the system, such as database servers, file servers, printers, and communications resources.

Directory structure:  the different levels of directories (parent directories, subdirectories, etc.) organized to form a hierarchy. (See also Directory Name)

Directory table (hard disk):  A table (kept on a hard disk) that contains information about each file and directory, such as the name, creation date, size, date and time of each update, file attributes, trustees, etc.

Disable:  (1) To turn off, to render inactive.  For example, the console command DISABLE LOGIN prevents workstations from logging in to the file server. (2) To prevent certain interrupts from occurring in a processing unit (such as a network interface board) by setting a switch or a jumper, or through some other means.

Disk:  A magnetically encoded storage medium in the form of a plate (also called a platter).  Disks used with personal computers are usually divided into two types: hard and floppy.  Hard disks use a metallic base and usually are fixed within a computer or installable unit (they may be removable).  Floppy disks (called diskettes) use a polyester base and are always removable.  Can also refer to the device that physically transfers data to and from a disk.

Disk address:  The physical location of a particular set of data or a program on a magnetic disk.

Disk caching:  A hardware/software technique in which frequently referenced disk-based data are placed in an area or RAM that simulates disk storage.

Disk controller:  A controller board that regulates the operation of a disk drive.

Disk coprocessor board (DCB):  An intelligent board that acts as an interface between the host microprocessor and the disk controller.  The Disk Coprocessor board relieves the host microprocessor of data storage and retrieval tasks, thus increasing the computers’ performance time.  A disk Coprocessor board and its disk subsystems make up a disk channel.

Disk density:  The number of bits that can be stored per unit of area on the disk-face surface.

Disk drive:  A device that can write to a disk (store data) and read from a disk (retrieve data).  A disk drive can be internal (built into the computer) or external (attached as a peripheral to the computer).  The disk controller regulates the disk drives’ operation.

Disk duplexing:  A method of safeguarding data in which the same data is copied simultaneously to two hard disks on separate channels.  Also known as “disk mirroring” or “disk striping” in certain methods. If one channel fails, the data on the other channel remains unharmed.  When data is duplexed, read requests are sent to whichever disk in the pair that can respond faster, thus increasing the file servers’ efficiency.  When two or more read requests occur together, the requests are split and can be processed at once.

Disk interface board:  An add-on board that acts as an interface between the host microprocessor and the disk controller.

Disk drive, magnetic:  A magnetic storage device that records data on flat rotating disks. (Compare with tape drive, magnetic)

Disk, magnetic:  A storage medium for random-access data storage available in permanently installed or interchangeable formats.

Disk optimizer:  A program that reorganizes files on a hard disk to eliminate file fragmentation.

Disk subsystem:  An external unit that attaches to the file server and may contain hard disk drives, a tape drive, or both.  The disk subsystem gives the file server more storage capacity.  A disk channel can accommodate up to eight disk subsystems.

Diskette:  A thin interchangeable disk for secondary random-access data storage (same as floppy disk).

DLCI (Data Link Connection Identifier):  A numerical identifier given to the local end of a Frame Relay Virtual Circuit (VC).  The local nature of the DLCI is that it spans only the distance between the first-hop Frame-Relay switch and the router, whereas a VC spans the entire distance of an end-to-end connection between two routers that use the Frame Relay network for link-layer connectivity.

DLSw (Data Link Switching):  Provides a standards-based method for forwarding SNA (Systems Network Architecture) traffic over TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) networks using encapsulation.  DLSw provides enhancements to traditional RSRB (Remote Source-Route Bridging) encapsulation by eliminating hop-count limitation, removes unnecessary broadcasts and acknowledgements, and provides flow-control.

DNS (Domain Name Server):  Connected to the Internet, they translate the letters in Internet addresses into numerical designations.  Why?  Because it’s easier for most of us to remember than the corresponding IP address,

Docking station:  A device into which a notebook PC is inserted to give the notebook PC expanded capabilities, such as a high-capacity disk, interchangeable disk options, a tape backup unit, a large monitor, and so on.

Document:  A generic reference to whatever is currently displayed in a software package’s work area or to a permanent file containing document contents.

Document file:  The result when work with an applications program, such as word processing, is saved to disk storage.

Document icon:  A pictograph used by Windows within an application to represent a minimized document window.

Document window:  Window within an application window that is used to display a separate document created or used by that application.

Domain Name:  The unique name of a computer connected to the Internet.  In the address,, Getwireless is the domain name and the extension “net” (the domain indicates that is a network. “sales” is a mailbox.  In addition to “net,” other top-level domains are “com” (commercial ventures), “org” (ususally a non-profit organization), “edu” (educational institutions), “gov” (governments) and “mil” (military).

DOS (Disk Operating System):  An operating system for individual personal computers that is stored on disk. (See also Operating System)

Dot pitch:  The distance between the centers of adjacent pixels on a display.

Dot-matrix printer:  A printer that arranges printed dots to form characters and images.

Double-click:  Tapping a button on a point-and-draw device twice in rapid succession.

Download:  The transmission of data from a remote computer to a local computer.

Downstream rate:  The data communications rate from server computer to client computer.

Downtime:  The time during which a computer system is not operational.

DPI ( Dots per Inch):   Measurement used both on monitors and printers. The measurements are done different ways though. The higher numbers on printers generally represent more detailed print quality (i.e. 1200x1200) would be very high resolution printing). The lower numbers on monitors represent clearer picture quality (i.e. .22 dpi would be a very high quality monitor).

Drag:  A point-and-draw device procedure by which an object is moved or a contiguous area on the display is marked for processing.

Drive:  A device that reads information from a disk or tape.  The term may refer to the actual hardware that reads the information (physical drive), or it may be used as an abstract identification for a storage location (logical drive).  A local drive is physically attached to the workstation; a network drive reads information from a specific directory on the network, rather than from a local disk.

Driver:  The software that enables interaction between the operating system and a specific peripheral device.

Drive letter:  A letter that represents a local drive or logical drive.

Driver module:  The program module that calls other subordinate program modules to be executed as they are needed (also see main program).

DS0 (Digital Signal Level  0):  A circuit-framing specification for transmitting digital signals over a single channel at 64 Kbps on a T1 facility.

DS1 (Digital Signal Level 1):  A circuit-framing specification for transmitting digital signals at 1.544 Mbps on a T1 facility in the United States, or at 2.108 Mbps on an E1 facility elsewhere.

DS3 (Digital Signal Level 3)  A circuit-framing specification for transmitting digital signals at 44.736 Mbps on a T3 facility.

DSBM (Designated Subnet Bandwidth Manager):  A device on a managed subnetwork that acts as the Subnet Bandwidth Manager (SBM) for subnetwork to which it is attached.  This is done through a complicated election process specified in the SBM  protocol specification.  The SBM protocol is a proposal in the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) for handling resource reservations on shared and switched IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802 style local area media.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line):  Similar to a cable modem but uses phone lines.

DTE (Data Terminal Equipment):  A device on the user side of a User-to-Network Interface (UNI).  Typically, this is a computer or a router.

DVD-ROM Drive: Similar to a CD-ROM drive, a DVD Drive reads CDs, CD-ROMs, and the newer DVDs. The acronym DVD originally had no meaning, but has since been referred to as Digital Video Disk and Digital Versatile Disk.  DVD's advantage over CDs is that it holds many times the capacity of a single CD. DVDs can also hold full-length movies and can be used double-sided for extra storage. Currently very few software titles are available only on DVD-ROM, but are also available on CD-ROM, usually requiring multiple CDs.  DVD videos are only available on DVD though.  DVD also requires and MPEG decoder card to view the Videos.  Software DVD decoding can be done on very fast machines, but hardware decoding (simply meaning a piece of hardware is added to the computer along with the drive - a decoder card) will work much better.

Dynamic Memory:  A form of memory that requires a continual rewriting of all stored information.  A continuous electrical current is necessary to maintain dynamic memory.  A common example is dynamic RAM: all data is lost when the power supply is turned off. {Back to TOP}

E {Back to TOP}

E1:  A WAN (Wide-Area Network) transmission circuit that carries data at a rate of 2.048 Mbps.  Predominantly used outside the United States.

E3:  A WAN transmission circuit that carries data at a rate of 34.368 Mbps.  Predominantly used outside he United States.

EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code):  An 8-bit encoding system.

Echo:  A host computer’s retransmission of characters back to the sending device.

E-commerce (electronic commerce):  Business conducted online, primarily over the Internet.

Edge device:  Any device on the edge or periphery of an administrative boundary.

Electronic data interchange (EDI):  The use of computers and data communications to transmit data electronically between companies.

Embedded SCSI:  A hard disk that uses a SCSI interface and has a controller board built into the hard disk unit.

Emulation:  On a network, the imitation of all or part of one device by another so that the mimicking device can accept the same data and perform the same functions as the actual device.

Enable:   (1) To turn on, especially to restore a feature that has been disabled.  For example, the console command ENABLE LOGIN allows workstations to log in to the file server after they have been prevented from doing so. (2) To place in a state that will allow certain interrupts to occur in a processing unit (such as a network interface board).  Interrupts are usually enabled by setting a switch or a jumper.

Encode:  To apply the rules of a code.  (Contrast with decode.)

Encoding  system:  A system that permits alpha-numeric characters and symbols to be coded in terms of bits.

End-system:  Any device that terminates an end-to-end communications relationship

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript):  A vector graphics file format used by the PostScript language.

ESDI :  Enhanced Small Device Interface

Ethernet:  A transport method (protocol) used to connect computers to a LAN (Local Area Network) and exchange data.

Executable program file:  A file that contains programs that can be executed and run on a computer.

Execution time (E-time):  The elapsed time it takes to execute a computer instruction and store the results.

Exit routine:  A software procedure that returns you to a GUI, an operating system prompt, or a higher-level applications program.

Expansion board:  These add-on circuit boards contain the electronic circuitry for many supplemental capabilities, such as a fax modem, and are made to fit a particular type of bus (also referred to as expansion cards).

Expansion bus:  An extension of the common electrical bus that accepts the expansion boards that control the video display, disks, and other peripherals. (see also bus).

Expansion slots:  Slots within the processing component of a microcomputer into which optional add-on circuit boards may be inserted.

Export:  The process of converting a file in the format of the current program to a format that can be used by another program. (Contrast with import).

Extended memory:  In a personal computer running DOS, extended memory is memory above the 1MB address range.  Normally, this memory is available to DOS only as a virtual disk (memory that is treated as though it were a disk drive). 

Extranet:  An extension of an intranet such that it is partially accessible to authorized outsiders, such as customers and suppliers. {Back to TOP}

F {Back to TOP}

Facsimile (fax):  The transferring of images, usually of hard-copy documents, via telephone lines to another device that can receive and interpret the images.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):  Compiled lists of the most frequent questions and their answers on a particular topic.  A FAQ generally can be found in various formats, such as HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) Web pages, as well as traditional printed material.

Fax modem:  A modem that enables a PC to emulate a facsimile machine.

Feedback loop:  A closed loop in which a computer-controlled process generates data that becomes input to the computer.

Fetch instruction:  That part of the instruction cycle in which the control unit retrieves a program instruction from RAM and loads it to the processor.

Fiber optic cable:  A data transmission medium that carries data in the form of light in very thin transparent fibers. Usually operates utilizing laser light sources.

Field:  The smallest logical unit of data in a database.  Examples of three fields in a database table are employee number, first name, and price.

