Glossary

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5.1 CHANNEL SURROUND

Surround sound configuration used in home cinema systems with five high quality sound channels (front and rear stereo and centre dialogue channel) plus one narrow bandwidth channel carrying low frequency (bass) effects

 

286, 386, 486

Families of Intel microprocessor chips developed during the 1980s and early 1990s, forerunners of the Pentium chips used in current generation PCs

 

 

A

 

AAC

Advanced Audio Coding -- audio codec used on Apple iPOD personal music players and distributed by  Apple iTunes  online music store

 

ACTIVE-X

Programming tools used to integrate multimedia components and features into web pages

 

ADSL

Asymmetric/Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line – ‘Broadband’ high-speed data connection using existing telephone lines. ADSL has the facility to be "always on" and permits normal operation of the phone, to make and take calls whilst the connection is active.

 

A/D CONVERTER

Device that converts analogue audio signals into digital data

 

ADWARE & SPYWARE

Programs secreted in web pages or software downloads that makes use of your Internet connection – without your knowledge or permission -- to display advertising or send personal or private data from your PC to a parent site

 

AGP

Accelerated Graphics Port – dedicated socket on a PC motherboard for high performance ‘3D’ video adaptor cards required for demanding graphics applications and the latest games

 

ALGORITHM

A program or piece of software that processes data in a carefully ordered sequence of steps or according to a precise set of rules ASCII

 

ANTI STATIC BAG

Made from specially treated plastic, designed to disperse a static electric charge

 

APS

Advanced Photographic System – film camera format with easy to load cartridges and improved creative facilities

 

ASCII

American Standard Code for Information Interchange -- a universal data code for text and alphanumeric characters, understood by virtually all computers 

 

ASPECT RATIO

The shape of an image, defined by the relationship between its height and width

 

AT

ATtention - the prefix to a modem command, to tell the modem to expect an instruction

 

ATA/IDE

Advanced Technology Attachment/Integrated Drive Electronics; the circuitry -- built into the disc drive – that acts as an interface between the drive and the PC motherboard (see also SATA)

 

ATAPI

AT Attachment Packet Interface - industry standard disc drive connection system and data communications protocols, used on the most CD-rewriters, suitable for use with most Windows PCs

 

ATRAC

Adaptaptive Transform Acoustic Coding - digital audio compression system used by the MiniDisc format

 

ATOMIC CLOCK

By analysing the vibrations of certain atoms (Caesium is the favourite) it is possible to measure time to an accuracy of a few billionths of a second per day

 

ATTACHMENT

Data file – usually containing a photograph or text document but sometimes a worm or virus – sent with an email message

 

ATX

Motherboard layout standard, defined by Intel, covering the physical size (305 x 244mm), position of sockets, expansion slots and mounting holes

 

AUTOCORRECT

Word feature that automatically corrects spelling mistakes as you type

 

AUTOTEXT

A frequently used block of text - an address, salutation etc., -- that can be inserted into a document

 

AVERY LABELS

A range of standardised label styles and formats, developed by the office equipment company of the same name

 

.av

Audio-Video Interleaved, standard format for PC video files

 

 

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B

 

BACKCHANNEL

The return path, to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), for web page requests, outgoing email and data sent from a PC

 

BAD SECTORS

Parts of the hard disc drive which the test utility Scandisk marks as being faults and incapable of reliably storing data. A sudden increase in the number of bad sectors is often a sign that the drive is damaged or starting to deteriorate

 

BANDING

Straight lines or bands across a printed picture caused blocked nozzles, poor alignment or design defects in the printer head, as it criss-crosses the paper

 

BCC

Blind Carbon Copy, sends a copy of a message to several recipients, but without showing details of the other recipients on the email

 

BETA

Pre-release version of a program or application, made available to testers and volunteers on an at-their-own-risk basis, to help identify any last remaining bugs, glitches and conflicts

 

BINARY

Numbering system with a base of 2, where values are represented by zeros and ones

 

BIOS

Basic Input Output System: diagnostic and configuration program stored in a microchip memory on the PC motherboard that checks the PC hardware before the operating system is loaded

 

BITMAP

Type of image file format (extension *.bmp) used by Windows and many other programs, quality is high because no compression is used; however, bitmap files can be very large and are unsuitable for sending via email

 

BITRATE

A measure of the amount of digital data a system can process, measured in bits per second or 'bps', in the context of MP3 faster bit rates mean lower compression and higher sound quality

 

BITS PER SECOND (bps)

The number of bits per second a serial communications system can handle determines how fast information can be conveyed from one point to another

 

BLACKLIST

Library of known spammers, addresses, keywords, names and terms used by anti-spam software to filter incoming email

 

BLOCKED SENDERS

List of email addresses – specified by the user -- that automatically deletes unwanted messages

 

BLOG

Short for Weblog, a web page carrying an on-line diary or frequently updated content

 

BLUETOOTH

Short-range (5 to 10 metres) wireless communications system used to link electronic devices, like cell phones with hands-free headsets and PCs with printers and peripherals such as keyboards and mice

 

BOOLEAN SEARCH

Advanced technique using logical commands such as AND, OR, NOT etc., to refine a keyword or document search. (A branch of algebra named after nineteenth century British mathematician George Boole)

 

BOOT ORDER

The sequence in which a PC checks disc drives and storage devices for a boot file or operating system. Most machines are configured to check either the primary hard drive (usually C:) or the CD-ROM drive first. Some recent PCs can also boot from external USB memory devices.

 

BROADBAND

High-speed Internet -- typically at least five times faster than a standard dial-up connection -- using a variety of technologies including ADSL, cable, satellite and wireless communications

 

BROWNOUT

A large reduction in the mains supply voltage, causing lights to dim and electronic devices like PCs to stop working

 

BROWSER

An Internet access program, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera and  Mozilla Firefox

 

BSOD

Blue Screen Of Death – appears when Windows crashes and needs to be rebooted

 

BURNER

CD writer, referring to the way data is recorded, using a laser beam to change the optical properties of chemicals sandwiched between the layers of a recordable disc 

 

BURN PROOF

Additional memory in a CD or DVD writer to prevent BUffer UndeRun, or interruptions in the datastream, which cause recording errors  

 

 

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C

 

CACHE

Part of a computer's memory set aside for storing frequently-used data, speeding up file access or the transfer of information

 

CAD/CAM

Computer Aided Design/Manufacture -- family of graphic-oriented software applications used in design and manufacturing

 

CARTRIDGE/TANK

Replaceable ink container in a printer

 

CADDY

Removable container for an optical disc or a hard disc drive, enabling it to be quickly extracted for storage or loading in another drive or PC

 

CARD READER

External device --connected by USB cable -- or built-in facility that allows a PC to read and write data to a memory card. Most current card readers are ‘multi-format’

 

CCD

Charge Coupled Device, type of microchip used in digital cameras, web cams, camcorders and video cameras, containing hundeds of thousands or millions of light sensitive picture elements or 'pixels' 

 

CD-A

Compact Disc Audio, the industry standard file format for audio CDs, that will ensure that discs can be played on any CD player

 

CD-R

Compact Disc Recordable, write-once recordable CD format

 

CD-R/RW

Compact Disc Read/Write, disc that can be recorded on and erased many times

 

CHAT-ROOM

Web page or site, which allows subscribers or members to exchange text messages

 

CHIPSET

Control microchips on a PC motherboard or plug-in adaptor card

 

CLIENT

A PC or program used to access files on another PC on a network

 

CLIP ART

Copyright-free pictures, icons, cartoons and graphics supplied with word processor programs, or available separately on disc or from thousands of web sites on the Internet

