List of most used Information Technology Terms.

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A/D Converter
A device used to convert analog data to digital data. Analog data is continuously variable, while digital data contains discrete steps.

Anonymous Login Convention (FTP)
Standard username (anonymous) and password (guest) which allows login within FTP for the purpose of retrieving an unprotected file.

American National Standards Institute. This organization is responsible for approving U.S. standards in many areas, including computers and communications. Standards approved by this organization are often called ANSI standards (e.g., ANSI C is the version of the C language approved by ANSI).

Software that lets users do relatively complex tasks, as well as create and modify documents. Common application types include word processors, spreadsheets, database managers, and presentation graphics programs.

American (National) Standard Code for Information Interchange. A standard character-to-number encoding widely used in the computer industry.

Linking a document with the program that created it so that both can be opened with a single command.

Audio-Visual. AV Macintosh models have video-capture hardware and have sophisticated sound (and video) recording capabilities.
Byte. One character of information, usually eight bits wide.

The capacity of the transmission medium stated in bits per second or as a frequency. The bandwidth of optical fiber is in the gigabit or billion bits per second range, while ethernet coaxial cable is in the megabit or million bits per second range.

Filename extension for a batch file.

A numbering system with only two values: 0 (zero) and 1 (one).

Binary File 
A file that contains more than plain text (i.e., photos, sounds, spreadsheet, etc.) In contrast to an ASCII file which only contains plain text.Binary Number

A counting system used in computers consisting of only 1’s and 0’s (zeros)

Basic Input-Output System. Part of the computer’s operating system that is built into the machine, rather than read from a disk drive at startup.bit 
A unit of measurement that represents one figure or character of data. A bit is the smallest unit of storage in a computer. Since computers actually read 0s and 1s, each is measured as a bit. The letter A consists of 8 bits which amounts to one byte. Bits are often used to measure the capability of a microprocessor to process data, such as 16-bit or 32-bit.

Generally used to describe an illustration or font file as being created by a predefined number of pixels. Also see Object-oriented.Booting 
Starting up a computer via the power switch, which loads the system software into memory. Restarting the computer via a keystroke combination is called rebooting or a warm boot.

Broadband System 
A broadband system is capable of transmitting many different signals at the same time without interfering with one another. For local area networks, a broadband system is one that handles multiple channels of local area network signals distributed over Cable Television (CATV) hardware.

A packet whose special address results in its being heard by all hosts on a computer network.

A program that enables you to access information on the Internet through the World Wide Web.

A mistake, or unexpected occurrence, in a piece of software or in a piece of hardware.

The amount of memory needed to store one character such as a letter or a number. Equal to 8 bits of digital information. The standard measurement unit of a file size.

An area of RAM reserved for data recently read from disk, which allows the processor to quickly retrieve it if it’s needed again.

A process in which frequently accessed data is kept on hand, rather than constantly being from the place where it is stored.

Compact Disk, Read-Only Memory. A type of storage device that looks just like an audio CD and stores as much data as a large hard disk (600MB), making it a popular means of distributing fonts, photos, electronic encyclopedias, games, and multimedia offerings. As the name indicates, however, you can’t save or change files on a CD-ROM, only read them. Pronounced see-dee rom.

Common Gateway Interface. A method of running an executable script or program from a Web server. When a client requests a URL pointing to a CGI, the program is run and the results are returned to the client. This enables dynamic web pages and the ability to do database queries and other complex operations across the web

A type of network connection which establishes a continuous electrical connection between calling and called users for their exclusive use until the connection is released. Ericsson PBX is a circuit-switched network.

Client/server relationship
A client application is one that resides on a user’s computer, but sends requests to a remote system to execute a designated procedure using arguments supplied by the user. The computer that initiates the request is the client and the computer responding to the request is the server. Many network services follow a client and server protocol.

An area used to temporarily store cut or copied information. The Clipboard can store text, graphics, objects, and other data. The Clipboard contents are erased when new information is placed on the Clipboard or when the computer is shut down.

Color management system. This ensures color uniformity across input and output devices so that final printed results match originals. The characteristics or profiles of devices are normally established by reference to standard color targets.

Also called a compressor, a compression / decompression software component which translates video between its uncompressed form and the compressed form in which it is stored on media (disk, etc.). The two most commonly used video codecs for CD-ROM video are Cinepak and Indeo.