FIFO (First-In-First-Out):  Refers to a caching methodology in which the oldest item in a queue is the first to be retrieved.

File:  (1) A collection of related records. (2) A named area on a disk-storage device that contains a program or digitized information (text, image, sound, and so on). (3) A component of an overall program or appliocation.

File allocation table (FAT):  MS-DOS’s method of storing and keeping track of files on a disk.

File attributes:  Designations that regulate how a file may be handled on the network.  For example, a file can be assigned the attributes “Shareable” and “Read/Only.”  “Shareable” means that more than one user may access the file at the same time; “Read/Only” means that users may read the file, but they cannot alter it.

File compression:  A technique by which the size of a file can be reduced.  Compressed files are decompressed for use.

File format:  The manner in which a file is stored on disk storage.

File server:  A dedicated computer system with high-capacity disk(s) for storing the data and programs shared by the users on a local area network.

File sharing:  An important feature of networking that allows more than one user to access the same file at the same time.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP):  A communications protocol that is used to transmit files over the Internet.

Filtering:  The process of selecting and presenting only that information appropriate to support a particular decision.

Firewall:  Software that is designed to restrict access to an organization’s network or its Intranet. It acts as a gatekeeper, allowing certain IP connections and not others.

Firmware:  A program that resides in ROM and is not erased when the computer is turned off.

Fixed magnetic disk:  See hard disk.

Flag:  A command parameter that specifies a particular option.  A different flag may be specified each time you use the command.  For example, if you are assigning file attributes to a file, you might specify the flag “Read Only” to indicate that users may read the file but not alter it. (Flag is also used as a verb, as in “You must flag the file “Sharable, Read Only.”)

Flash memory:  A type of nonvolatile memory that can be altered easily by the user.

Flat files:  A file that does not point to or physically link with another file.

Flat-panel monitor:  A monitor, thin from front to back,  that uses liquid crystal or gas plasma technology.

Floating menu:  A special-function menu that can be positioned anywhere on the work area or desktop.

Floppy Disk:  See diskette.

Floppy disk drive:  A disk drive that accepts either the 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch diskette.

FLOPS (Floating Point Operations Per Second):  A measure of speed for supercomputers.

Flowchart:  A diagram that illustrates data, information, and workflow via specialized symbols, which, when connected by flow lines, portray the logic of a system or program.

Flowcharting:  The act of creating a flowchart.

Folder:  An object in a Windows graphical user interface that contains a logical grouping of related files and subordinate folders.

Font:  A typeface that is described by its letter style, its height in points, and its presentation attribute.

Footprint:  (1) The evidence of unlawful entry or use of a computer system. (2) The floor or desktop space required for a hardware component.

Foreground:  (1) That part of RAM that contains the highest priority program. (2) In Windows, the area of the display containing the active window.

Form:  (1) In a printer command, the design or shape of the printing surface, such as letter-size, paper, labels, continuous-feed, etc. (2) In an application, it can be a structured table of some kind which seeks or presents information of some type.

Format: (1) The logical or physical arrangement of the tracks and sectors on a floppy diskette or a hard disk.  To be usable, a disk must be formatted so that the tracks and sectors are laid out in a manner compatible with the operating system in use. (2) To prepare a disk or diskette, dividing it into sectors so that it is ready to receive data.

Formatted disk:  A disk that has been initialized with the recording format for a specific operating system.

FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator):  A high-level programming language designed primarily for scientific applications.

Fourth-generation language (4GL):  A programming language that uses high-level English-like instructions to retrieve and format data for inquiries and reporting.

Frame:  (1) A rectangular area in a desktop publishing-produced document into which elements, such as text and images, are placed. (2) A Web page style for multiple pages.

Frames (Web page):  The display of more than one independently controllable section on a single Web page.

Frame Relay:  A networking protocol, which means that unlike a point-to-point private line, there’s a network switch in-between your location and to whomever you’re connecting.  Actually, you get a private line to a node on the frame relay network, and the remote location gets a private line to a nearby frame relay node.  When you send traffic over your line, the network gets it to the remote location by routing it through the frame relay network.  Then the data is passed to the remote location’s line to reacha its destination

Front-end applications software:  Client software that performs processing associated with the user interface and applications processing that can be done locally.

Front –end processor:  A processor used to offload certain data communications tasks from the host processor.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol):  A TCP/IP protocol that, as the name implies, is used for transferring files between computers.  Most Web browsers support FTP as well as HTTP.

Full-duplex line:  A communications channel that transmits data in both directions at the same time.

Function:  A predefined operation that performs a mathematical, logical, statistical, financial, and character-string operations on data in a spreadsheet or a database.

Function key:  A special-function key on the keyboard that can be used to instruct the computer to perform a specific operation.

Functional specifications:  Specifications that describe the logic of an information system from the user’s perspective.

Function-based information system:  An information system designed for the exclusive support of a specific application area, such as inventory management or accounting. {Back to TOP}

G {Back to TOP}

General system design:  That portion of the system development process in which the target system is defined in general.

General-purpose computer:  Computer systems that are designed with the flexibility to do a variety of tasks, such as word processing, payroll processing, climate control, and so on.

Geosynchronous orbit:  An orbit that permits a communications satellite to maintain a fixed position relative to the surface of the earth.

GFLOPS:  A billion FLPS. (See FLOPS)

GIF:  A popular graphical format for image files.

Gigabit (Gb):  One billion bits.

GigaBytes (GB): One billion bytes.

GIGO:  Garbage In, Garbage Out, the bane of computing.

Gopher:  A type of menu tree to “go for” items on the Internet, thus bypassing complicated addresses and commands.

Grammar and style checker:  An add-on program to word processing software that highlights grammatical concerns and deviations from effective writing style in a word processing document.

Graphical user interface (GUI):  A user-friendly interface that allows users to interact with the system by pointing to processing options with a point-and-draw device.

Graphics adapter:  A device controller (adapter card) that provides the electronic link between the motherboard and the monitor.

Graphics conversion program:  Software that enables files containing graphic images to be passed between programs.

Graphics file:  A file that contains digitized images in a particular file format.

Graphics software:  Software that enables you to create line drawings, art, and presentation graphics.

Gray scales:  The number of shades of a color that can be presented in a monochrome (shades of gray) form on a monitor  screen.

Group access:  A method of granting identical rights to several users at the same time so they can all access the same directories.  Rather than repetitively assigning each individual user the same rights, the network supervisor can make each user a member of the same group and then grant that group the needed rights.  This way, each user in the group has the same access rights as the rest of the group.

Groupware:  Software whose application is designed to benefit a group of people. (Related to workgroup network computing.)

GUI (Graphical User Interface):  A style of computer interface characterized by windows, icons, the use of graphics and the use of a mouse pointing device. {Back to TOP}

H {Back to TOP}

Hacker:  A computer enthusiast who uses the computer as a source of recreation or disruptive/destructive attack on other computers. (Contrast with cracker.)

Half-duplex line:  A communications channel that transmits data in one direction at the same time like a telephone conversation. (Contrast with full-duplex line.)

Half-size expansion board:  An expansion board that fits in half an expansion slot.

Handheld PC:  Any personal computer that can be held comfortably in a person’s hand.

Handshaking:  The process by which both sending and receiving devices in a computer network maintain and coordinate data communications.

Hard copy:  A readable printed copy of computer output.

Hard Disk:  A permanently installed or port connected, continuously spinning magnetic storage medium made up of one or more rigid disk platters.

Hard Drive:  The hard drive stores all the computer's information and retains the information when the computer is turned off. A fast hard drive is needed to supply the CPU with data as fast as it needs it. Hard drive sizes are typically measured in Gigabytes. The larger the number, the more applications and games you can have installed.  A hard drive can be IDE or SCSI.  See IDE or SCSI for more information.

Hardware:  The physical devices that comprise a computer system.

HDLC (High-Level Data Link Control):  A bit-oriented, synchronous data-link transport protocol developed by the ISO (International Standards Organization).  HDLC provides an encapsulation mechanism for transporting data on synchronous serial links using framing characters and checksums.  HDLC was derived from SDLS (Synchronous Data Link Control).

Help command:  A software feature that provides an online explanation of or instruction on how to proceed.

Help desk:  A centralized location (either within an organization or outside of it) where computer-related questions about product usage, installation, problems, or services are answered.

Hertz (Hz):  Unit of measure for electrical frequency representing the number of cycles per second.  One Hertz equals one cycle per second.

Hexadecimal:  A numeric notation system with a base of 16 decimal frequently used to specify addresses in computer memory.  In hexadecimal notation, the decimal numbers 0 through 15 are represented by the decimal digits 0 through 9 and the alphabetic “digits” A through F (A = decimal 10, B = decimal 11, etc.). Can be formed as two 4-bit binary numbers from an 8-bit binary number split into two parts.

Hierarchy:  Refers to a directory structure made up of different levels in which some directories are parts of others and the entire structure is organized in a branching, root-like form.

High-level language:  A language with instructions that combine several machine-level instructions into one instruction. (Compare with machine language or low-level language.)

Home directory:  A network directory that the network supervisor creates specifically for you.  The supervisor may include in your login script a drive mapping to your home directory.

Home page:  The Web page which is the starting point for accessing information at a site or in a particular area.

Horizontal scroll bar:  A narrow screen object located along the bottom edge of a window that is used to navigate side to side through a document or screen presentation.

Host:  A computer, attached to a network which provides services to another computer beyond simply storing and forwarding information.  Mainframes, minicomputers, and file servers are sometimes called hosts, but the term is often used more broadly.  For example, the network station a remote caller takes over and controls is referred to as the host.

Host computer:  The processor responsible for the overall control of a computer system.

Hosted solution: A server located in a second party's location (such as a data center) is leased to act as the network server for a first party located elsewhere. Leased rack space, service and support is offered by the second party (host) to the first party (client).

Hot plug:  A universal serial bus (USB) feature that allows peripheral devices to be connected to or removed from the USB port while the PC is running. Any capability to connect and disconnect a device or component without turning off the power.

Hotkey:  A keyboard key combination that, when activated, causes the computer to perform the function associated with the key combination.

HSSI (High Speed Serial Interface):  A networking standard for high-speed serial connections for wide-area networks (WANs), accommodating link speeds up to 52 Mbps.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language):  The language used to compose and format most of the content found on the Internet. Can be shown as html.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol):  The primary access method for interacting with the Internet. Can be shown as http.

Hub:  A common point for connection of computers and devices in a network.

Hyperlinks:  Clickable images or text phrase that let you link to other parts of  a document or to different documents together within a computer system of on the Internet. {Back to TOP}

I {Back to TOP}

IBGP (Internal BGP or Interior BGP):  A method to carry exterior routing information within the backbone of a single administrative routing domain, obviating the need to redistribute exterior routing into interior routing.  IBGP is a unique implementation of BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) rather than a separate protocol unto itself.

ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol):  A network-layer protocol that provides feedback on errors and other information specifically pertinent to IP packet handling.

Icons:  Pictographs used in place of words or phrases on screen displays.

Identifier:  Words used in a login script command to represent information that may vary each time a user logs in.  When an identifier appears in the login script, the current value for the information is automatically supplied.  Some examples of identifiers are: HOUR, DAY_OF_WEEK, LOGIN_NAME, and STATION.