 

CLIPBOARD

Windows utility used to temporarily store chunks of text, data, graphics or pictures that can be shared or imported into other applications using Copy and Paste

 

CLIPPING

Distortion caused by excessively high recording level

 

CLONE BRUSH

Graphic program tool for copying an area of a picture, to replace colours and textures

 

CMOS

Complimentary metal oxide semiconductor - family of low power microchips used to store and process digital data

 

 

CODEC

Compression/decompression (or coder - decoder) software utility or add-on used to process digital data

 

COLD BOOT

Starting a PC from its switched-off state, as opposed to a Restart or Suspend or Hibernation modes

 

COMMAND LINE

A typed instruction, to tell a PC to do something, as opposed to clicking on a menu or icon

 

COMMAND PROMPT

DOS type operating mode that allows access to the PC's disc drives and files, without having to load Windows

 

COMPACT FLASH

Type of memory module used to store and move data between digital cameras, MP3 players etc. and PCs

 

COMPATIBILITY MODE

Facility in Windows XP to run older Windows (95/98) programs

 

COMPOSITE VIDEO (PAL)

Standard video signal format used by all consumer video devices, including TVs, VCRs DVD players etc. In the UK we use the PAL (Phase Alternate Line) colour system

 

COMPRESSION

A technique used to reduce the size of a file, making it smaller, more manageable and quicker to send over the Internet

 

CONSUMABLES

Printer ink and toner cartridges etc., which need to be replaced when they run out or exceed life expectancy

 

COBOL

Common Business Oriented Language - programming language used in data processing and business applications

 

COLOUR DEPTH

The amount of data used to describe a colour, which determines the range and accuracy of colours in an image

 

COLOUR MATCHING

Technique to ensure that the colours displayed on a PC monitor are as close as possible to the finished printed picture

 

COLOUR SCHEME

Colouration of Windows desktop and screen elements, such as task, tool and menu bars, active and inactive windows and drop-down menus

 

COLOUR TEMPERATURE

Means of describing the distribution of colours in a light source, measured in degrees Kelvin. (Typical values: tungsten lamp 2700k, fluorescent tubes 2700 to 6500k, noonday sun 5500k, blue sky 10000k)

 

CONTEXT MENU

A menu containing commands or actions relevant to an object or element on a program’s desktop or dialogue box

 

COOKIES

Small text files stored on a PC by web sites that can contain a wide range of data such as preferences and personal information

 

CORE FONTS

The basic set of fonts or typefaces that are installed and used by Windows 95/98

 

CPU

Central Processor Unit - the main microprocessor chip in a PC

 

CRITICAL UPDATES

Patches and fixes for the most serious vulnerabilities in Windows or an application that can affect its security or operation

 

CRT

Cathode Ray Tube – video monitor screen, basically a big glass bottle with all of the air sucked out. The image is formed on a layer of phosphor coating the side of the glass faceplate, which glows when struck by a stream of fast moving electrons

 

CSV (COMMA SEPERATED VALUES)

Text file where items of information – i.e. names, addresses, telephone numbers etc -- are separated by commas

 

CUSTOMISATION

Personal preferences applied to a program or application that determine how it looks, the layout of menu and toolbars and so on

 

 

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D

DAISY CHAIN

USB devices have two sockets so they can be connected together, one to the other, like a chain 

 

DATA CARTRIDGE

A cassette, similar to audio or video tape (Some tape backup systems use DAT and 8mm audio and video cassettes).

 

DATA FIELD

In the context of an address book a single item of information, i.e. a forename or surname, house number and street name, postcode etc.

 

DATA SOURCE

A file used to store a particular type of information is kept, such as names and addresses

 

DATA MINER

Program or software that collects information on a PC -- usually relating to web surfing -- and sent from the PC to a marketing company

 

DCC

Direct Cable Connection, a Windows utility for connecting two PCs together so they can exchange files

 

DECOMPRESS

Files sent over the Internet are often 'compressed' to make them smaller and faster to send. However, in order to use the files they have to be decompressed or extracted on the host PC. Some compressed files come with their own automatic extraction utility, others -- usually with the extension *.zip -- depend on a separate program on the PC to 'unzip' the files   

 

DEFRAG

Over time the files on a PC's hard disc drive become disorganized - 'defragging' the drive restores order and speeds up reading and writing data

 

DEGAUSS

Demagnetise -- a coil around the outside of a picture tube in a video monitor or colour TV induces a collapsing magnetic field that eradicates the build up of magnetic fields on metal components inside the tube, which case colour distortion

 

DDR/DIMM

Double Data Rate/Dual In-line Memory Module -- DIMM modules have 168 pins whilst DDR DIMM modules have 184 pins.

 

DHCP

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol – system of automatically allocating IP addresses to computers in a network

 

DIAL UP CONNECTION

Utility in Windows responsible for connecting a PC, via a modem, to the Internet

 

DIGITAL ARTEFACTS

Processing errors in digital video recordings, typically the picture freezes momentarily or breaks up into large 'pixellated' blocks

 

DIRECTX

A software component in Windows (included as standard in Win 9x and XP) used to improve the graphics and sound performance of programs, especially games

 

DISC CONTROLLER

Microchip that identifies a disc drive or storage device to a computer and helps speed up the transfer of data

 

DISPLAY CARD/ADAPTOR

A plug-in card or circuitry incorporated into the motherboard that converts digital information into an analogue video signal that is fed to the monitor

 

DISPLAY SCHEME

A preset selection of colours, sizes and text formats assigned to Windows screen elements

 

DISTRIBUTION

A complete Linux package containing the main operating software, a ‘shell’ or desktop program plus a selection of popular applications

 

DITHERING

Sharpening edges and creating additional colours and shades by randomly interspersing pixels of other colours

 

DIVX

Highly efficient data compression system used to reduce the size of large video files to make them easier to transport over the Internet

 

DLL

Dynamic Link Library, a data file containing data or information needed by a program. DLLs may be shared by a number of applications, in which case they are stored in a central location, such as the System folder in Windows

 

DMA

Direct Memory Access - a means of transferring data quickly between the hard disc and the PC's memory (see EIDE)

 

DNS

Domain Name System -- used by the Internet to translate web site addresses into numeric Internet Protocol (IP) codes

DOMAIN

A group of computers, sharing a common address or identity, connected together by a network. Thus a desktop PC connected to the Internet via an Internet Service Provider is part of that ISP's 'domain'

 

DOMAIN NAMES (GENERIC TOP LEVEL)

.ac.uk

UK academic organisation

 

.com

world-wide 'commercial' entities, individuals or companies

 

.co.uk

UK based commercial entity, individual or company

 

 .edu

assigned to higher level educational establishments, colleges, universities etc.

 

.gov/.gov.uk

reserved for US government agencies and organisations and similar bodies in other countries when preceded by the relevant country code

 

.mod.uk

UK Ministry of Defence establishment web sites

 

.net

organisations, which are part of the Internet infrastructure - i.e. Internet Service Providers etc.

 

.nhs.uk

UK national health service web site

 

.org,/org.uk

originally reserved for non-profit making organisations (charities, political bodies, professional institutions, trades unions etc.)  but now issued to some commercial enterprises

 

.sch.uk

UK schools domain

 

DONGLE

A type of electronic key (‘dangling’ on the end of short wire) used to unlock some types of software or any small device that plugs into a PC

 

DOS/MS-DOS

Disc Operating System/Microsoft Disc Operating System -- a program that runs independently of Windows responsible for controlling disc drives, organising data and memory resources.