COM1, COM2, etc. – 
Most serial ports and internal modems on DOS/WIN PCs can be configured to either COM1 or COM2 in order to accommodate the situation where both may exist. The DOS MODE command is used to change the output direction to such serial devices as modems.

The reduction in size of an image file. See also lossy and non-lossy.

Computer Search Service
Computer Search Service (CSS), a fee-based service, offers access to more than 500 databases, primarily in the sciences and social sciences, from which the Library can create customized bibliographies.

1. The components that make up a computer system (which model and what peripherals). 2. The physical arrangement of those components (what’s placed and where). 3. The software settings that enable two computer components to talk to each other (as in configuring communications software to work with a modem).

A file sent to a web browser by a web server that is used to record once’s activities.

A chip designed specifically to handle a particular task, such as math calculations or displaying graphics on-screen. A coprocessor is faster at its specialized function than the main processor is, and it relieves the processor of some work. A coprocessor can reside on the motherboard or be part of an expansion card, as with an accelerator.

Coaxial Cable
A type of cable that contains two conductors. The center conductor is surrounded by a layer of insulation, which is then wrapped by a braided-metal conductor and an outer layer of insulation.

Central Processing Unit; the brains of the computer. The CPU interprets and executes the actual computing tasks.

A problem (often caused by a bug) that causes a program, or the entire operating system, to unexpectedly stop working.

Corporation for Research and Educational Networking. This organization was formed in October 1989, when BITNET and CSNET (Computer + Science NETwork) were combined under one administrative authority. CSNET is no longer operational, but CREN still runs BITNET. See BITNET.

Refers to software (or anything else) that will work on more that one platform (type of computer).

The representation of the mouse on the screen. It may take many different shapes. Example: I-beam, arrow pointer, and hand.

A term used to refer to the electronic universe of information available through the Internet.

Digital Audio Tape. The most common type of tape backup.

A file created by a database manager that contains a collection of information organized into records, each of which contains labeled categories (called fields).

Dedicated line  
A telephone or data line that is always available. For example, a leased telephone line can be dedicated for computer data communications. This line is not used by other computers or individuals, is available 24 hours a day, and is never disconnected.

Default Route

A routing table entry which is used to direct packets addressed to networks not explicitly listed in the routing table.

Dialog box 
A window that displays additional options or questions when a command is chosen.

Data or voltages consisting of discrete steps or levels, as opposed to continuously variable analog data.

Direct connection
A permanent communication connection between your computer system (either a single CPU or a LAN) and the Internet. This is also called a leased line connection because you are leasing the telephone connection from the phone company. A direct connection is in contrast to a SLIP/PPP or dial-up connection.

A system that your computer uses to organize files on the basis of specific information.

Disk Defragmenter 
Arranges the blocks of information for a file into adjacent blocks on your hard drive, which may significantly improve the file access times.

Domain Name System. A general purpose distributed, replicated, data query service. Its principal use is the lookup of host IP addresses based on host names. The host names are also known as domain names. Some important domains are: .COM (commercial), .EDU (educational), .NET (network operations), .GOV (U.S. government), and .MIL (U.S. military). Most countries also have a domain. For example, .US (United States), .UK (United Kingdom), .AU (Australia).

Domain Name Server
A computer that converts host names, such as to its corresponding IP Address, such as An SDSU computer provides this service any time mail is sent or received and permits users to use TELNET and FTP between SDSU and other sites.

Disk Operating System. The operating system used on IBM personal computers and compatible machines.

To retrieve a file from another computer using a modem.

Dots Per Inch. A measure of the resolution of a printer, scanner, or monitor. It refers to the number of dots in a one-inch line. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution.

A piece of software that tells the computer how to operate an external device, such as a printer, hard disk, CD-ROM drive, or scanner. For instance, you can’t print unless you have a printer driver. Hard disk drivers are invisible files that are loaded into memory when you start the computer, while scanner drivers are usually plug-ins accessed from within a particular application.

Drawing Interchange Format used for Macintosh graphic files. The standard file-exchange format for 3-D and CAD programs.

Electronic Mail. Private messages sent between users on different computers, either over a network or via a modem connection to an on-line service or BBS.