IDE  ( Integrated/Intelligent Drive Electronics): It is an ATA specification (the terms are often used interchangeably). This is the most common disk interface for hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc. It is easy to use, but also the most limited. IDE is integrated into your motherboard. It only allows for 4 devices.  The other option is SCSI, which is faster, more complicated, and allows for many more devices. SCSI requires a separate add-on card and different types of hard drives (SCSI).

IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers):  A professional organization that develops communications and network standards—traditionally, link-layer LAN signaling standards.

Image processing:  A reference to computer applications in which digitized images are retrieved, displayed, altered, merged with text, stored, and sent via data communications to one or several remote locations.

Image scanner:  A device that can scan and digitize an image so that is can be stored on a disk and manipulated by a computer.

Impact printer:  A printer that uses pins or hammers that hit a ribbon to transfer images to the paper.

Import:  The process of converting data in one format to a format that is compatible with the calling program.  (Contrast with export)

Information superhighway:  A metaphor for a network of high-speed data communication links that comprise the World Wide Web and will eventually connect virtually every facet of our society and related parts of the world.

Infrared port:  See IrDA port.

Ink-jet printer:  A non-impact printer in which the print head contains independently controlled injection chambers that squirt ink droplets on the paper to form letters and images.

Input/output (I/O):  A generic reference to input and/or output to a computer.

Integrated circuit (IC):  Thousands of electronic components that are etched into a tiny silicon chip in the form of a special-function electronic circuit and packaged in a number of standardized forms.

Integrated information system:  An information system that services two or more functional areas, all of which share a common database.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN):  A digital telecommunications standard for data delivery over twisted-pair lines with transmission speeds up to 128 Kbps (two 64 Kbps line pairs).

Intelligent board:  An add-on board that features a coprocessor chip.  The coprocessor allows the board to do some “decision-making” on its own, Independent of the CPU.  Rather than just relaying information, an intelligent board is able to manage and direct the processing of data requests.

Interactive:  Pertaining to online and immediate communication between the user and the computer.

Interchangeable magnetic disk:  A magnetic disk that can be stored offline and loaded to the computer system as needed. (Contrast with hard disk, or fixed magnetic disk.)

Interface:  (1) A specific hardware or software connection. (2) Making two devices capable of communication.  Used most often to refer to the design of hardware and software that allows connection of network components and transfer of information.

Internet:  Not a single network, but a globe-encircling network of networks.  The US Department of Defense first developed the Internet.  It has no owner or central headquarters.  Indeed, it is in constant flux as the small networks, which join to form bigger networks, come and go, and grow.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC):  An Internet protocol that allows users to join and participate in group chat sessions.

Internetwork:  Two or more networks connected by a bridge.  Users on an internetwork may use the resources (files, printers, disk drives, etc.) of all connected networks (if the users have access rights).

Internetwork packet exchange:  A signal that temporarily suspends a program, permitting the program eventually to proceed from where it left off.  During the suspension, another task may appropriate the computers’ resources.  Interrupts can be divided into two general types, hardware and software.  A hardware interrupt is caused by a signal from a hardware device, such as a printer.  A software interrupt is created by instructions from within a software program. (See also IPX.Interrupt)

Interrupt line (IRQ):  A circuit used by an I/O device to send interrupt signals to the microprocessor.

Intranet:  An Internet-like network whose scope is restricted to the networks within a particular organization.

IP (Internet protocol):  The communication protocol and associated standards which permit packets of data to be transported and routed by the Internet

IP Address (Internet Protocol address):  A unique numerical Internet address identifying any piece of equipment hooked up to the Internet (see DNS, dotted quad notation, and IP).

IPSEC:  IP Security, a protocol for encrypting IP traffic, such as on a local area network, securely.

IPX (Internetwork Packet Exchange):  A protocol that allows the exchange of message packets on an internetwork.  With IPX, applications running on a workstation can use network drivers to communicate directly with other workstations, servers, or devices on the internetwork.  IPX is based on Xerox Corporation’s Internetwork Packet Protocol.

IrDA port:  Enables wireless transmission of data via infrared light waves between PCs, printers, and other devices.

ISA: ISA is an older technology for connecting computer peripherals (stands for Industry Standard Architecture). Common current devices include modems and sound cards. ISA is much slower than PCI, so PCI devices are generally better if you have a choice. ISA is starting to fade and eventually will be removed entirely.  Most motherboards still come with at least one or two ISA slots on them.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Technology):  Used for high-speed Internet connections, an ISDN line can transmit data at 128,000 bits per second.

ISP (Internet Service Provider):  Furnishes access to the Internet. is an International ISP. {Back to TOP}

J {Back to TOP}

Java:  Java is a programming language and has a “sandboxed” code interpreter which permits programs to be downloaded to PC’s from the Web, but isolates these applications from access to other applications running on the PC.

JavaScript:   A programming language whose source code can be carried in HTML documents for execution by a browser-based interpreter.  JavaScript has far fewer features than Java, and is much simpler to code.

Jaz cartridge:  An interchangeable 3.5 inch hard-disk cartridge that can store up to 1 GB of information.

Jaz drive:  A disk drive that uses interchangeable Jaz cartridges.

Jitter:  The distortion of a signal as it is propagated through the network, where the signal varies from its original reference timing.  In packet-switched networks, jitter is a distortion of the interpacket arrival times compared to the interpacket times of the original signal transmission.  Also known as delay variance.

Joystick:  A vertical stick that moves the cursor on a screen in the direction in which the stick is used as a controller.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group):  A bit-mapped file format that compresses image size.

JPG:  The Windows-based extension for JPEG files, a bit-mapped file format that compresses image size.

Jukebox:  A storage device for multiple sets of CD-ROMs, tape cartridges, or disk modules enabling ready access to vast amounts of online data.

Jumper Block:  A group of jumper pins used to make hardware configuration settings on a printed circuit board. {Back to TOP}

K {Back to TOP}

KB:  Kilobyte.  A unit of measure for memory or disk storage capacity; two raised to the tenth power (1024) bytes.

Kbps (Kilobits per second):  Used as a means for indicating the speed of computer modems, as in 29.8kbps r 56 kbps.

Kernel:  An operating system program that loads other operating system programs and applications programs to RAM as they are needed.

Keycard:  A circuit board installed in the file server that matches the serialization between the networks’ hardware.  This serialization provides software copy protection.

Key field:  The field in a record that is used as an identifier for accessing, sorting, and collating records, also known as a primary or secondary key field in a table (database).

Keyboard:  A device used for key data entry.

Keypad:  That portion of a keyboard that clusters numeric data entry keys to enhance entry speed..

Kilobit (Kb):  1024, or about 1000, bits.

Kilobyte (KB):  1024, or about 1000, bytes.

KNI: See SSE. {Back to TOP}

L {Back to TOP}

L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol):  A proposed mechanism whereby discrete virtual tunnels can be created for each dial-up client in the network, each of which may terminate at different points upstream from the access server.  This allows individual dial-up clients to do interesting things, such as to use discrete addressing schemes and have their traffic forwarded, via the tunneling mechanisms, along completely different traffic paths.

LAN (Local Area Network): A network of computers, usually in the same building or group of buildings.

LAN Server:  A high-end PC on a local area network whose resources are shared by other users on the LAN.

Landscape:  Referring to the orientation of the print on the page.

Laptop PC:  Portable PC that can operate without an external power source.

Laser printer:  A page printer that uses laser technology to produce the image.

Layer 1:  Commonly used to describe a physical layer in the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) reference model.  Examples include the copper wiring or fiber-optic cabling that interconnects electronic devices.

Layer 2:  Commonly used to describe the data-link layer in the OSI reference model.  Examples include Ethernet and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode).

Layer 3:  Commonly used to describe the network layer in the OSI reference model.  Examples include IP (Internet Protocol) and IPX (Internet Packet eXchange).

Layout:  A reference to the positioning of the visual elements on a display or page.

Leased Line:  A leased phone line that provides a dedicated (full-time) Internet connection.

LEC (Local Exchange Carrier):  Usually considered the local telephone company or any local telephony entity that provides telecommunications facilities within a local tariff area.

LIFO (Last in, first out):  A queuing methodology in which the most recent item in the queue is the first to be retrieved.

Link:  A link is a direction in hypertext from one object to another, usually in the form of a URL.

Linkrot:  A term referring to a Web page whose links are out of date and lead to “page not found” messages, is said to be suffering from “linkrot”.

Linux:  An open source spinoff of the UNIX operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms and is made available for free over the Internet.

LIS (Logical IP Subnetwork):  An IP subnetwork in which all devices have a direct communication path to other devices sharing the same LIS, such as on a shared LAN or point-to-point circuit.

LLC (Link Layer Control):  The higher of the two sublayers of the data-link layer defined by the IEEE.  The LLC sublayer handles flow control, error corrrection, framing and MAC-sublayer addressing.

Load:  To transfer programs or data from disk to RAM.

Local bus:  A bus that links expansion boards directly to the computer system’s common bus.

Local disk:  A disk that is attached to a workstation but is not part of the network.  A local disk can be accessed only by the workstation to which it is attached.  It does not contain network files and cannot be accessed by other stations on the network without a configured share permission.

Local Loop:  Typically for a T1 or T3 line. You pay a monthly local loop charge and any used bandwidth.  With wireless you eliminate the local loop charge.

Logical:  Conceptual, not physical.  For example, the arrangement of files and directories is logical.  The actual elements of the files may be scattered all over the disk, but their logic allows them to be presented in an orderly manner for the users convenience.

Log off:  The procedure a user terminates a communications link with a remote computer or his/her workstation.

Logic error:  A programming error that causes an erroneous result when the program is executed.

Logon:  The procedure by which a user establishes a communications link with a remote computer.

Loop:  A sequence of program instructions executed repeatedly until a particular condition is met.

Low-level language:  A language comprising the fundamental instruction set of a particular computer, usually referred to as assembly language.

LPT1:  The primary printer port of a workstation. (See also parallel port). {Back to TOP}

M {Back to TOP}

Mac OS:  The operating system for the Apple family of microcomputers.

Machine cycle:  The cycle of operations performed by the processor to process a single program instruction; fetch, decode, execute, and place result in memory.

Machine language:  The programming language that is interpreted and executed directly by the computer.

Macro:  A sequence of frequently used operations or keystrokes that can be invoked to help speed user interaction with microcomputer productivity software.

Macro language:  Programming languages whose instructions relate specifically to the functionality of the parent software.

Magnetic stripe: A magnetic storage medium for low-volume storage of data on badges and cards.

Magnetic tape cartridge:  Cartridge-based magnetic tape storage media.

Magnetic-ink character recognition (MICR):  A data entry technique used primarily in banking.  Magnetic characters are imprinted on checks and deposits, than scanned to retrieve the data.

Magneto-optical technology:  An erasable recording technology that incorporates attributes of both magnetic and optical storage technologies.

Mail merge:  A computer application in which text generated by word processing is merged with data from a database (e.g. a form letter with an address.)

Mail list:  An Internet-based capability that allows people to discuss issues of common interest via common e-mail.

Main menu:  The highest-level menu in a menu tree.

Main program:  Same as driver module, can be considered to be the operating system.

Mainframe computer:  A large computer that can service many users simultaneously in support of enterprise-wide applications.

Management information system (MIS):  A computer-based system that optimizes the collection, transfer, and presentation of information throughout an organization, through an integrated structure of databases and information flow.