 

DOS MODE

Starting or ‘booting’ a PC using only the basic disc operating system

 

DOT PITCH

A measure of the size and spacing of the coloured light-emitting phosphor dots or stripes that coat the inside of the screen. The current norm is around 0.28mm, higher performance CRTs have dot pitches of between 0.23 and 0.25mmtransferred from the hard disc to the RAM memory chips.

 

DRIVER

A program or data file that tells Windows how to communicate with a particular piece of hardware, like a video adaptor, modem, printer, web cam, USB Memory Stick etc.

 

DRM

Digital Rights Management - embedded data in digital multimedia files, designed to protect copyright, prevent piracy and control or restrict playback

 

DTP

Desktop publishing -- makeup and layout programs used to design pages in printed documents, magazines, newspapers, books and Internet web sites

 

DUPLEX PRINTING

Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. A few printers can do this automatically, however in most cases it is necessary for the user to manually re-load the paper or papers, facing the other way and in the right order

 

DVD

Digital Versatile Disc - high capacity optical disc system with a capacity of 4.7Gb (or greater using dual side and dual layer systems). DVD drives can also read CD-ROMs. Most DVD writers can also record on CD-R/RW discs

 

DVORAK KEYBOARD

Simplified keyboard layout designed by August Dvorak and William Dealey in the 1930s, as an easy to learn alternative to the traditional QWERTY layout

 

 

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E

 

EASTER EGG

Unofficial, undocumented and usually frivolous hidden feature put into a program by the developers

 

ECP/EPP

Extended Capabilities Port/Enhanced Parallel Port; printer port settings that allow faster data transfer rates

 

EDO RAM

Extended data out, random access memory, high-speed RAM chips used on PCs with specialised memory controllers

 

EIDE/ATA/DMA/UDMA

Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics/ Advanced Technology Attachment/Ultra Direct Memory Access – technical standards governing data transfer and power supply requirements for hard disc drives

 

EISA/ISA

Extended Industry Standard Architecture, type of connector on a PC motherboard, now virtually obsolete, used for expansion or adaptor cards

 

EMAIL CLIENT

Program, e.g. Outlook or Outlook Express, used to send and receive emails

 

EMAIL WORM

A type of virus, often hidden inside an email attachment that once activated will replicate and attach itself to emails, which it sends out to the contacts listed in the PC owner’s Address Book

 

EMBEDDED COMMANDS

Hidden instructions contained in a spreadsheet or table to perform calculations or carry out specific actions when data is entered

 

EMBEDDED FONTS

Typeface information included in a file that allows fonts and character sets to be displayed that may not be on the host PC

 

EMERGENCY RECOVERY DISC

A floppy disc created by Windows containing files that will allow a PC to boot up in DOS mode, plus various tools and utilities to assist recovery following a crash 

 

ENCRYPTION

Encryption or scrambling renders files unreadable by any conventional means without the correct decryption software and a unique 'key' code, which is needed to unlock the data.

 

ENGINE

A self-contained program designed to do a specific task that operates within a larger application

 

ENERGY STAR

US Government backed initiative to promote energy saving and protect the environment

 

ESD

ElectroStatic Discharge - static electric charge, which can rise to several thousand volts and capable of destroying sensitive electronic devices

 

ETHERNET

Industry standard networking system that allows the transfer of data over cables at speeds up to 100 megabits per second

 

EXE

Files ending in .exe are 'executable' which basically means they contain a program that will start when the .exe file is opened

 

EXPANSION CARDS

Most PCs contain a set of small circuit boards, plugged into the main motherboard for controlling the video output, processing sounds or communicating with the outside world (modems and network cards)

 

EULA

End User Licence Agreement -- the lengthy document that no-one reads, which appears when you install a software application and you have to agree to before the installation will proceed

 

 

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F

 

FAST USER SWITCHING

Facility that allows multiple user accounts to simultaneously log on to a computer

 

 

FAQ

Frequently asked questions, a simple guide to a particular topic or subject area

 

FAT 32

File Allocation Table -- the indexing system used by pre XP versions of Windows to control where and how data is stored on a hard disc

 

FIELD

An area on a document that acts as a container for text or data that needs to be entered or might change, without affecting the rest of the document

 

FILE EXTENSIONS (WINDOWS & POPULAR APPLICATIONS)

.avi

Audio-Video Interleaved, Microsoft standard movie files

 

.bak

Backup or archive file, usually created automatically by a program

 

.bmp

Bitmap, standard Windows image or graphics file

 

.cab

Cabinet, compressed data file used on Microsoft software installation discs

 

.dll

Dynamic Link Library, contains information or data that may be shared by several programs

 

.doc

Microsoft Word document

 

.exe

Executable, a file containing a program or instructions to start a program

 

.gif

Graphics Interchange Format, a graphics file, mainly used on Internet web pages

 

.hlp

Help file

 

.htm/html

HyperText Markup Language, Internet web page files

 

.ico

Windows icon files

 

.ini

Initialisation file containing information needed to start and configure Windows

 

.jpg/.jpeg

Joint Photographic Experts Group, compressed image file 

 

.lwp

Lotus Word Pro document

 

.mid

Musical Instrument Digital interface, music file

 

.mov

QuickTime Movie file

 

.mp3

Moving Picture Expert Group 3, CD quality sound file used for music on the Internet

 

.mpg/mpeg

Moving Picture Experts Group, video movie file

 

.old

Convention for renaming old or disused files that may be needed at some time in the future

 

.pdf

Portable Document Format, interactive text file with web-like links

 

.rtf

Rich Text Format, industry standard text file, can be read by most word processors

 

.scr

Screensaver file

 

.sys

System file, containing information needed to load and configure Windows

 

.tif/.tiff

Tagged Image Format File, graphics file

 

.tmp

Temporary file, generated by Windows and various applications, normally deleted when the program or Windows is closed

 

.ttf

True Type Font, file containing typeface information

 

.txt

File containing plain or unformatted text

 

.uue

Text file format used to send program files containing binary information by email

 

.wav

Waveform, windows sound file

 

.wma

Windows Media Audio

 

.wpd

Word Perfect document file

 

.xls

Microsoft Excel worksheet

 

.zip

File containing compressed binary data, used for sending programs or information on the Internet

 

 

FILE AND PRINTER SHARING

Basic feature of a network that allows files and documents on one PC to be opened on another and for all of the PCs to share one printer

 

FILE FRAGMENTS

Files or bits of files left behind on the hard disc when a program is deleted

 

FILTERING

A facility in some email programs to automatically delete messages without them being downloaded or read, according to a set of ‘rules’ based on the sender’s address or keywords in the subject line or message.

 

FINALISE

The process of closing a rewritable or recordable optical disc (CD DVD), and structuring the Table of Contents (TOC) so that it can be read on any standard player.

 

FIREWALL

Program that monitors an Internet connection, preventing unauthorised access by hackers. Most commercial firewalls also stop programs on a PC from using the Internet connection without permission

 

FIREWIRE (aka IEEE 1394 and ‘I-Link’)

High-speed serial data connection system, commonly used for connecting PCs to external storage devices and digital camcorders, for downloading video footage for editing

 

FIRMWARE

The software, usually stored on a memory chip, used to control electronic devices containing microprocessor chips, like mobile phones and DVD players etc.