File transfer formatting that enables encrypted, compressed or binary files to be transferred without corruption or loss of data.

A way of coding information in a file or e-mail message so that if it is intercepted by a third party as it travels over a network it cannot be read.

Encapsulated PostScript. An EPS file usually has two parts: a PostScript (text) description that tells a PostScript printer how to output the resolution-independent image, and (optionally) a bit-mapped PICT image for on-screen previews. (EPS files without a PICT preview is usually displayed as a gray rectangle.) EPS files generally can’t be edited, even by the program that created them (Illustrator files are exceptions).

An IEEE 802.3 standard data link layer which can operate over several different media including fiber optic, coaxial cable and twisted-pair cable. This 10 million-bit-per-second networking scheme is widely used on campus because it can network a wide variety of computers; it is not proprietary; and components are widely available from many commercial sources.

Executable File
Refers to a file that is a program. Executables in DOS and Windows usually have an .exe or a .com extension. In UNIX and Macintosh environments, executable files can have any name.

Frequently Asked Questions. A document that covers a topic of general concern to many users. FAQs are a good way for new users to get information on various aspects of the Internet.

Fiber Distributed Data Interface. An emerging standard for network technology based on fiber optics that has been established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). FDDI specifies a 100-million bit per second data rate.

A collection of information on a disk, usually a document or a program, that’s lumped together and called by one name.

File Permissions
When you place files on a UNIX system you can assign the files various levels of permission, specifying who can access them, and what type of access they can have.

File Server
A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Novell NetWare Server which shares its disk space with a workstation that does not have a disk drive of its own.

Film Recorder
Used in reference to color transparency recording devices, and sometimes also to imagesetters.

A piece of software that an application uses for file-format conversion or special effects. PageMaker, for example, has a filter that lets it import Microsoft Word files, while Photoshop has dozens of filters for special effects (such as image blurring). Filters can be part of the main application or external programs called plug-ins.

A mechanism that isolates a network from the rest of the Internet, permitting only specific traffic to pass in and out.

The software that creates a typeface on a computer screen.

To initialize a disk to prepare it for use. The disk is checked for errors and organized so that data can be recorded and retrieved. Formatting a used disk erases any previously stored information.

A condition where parts of a file are stored in different locations on a disk. When a file is fragmented, the drive’s read/write head has to jump from place to place to read the data; if many files are fragmented, it can slow the drive’s performance.

File Transfer Protocol. The Internet standard high-level protocol for transferring files from one computer to another across the network.

FTP site  
A computer which stores files that can be retrieved using FTP. FTP sites which allow anyone to retrieve files (without having an account on that computer) are known as Anonymous FTP sites.

The curve that describes how the middle tones of your images appear. Often incorrectly referred to as “brightness” and/or “contrast”, gamma is a non-linear function. Changing the value of the gamma affects middle tones while leaving the white and black of the image alone. Used to compensate for differences between Macintosh and PC monitors.

Gamma Correction
The correction of tonal ranges in an image, normally by the adjustment of tone curves.

A special-purpose dedicated computer that attaches to two or more disparate networks and converts data packets from one form to another.

Gigabyte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^9 (one billion) characters of information.

Gigabit. 10^9 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Gigabit/second = 1Gbps).
Graphic Interchange Format (pronounced jiff). A file compression format developed by CompuServe for transferring graphic files to and from on-line services.

1,024 megabytes, or 1,048,576 kilobytes of digital data.
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
The graphical visual representation of the working environment that presents the elements of your computer as objects on a desktop.

A continuous tone image comprising black, white, and grey data only.

Slang term for a technically sophisticated computer user who enjoys exploring computer systems and programs, sometimes to the point of obsession.

A simulation of continuous tones by the use of black or overlapping process color dots of varying size or position.

A light line around object edges in an image, produced by the USM (sharpening) technique.

The portion of a packet, preceding the actual data, containing source and destination addresses, error checking and other fields. A header is also the part of an electronic mail message that precedes the body of a message and contains, among other things, the message originator, date and time.

Home Page
The document that is displayed when you first open a web client program. Also, commonly used to refer to the first document you come to in a collection of documents on a Web site.

The main computer system to which users are connected.

Name which officially identifies each computer attached to the Internet.

Hewlett Packard.

HyperText Markup Language. A system for tagging various parts of a Web document that tells the Web client programs how to display the document’s text, links, graphics and attached media.