Map or Mapping:  To assign a drive letter to a chosen directory path (on a particular volume of a particular file server).  This is done with the MAP command line utility.  For example, if you map (assign) drive F: to directory SYS:ACCOUNT/RECEIVE, you will access that directory every time you type F: at the DOS prompt or select that drive on your desktop.

Mass storage:  Various techniques and devices used to hold and retain electronic data.

Massively parallel processing (MPP):  An approach to the design of computer systems that involves the integration of thousands of microprocessors within a single computer.

Master file:  The permanent source of data for a particular computer application area.

Maximum rights mask:  A feature of directory security that controls the rights that all trustees may exercise in one directory.  If a particular right is removed from a directory rights mask, no user will be able to exercises that right in that directory or its subdirectories, even if the user has that trustee right.

Mbps:  Megabits per second (one million bits per second).

Megabit (Mb):  1,048,576 , or about one million, bits.

MegaByte (MB):  Megabytes are the measurement used for the amount of hard drive space available, used, required, etc. One megabyte is equal to one million bytes or one thousand kilobytes. One megabyte is small by today's typical file sizes.  Hard drive sizes are commonly given in gigabytes, each of which is one thousand megabytes. Memory is also measured in megabytes. 

MegaHertz (MHz):  This stands for the "MegaHertz" rating and is the primary measure of a CPU's speed.  One Megahertz is one million clock cycles per second. Thus, a 400 MHz processor will have twice as many clock cycles per second as a 200 MHz processor, but this doesn't necessarily mean it is twice as FAST.

Memory:  One of the essential components of a computer’s central processing unit.  Memory is the area where information and programs are actively processed. (See RAM.)

Memory board:  An add-on board designed to increase the amount of RAM within a personal computer.

Menu:  A display with a list of processing choices from which a user may select.

Menu bar:  A menu in which the options are displayed across the screen.

Menu tree:  A hierarchy of menus.

Message:  A series of bits sent from a terminal to a computer, or vice versa.

Message packet:  The unit of information by which the network communicates.  Each packet contains a request for services, to and from addresses, information on how to handle the request, and any necessary data that must be transferred.

Metafile:  A class of graphics that combines the components of raster and vector graphics formats.

Meta tag:  A meta tag is a special HTML tag used to describe keywords or titles for Web search engines.  Meta tags in HTML document are invisible but can be seen using a “view source” feature.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN):  A data network designed for use within the confines of a town or city.

Microcomputer (or micro):  A small computer.

Microprocessor:  A computer on a single chip.  The central processing component of a microcomputer.

Microsecond:  One millionth of a second.

Microwave signal:  A high-frequency line-of-sight electromagnetic wave used in wireless communications. An example is 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.11b wireless technology.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface):  An interface between PCs and electronic musical instruments, like the synthesizer.

Millisecond:  One thousandth of a second.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions):  A set of protocols that permit attaching binary images to e-mail messages or the HTTP documents.

Minicomputer (or mini):  A mid-sized computer (between a microcomputer and a mainframe computer).

Minimize:  Reducing a window on the display screen to an icon.

Mips:  Millions of instructions per second.

Mirrored Database:  A physical organization of data where the entire database is duplicated on separate disk drives.  Mirrored databases offer a number of performance and administrative advantages.

Mnemonics:  A memory aid often made up from the initials of the words in a term or process.

MMX: A set of additional instruction (Multi-Media Extensions) integrated into CPUs starting with the Pentium MMX CPUs. They are still present in the Pentium III CPUs, and AMD integrated them into their K6 series of CPUs.  The MMX instruction sets had a fairly small impact.  SSE or KNI are a similar set that was integrated into the Pentium III and later CPUs.

Mode, Print:  The effective result when a group of print functions are combined on a Novell network.  Some of the factors a mode might take into consideration are the style, size, boldness, and orientation of the typeface.  The network supervisor uses the PRINTDEF utility to designate print modes, allowing a user to quickly select a desired combination of print functions.

Modem: It stands for Modulator Demodulator, but it's use is much simpler. It enables a computer to "dial-up" to another computer for a variety of purposes including Fax, Gaming, or Internet connections.  There is a large variety of modems available now including the original 14.4, 28.8, 33.6, and 56k modems as well as newer ISDN (128k) and ADSL (256k) modems.  To use any modem, your Internet Service Provider must support the format (modem, ISDN, or ADSL).  Also, new phone lines are needed for ISDN, and ADSL that must have support in your area.  Visit the Modem Page for more information and recommendations.

Monitor: The high-resolution TV-like tube that displays your computer's output.  Today's monitors have much better quality displays than any TV is capable of producing. 

Monitor display:  A formatted Novell Screen display  which may be called up on any console screen by entering the MONITOR console command.  The monitor display shows server activity and allows the user to manage server resources.

Morphing:   Using graphics software to transform one image into an entirely different image.  The term is derived from the word metamorphosis.

Motherboard: The motherboard is easily compared to the human body's nervous system.  The wires (nerves) on it transfer data between all of the other components.  Having a high-quality motherboard is essential to a reliable computer. 

 Mouse:  A point-and-draw device that, when moved across a desktop a particular distance and direction, causes the same movement of the cursor (pointer) on a screen.

Mouse cursor:  A symbol that indicates the positioning of the point-and-draw device cursor on the screen.

MP3:  A sound file format that enables CD-quality music to be compressed to about 8% of its original size while retaining CD sound quality.

MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System):  The pre-Windows PC operating system by Microsoft Corporation.

MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit):  The maximum size of a data frame that can be carried across a data-link layer.  Every host and router interface has an associated MTU related to the physical media to which the interface is connected, and an end-to-end network path has an associated MTU that is the minimum of the individual-hop MTUs within the path.

Multifunction expansion board:  An add-on circuit board that contains the electronic circuitry for two or more supplemental capabilities (for example, a serial port and a fax modem.)

Multifunction printer:  Multifunction machines that can handle several paper-related tasks such as computer-based printing, facsimile, scanning, and copying.

Multimedia application:  Computer applications that involve the integration of text, sound, graphics, motion video, and animation.

Multimedia projector:  An output peripheral device that can project the screen image (display) onto a large screen for group viewing.

Multiplatform environment:  A computing environment that supports more than one platform.

Multiplexor:  A communications device that collects data from a number of low-speed devices and then transmits the combined data over a single communications channel.  At the destination, it separates the signals for processing.

Multiplier:  This number works with the bus speed to determine how fast the CPU is run.  A multiplier of 4.5 coupled with a bus speed of 100 MHz yields a CPU speed of 450 MHz (4.5x100).  Most of Intel's newest CPUs are multiplier locked in that only a specific multiplier can be used and not others (i.e. a 450 MHz CPU can only use a 4.5 multiplier, but not 4 or 5).  The bus speed is independent and can be changed so that 4.5x100 and 4.5x103 will give different CPU speeds (provided the CPU will run at that speed).

Multiserver network:  A single network that has two or more file servers operating on it.   On a multiserver network, users may access files from any file server to which they are attached (if they have access rights).  A particular LAN may have a file server, Internet access server, print server, email server, etc. A multiserver network should not be confused with an internetwork (two or more networks linked together through a bridge.)

Multitasking:  The concurrent execution of more than one program at a time.

Multiuser network:  An operating system that allows several users (at separate workstations) to share a systems’ resources, such as processing power, data, printers, disks, etc.

Multiuser PC:  A microcomputer that can serve more than one user at any given time. {Back to TOP}

N {Back to TOP}

Nanosecond:  One billionth of a second.

NAP (Network Access Point):  An official point of entry for the Internet’s wideband backbone in the USA.   ISPs often link to NAPs to provide their connectivity with the net.

NAS (Network Access Server):  A device used to terminate dial-up access to a network.  Predominantly used for analog or digital dial-up PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) access services.

NAT (Network Address Translation): A method whereby the IP address appearing outside a network router or modem is translated to another IP address inside the network. The process of transparently sending packets via proxy between an internal and external network.

National Information Infrastructure (NII):  refers to a futuristic network of high-speed communications links that eventually will connect virtually every facet of the World Wide Web.

Natural language:  A programming language in which the programmer writes specifications without regard to the computer’s instruction format or syntax-essentially, using everyday human language to create a program.

Navigation: (1) Movement within and between a software application’s work areas. (2) To move from web page to web page or web site to web site.

NetBIOS:  An emulator program that allows workstations to run applications that were written for IBM networks.

Net PC:  Same as network computer (NC), usually referred to as a workstation.

NetWare:  Networking products made by Novell, Inc.  NetWare, a registered trademark, usually refers to the network operating system.

Network:  A group of computers that can communicate with each other, share peripherals (such as hard disks and printers), and access remote hosts or other networks.

Network address:  An electronic identifier assigned to each computer system and terminal/PC in a computer network, usually an IP, username, and password.

Network administrator:  A data communications specialist who designs and maintains local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).

Network bus:  A common cable in a bus topology that permits the connection of terminals, peripheral devices, and microcomputers to create a computer network.

Network computer (NC):  A single-user computer, sometimes diskless, that is designed to work with a server computer to obtain programs and data. Also can be a workstation.

Network disk:  A hard disk controlled by the file server.

Network interface board:  A circuit board installed in each network station to allow stations to communicate with each other and with the file server. (See also Network Interface Card.)

Network Interface Card (NIC): A Network Interface Card allows your computer to connect to a network of computers.  The most common type of NIC is Ethernet - a very fast method of transferring data between computers. A modem is generally used to dial-up from a home computer to connect to a network or the Internet.  However, an Ethernet NIC uses a cable that usually connects to a hub which connects to a router which connects to a switch, and these pieces are also often connected to a server through the same type of cable and to the Internet backbone via a fiber optic cable.  The NIC allows the computer to share with and get resources from other computers on the network (as well as share a single Internet connection. A LAN is a closed network consisting of 2 or more computers that are connected through NICs and hubs. Hubs allow several computers to share one cable connection (1 cable connects to another hub or router, and the hub provides 5 (more or less) connections for other computers or hubs to connect to).

Network operator:  A user (administrator) given special responsibilities on the network.  For example, a print queue operator is a user who is allowed to manage printer queues, changing the position of jobs in the queue or deleting them altogether.

Network station:  Any personal computer (or other device) connected to a network by means of a network interface card and some communication medium.  A network station (node) can be a workstation, bridge, or server.

Network topology:  The configuration of the interconnections between the nodes in a communications network.

Neural network:  A field of artificial intelligence in which millions of chips (processing elements) are interconnected to enable computers to imitate the way the human brain works.

Newbie:  A new user of the Internet.

Newsgroup:  The electronic counterpart of a wall-mounted bulletin board that enables Internet users to exchange ideas and information via a centralized message database.

Node:  A connection point in a computer network.

Nondestructive read:  A read operation in which the program and/or data that are loaded to RAM from disk storage reside in both RAM (temporarily) and disk storage (permanently).

Non-Impact printer:  A printer that uses chemicals, lasers, or heat to form the images on the paper.

Non-programmed decision:  A decision that involves an ill-defined and unstructured problem (also called information-based decision).

Nonvolatile memory:  Solid-state RAM that retains its contents after an electrical interruption. (Contrast with volatile memory.) Example, flash card memory.

Non-Windows application:  A computer application that will run under Windows but does not conform to the Windows standards for software.

Notebook PC:  A notebook-size, smaller than laptop PC.