 

FIRST BOOT DEVICE

The disc drive that your PC uses to load its operating system. Normally the C: drive, but it can be changed in the BIOS program to another hard drive or the floppy or CD/DVD drives

 

FLAME

Offensive or abusive E-mails, usually sent in response to someone infringing basic newsgroup netiquette

 

FLASH MEMORY

Electronic ‘non volatile’ memory device that retains data without using a power supply or backup battery

 

FLATBED

Desktop scanner with horizontal (flat) picture/document holder, usually covered by a hinged top

 

FLIP & ROTATE

An option in most graphics programs and word processors to rotate a text or graphics object on the page

 

FLOAT

A tool or option in a graphic program that lets you copy and move a defined area of a image to another part of the picture

 

FONT/TYPEFACE

Text style and size. Virtually all word processors have a 'wizzywig' display (actually WYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get...) so what appears on the screen is what ends up on the printed page.

 

FORMAT (1)

Preparing a disc drive for use by creating a filing structure and deleting any previously stored data

 

FORMAT (2)

Embedded instructions within a document that specify the typeface, font size page layout and any special characteristics or features

 

FORM FACTOR

Set of standards defining the size and layout of a PC motherboard. The most common types are: AT, Baby AT, ATX and Mini ATX

 

FREEWARE

Shareware programs that are free to use, but the author retains control and copyright over the original programming code. N.B. some freeware and shareware programs may contain advertising messages and/or adware and spyware programs 

 

FTP

File Transfer Protocol, Internet system used to move data files from one computer to another

 

FUNCTION KEYS

The row of keys along the top of the keyboard, which can be assigned to various functions in an open application (F1 traditionally calls up Help)

 

 

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G

 

GAMEPORT

A 15-pin female connector socket designed exclusively for joysticks and other control devices

 

GENERAL PUBLIC LICENCE

End user licences issued by organisations including the Free Software Foundation and GNU Project, designed to promote the creation and distribution of free software 

 

GEOMETRY

The size and shape of the display on a monitor screen. Most monitors have controls to alter the vertical and horizontal position and the linearity of the top and sides (sometimes called trapezoid adjustment). Some models also have a tilt control, to ensure the display aligns with the edges of the screen, to compensate for the Earth's magnetic field and local influences

 

GIF

Graphics Interchange Format - standard file format for images and graphics used on Internet web pages

 

GIGABYTE

One thousand megabytes though purists will insist that it’s actually 230  (2 to the power of 30) bytes,

which translates as 1,073,741,824 bytes or 1024 megabytes

 

gsm

Grams per square metre, measurement of paper weight and consequently thickness. Standard copier paper is usually 80 to 100 gsm, thin card starts at around 120gsm

 

GSM

Global System for Mobile communications - digital cellular telephone system used by the Cellnet and Vodaphone networks in the UK and in more than 100 other countries

 

GPF

General Protection Fault - a 'fatal' software error, causing a running program to stop working because it fights (and loses) over the amount of memory resources it and other programs have been allocated by Windows

 

GPS

Global Positioning by Satellite – fleet of low earth orbit satellites that broadcast highly accurate timing signals that can be picked up by small hand-held receivers, giving the user’s location anywhere on the planet to within a few metres

 

GRAPHIC EQUALISER

Sophisticated tone control, for precisely setting bass, mid-range and treble frequencies during playback on an audio system

 

GREYSCALE

The number of shades of grey, between white and black – typically 256 -- that a PC imaging system can handle

 

GRID

A hidden matrix of horizontal and vertical lines to which text and objects are automatically aligned

 

GRUB

GRand Unified Bootloader -- program that allows two or more operating systems to  be loaded on a single PC (commonly used on dual booting or Linux systems)

 

GUID

Global Unique IDentifier  -- long string of letters and numbers (e.g. '{1345E 5E0-40HH-1D41-K189-F89D946S AD6B}') that Windows uses to identify files specific to a particular PC or user

 

GUTTER

The blank space between the inner margins of two facing pages in a magazine, newspaper or book

 

 

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H

 

HACKING

Any attempt to access files on your PC, usually through an open or unprotected Internet or network connection

 

HEAT SINK

Finned metal plate or casting bonded or attached to electronic components, designed to dissipate heat

 

HEXADECIMAL

Numbering system used by computers, with a base of 16, represented by the numbers 0 to 9 and the letters A to F

 

HIBERNATION MODE

The PC is 'asleep', with the disc drives dormant and Windows and running programs suspended but the processor is still active and the system can be revived in just a few seconds by pre-determined actions (mouse or keyboard activity, modem ring etc.)

 

HITS

Search results, usually a brief summary of a web site's contents, the site address, a relevance rating and an underlined link to click on, to take you to the site

 

HOME PAGE

The Internet page or web site that your browser goes to automatically as soon as you go on line

 

HOME PAGE HIJACKER

Malware program that changes your browser’s Home Page, usually to an Internet search, advertising  or pornograpic web site

 

HOST

An Internet company providing storage space for web sites on their server computer

 

HOST COMPUTER

A computer - usually part of a wider network, like the Internet -- that is accessed by one or more users at remote terminals 

 

HOT KEYS

A combination of two or three keys strokes that activates a command within a program

 

HOTSPOT

Public Wi-Fi access point in and around hotels, airports, coffee bars etc., users are normally required to pay a fee or subscription before they can log on

 

HOT SWAPPABLE

A device or component that can be safely removed and replaced whilst the equipment it is connected to continues to operate

 

HTML

Hypertext Mark-up Language - hidden codes used to develop design and compile text and graphic elements in web pages, emails and documents

 

HTTP

HyperText Transfer Protocol -- a set of rules used that governs how text is displayed on Internet documents plus a means of moving around inside documents and accessing other web pages by clicking on highlighted or underlined 'links.

 

HYPERLINK

Coloured and underlined word(s) in a document; clicking on the link takes you to another part of the document or opens a web page

 

HYPERTHREADING

Technique developed by Intel to fool an operating system (i.e. Windows) into believing that it is connected to two processors, thereby increasing speed and efficiency

 

HUB

A multi-way connector with one input and several outputs

 

 

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I

 

IEEE 802.11

Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, technical standards for wireless connectivity and networking (see also Wi-Fi). Three standards are currently in widespread use; 802.11b and g operate on the 2.4GHz band with 11 and 20Mbs data rates respectively. The 802.11a system uses the 5GHz band and supports date rates of up to 54Mbs

 

ILS

Internet Locator Server - an Internet site that or server that allows users logged onto that site to communicate with one another, either individually or in groups

 

IMAGESETTER

Device used to convert image data produced on a PC into photographic film used for making lithographic printing plates

 

IMPEDANCE

Measurement of resistance in relation to an alternating current

 

INBOX

A folder created by an email program where incoming messages are stored

 

INCREMENTAL BACKUP

A backup strategy that only records new additions and changes made to chosen files

 

INFRASTRUCTURE MODE

Common network configuration whereby all data passes through a central exchange or ‘router’.