The color of an object perceived by the eye due to the fact that a single or pair of RGB primary colors predominates.

A text-linking strategy that lets you jump between related information in a document by clicking on a button or highlighted word. On-line help systems often use hypertext links, as do some programs designed for the electronic distribution of documents.

International Business Machines Corporation.

A graphic symbol, usually representing a file, folder, disk or tool.

Image Map
A graphic divided into regions or “hotspots”. When a particular region is clicked, it calls up a web page that has been associated with that particular region.

To bring data into a document from another document, often generated by a different application.

Information Technology
Includes matters concerned with the furtherance of computer science and technology, design, development, installation and implementation of information systems and applications.

A utility that copies system software or an application from floppy disks or a CD-ROM to your hard disk. An Installer may also decompress the new files, remove obsolete files, place extensions and control panels in their proper folders, and/or create new folders.

The way a computer interacts with a user or a peripheral.

The Internet (note the capital I) is the largest internet in the world. It is a three level hierarchy composed of backbone networks (e.g., NSFNET, MILNET), mid-level networks, and stub networks. The Internet is a multiprotocol internet.

Internet Protocol is the standard that allows dissimilar hosts to connect to each other through the Internet. This protocol defines the IP datagram as the basic unit of information sent over the Internet. The IP datagram consists of an IP header followed by a message.

IP Address 
Network addresses are usually of two types: (1) the physical or hardware address of a network interface card; for Ethernet this 48-bit address might be 0260.8C00.7666. The hardware address is used to forward packets within a physical network. (2) The logical or IP Address is used to facilitate moving data between physical networks and is made up of a network number, a subnetwork number, and a host number. All Internet addresses at SDSU have a network number of 130.191, a subnet number in the range of 1-254, and a host number in the range of 1-254.

Internet Relay Chat. A program that allows you to carry on “live” conversations with people all over the world by typing messages back and forth across the Internet.

Information System for Advanced Academic Computing. Serves as a clearinghouse for information about the use of IBM-compatible hardware and software as aids to instruction and research in higher education. Membership is free to all students, faculty, and staff at these institutions.

International Organization for Standardization, the group that developed the OSI protocols.

Internet Service Provider. A company that provides access to the Internet. A service provider can offer simple dial-up access, SLIP/PPP access, or a dedicated line.

Industry standard color reference target used to calibrate input and output devices.

An object-oriented programming language to create executable content (i.e. self-running applications) that can be easily distributed through networks like the Web.

Joint Photographic Experts Group is a graphic file format that has a sophisticated technique for compressing full-color bit mapped graphics, such as photographs.

KiloByte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^3 (one thousand) characters of information.

Kilobit. 10^3 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Kilobit/second = 1Kbps = 1Kb).

Kernel Size
The number of pixels sampled as a unit during image manipulation and sharpening processes.

Specified words used in text search engines.

Kilobyte (Kb)
1,024 bytes of digital data.

Local Area Network. A network of directly-connected machines (located in close proximity), providing high speed communication over physical media such as fiber optics, coaxial cable, or twisted pair wiring.

Laser Printer
Although a number of devices employ laser technology to print images, this normally refers to black-and-white desktop printers, which use the dry toner, xerographic printing process.

A 12-inch disk that’s similar to an audio CD but holds visual images (such as high-quality movies) as well as music. Also called a videodisc.

Synonymous with anchors, hotlinks and hyperlinks.

Local system  
The system you are using. Interactions between your computer and another computer on the Internet are sometimes described using the terms “local” and “remote” systems. The local system is your computer and the remote system is the other computer.

Library of Congress catalog system. The Library of Congress has an extensive and useful congressional legislation system that you can use to look up the bills that are in Congress, as well as having nearly any book ever published in the United States.

The account name used to access a computer system.

Mailing List  
A list of Email users who are members of a group. A mailing list can be an informal group of people who share Email with one another, or it can be a more formal LISTSERV group which discusses a specific topic.

This often refers to a 2-dimensional array of CCD elements.

Megabit (Mb)
Megabit. 10^6 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Megabit/second = 1Mbps).

Megabyte (MB)
MegaByte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^6 (one million) characters of information.