Numeric:  A reference to any of the digits 0-9 in number form. {Back to TOP}

O {Back to TOP}

Object:  A result of any Windows application, such as a block of text, all or part of a graphic image, or a sound clip.

Object program:  A machine-level program that results from the compilation of a source program.

Object-oriented language:  A programming language structured to enable the interaction between user-defined concepts that contain data and operations to be performed on the data.

Object-oriented programming (OOP):  A form of software development in which programs are built with entities called objects, which model any physical or conceptual item.  Objects are linked together in a top-down hierarchy.

Offline:  Pertaining to data that are not accessible by, or hardware devices that are not connected to a networked computer system.

OLE (Object Linking and Embedding):  The software capability that enables the creation of a compound document that contains one or more objects from other applications.  Objects can be linked or embedded.

Online:  Pertaining to data and/or hardware devices accessible to and under the control of a networked computer system.

Online document:  Documents that can be retrieved from disk storage (locally or over a network) and viewed on another computer monitor.

Open application:  A running (active) application.

Open source software:  Referring to software for which the actual source programming code is made available to users for review and modification.

Operating system:  The software that controls the execution of all applications and system software programs.

Optical character recognition (OCR):  A data entry technique that permits original source data entry by scanning text or symbols.  Coded symbols or characters are scanned to retrieve the data.

Optical laser disk:  A storage medium that uses laser technology to score the surface of a disk to represent a bit.

Output:  The presentation of the results of processing.

Over-Clocking:  This is the term for running a CPU, video card, or other component faster than its rated speed. {Back to TOP}

P {Back to TOP}

Packet:  Strings of bits that contain information and a network address that are routed over different paths on the Internet according to a specific communications protocol.

Page (Web):  The area in which information is presented on the World Wide Web.

Page printer:  A printer that prints a page at a time.

Paint software:  Software that enables users to “paint” electronic images.  Resultant images are stored as raster graphics images.

Palmtop PC:  See pocket PC.

Parallel conversion:  An approach to system conversion whereby the existing system and the new system operate simultaneously prior to conversion

Parallel port:  A direct link with the microcomputer’s bus that facilitates the parallel transmission of data, usually one Byte at a time.

Parallel processing:  A processing procedure in which one main processor examines the programming problem and determines what portions, if any, of the problem can be solved in pieces by other subordinate processors.

Parallel transmission:  Pertaining to the transmission of data in simultaneous groups of bits versus one bit at a time.

Parameter:  A descriptor that can take on different values.

Parent directory:  The directory immediately above any subdirectory.  For example, SYS/ACCOUNT would be the parent directory of the subdirectory SYS/ACCOUNT/RECEIVE.

Parity checking:  A built-in checking procedure in a computer system to help ensure that the transmission of data is complete and accurate. Sum of all bits to be even or odd.

Parity error:  Occurs when a bit is dropped in the transmission of data from one hardware device or network node to another.

Partition:  A portion of a hard disks’ physical storage space that is allocated to an operating system (Windows, NetWare, DOS, etc.). Once created, a partition belongs exclusively to the specified operating system; no other operating system can access that area.

Passive hub:  A device used in certain network topologies to split a transmission signal, allowing additional workstations to be added.  A passive hub cannot amplify the signal, and so it must connect directly to a workstation or an active hub.

Password:  A word or phrase known only to the user.  When entered, it permits the user to gain access to the system.

Password protection:  A security feature that requires a user to enter a correct password before being allowed to log in to the network.

Patch:  A modification of a program or an information system.

PC (Personal Computer):  A small computer designed for use by an individual. A microcomputer.

PC Card:  A credit-card sized module that is inserted into a PCMCIA-compliant interface to offer add-on capabilities such as expanded memory, fax modem, etc. (Also referred to as a PCMCIA Card.)

PC100/PC133: A rating that certifies that the memory is capable of running at 100 or 133 MHz bus.  Specific memory chips are generally required for running at those specific speeds.

PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect): PCI is a high-speed connection for devices including SCSI cards, video cards, sound cards, modems, video capture cards, etc.  This is the primary way of adding devices to your computer.  It is faster than ISA, so is preferred for devices such as sound cards and SCSI cards.  It is slower than AGP which is for graphics cards only, so AGP graphics cards tend to be better than PCI ones.  Default PCI speeds recently are 133 and 100 MHz.

PCMCIA:  A standard for credit-card size expansion cards for portable PCs developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.

PCX:  A bit-mapped file format.

PDF:  See portable document format.

Peer-to-peer LAN:  A local area network in which all PCs on the network are functionally equal (ie., no network server).

Pen-based computing:  Computer applications that rely on the pen-based PCs for processing capability.

PERL:  A programming language frequently used to code CGI-based Web server applications.  PERL has excellent string manipulation features but it is interpreted, not compiled, making it prone to performance problems in heavily-loaded applications.  It is mostly used in UNIX systems.

Peripheral:  A physical device (such as a printer, scanner, or disk subsystem) that is externally attached to a workstation or to the network.

Peripheral device:  Any hardware device other than the processor.

Personal computer (PC):  See PC or microcomputer.

Personal digital assistant (PDA):  Handheld personal computers that support a variety of personal information systems.

Personal identification number (PIN):  A code or number that is used in conjunction with a password to permit the user to gain access to a computer system.

Personal information management (PIM) system:  Software application designed to help users organize random bits of information and to provide communications capabilities, such as e-mail and fax.

Phased conversion:  An approach to system conversion whereby an information system is implemented one module at a time.

Photo illustration software:  Software that enables the creation of original images and the modification of existing digitized images.

Picosecond:  One trillionth of a second.

Picture element:  See pixel

Pie graph:  A circular graph that illustrates each “piece” of datum in its proper relationship to the whole “pie”.

Pixel (Picture element):  One dot on a display or in a bitmapped picture.  A pixel has an X-Y position, and may have a size and color.

Platform:  A definition of the standards by which software is developed and hardware is designed.

Plotter:  A device that produces high-precision hardcopy graphic output (also called large-format, ink-jet printer).

Plug-and-play:  Refers to making a peripheral device or an expansion board immediately operational by simply plugging it into a port or an expansion slot.

PNG:  A license-free bit-mapped file format, similar to GIF.

Pocket PC:  A handheld personal computer (also called palmtop PC).

Point-and-draw device:  An input device, such as a mouse or trackball, used to point to and select a particular user option and to draw.

Pointer:  The highlighted area in a spreadsheet display that indicates the current cell.

Polling:  A line-control procedure (protocol) in which each terminal is “polled” in rotation to determine whether a message is ready to be sent.

POP (point-of-presence):  An access point to the Internet, including a local phone number.

Pop-out menu:  A menu displayed next to the menu option selected in a higher-level pull-down or pop-up menu.

Pop-up menu:  A menu that is superimposed in a window over whatever is currently being displayed on the monitor.

Port:  An access point in a computer system that permits communication (connection) between the computer and a peripheral device.

Port replicator:  A device to which a notebook PC can be readily connected to give the PC access to whatever external peripheral devices are connected to its common ports (keyboard, monitor, mouse, network, printer, etc.)

Portable document:  An electronic document that can be passed around the electronic world as you would a print document in the physical world.

Portable Document Format (PDF):  A standard, created by Adobe Corporation, creating portable documents.

Portal:  A Web site or service that offers a broad array of Internet-based resources and services.

Portrait:  Referring to the orientation of the print on the page.  Printed lines run parallel to the shorter side of the page in Portrait form.

Post:  An HTTP command that advises a web browser to send the contents of a specific form or query string to a browser application.

Post Office Protocol (POP):  Refers to the way e-mail client software receives e-mail from its server.

POTS:  Short for “Plain Old Telephone Service”, the standard device-grade telephone service common in homes and business.

Power Supply:  Generally this comes with the case.  It can have an AT or ATX power connector and it is measured in its rated output.  It converts power from your outlets into a steady stream of power the computer can use.  A 235 or 250 Watt power supply is generally sufficient for home users, but power users may need a 300 or 400 Watt power supply if they have a lot of hard drives or other components. The quality of power supply can be very important and may make the difference between a stable computer and a computer that crashes often.

Power up:  To turn on the electrical power to a computer system.

PowerPC processor:  A RISC-based processor used in Apple iMac and other computers.

PPGA:  This stands for Plastic Pin Grid Array.  PPGA is the same as Socket 370 and is a relatively new CPU connection type. The CPUs are very similar to the Socket 7 CPUs, but they cannot be used in the same motherboards. Like the Socket 7 CPUs, they have pins at the bottom of a flat square CPU, and sit parallel to the surface of the motherboard. 

PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol):  The most common telecommunication protocol for dial-up Web connections.  It can service a number of different network protocols, including IP.

Presentation software:  Software used to prepare information for multimedia presentations in meeting, reports, and oral presentations.

Pre-specification:  An approach to system development in which users relate their information processing needs to the project team during the early stages of the project.

Print server:  A LAN-based PC that handles LAN user print jobs and controls at least one printer.

Printer: A printer outputs data that is seen on the computer screen.  Printers are used through a parallel port, serial port, or USB connections. USB is somewhat faster, but there's not much of a difference for printers.  Networked computers usually print to a printer through the network card in the printer or through a print server.  The most crucial printer measurement is its dots per inch rating. Although this can be misleading, a higher number is generally better.  Printers are best chosen by actually seeing the quality of the printer output. 

Private line:  A dedicated communications channel provided by a common carrier between any two points in a computer network. (Same as leased line.)

Procedure-oriented language:  A high-level language whose general-purpose instruction set can be used to produce a sequence of instructions to model scientific and business procedures.

Processor:  The logical component of a computer system that interprets and executes program instructions.

Processor-bound operation:  The amount of work that can be performed by the computer system is limited primarily by the speed of the computer.

Program:  (1) Computer instructions structured and ordered in a manner that, when executed, causes a computer to perform a particular function. (2) The act of producing computer software to perform some application.

Program register:  The CPU register that contains the address of the next instruction to be executed.

Programmed decision:  Decisions that address well-defined problems with easily identifiable solutions

Programmer:  One who writes computer programs.

Programmer/analyst:  The title of one who performs both the programming and systems analysis function.

Programming:  The act of writing a computer program.

Programming language:  A language programmers use to communicate instructions to a computer.

PROM (Programmable Read-Only Memory):  ROM in which the user can load read-only programs and data. The contents are “burned” into the chip electronically or optically.

Prompt:  A program-generated message describing what should be entered.

Property:  A descriptive feature of an object.

Proprietary software package:  Single, proprietary vendor-developed software that is marketed to the public.

Protocols:  Usually, a specified method for determining how and when to format and send data.  A serial (asynchronous) transmission protocol might include the baud rate, handshake method (XON.XOFF, etc.), parity setting number of data bits (character length), and number of stop bits. (See communications protocols.)

Prototype system:  A model of a full-scale system.

Prototyping:  An approach to systems development that results in a prototype system.

Pseudocode:  Nonexecutable program code used as an aid to develop and document structured programs.

Public access:  A security condition that gives all users access rights to a particular directory.

Pull Technology:  Technology where data are requested from another program or computer, such as with an Internet browser.

Pull-down menu:  A menu that is “pulled down” from an option in a higher-level menu.