 

INTERPOLATION

A software technique that basically fills in the gaps between the ‘dots’ on a printed picture by analysing the surrounding dots and taking an educated guess at what should be there

 

INTERNAL SPEAKER

Small loudspeaker inside a PC case, used for warning or error sounds during boot-up

 

IP ADDRESS

Internet Protocol Address -- unique 32-bit code, represented by four groups of digits, used to identify PCs and devices connected to a network and Internet web sites

 

IR/IRDA

Infra red, cordless serial data communications systems used on many laptops and peripherals and a number of cellphones. The common standard is known as IrDA (Infra red Data Association)

 

IRQ

Interrupt Request -- a set of instructions that enable the processor to manage a succession of tasks in sequence

 

ISA

Industry Standard Architecture - connection system used on IBM PCs and compatibles, for plug-in 'daughter boards' such as sound and video cards and modems etc., now virtually obsolete

 

ISO IMAGE

International Standards Organisation Image file (aka ISO 9660) a file filing system used on recordable media structured to support an operating system

 

ISDN

Integrated Services Digital Network -- high-speed data connection over specially installed telephone line

 

ISP

Internet Service Provider -- a company providing Internet access, an E-mail address and a mailbox where messages sent to you are stored before they're downloaded on to your PC

 

 

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J

 

JAVA

A versatile Internet programming language used in a wide range of applications, including creating animation and web page forms

 

JPEG/MPEG

Joint Photographic Experts Group/Motion Picture Experts Group (part of the International Standards Organisation). File compression systems used to reduce the amount of data in still and video image files, used by devices like digital cameras and DVD players

 

JUMPER

Tiny connector or shorting link, used to configure setup parameters on disc drives and motherboards

 

 

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K

 

KEY CAPS

Press-fit embossed keys tops on a PC keyboard 

 

KEYBOARD MAP

Software that controls the layout and assignment of character and function keys on a PC keyboard

 

KEYBOARD SHORTCUT

A simple and ideally memorable sequence of two or three key-strokes, used to invoke a frequently used action or activity within a program or application

 

KEYWORD

Words or phrases used to search for information or elicit a programmed response from a software application

 

KEY/PEN DRIVE

Portable memory device, designed to plug into a PC’s USB port and act as a removable drive

 

KERNEL

The core computer code in an application or operating system that controls how it looks and works

 

KVM SWITCH

Keyboard, Video Mouse -- a simple and inexpensive electronic device connected to two PCs that allow them to share one keyboard, monitor and mouse. Switching between the two PCs is usually by a simple keyboard shortcut or ‘hotkey’

 

 

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L

 

LAN

Local Area Network -- a computer network

 

LCD

Liquid crystal display - flat panel video display made up of tens of thousands of picture elements or 'pixels' that can be switched on and off to control the passage of light. LCD monitors consume far less power than CRTs and generate no harmful emissions.

 

LINE INPUT

Low impedance analogue audio input connection on a PC -- usually a 3.5mm stereo minijack socket – suitable for connection to audio devices like tape recorders and hi-fi systems

 

LINUX

Family of freely distributed ‘Open Source’ computer operating systems used in a wide variety of applications from simple desktop workstation to high-end server

 

LOGGING

A record of the time and date of a set of actions or activities

 

LUMINANCE

Brightness or intensity

 

 

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M

 

MACHINE CODE

The basic language of computers, usually a form of binary code, where instructions are represented by groups of 'ones' and 'zeros'

 

MACRO

Simple programming function in Word (and many other programs) used to automate frequently used commands and functions

 

MAIL MERGE

Word facility to help automate the process of printing form letters, envelopes and address labels.

 

MAINFRAME

Large and powerful computer, the earliest machines often occupied several air-conditioned rooms and had to be tended by teams of technicians

 

MALWARE

Malicious or intrusive software, , (aka spyware, adware, trojans, premium rate diallers etc.), often inadvertently downloaded from websites, that make adverts appear, track your on-line activities or send private and personal information from your PC

 

MEGAPIXEL

As near as makes no difference one million pixels or picture elements

 

MEMORY CARD/MODULE/STICK

Removable non-volatile (i.e. information is retained when power is removed) memory module used to store data – typically images and sounds – in portable devices like digital cameras and MP3 music players etc.

 

MESSAGE RULES

A facility in Outlook Express that automatically directs emails to nominated message folders, or disposes of them, in response to key words, headings or email addresses

 

MIME

Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a widely used system for converting non-text files and information -- images, HTML commands etc. -- to and from plain text so it can be sent as E-mail 

 

MIRROR SITE

A web site containing a duplicate set of archives or data - usually geographically distant to the parent site -- to help relieve strain on busy sites and Internet infrastructure

 

MMC

MultiMedia Card, postage-stamp sized memory module used to store and move data between digital cameras, MP3 players etc. and PCs

 

MODEM

MOdulator/DEModulator, a device that converts digital signals coming from your PC into audible tones that can be sent via a conventional telephone line

 

MODEM COMMANDS

Instructions issued by the PC to tell the modem to do things like open the line and dial a number

 

MODERATOR

Person in charge of a chat-room monitoring for undesirable content or behaviour

 

MOTHERBOARD

The main printed circuit board inside a PC, with sockets for the processor chip, memory modules  expansion cards and connections for printer, mouse, keyboard and other peripherals

 

MP3

Motion Picture Experts Group audio layer 3 -- digital audio compression system commonly used to send files containing audio and music over the Internet and for storing musical files in personal audio players

 

MPEG-2

Moving Pictures Expert Group -- MPEG-2 is one of a set of technical standards for compressing video into digital data; picture quality is at least as good as normal broadcast TV

 

MRU/MTU

Maximum receive/transmission unit -- the maximum packet size (in bytes) a network can send or receive

 

MSCONFIG

Microsoft Configuration utility -- hidden feature in Windows used to control many behind the scenes operations

 

MS-DOS

See DOS

 

MSF RADIO TIME

The call sign of a radio signal containing time and date codes, generated by an atomic clock, broadcast by the UK National Physical Laboratory near Rugby on a frequency of 60kHz

 

 

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N

 

NAG SCREEN

A window or display that appears when a program has started to remind the user to pay a registration fee or indicate how many days of the trial period remain

 

NETBEUI & IPX/SPX

Transport ‘protocols’, used to move data and files around a network. Support for NetBEUI has been discontinued in Windows XP in preference to IPX/SPX though it is included on the XP installation disc and can still be used

 

NEWSGROUP

Public notice boards on the Internet where like-minded net users can post e-mail messages, articles or announcements for others to read and respond to.

 

NTFS

New Technology File System -- method of organising data on a disc drive, used by Windows 2000 and XP. More efficient than (and incompatible with) the FAT 32 system used on earlier versions of Windows

 

NODE

A 'location' in a network, either a computer or a peripheral device, with its own unique address

 

NON-VOLATILE MEMORY

A memory chip that retains data when the power supply is removed

 

NULL MODEM

Type of serial communications cable, configured for two-way data transfer between a PC and a modem, or two PCs.

 

 

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O

 

OCR

Optical Character Recognition – converting the scanned image of a document into a text file that can be read by a word processor

 

OFFICE ASSISTANT

Help feature in Word where a 'friendly' cartoon character pops up and tells you how to do things. For example typing 'Dear Sir' will bring up advice on how to write a letter

 

OGG VORBIS

Free, unpatented ‘Open Source’ audio compression system, comparable in quality with rival systems like MP3

 

OHM

Unit of electrical resistance

 

OLE

Object Linking and Embedding, a set of protocols that allow 'objects', such as graphics , audio and video clips etc., to be  embedded in documents and displayed or made playable by the user clicking on the icon

 

ON-SCREEN KEYBOARD

A virtual keyboard where characters are selected using a mouse pointer or other means, such as voice control or movement 

 

OPEN SOURCE

Software with minimal licensing and broad, often free distribution, which users are encouraged to help develop

 

OPERATING SYSTEM

Program that controls how a computer works and interacts with the user

 

OPTICAL MOUSE

Instead of a rolling ball an optical mouse used a beam of light to detect movement. The lack of mechanical parts means smoother and more reliable mouse movement

 

ORDINAL

The subscript or superscript ‘st’ ‘nd’, ‘rd’ etc, after a number, i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on

 

OVERCLOCKING

Making a PC run faster by increasing the speed of the CPU beyond its rated design

 

OVERTYPE

Typing a letter or character replaces the character or space next to it

 

 

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P

 