Megahertz (MHz)
A million cycles (occurrences, alterations, pulses) per second. Used to describe the speed at which a computer’s processor (or CPU) operates.

In general, another word for dynamic RAM, the chips where the computers store system software, programs, and data you are currently using. Other kinds of computer memory you may encounter are parameter RAM (PRAM), video RAM (VRAM), and static RAM (SRAM). Most computer memory is volatile, that is, its contents are lost when the computer shuts down.

A list of commands.

Megahertz. A million cycles (occurrences, alterations, pulses) per second. Used to describe the speed at which a computer’s processor (or CPU) operates. A 25-MHz processor can handle 25 million operations per second.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A technology that enables a computer to record and play musical performance.

The middle range of tones in an image.

Mirror site 
An FTP site that is created after the contents of an original FTP archive server are copied to it. Usually, mirror sites use larger and faster systems than the original, so it’s easier to obtain material from the mirror. Mirror sites are usually updated daily, so everything on the original is also at the mirrors. Tip – Always use the mirror site that is physically closest to you.

A device which converts digital signals into analog signals (and back) for transmission over telephone lines (modulator and demodulator).

Single-colored. An image or medium displaying only black-and-white or greyscale information. Greyscale information displayed in one color is also monochrome.

The heart, soul, and brains of a computer. This plastic board resembles a miniature city, but its buildings are actually chips for things like the processing, RAM, and ROM, and the tiny roads connecting them are circuit traces. Also called the logic board. There are no fatherboards or sonboards, but see daughterboard.

A file extension found on the World Wide Web that denotes that the file is a movie or video in QuickTime format.

Moving Pictures Expert Group. MPEG is an international standard for video compression and desktop movie presentation. You need a special viewing application to run the MPEG movies on your computer. MPEG II is a newer standard for broadcast-quality video.

Any presentation or software program that combines several media, such as graphics, sound, video, animation, and/or text.

In general, a group of computers set up to communicate with one another. Your network can be a small system that’s physically connected by cables (a LAN), or you can connect separate networks together to form larger networks (called WANs). The Internet, for example, is made up of thousands of individual networks.

Network File System. A protocol developed by Sun Microsystems which allows a computer system to access files over a network as if they were on its local disks. This protocol has been incorporated in products by more than two hundred companies, and is now a de facto Internet standard.

Network Information Center. A organization that provides information, assistance and services to network users.

A computer that is attached to a network; sometimes called a host.

Generally used to describe an illustration or font file as being created by mathematical equations. Also see Bit-map.

Actively connected to other computers or devices. You’re on-line when you’ve logged on to a network, BBS, or on-line service. A device such as a printer is on-line when it’s turned on and accessible to a computer. If you’re not on-line then you’re off-line.

Operating System
Software that supervises and controls tasks on a computer.

Optical Resolution
In the scanning context, this refers to the number of truly separate readings taken from an original within a given distance, as opposed to the subsequent increase in resolution (but not detail) created by software interpolation.

Optical Video Disc
Compact discs which use lights to read information.

Open Systems Interconnection, a set of standard protocol grouped into seven layers: the physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application layers.

Parallel Cable/Parallel Port
A cable used to connect peripheral devices through a computer’s parallel port. A type of port that transmits data in parallel (several bits side by side).

A word, number, or symbol that is typed after a command to further specify how the command should function.

A check bit used to make the sum of the bits in a unit of data either even or odd (including the parity bit). A unit of data that is 8 bits long would have no parity, and a unit of data 7 bits long would have an even parity bit to make an 8 bit word. Parity is used to check a unit of data for errors during transmission through phone lines or null modem cables.

A route used in finding, retrieving, and storing files on a disk. The course leading from the root directory of a drive to a particular file.

The Practical Extraction and Report Language. An interpreted language for CGI scripts.

A standard format for credit-card-size expansion cards, used to add features to laptop computers, hand-held computers, and desktop computers. The acronym stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.

A network setup that allows every computer to both offer and access network resources, such as shared files, without requiring a centralized file server. Macintosh computers utilize this type of network setup.

A piece of hardware that’s outside the main computer. It usually refers to external hardware such as disk drives, printers, and scanners sold by a third party.

Practical Extraction and Reporting Language. A robust programming language frequently used for creating CGI programs on web servers.