Push technology:  Technology where data are sent automatically to an Internet user. {Back to TOP}

Q {Back to TOP}

Queue:   A data handling structure that stores requests (such as print jobs) in the order they are received while they wait for servicing.  The first request that arrives is the first to be handled.  Later requests are placed in the queue and must “wait in line” to be processed.

Query by example:  A method of database inquiry in which the user sets conditions for the selection of records by composing one or more example relational expressions. {Back to TOP}

R {Back to TOP}

Radio buttons:  Circle bullets in front of user options that when selected include a dot in the middle of the circle.

Radio signals:  Signals that enable data communication between radio transmitters and receivers.

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks):  A disk memory device on which data is distributed across several disk drives with enough error-correcting code to maintain data integrity in the event of a failure of a single drive.

RAM (Random-Access Memory):  This is the component that holds recently accessed data for the CPU to have quick access to. It is much faster than reading from a hard drive, so having a lot of RAM makes it quick to retrieve recently accessed files, applications, and other data.  All programs must be run through RAM before they can be used.  RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is typically measured in megabytes. My Memory Page may also be helpful. 

RAM disk:  That area of RAM that facilitates disk caching.

Random access:  Direct access to records, regardless of their physical location on the storage medium.

Random processing:  Processing data and records randomly.

Random-Access Memory:  See  RAM

Range:  A cell or a rectangular group of adjacent cells in a spreadsheet.

Rapid application development (RAD):  Using sophisticated development tools to create a prototype or a functional information system.

Raster graphics:  A method for maintaining a screen image as patterns of dots. (See also bit-mapped graphics.)

RDRAM (Rambus DRAM):  This is the Intel-backed form of memory that is competing with PC133 SDRAM. It boasts speeds up to 800 MHz for very high bandwidth, but whether or not it will be worth its high price is a tough call.  RDRAM comes in RIMMs that will not fit in the BX motherboard DIMM slots. 

Read:   The process by which a record or a portion of a record is accessed from the disk-storage medium and transferred to RAM for processing.

Read-after-write verification:  A data safeguard that reads back data written to a hard disk and compares it to the original data that is still in memory.  If the data from the disk matches the data in memory, the data is released.  If not, that block location is recognized as “bad,” and redirects the data to a good block location elsewhere on the disk.

Read-only memory (ROM):  A memory chip with contents permanently loaded by the manufacturer for read-only applications.

Read/write head:  That component of a disk drive or tape drive that reads from and writes to its respective storage medium.

Record:  A collection of related fields (such as an employee record) describing an event or an item.

Redirection area:  A small portion of hard disk space assigned during installation.  The redirection area is set up as a table to hold data blocks that are “redirected” from bad block locations on the disk.

Refresh Rate:  This is the speed at which the monitor's picture is redrawn or flashed in front of your eyes. Slower refresh rates provide a noticeable flicker.  Higher refresh rates create a steady picture (and is easier on your eyes). The refresh rate is determined by the video card, but also must be supported by the monitor. The maximum refresh rate will be different for different resolutions.  A minimum of 75 Hertz is recommended (TV refresh rates are 30 Hz, which is why there is a noticeable flicker).

Register:  A small high-speed storage area or chip in which data pertaining to the execution of a particular instruction are stored.

Relational database:  A database, made up of logically linked tables, in which data are accessed by content rather than by address.

Relational operators:  Used in formulas to show the equality relationship between two expressions (= [equal to], <  [less than], > [greater than], <= [less than or equal to], >= [greater than or equal to], <> [not equal to]).

Relative cell address:  Refers to a cell’s position in a spreadsheet in relation to the cell containing the formula in which the address is used.

Remote:  A connection between a LAN and a workstation or network, often using telephone lines.  A remote connection allows data to be sent and received across distances greater than those allowed by normal cabling.

Remote reset:  A feature that enables a workstation to boot from the network, without using a floppy diskette.

Remote workstation:  A terminal or personal computer that is not part of the LAN, but is connected to the LAN by a bridge.  A remote workstation may be either a stand-alone or part of another network.

Resolution:  Similar to dpi, the resolution is how many pixels can be displayed on the screen at once. The resolution is measured in the number of pixels wide and high that the display is.  The most common resolutions are 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1600x1200. Higher resolutions provide sharper, better quality pictures, but also make type and images smaller since more information is squeezed onto the same size screen.  The size of the monitor is important when considering the resolution.  A 14" or 15" monitor is best with an 800x600 resolution. 1024x768 is best for 17" monitors. 19" monitors can use 1280x1024 or 1024x768 well. 1600x1200 or greater is recommended only for 21" or larger monitors. The resolution of a TV screen is 640x480; another reason why a computer's display is much better than a TV's. 

Restore:  To copy data from a backup storage device to a computer.

Ribbon cable:  A cable in which the wires are placed side by side in the insulation material instead of being bunched together in a circle inside the insulation material (usually very flat).

RGB monitor:  Color monitors that mix red, green, and blue to achieve a spectrum of colors.

RIMM:  A RIMM is a form of memory connection much like a SIMM or DIMM.  RIMMs are physically different from the others and cannot be used on a BX chipset motherboard. RIMM stands for Rambus Inline Memory Module.  RDRAM comes in RIMMs.

Ring topology:  A computer network that involves computer systems connected in a closed loop, with no single computer system the focal point of the network.

RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer):  A computer design architecture based on a limited instruction set machine language.

Robot:  (1) A computer-controlled manipulator capable of locomotion and/or moving items through a variety of spatial motions. (2) An Internet connected computer programmed to perform web site searches or other web activities.

Robotics:  The integration of computers and industrial robots.

ROM (Read-Only Memory):  RAM that can be read only, not written to.

Root directory:  The directory at the highest level of a hierarchy of directories.

Router:  The network node of the Internet (web).  They forward packets to other routers until they reach their destination.  (Think of 2 circles, in order to get between them, this device connects the two together).  Communications hardware that enables communication links between LANs and WANs by performing the necessary protocol conversions. Can be setup to share one Internet connection to workstations on a network.

Routing buffers:  Portions of memory reserved in a bridge computers’ RAM.  Routing buffers are used to temporarily store and queue the message packets sent between communication stations when the network bus is busy.

RS-232C connector:  A 9-pin or 25-pin plug that is used for the electronic interconnection of computers, modems, and other peripheral devices.

RTT (Round Trip Time):  The time required for data traffic to travel from its origin to its destination and back again.

Ruler bar:  In the document window, a line that shows appropriate document size measurements.

Run:  To open and execute (operate) a program. {Back to TOP}

S {Back to TOP}

Sandbox:  A set of restrictions on an executable code module that keep the module from controlling the host machine. Typically a sandbox prohibits reading and writing directly to the file system and from controlling peripheral devices.  A good sandbox also protects memory use, in order to eliminate buffer overflow security exploits.

Scalable system:  A system whose design permits expansion to handle any size database or any number of users.

Scalable typeface:  An outline-based typeface from which fonts of any point size can be created.

Scanner: This device allows you to read images and text into your computer. Scanners use a variety of connection formats including Parallel Port, USB, and SCSI.  USB is simple, SCSI is fast, and Parallel Port is extremely slow.

Screen saver:  A utility program used to change static screens on idle monitors to interesting dynamic displays.

Screen-capture programs:  Memory-resident programs that enable users to transfer all or part of the current screen image to a disk file.

Scroll:  To move the display on a screen up and down or from side to side.

Scroll arrow:  Small box containing an arrow at each end of a scroll bar that is used to navigate in small increments within a document or list.

Scroll box:  A square object that is dragged along a scroll bar to navigate within a document or list.

Scrolling:  Using the cursor keys to view parts of a document that extend past the bottom or top or sides of the screen.

SCSI: This acronym is pronounced "scuzzy" and stands for Small Computer Systems Interface. There are two types of interfaces for hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc.  One is SCSI, the other is IDE.  IDE is much more common and less expensive. SCSI is more expensive and also more flexible and generally faster.  With a single SCSI card you can have 15 or more devices whereas you are only allowed to have 4 devices with an IDE system. The fastest hard drives (and generally CD-ROM drives too) are SCSI-based.  Examples are the 10,000 rpm IBM 9LZX hard drive. The fastest IDE drives run at 7,200 rpm.  To have a SCSI-based computer, you have to have a SCSI card, SCSI hard drive, etc.  SCSI is more complicated to configure.

SCSI bus (Small Computer System Interface):  This hardware interface allows the connection of several peripheral devices to a single SCSI expansion board (or adapter).

SCSI controller:  The add-on circuitry needed for a SCSI port.

SCSI port:  A device interface to which up to 15 peripheral devices can be daisy-chained to the single port.

SDRAM (Synchronous dynamic RAM): This is the most common type of memory used today and is a type of DIMM. SDRAM (like all memory) is measured by its access time, CAS latency, its rating, and other timings.  Recent ratings are PC100 and PC133, and this memory is required for newer Pentium II and III CPUs.

Search engine:  An Internet resource discovery tool that lets people find information by keyword(s) searches.

SECC:  A Single Edge Contact Cartridge is a type of connection for the CPU to plug into the motherboard.  It is the same as Slot 1. All Pentium II and III CPUs are Slot 1, as are some Celeron CPUs. These CPUs require a Slot 1 motherboard using the BX or LX (older) chipsets as well as newer ones. They plug into the motherboard much like a PCI sound card or other component would. Thus, they sit perpendicular to the surface of the motherboard. 

Sector:   A disk-storage concept of a pie-shaped portion of a disk or diskette in which records are stored and subsequently retrieved.

Sector organization:  Magnetic disk organization in which the recording surface is divided into pie-shaped sectors consisting of arced segments.

Select:  Highlighting an object on a windows screen or a menu option.

Sequential access:  Accessing records in the order in which they are stored.

Sequential files:  Files containing records that are ordered according to a key field.

Sequential processing:  Processing of files that are ordered numerically or alphabetically by a key field.

Serialization:  A method of copy protection; each file servers Disk Coprocessor board, disk interface board, or keycard has a unique serial number and can only be used with the operating system software that has the same serial number.

Serial port:  A direct link with the microcomputer’s bus that facilitates the serial transmission of data.

Serial representation:  The storing of bits one after another on a storage medium.

Serial transmission:  Pertaining to processing data one bit at a time.

Server:  A LAN component that can be shared by users on a LAN.

Server application:  (1) An application running on a network server that works in tandem with a client workstation or PC application. (2) In object linking and embedding, the application in which the linked object originates.

Server computer:  Any type of computer, from a PC to a supercomputer, that performs a variety of functions for its client computers (workstations) including the storage of data and applications software.

Server program:  A software program on the server computer that manages resources and can work in conjunction with a client program.

SFT (System Fault Tolerance):  Duplicating data on multiple storage devices so that if one storage device fails, the data is available from another device.  There are several levels of hardware and software system fault tolerance, each level of redundancy (duplication) decreases the possibility of data loss.

SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language):  A standard language for marking documents which can be parsed by a computer.  HTML and XML are markup languages that fall under the SGML umbrella.

Shortcut icon:  A graphic icon that represents an application or document that when chosen causes the application to be run or the document to be opened.

Shortcut key:  A key combination that chooses a menu option without the need to display a menu.

Shut down:  The processes of exiting all applications and shutting off the power to a computer system.

SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module):  A small circuit board, capable of holding several memory chips, that has a 32-bit data path and can be easily connected to a PC’s system board. (See DIMM.)

Simultaneous click:  Tapping both buttons on a point-and-draw device at the same time.