PACKET

Data and files travelling around the Internet are chopped up into small chunks or packets, each bearing the address of the computer it is intended for. The route the packets follow are dynatically controlled to avoid congestion or bottlenecks, once at their destination they are reassembled into the original files or web pages

 

PACKET SNIFFER

Software tool used to monitor, capture and decode data moving around a network

 

PAGEFILE

An area of hard disc memory used to store data used by the computer’s temporary random access memory (RAM), including sensitive or private information such as unencrypted passwords

 

PAPER PATH

The rollers and guides inside a printer through which sheets of paper pass  

 

PAPER WEIGHT

Paper weight and thickness of paper is measured in grams per square metre (gsm). Ordinary copier/printing paper is normally between 80 and 85gsm; lightweight card is in the range 200 to 300gsm

 

PARALLEL PORT

One of the rear panel connections on your PC (or laptop) usually used by printers and scanners. Data is transferred relatively quickly 4 or 8 bits at a time

 

PARTITION

Dividing a single large hard disc drive into two or more separate (logical) drives, so a 120Gb drive, for example, could be split into two 60Gb partitions designated C: and D:

 

PATCH

A program or file intended to fix or work around a problem in a software application

 

PATH

The location of a file or program on a hard disc, e.g. to specify the file that starts Microsoft Word the path might be: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Winword.exe

 

PC-CARD

See PCMCIA

 

PCI

Peripheral Component Interconnect - high-speed expansion/connector system used on most recent PCs for sound, video, and network adaptor cards, etc.

 

PCMCIA

Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Body responsible for PC card standards. PC cards are credit card sized modules (but a little thicker) used in laptops for modems, memory expansion and other peripherals

 

PDF

Portable Document Format - web-friendly, cross-platform format for encoding documents and graphics, normally viewed using free Adobe Acrobat Reader program

 

PEER TO PEER

Networking configuration where data is routed by the PCs connected to the network, rather than by a central server

 

PEN DRIVE (see Key and USB Drive)

 

PHISHING

Fraudulent practice of sending emails, usually purporting to come from financial institutions -- banks, building societies etc. -- requesting details of bank or credit cards

 

PHOTO VIEWER

Program that allows you to view the contents of folders containing image files, usually as small 'thumbnails', which can then be displayed full size

 

PHOTOREALISTIC

Printing technology that produces high quality prints on specially coated paper that in some cases almost impossible to tell apart from normal photographic prints

 

PIXEL

Picture-Element, a single dot in a digitally generated image or display, the greater the number of pixels the greater the amount of detail

 

PLACEHOLDER

Small square icon with a red x that Windows and other applications use to show the position of an image or picture which for one reason or another it is unable to display

 

PLATEN

The glass plate on a flatbed scanner or copier onto which documents are placed

 

PLUG-IN

A data file that extends the capability or adds extra features to a program or application

 

POP-UP

Irritating advertisements that sudden appear on your screen whilst browsing web pages

 

POP3 & SMPT

Post Office Protocol & Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, systems used to move email messages around the Internet and inside your PC. ISPs assign separate email addresses to handle incoming (POP3) and outgoing (SMTP) mail messages

 

POWER DENSITY

The amount of energy a battery can store in relation to its physical size and weight

 

POWER MANAGEMENT

Utilities that help to reduce a PC or monitor’s power consumption by switching off components when they are not being used

 

POWER PROFILE

Power management settings for a PC

 

POWER SUPPLY MODULE

The power supply module converts mains electricity into a low voltage DC, needed by the motherboard and disc drives. It's normally housed inside a metal box, fitted with a cooling fan, attached to the back of the case or system unit

 

PREMIUM RATE DIALLER

Malicious program designed to repeatedly dial a premium rate number, running up a huge phone bill for the PC owner

 

PRINT HEAD

Device that squirts microscopic droplets of ink onto the paper as the print head passes over the paper

 

PROFILE

Windows facility (see Passwords in Control Panel) that allows several users to share a PC, setting up their own custom preferences and desktop settings

 

PROTOCOL

A set of rules for controlling the way data is sent over PC networks and the Internet

 

PROXY

A program that acts as a go-between, allowing PCs connected to a network to send and receive data from the Internet

 

PSTN

Public Switched Telephone Network – conventional telephone system, operated by BT etc.

 

 

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Q

 

QIC

Quarter Inch Committee; standards organisation responsible for devising data

 

 

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R

 

RAM

Random Access Memory, a computer's working memory, where programs store data and information when they are running. RAM memory is ‘volatile’ and all stored data is lost when the PC is switched off

 

RECOVERY CONSOLE

A set of utilities and tools in Windows XP, designed for advanced users employing DOS-like ‘commands’ designed to help repair a failed installation and recover files

 

RED-EYE

Demonic effect, giving people (and animals) bright red (or green) pupils, caused by camera flash reflecting back from the subject's retina

 

REFRESH RATE

Like a TV picture, the display on a PC monitor is 'redrawn' may times each second but our eyes and brain perceive it as a single continuous image. If the image is redrawn less than 75 times a second some people may perceive a slight flicker 

 

REGISTRY

A large, constantly changing collection of Windows system files containing configuration information for both the PC and programs stored on the hard disc

 

REN

Ringer Equivalence Number -- all devices (modems, fax machines, answering machines etc) that can be connected to the public switched telephone network (PTSN) are required to have a REN number. This determines how many other devices can be connected to the same line. Most phone lines can support a REN of 4. If it is any higher some devices may not function correctly

 

RENDER

Process in desktop video editing where effects and transitions are generated by the editing software and added to clips

 

RESAMPLE & RESIZE

Two techniques for altering the dimensions of an image, in general resampling is better for photographic images, resizing works better with simple graphics

 

RESOLUTION

The number of picture elements or pixels that go to make up a captured, printed or displayed digital image, measured in dots per inch or dpi. A resolution of 72dpi is sufficient for web images and documents whilst 300dpi or above is required for good quality photographic prints

 

RESTORE POINT

A backup of important system files created by the Windows XP System Restore facility, used to return a PC to a previous known good configuration

 

RIBBON CABLE

Flat multi-way cable, used inside a PC to connect disc drives to the main motherboard or plug-in controller cards

 

RIP

Extract tracks from an audio CD, so they can be re-recorded or converted to other audio formats, like MP3

 

RMS (watts)

Root Mean Squared - one of a number of ways of representing the average power output from an amplifer. Technically incorrect but useful for making comparisons with other similarly specified devices

 

ROM/PROM/EPROM

Read Only Memory/Programmable Read only Memory/Erasable Programmable Read only Memory; a 'non volatile' memory chip that retains information when the power is removed. Information in ROMs and PROMs is fixed whilst an EPROM can be re-programmed with new data

 

ROOT DIRECTORY

The ground floor level of the hierarchical filing system or directory ‘tree’ used by Windows

 

ROUTER

Device in a network that transfers data between computers

 

RSS

RSS doesn’t really stand for anything but it is widely accepted to mean Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. A system using XML (Extensible Markup Language) for informing subscribers to websites, blogs and newsgroups of new or updated content

 

RTFM

Read The Flipping Manual (or something very similar...)