PICT is the standard macintosh graphic file format for graphics that are cut or copied to the Clipboard and for drawings that won’t be output on PostScript printers. This format is ideal for on-screen presentations, but page layout programs sometimes have problems with PICT files. Files are sometimes called metafilesbecause they can contain both bit maps and QuickDraw-based objects.

Picture element. Digital images are composed of touching pixels, each having a specific color or tone. The eye merges differently colored pixels into continuous tones.

Extends the capabilities of a web browser, allowing the browser to run multimedia files.

A server using the Post Office Protocol, which holds users’ incoming e-mail until they read or download it.

One of several rendezvous points where TCP/IP connections can be made on a computer. Ports are numbered, with several locations reserved for specific types of network activity, such as telnet on port 23, HTTP traffic on port 80 and USENET news (NNTP) on port 119.

Pixels per inch or pixels per centimeter. Units of measurement for scanned images.

Primary color
A base color that is used to compose the other colors.

Process Ink Colors
CMYK pigments used in printing processes, chosen to produce the widest range of color mixtures.

The color characteristics of an input or output device, used by a CMS to ensure color fidelity.

When data is being transmitted between two or more devices something needs to govern the controls that keep this data intact. A formal description of message formats and the rules two computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces  (e.g., the order in which bits and bytes are sent across wire) or high-level exchanges between application programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file across the Internet).

Proxy ARP
A technique in which one machine, usually a gateway, answers ARP requests for another machine. By pretending to be the physical network location of another machine, the gateway takes over the responsibility of routing packets destined for the other machine. For instance, a gateway can proxy ARP for addresses that the gateway identifies as being off the local network and that the gateway has a route for. The originating computer receives the gateway’s proxy ARP reply and sends the datagram on to the gateway, which routes the datagram to its actual destination network.

Software that has no copyright or fee, which means you can copy, use, and even alter and sell it.

Quarter Tones
Tones between shadow and midtones are known as 3/4 tones and those between highlight and midtones are known as 1/4 tones.

The process by which a web client requests specific information from a web server, based on a character string that is passed along.

A file extension for videos or “movies” (like animations) compressed using their QuickTime format.

Random Access Memory. RAM is the most common type of computer memory, and it’s where the computer stores system software, programs, and data you are currently using. It’s formally called dynamic RAM (DRAM) because it’s volatile, that is, the contents are lost when you turn off the computer (or crash). It’s pronounced ram and measured in megabytes.

Remote system  
Another computer on the Internet to which you connect. Interactions between computers are often described using the terms “local” and “remote” systems. The local system is your computer and the remote system is the other computer.

In general, this refers to how sharp and clear an image looks on screen or on paper, and how much detail you can see. It’s usually determined by the number of dots (or pixels) per square inch (the more there are, the higher the resolution) and is used to describe printers, monitors, and scanners.

Red, green, and blue are the primary colors of light perceived by the eye.

Routing Information Protocol used by Berkeley UNIX systems to exchange routing information among a set of computers attached to a network. RIP packets are sent and received by a program called routed.

A special purpose computer that attaches to two or more networks and routes packets from one network to the other. A router uses network layer addresses (such as IP Addresses)  to determine if packets should be sent from one network to another. Routers send packets to other routers until they arrive at their final destination.

Rich Text Format. A file format for text files that includes formatting instructions. Also called Interchange Format.

A type of program that consists of a set of instructions for another application or utility to use.

Screen Saver  
A moving picture or pattern that is displayed on the screen when no activity takes place for a specified period of time.

Search Engines
A type of software that creates indexes of databases or Internet sites based on the titles of files, key words, or the full text of files.

Serial Cable/Serial Port
A cable used to connect peripheral devices through a computer’s serial port. Normally a 25-pin connector on each end, yet can be a 9-pin on one.

A Serial Port can either be plugged into an expansion slot on the motherboard of your computer or built into the motherboard itself. Serial ports are used for such devices as printers, mice, and modems.

A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Novell NetWare Server which shares its disk space with a workstation that does not have a disk drive of its own.

Service (NT service)
A process that performs a specific function in Windows NT and can be called by various other programs. Windows NT provides tools to monitor and administer services.

Organization or facility where a host is located.

Through negotiations with a vendor, a renewable fee has been paid to allow a fixed number of copies of copyrighted software at one site.