Slate PC:  A portable personal computer that enables input via an electronic pen in conjunction with a pressure-sensitive monitor/drawing surface.

Slides:  One of the images to be displayed in presentation software.

Slot 1:  See SECC.

Slotket / Sloket:  These terms are used to refer to an adapter card that allows a PPGA CPU (Celeron) to be used on a Slot 1 motherboard. Newer ones also allow for voltage adjustment.

Smalltalk:  An object-oriented language.

Smart card:  A card or badge with an embedded microprocessor

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol):  The Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail.

Socket 370:  See PPGA.

Socket 7: This is an older CPU connection format that was used by the Pentium, Pentium MMX, all the AMD K6 and later CPUs, and several Cyrix CPUs.  Slot 1 CPUs cannot be used on these motherboards, nor can Socket 370 CPUs.  These CPUs are flat squares that sit parallel to the motherboard. Their pins plug into the motherboard. 

Soft copy:  Temporary output that can be interpreted visually, as on a monitor.

Soft font:  An electronic description of a font that is retrieved from disk storage and downloaded to the printer’s memory.

Soft keyboard:  A keyboard displayed on a touch-sensitive screen such that when a displayed key is touched with a finger or stylus, the character or command is sent to memory for processing.

Software:  The programs used to direct the functions of a computer system.

Software engineer:  A person who develops software products to bridge the gap between design and executable program code.

Software installation:  The process of copying the program and data files from a vendor-supplied master disk(s) to a PC’s hard disk.

Software package:  One or more programs designed to perform a particular processing task.

Software piracy:  The unlawful duplication of proprietary software.

Software suite:  An integrated collection of software tools that may include a variety of business applications packages.

Sort:  The rearrangement of fields or records in an ordered sequence by a key field.

Source application, clipboard:  The software application from which the clipboard contents originated.

Source data:  Original data that usually involve the recording of a transaction or the documenting of an event or an item.

Source document:  The original hard copy from which data are entered.

Source program:  The code of the original program (also called source code).

Source program file:  This file contains high-level instructions to the computer that must be compiled prior to program execution.

Source-data automation:  Entering data directly to a computer system at the source without the need for key entry transcription.

Spam:  Unsolicited junk e-mail.

Speech synthesis:  Converting raw data into electronically produced speech.

Speech synthesizers:  Devices that convert raw data into electronically produced speech.

Speech-recognition system:  A device that permits voice input to a computer system.

Spelling checker:  A software feature that checks the spelling of every word in a document against an electronic dictionary.

SPF (Shortest Path First):  A single-source, shortest-path algorithm that computes all shortest paths from a single point of reference based on a collection of link metrics.

Spool:  To transfer data that was intended for a peripheral device (such as a printer) into temporary storage.  From there the data can be transferred to the peripheral at a later time, without affecting or delaying the system as it performs other operations.

Spreadsheet file:  A file containing data and formulas in tabular format.

Spreadsheet software:  Refers to software that permits users to work with rows and columns of data.

SDRAM (Synchronous dynamic RAM):  RAM that is able to synchronize itself with the processor enabling faster throughput.

SQL (Structured Query Language):  A standard language for creating and accessing relational databases.

SSE (KNI): Streaming SIMD Extensions (formerly known as Katmai New Instructions) represent a set of instructions integrated into Intel's Pentium III CPUs.  Similar to MMX and 3DNow!, they are intended to speed up CPU performance. While MMX did not have much of an impact, SSE appears to offer significant improvements.  SSE is the primary difference between the Pentium II and Pentium III CPUs.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer):  A protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents via the Internet.

Star Topology:  A computer network that involves a centralized host computer connected to a number of smaller computer systems.

Start button:  Permanent button on the Windows task bar.

Station:  See Network station.

Station address:  A unique number assigned to each station on a network.  It may be specified in either decimal or hexadecimal format.

Streaming Media:  Web content that is downloaded to the user continuously while he listens to it or views it.

Streaming tape backup:  A data backup method in which data is stored on a magnetic tape cartridge as the tape “streams” past the recording head.  Streaming tape backup records data sequentially and so the data must be accessed sequentially when it is restored from the tape.

Stop bits:  A data communications parameter that refers to the number of bits in the character or byte.

Storage:  A device or medium (floppy diskette, hard disk, magnetic tape, etc.) that receives and holds data for retrieval.  Storage may be permanent or temporary.

Structure chart:  A chart that graphically illustrates the conceptualization of an information system as a hierarchy of modules.

Structured system design:  A systems design technique that encourages top-down design.

Subdirectory:  Any directory that is below another directory in the directory structure.

Subdomain:  A subdomain is either a contiguous set of IP addresses that are part of a larger domain, or a domain name qualified by a dot-delimited prefix such as “”.

Subroutine:  A group or sequence of instructions for a specific programming task that is called by another program.

Supercomputer:  The category that includes the largest and most powerful computers.

Superdisk:  A disk-storage technology that supports very high-density diskettes.

Switch block:  A set of switches mounted together to form a single component.

Switched line:  A telephone line used as a regular data communications channel.

Switching hub:  A type of hub that accepts packets of information sent within a network, then forwards them to the appropriate port for routing to their network destination based on the network address contained in the packet. Sometimes referred to as a Switch.

Synchronous transmission:  A communications protocol in which the source and destination points operate in timed alignment to enable high-speed data transfer.

Syntax:  The rules that govern the formulation of the instructions in a computer program.

Syntax error:  An invalid format for a program instruction.

System:  Any group of components (functions, people, activities, events, and so on) that interface with and complement one another to achieve one or more pre-defined goals.

System board:  A microcomputer circuit board that contains the microprocessor, electronic circuitry for handling such tasks as input/output signals from peripheral devices, and memory chips (same as motherboard).

System check:  An internal verification of the operational capabilities of a computer’s electronic components.

System life cycle:  A reference to the four stages of a computer-based information system—birth, development, production, and death.

System maintenance:  The process of modifying an information system to meet changing needs.

System programmer:  A programmer who develops and maintains system programs and software.

System prompt:  A visual prompt to the user to enter a system command.

System software:  Software that is independent of any specific applications area.

System specifications (specs):  Information system details that include everything from the functionality of the system to the format of the system’s output screens and reports.

System unit:  An enclosure containing the computer system’s electronic circuitry and various storage devices.

Systems analysis:  The examination of an existing system to determine input, processing, and output requirements for the target system.

Systems analyst:  A person who does systems analysis.

Systems test:  A phase of testing where all programs in a system are tested together. {Back to TOP}

T {Back to TOP}

T-1:  A T-1 circuit enables data transmission at 1,544,000 bits per second.  High speed digital link to the Internet consisting of 24 line pairs (trunks).

T-3:  A T-3 circuit enables data transmission at 45,000,000 bits per second. High speed digital link to the Internet.

Tag:  A tag is a HTML construct consisting of a symmetrical pair of delimiters in the form <tagname>…</tagname>.

Tape backup unit (TBU):  A magnetic tape drive designed to provide backup for data and programs.

Tape drive, magnetic:  The hardware device that contains the read/write mechanism for the magnetic tape storage medium.

Tape, magnetic:  A storage medium for sequential data storage and backup.

Target system:  A proposed information system that is the object of a systems development effort.

Task:  The basic unit of work for a processor.

Taskbar:  In a Windows session, the bar shows what programs are running and available for use.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol):  The protocol used by computers to communicate across the Internet. 

Telecommunications:  The collection and distribution of the electronic representation of information between two or more points.

Telecommuting:  “Commuting” via a communications link between home and office.

Telephony:  The integration of computers and telephones.

Telnet:  A terminal emulation protocol that allows users to work from a PC as if it were a terminal linked directly to a host computer.

Template:  A model for a particular microcomputer software application.

Terabyte (TB):  About one trillion bytes.

Terminal:  Any device capable of sending and receiving data over a communications channel.

Terminal emulation mode:  The software transformation of a PC so that its keyboard, monitor, and data interface emulate that of a terminal.

Terminating resistor:  Hardware placed at the end of a coaxial cable circuit to prevent signals from being reflected back across the circuit.  Sometimes shortened to “terminator.”

Text cursor:  A symbol controlled by the arrow keys that shows the location of where the next keyed-in character will appear on the screen.

TFLOPS:  A trillion FLOPS. (See FLOPS)

Third-generation language (3GL):  A procedure-oriented programming language that can be used to model almost any scientific or business procedure.

Thread (newsgroup):  An original Internet newsgroup message and any posted replies to that message.

Throughput:  A measure of computer system efficiency; the rate at which work can be performed by a computer system.

Throwaway system:  An information system developed to support information for a one-time decision, then discarded.

Thumbnail:  A miniature display of an image or a page to be viewed at a larger size by clicking on it.

TIF:  The Windows-based extension for TIFF files, a bit-mapped file format often used in print publishing.

TIFF:  A bit-mapped file format often used in print publishing.

Tiled windows:  Two or more windows displayed on the screen in a non-overlapping manner.

Tiny area network (TAN):  A term coined to refer to very small local area networks, typically installed in the home or small office (SOHO).

Title bar:  A narrow Windows screen object at the top of each window that runs the width of the window showing the program and/or file name.

Toggle:  The action of pressing a single key on a keyboard to switch between two or more modes of operation, such as insert and replace.

Token access method:  A local-area-net protocol in which an electronic token travels around a network giving priority transmission rights to nodes. (See also Ethernet.)

Toolbar:  A group of rectangular graphics (icons) in a software package’s user interface that represent a frequently used menu option or a command.

Topology:  The physical layout of a network.  There are three basic interconnection topologies—star, ring, and bus networks.  In a star network, workstations connect directly to a file server but not to each other.  In a ring network, the file server and workstations are cabled in a ring, and a workstation’s messages may have to pass through several other workstations before reaching the file server.  In a bus network, all workstations and the file server are connected to a central cable (called a trunk or bus).

Touch-screen monitors:  Monitors with touch-sensitive screens that enable users to choose from available options simply by touching the desired icon or menu item with their finger.

Tower PC:  A PC that includes a system unit (CPU) that is designed to stand vertically.

Tracks:  Physical locations on a data storage medium.  On a disk, tracks take the form of concentric circles.  Tracks are divided into sectors to form the fundamental units of disk storage.

Track, disk:  That portion of a magnetic disk-face surface that can be accessed in any given section by a single read/write head. Tracks are configured in concentric circles.

Track, tape:  That portion of a magnetic tape that can be accessed by any one of the tape drive’s read/write heads.  A track runs the length of the tape.

Trackball:  A ball mounted in a box that, when moved, results in a similar movement of the cursor on a display screen.

Trackpad:  A point-and-draw device with no moving parts that includes a touch-sensitive pad to move the graphics cursor.

Trackpoint:  A point-and-draw device that functions like a miniature joystick but is operated with the tip of the finger.

Tracks per inch (TPI):  A measure of the recording density, or spacing of tracks on a magnetic disk.

Transaction:  A procedural event in a system that prompts manual or computer-based activity.

Transaction file:  A file containing records of data activity (transactions); used to update the master file.

Transaction-oriented processing:  Transactions are recorded and entered as they occur.

Transceiver:  A device used with certain network topologies to convert the digital signals from a station to a form that can be transmitted over the main network communication medium.

Transmit:  To send electronic signals from station to station through a communication medium (coaxial cable, twisted-pair cable, fiber optics, microwave, etc.).