 

RULES

A set of conditions, set by the user that decides how email messages are processed. For example emails from a particular person or address might be routed to a separate folder, deleted or 'flagged' with an on-screen indicator

 

 

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S

 

SAFE MODE

Special Windows diagnostic mode used to help trace faults by loading a minimum configuration, avoiding sometimes-troublesome start-up files and drivers

 

SATA

Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, faster, higher performance interface used to connect hard disc drives to PC motherboards (see also ATA/IDE)

 

SCANDISK

Windows utility that checks the integrity of data stored on a hard disc drive, identifies problems, and where possible, puts them right

 

SCANNER

Device attached to a computer that converts a photograph or image into digital data, stored on the PC as an image file  

 

SCREEN GRAB

A snapshot of the PCs video display, copied to the Windows Clipboard as a bitmap file. Pressing PrintScreen captures the whole screen, Alt + PrintScreen grabs just the active window

 

SCREEN READER

Program that reads text displayed on a computer screen and converts it into synthesised speech

 

SCROLL BAR FOCUS

The moving slider or box in a horizontal or vertical scroll bar that shows which part of a long list or large document or page is currently in view

 

SCSI

Small Computer System Interface (pronounced ‘scuzzy’) -- data interface used to connect hard disc drives to PC motherboards; mostly used on high-end workstations and servers

 

SD CARD

Secure Data memory module used to store and move data between digital cameras, MP3 players etc. and PCs

 

SDRAM

Synchronous dynamic random access memory, another family of memory chips that allows data to be accessed at higher speeds

 

SEARCH ENGINE

Internet sites that seek out information, by topic, keyword or name

 

SEARCH FIELD

The space in a search engine where you type in keywords, a short phrase or question

 

SELF-EXTRACTING

A compressed program or file that contains its own 'unzip' utility

 

SEPARATOR BAR

Moveable horizontal or vertical dividing line between two adjoining windows

 

SERIAL PORT

Socket used for data communications with peripheral devices

 

SERVER

Fast, powerful computers with vast storage capacity, used to communicate and share data with other computers connected to local or large-scale networks

 

SERVICES

Programs that load with Windows, often used to automatically request updates and upgrades using a PC’s Internet connection

 

SERVICE PACK

Collection of updates, patches and fixes issued by Microsoft to repair bugs and plug security loopholes

 

SHAREWARE

Software programs that you can try, before you buy. If you decide to use it you are obliged to send a payment to the author or publisher. Some programs are automatically disabled when the trial period has expired

 

SHRED

Simply deleting files in Windows doesn’t remove them from the hard disc, the space they occupy is simply marked as available and they can still be retrieved. Shredding removes all traces of deleted files by overwriting them with random or meaningless data

 

SIGNATURE (Email)

A short message – usually a line or two of text – added to the bottom of emails sent by Outlook Express

 

SIGNATURE FILE

Inert samples of computer code used to identify viruses, worms, spyware and Trojans

 

SIMM

Single in-line memory module, now virtually obsolete, with 30 or 72 connecting pins

 

SIZING HANDLES

Highlights - usually small black squares around the edge of a graphic object or picture -- that can be used to change its size and shape by clicking and dragging the mouse pointer

 

SKIN

The ‘look’ of a computer program -- cosmetics, colour and graphical layout, buttons, menus and dialogue boxes etc. A growing number of programs allow the skin to be changed -- like the cover of a mobile phone -- to reflect the users mood or personality

 

SLAVING

Connecting a second hard disc drive to a PC, for extra storage space or to access data files and folders

 

SMART MEDIA

Type of memory module used to store and move data between digital cameras, MP3 players etc. and PCs

 

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - system used to move email messages around the Internet

 

SMS TEXT

Short Message Service, used to send brief text messages (up to 160 characters) to mobile phones

 

SNAPSHOT

A compilation of data and statistics about your PC including details of the operating system, memory resources and status and running programs

 

SOCKET TESTER

Device that plugs into a normal mains socket and checks the status of the wiring

 

SOHO

Small Office Home Office -- category of computers and peripherals designed for relatively light duties in home and office environments

 

SPLASH SCREEN

An image or logo that appears on a PC screen whilst a program is loading

 

SPIKES, SURGES & TRANSIENTS

Brief increases in mains voltage, varying from a few volts to several thousand volts,

 

SPOOL

Simultaneous Peripheral Operations On-Line; a way of maximising PC and printer efficiency, information to be printed is transferred to a temporary file, so the PC can get on with other jobs, and carry on printing when it has a moment to spare

 

SPYWARE

Program, usually put onto your PC after visiting a web site, that makes use of your internet connection – without your knowledge or permission -- to send data back to its parent site

 

SSID

Service Set Identifier – unique code, attached to data travelling over a wireless network that acts as a password and prevents interference from other nearby networks

 

SSL

Secure Sockets Layer, a powerful encryption system used to send data and information, like credit card details, over the Internet

 

STANDBY

PCs with motherboards that support the Standby function, switch to a low power mode when the standby function is engaged. A variety of actions, including mouse clicks, key presses, or signals from the modem wakes up the PC

 

STARTUP FOLDER

Folder in containing programs that load automatically after Windows

 

STREAMING

Technique used to send sound and pictures over the Internet. Data is 'buffered' or stored in a temporary memory by player software on the PC to minimise the interruptions that would otherwise occur as data on the net is sent in chunks or 'packets'.

 

SUBNET MASK

Part of a code used by network administrators to identify sections of a network

 

SURGES AND SPIKES

Potentially damaging high voltage transients carried on the mains supply and on telephone lines

 

SWITCH

An extra instruction (or instructions) added to the end of a system or DOS command

 

SYSTEM FILES

Important files that configure Windows during boot-up, telling the operating system what settings to use, what software is loaded and the hardware or peripherals attached to the PC

 

SYSTEM FONTS

Fonts used by Windows and other core programs found on most PCs

 

SYSTEM.INI

Windows initialisation file used to configure such things as fonts, keyboard and language

 

SYSTEM RESTORE

Facility in Windows ME, 2000 and XP that stores and records changes to key system files, which can be used in the event of a crash or serious problem to restore Windows to a previous known good configuration

 

SYSTEM TRAY

The area next to the desktop clock displaying icons of running programs that are usually loaded when Windows boots up

 

 

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T

 

TABBED PAGES

Feature that allows a number of web pages to appear in a single browser window at the same time

 

TAPE DRIVE

Data backup systems that store huge amounts of data on magnetic tape, stored in small cassettes

 

TCP/IP

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the common language of the Internet that allows computer networks – even if they are technically very different – to communicate with one another

 

TEMP FILES

Temporary files, ending in '.tmp' are created by Windows and other programs and normally deleted automatically though some will remain if Windows crashes or is not shut down properly

 

TEMPLATE -- A ready prepared document or layout that can be easily modified or personalised by changing sample text and graphics

 

THREAD

Messages in a newsgroup, forum or on a bulletin board linked by a common theme

 

THUMBNAIL VIEW

Postage stamp sized images that allow you to quickly view many image files contained in a folder

 

TICKER

Displays news or stock market information in bar within a browser or application window

 

TIFF

Tagged Image Format File -- lossless 'bitmapped' picture file format that describes in detail the attributes of each pixel in a digital image

 

TIMELINE

Graphical display used in editing applications to display parts of a video or audio recording in relation to time

 

TIME -LIMITED

Shareware or demo program with a built-in time switch, which will stop it functioning after a pre-set period - usually 30 days - after it was installed, unless a registration fee is paid

 

TLD

Top Level Domain - the part of a web site address, after the second or third 'dot' that denotes the site owner's status (i.e. .com for commercial entity, .org for non-profit making organisations like charities etc.) or country where the site is based (.uk for UK, .fr for France etc.)