Serial Line Internet Protocol. A protocol used to run IP over serial lines, such as telephone circuits or RS-232 cables, interconnecting two systems.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another. SMTP specifies how two mail systems interact and the format of control messages they exchange to transfer mail.

Logical address of a communications access point to a specific device or program on a host.

A number-related document whereby calculations and formulas are applied to the data organized in rows and columns of cells.

Structured Query Language, a syntax used by many database systems to retrieve and modify information.

Syntax Error
Occurs when a user (or programmer) has put words in an order that a program does not understand.

Formatting codes used in HTML documents. These tags indicate how the parts of a document will appear when displayed by a Web client program.

Transmission Control Protocol. This is a transport layer protocol that establishes a reliable, full duplex, data delivery service used by many TCP/IP application programs. The TCP software uses the IP protocol to transmit information across the Internet.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. A set of protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts, used by the Internet to support services such as remote login (TELNET), file transfer (FTP) and mail (SMTP).

The Internet standard protocol for remote login (terminal connection) service. TELNET allows a user at one site to interact with a remote timesharing system at another site as if the user’s terminal were connected directly to the remote computer.

Communication device that lets a user send information to a computer by typing on a keyboard, and prints responses from the computer on paper or a screen.

Tag Image File Format. A graphic file format, TIFF files are also bit maps, but they can be any size, resolution, or color depth. It is the most versatile, reliable, and widely supported bit-mapped format and is the standard format for saving scanned images. However, the format does have several variations which means that occasionally an application may have trouble opening a TIFF file created by another program.

Title bar 
The horizontal bar at the top of a window. The title bar shows the name of the window.

A collection of buttons that typically make the more common tools for an application easily accessible.

An operating system developed by Bell Laboratories that supports multiuser and multitasking operations.

Send a file to another computer using a modem.

Uninterruptible Power Supply. A unit that switches to battery power whenever the power cuts out.

Uniform Resource Locator, a string of characters that represents the location or address of a resource on the Internet and how that resource should be accessed. World Wide Web pages are assigned a unique URL. Each hyperlink on a web page contains the URL of the page to be linked to. is the URL for this page.

User Id
The string of characters that identifies you. The name by which you are known to the network. Also known as username.

A program that replicates itself from one file or disk to another without your consent. They are spread through floppy disks, networks, and on-line services and can go undetected (unless you have an antiviral utility) until something goes wrong. Some viruses deliberately destroy data, and even those designed to be benign can cause crashes, slowdowns, and file corruption.

Video RAM. A type of memory dedicated to handling the image displayed on a monitor. VRAM is built into many Macs, and it also comes on display cards.

Web browser
Also known as a Web client program, this software allows you to access and view HTML documents. Netscape, Mosaic, Lynx, WinWeb, and MacWeb are some examples of Web browsers.

Web page
A document created with HTML that is part of a group of hypertext documents or resources available on the World Wide Web.

A person or group of people who maintain and administer a web server. Webmaster also refers to a standard Email address at most web hosts where comments and questions can be sent.

An Internet program which allows users to query databases of people and other Internet entities, such as domains, networks, and hosts. The information for people generally shows a person’s company name, address, phone number and email address.

A whitelist is a list of items that are granted access to a certain system or protocol. When a whitelist is used, all entities are denied access, except those included in the whitelist.
Wide Area Network (WAN) 
Network spanning multiple geographic distances, usually connected by telephone lines, microwave, or satellite links.

A character (usually * or ?) that can stand for one or more unknown characters during a search.

Microsoft software that adds a Mac-like graphical user interface to IBM PCs and compatibles.

Word Processing 
Entering, editing and formatting text with the use of spelling checkers, outlining, tables, footnotes, and tables of contents.

A networked personal computing device with more power than a standard IBM PC or Macintosh. Typically, a workstation has an operating system such as UNIX that is capable of running several tasks at the same time. It has several megabytes of memory and a large high-resolution display.

World Wide Web or W3 is the hypermedia document presentation system that can be accessed over the Internet using software called a Web browser.

What you see is what you get. The image you see on the screen matches what will print on paper. Pronounced tizzy-wig.
A data communications interface specification developed to describe how data passes into and out of public data communications networks. The CCITT and ISO approved protocol suite defines protocol layers 1 through 3.

Compressed version of a program or document.

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