Transmission medium:  The central cable along which terminals, peripheral devices, and microcomputers are connected in a bus topology.

Transparent:  A reference to a procedure or activity that occurs automatically and does not have to be considered by the user.

TSR (Terminate-and-Stay-Resident):  Programs that remain in memory so they can be instantly popped up over the current application by pressing a hotkey.

TTS (Transaction Tracking System):  A system that protects databases from being corrupted if the computer fails in the middle of a transaction.  Each database change is viewed as one transaction, which must be either completed successfully or entirely aborted.  If the workstation fails in the middle of a transaction, the transaction is “backed out” and the database is restored to its last completed state.

Turnaround document:  A computer-produced output that is ultimately returned to a computer system as a machine-readable input.

Tweaking: This is a term used to describe changing settings, adding programs, etc. in order to make your computer run faster or more efficiently. 

Twisted-pair wire:  A pair of insulated copper wires twisted around each other to minimize noise and crosstalk interference for use in transmission of telephone conversations and for cabling in local area networks.

Typeface:  A set of characters that are of the same type style.
{Back to TOP}

U {Back to TOP}

UltraDMA/UltraATA: Also known as ATA/33, this is a technology in newer IDE hard drives that allows for greater overall throughput.  ATA/66 is now available with many hard drives that are even faster.  However, a 7200 rpm ATA/33 drive will generally be faster than a 5400 rpm ATA/66 drive. That is, the speed of the drive itself is much more important than the ATA/33 or 66 rating. 

ULS (User Location Service):  An Internet-based listing of Internet users who are currently online and ready to receive Internet telephone calls.

Unicode:  A 16-bit encoding system.

UNIX:  A multi-user network operating system.

Upload:  The transmission of data from a local computer to a remote computer.

Upstream rate:  The data communications rate from client computer to server computer.

Uptime:  That time when the computer system is in operation.

USB (Universal Serial Bus):  USB stands for Universal Serial Bus and is a new technology theoretically capable of connecting a very large number of external devices on a computer.  USB is intended primarily for low bandwidth (slow) components such as mice, keyboards, modems, joysticks, etc., but not fast devices like hard drives. Most computers have 2 USB ports. Some USB devices will have another port so that another USB device can be plugged into it. This is called "Daisy-Chaining". Otherwise you run out of ports quickly, in which case you may need a USB hub that will add more ports (usually 4).

USB port (Universal Serial Bus port):  A high-speed device interface to which up to 127 peripheral devices can be daisy-chained to a single USB port.

UPC (Universal product code):  A 10-digit machine-readable bar code placed on consumer products.

UPS: This stands for Universal Power Supply, and it is a device that provides continuous, reliable power to your computer. It is a device that plugs into your outlets and you then plug your computer, monitor, and other components into. It uses a battery to make sure that the computer will stay on even if there is a power outage.  These are generally used only for critical machines and servers, but they can also be useful at home if you have blackouts/brownouts or voltage irregularities.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator):  An Internet address for locating Internet elements, such as server sites, documents, files, bulletin board, etc. Can be expressed as a domain name or in dotted quad notation.

USENET:  A worldwide network of servers, often hosting newsgroups, who can be accessed over the Internet.

User:  The individual providing input to the computer or using computer output.

User interface:  A reference to the software, method, or displays that enable interaction between the user and the software being used.

User liaison:  A person who serves as the technical interface between the information services department and the user group.

User-friendly:  Pertaining to an online system that permits a person with relatively little experience to interact successfully with the system.

Utility software:  System software programs that can assist with the day-to-day chores associated with computing and maintaining a computer system. {Back to TOP}

V {Back to TOP}

Vaccine:  An antiviral program.

Value-added process (VAP):  An application that runs “on top” of the network operating system (in much the same way a word processing or spreadsheet application runs on top of DOS).  VAPs tie in with the network operating system so that products like print servers, archive servers, and database servers can provide services without interfering with the networks normal operation.

Value-added server:  A specialized type of server other than a file server.  A value-added server is usually a separate, dedicated computer that fulfills a specific function for network users (for example, print servers, database servers, and archive servers).

Variable:  In command format, a parameter with a set of unspecified values, any one of which may be chosen to complete the command.  For example, to copy a file into a directory, you must choose which file to copy and which directory to copy it into.  Since there are numerous filenames and destination directories to choose from, both the filename and the directory name are variables.

VDT (Video Display Terminal):  A terminal on which printed and graphic information are displayed on a television-like monitor and into which data are entered on a typewriter-like keyboard.

Vector graphics:  A method for maintaining a screen image as patterns of lines, points, and other geometric shapes using mathematical vector description rather than bit maps. Usually yields smaller byte sizes than a similar bit map image.

Vertical scroll bar:  A narrow screen object located along the right edge of a window that is used to navigate up and down through a document or list.

Video Capture / Output:  This is generally achieved with a video capture card that is capable of taking video in from a TV or VCR and recording it to a computer video file. Usually a separate device is required, but some of today's video cards have this capability built in. If you want to be able to do this, be aware that your video card must support it, or you must have a video capture card.  Computer generated videos can also be output to VCR tapes. 

Video Card: This component is used to transfer data to your monitor so that it can be displayed. Today's video cards have a variety of "3D" capabilities. 3D video cards are only needed for playing games though. When playing 3D games, the video card is the most important component. See my Video Card section for a more in-depth discussion of this. 

VGA (Video Graphics Array) adapter:  A circuit board that enables the interfacing of very high-resolution monitors to microcomputers.

Video file:  This file contains digitized video frames that when played rapidly produce motion video.

Video mail (V-mail):  Mail that’s sent as video rather than as an electronic document.

Video RAM (VRAM):  RAM on the graphics adapter.

Videophone:  An Internet-based capability that permits two parties to both see and hear one another during a conversation.

Virtual file allocation table (VFAT): Windows method for storing and keeping track of files on a disk.

Virtual machine:  The processing capabilities of one computer system created through software (and sometimes hardware) in a different computer system.

Virtual Private Network (VPN):  Allows two or more offices to appear as one secure network through the use of strong encryption.  It is a network established for the exclusive use of a single organization or business enterprise .

Virtual reality:  An artificial environment made possible by hardware and software.

Virus:  A program written with malicious intent and loaded to the computer system of an unsuspecting victim.  Ultimately, the program destroys or introduces errors in programs and databases.

Vision input system:  A device that enables limited visual input to a computer system.

Visual Basic:  A visual programming language.

Visual C++:  A visual programming language.

Visual programming:  An approach to program development that relies more on visual association with tools and menus than with syntax-based instructions.

Voice message switching:  Using computers, the telephone system, and other electronic means to store and forward voice messages.

Voice-response system:  A device that enables output from a computer system in the form of user-recorded words, phrases, music, alarms, etc.

Voltage: This is the amount of power supplied to a components.  CPU voltage is the only one that we ever have any control over.  Increasing the voltage can be helpful in over-clocking your CPU to a high speed. Most motherboards do not support this as an option though. 

Volatile memory:  Solid-state semiconductor RAM in which the data are lost when the electrical current is turned off or interrupted.

VPN (Virtual Private Network):  A secure link between two machines, based on encryption, that allows sensitive traffic to be transmitted over insecure paths. {Back to TOP}

W {Back to TOP}

WAIS (Wide Area Information Server):  A database server on the Internet that contains indexes to documents that reside on the Internet.

Wait state:  A period of time when the processor does nothing; it simply waits.  A wait state is employed when a part of the circuitry within a computer cannot perform as fast as the clock is trying to drive it.  Wait states slow down a computer, but are often necessary.

WAN (Wide Area Network):  A large network that links computers together that are located long distances from each other.  The beauty of the Internet is that it relieves an organization of having to manage links over long distances.

Warm boot:  To reload a computer’s operating system into memory while the computer is on.

Wand scanner:  Handheld OCR scanner.

Wave file:  A windows sound file (.wav).

Web pages:  A document on the Web that is identified by a unique URL.

Webcast:  The broadcasting of real-time audio and/or video streams over the Internet.

Webmaster:  An individual who manages a Web site.

Website:  A Web server, or collection of Web servers, which appears to users as an integrated entity with a well-defined system of hyperlinks connecting its components.

Wheel mouse:  A mouse with a “wheel” to facilitate scrolling.

Whiteboarding:  An area on a display screen that permits a document or image to be viewed and worked on simultaneously by several users on the network.

Wide Area Network Interface Module (WNIM):  An interface board that is installed in a workstation on the LAN.  The WNIM routes LAN-to-remote and remote-to-LAN asynchronous communications.

Wildcard character:  A character recognized by a software application as universal replacement for other characters.

Window:  A rectangular section of a display screen that is dedicated to a specific document, activity, or application.

Wireless Internet:  Term used to describe a network connection to the Internet or an ISP using radio frequencies through the air rather then using traditional Telephone Communication wiring such as ISDN, T1 or T3.

Wireless transceiver:  Short for “transmitter-receiver”, a device that both transmits and receives data via high-frequency radio waves.

Wizard:  A utility within an application that helps you use the application to perform a particular task.

WMF (Windows metafile):  A popular format for metafiles (.wmf).

Word:   For a given computer, an established number of bits and Bytes that are to define a unit.

Word processing software:  Software that uses the computer to enter, store, manipulate, and print text.

Workgroup computing:  Computer applications that involve cooperation among people linked by a computer network.

Workspace:  The area in a desktop window below the title bar or menu bar containing everything that relates to the application noted in the title bar.

Workstation:  A high-performance single-user computer system with sophisticated input/output devices that can be easily networked with other workstations or computers.

World Wide Web (the Web, WWW, W3):  An Internet server that offers multimedia and hypertext links.

Worm:  A program that erases data and/or programs from a computer system’s memory, usually with malicious intent.

WORM disk (Write-Once Read-Many disk):  An optical laser disk that can be read many times after the data are written to it, but the data cannot be changed or erased after the first recording.

WORM disk cartridge:  The medium for WORM disk drives.

Write:  To record data on the output medium of a particular I/O device (tape, hard copy, PC display). 

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get):  A software package in which what is displayed on the screen is very similar in appearance to what you get when the document or image is printed. {Back to TOP}

X {Back to TOP}

XML (Extended Markup Language):  An emerging extension of SGML that provides structured data exchange, structured queries, and extended presentation options.   XML is a flexible framework for assigning tags to fields within a document. XML does not specify what the tags should be.  It is up to various organizations or industry groups to define and use consistent sets of tags.

X  terminal:  A terminal that enables the user to interact via a graphical user interface (GUI).

XON/XOFF Protocol:  A software handshaking protocol used to establish communication (such as that between a host microprocessor and a printer) so that data is not sent faster than it can be received. {Back to TOP}

Y {Back to TOP}

Yahoo:  An Internet portal.

Year 2000 problem (Y2K):  An information systems problem brought on by the fact that many legacy information systems still treat the year field as two digits (98) rather than four (1998). So the 00 listing could indicate 1800, 1900, or 2000 causing hardware and software problems. It turned out to not be much of a problem at all. {Back to TOP}

Z {Back to TOP}

Zip disk:  The storage medium for Zip drives.

Zip drive:  A storage device that uses optical technology together with magnetic technology to read and write to an interchangeable floppy-size 100 MB Zip disk.

Zoom:  An integrated software command that expands a window to fill the entire screen. {Back to TOP}