 

TOOLBARS

The menus and icons at the top of the program or application’s desktop window

 

TOOLS

Small programs or utilities that modify or change the way things work or happen in an operating system or application

 

TORX

Tamper-resistant screw or fixing, frequently used in the assembly of electronic devices, with a six-sided ‘star’ shaped screwdriver bit fitting

 

TRACKBALL

A kind of upside-down mouse, where screen pointer movement is controlled by moving a large ball

 

TRACKPAD

Pressure-sensitive pad that moves the mouse pointer around the screen with light finger movements

 

TRANSCEIVER

Combined transmitter-receiver

 

TRANSFER COMPOUND

Chemical paste to ensure thermally efficient contact between a CPU chip and cooling fan 

 

TRANSIENTS

Brief increases in mains voltage, varying from a few volts to several thousand volts

 

TRIAL/DEMO PROGRAMS

Programs distributed by software manufacturers that allow potential users to try before they buy. Some key functions may be disabled or the program is 'time-limited' and will stop working after the trial period. Trial programs can usually be unlocked with a 'key' issued by the manufacturer, who will also provide support and updates, when the program has been purchased.

 

TROJAN

Hidden program on a PC, usually installed surreptitiously or by an email attachment that allows an external 'client' PC to access files stored on the hard disc drive when it is connected to the Internet or a network

 

TROUBLESHOOTER

Simple step-by-step procedure to help locate and fix common problems

 

TWAIN

Industry standard software protocols used to allow PCs and imaging devices, like scanners, to communicate. From the Kipling poem 'The Ballad of East and West'  and the line '... and never the twin shall meet', a reference to the early difficulties in getting the two technologies to link to one another. Technology Without An Important Name, was a later attempt to make the name an acronym and more acceptable to PC users.

 

TWEAK UI

Unsupported Microsoft utility program for making detailed changes to the way Windows looks and behaves by editing the Registry

 

 

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U

 

UDF/PACKET WRITING

Method of organising data onto a recordable CD so that files can be added or removed; the disc has to be ‘finalised’ before it can be read on another PC that doesn’t have appropriate software

 

UNICODE

Standard character set used for displaying and storing computer data as text

 

UNINSTALLER

A program removal utility included with most Windows compatible software. Programs with uninstallers are usually (but not always) listed in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel

 

UNLOCK CODE

Code to enable shareware or time-limited software, sent to the user by email from the author or publisher once they have received the appropriate registration fee

 

UNZIP

Opening a ‘zipped’ file where the data has been compressed to make it smaller and hence faster to send over the Internet

 

UPS

Uninterruptible Power Supply -- battery power unit, designed to keep your PC working during a power cut, to prevent data loss and to enable it to be safely shut down

 

URL

Uniform Resource Locator - a standard Internet address e.g.: http://www.rickmaybury.com

 

USB

Universal Serial Bus, high-speed industry standard connection system for peripherals, such as printers, scanners, cameras, pen/key drives etc.

 

 

USB DRIVE

Small self-contained memory module, designed to connect with a PCs Universal Serial Bus port, used to transport data from one computer to another

 

USENET

A network of server computers used to distribute the 'official' Newsgroups on the Internet

 

 

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V

 

VA

Volt-Ampere, a measure of electricity supply and generation (see UPS)

 

VCD

Video Compact Disc - older (pre DVD) video disc format

that is capable of storing 74/80 minutes of video or hundreds of still images. Most DVD players can replay VCD discs. 

VDU

Visual display unit – old name for a computer monitor

 

VGA

Video Graphics Array - standard display format used on PCs, typically made up of 640 x 400 pixels and 256 colours

 

VIDEO CAPTURE CARD

PC expansion card that converts analogue video -- from a camcorder, TV tuner, VCR etc - into digital data, that can be processed on a PC

 

VIDEO MEMORY

Memory chips on a video adaptor card dedicated to improving the performance of the video display and reduce the demand on the PC’s memory and processing resources

 

VIEWER

A program that allows a file to be read or displayed though not changed

 

VIRUS SIGNATURE

A distinctive section of code within a virus program that scanner software uses to identify them 

 

VISUALBASIC & WORDBASIC

Text based programming languages used to create macros

 

VOICE SYNTHESISER

Software that converts text -- including menu options and commands -- appearing on the PC screen into speech

 

VOIP

Voice over Internet Protocol - method of making telephone calls over a broadband Internet connection to other PCs or to landline and mobile telephones, though the latter usually involves paying call charges or a subscription

 

 

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W

 

WAB

Windows Address Book -- proprietary file format for address data used by Windows applications

 

WATER COOLING

Very similar to the cooling system in a car with heat drawn from the CPU chip inside liquid filled pipes to a miniature radiator and fan.

 

WAV

Short for waveform; the file extension .wav denotes high quality digital sound files used by Windows and most Windows games and applications.

 

WEB CAM

A small video camera that plugs into your PC (most budget models use the universal serial bus - USB - port)

 

WEB HOST

Company providing disc space on its server computer for a web site

 

WEBMAIL

Email messages sent to and from web sites, bypassing the need for special email client software

 

WEP

Wired Equivalent Privacy, 40 and 64-bit ‘key’ encryption systems used to secure data on wireless networks, theoretically providing the same level of security as a cabled network connection

 

WHEEL MOUSE

Mouse with a built-in thumbwheel, used to quickly scroll through documents, web pages or menus

 

WHITE LIST

List of approved or authentic email addresses used to help filter Spam messages

 

WI-FI

Wireless data communications system with a relatively short range (typically up to 100 metres in the open) providing the same kind of speed and functionality as a cabled network -- for exchanging files, printers and connecting to the Internet -- but without the wires (see also IEEE 802.11)

 

WILDCARD

Usually an asterisk or question mark, which can be substituted for an unknown character in a command line or an application or web page search field

 

WIN.INI

Windows initialisation file that loads fonts, wallpaper, screensavers, languages and some drivers

 

WINDOWS 9x

Shorthand for pre XP Windows, i.e. Windows 95, 98, SE and ME

 

WINDOWS NT

Windows New Technology, highly stable but less well featured version of the Windows operating system, designed for critical business and network applications

 

WINS

Windows Internet Naming Service – software that translates networking commands into IP addresses

 

WIRELESS NETWORK

Using Wi-Fi technology to provide similar speed and functionality to a cabled network, but without the wires

 

WIZARD

Simple helper program that starts automatically when you begin a task

 

WMA

Windows Media Audio - audio codec used by Windows Media Player and devices like personal digital music players

 

WORDBASIC

Simple text-based programming language used by Word, to control various behind-the-scenes functions and features. (BASIC = beginners all-purpose symbolic Instruction code)

 

WORM

A type of virus, hidden inside a program, email attachment or downloaded from Internet web sites, designed to penetrate a computers operating system. Once activated it is programmed to replicate and attach itself to other programs or emails

 

WRITE PROTECTION SWITCH

Slide switch on a floppy disc or pen drive that prevents data from being overwritten or erased

 

WRITING SPEED

The rate at which data is written to a hard disc drive or optical disc

 

 

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X

 

XD PICTURE CARD

Type of memory module -- designed for use in digital cameras -- used to store and move images between cameras and PCs

 

 

Y

 

YOTTABYTE

A yottabyte = 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes and 1 petabyte = 1024 terabytes, or 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes, since you asked…

 

 

Z

 

ZIF

Zero Insertion Force – socket for microchips, designed to prevent damage with a simple lever mechanism to securely grip the connecting pins.

 

ZIP

Type of compressed file, requires special program (Pkunzip, WinZip etc) to expand or decompress the file

 

ZIPPING

Compressing the amount of data in a file to reduce its size

 

ZOOM

Changes the size of text and graphics displayed on a monitor screen

 

 

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All information herein is provided without warranty of any kind. Neither Rick Maybury Ltd nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any information contained here.