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Jargon Buster Directory  

 
The Central Source for all Jargon

Technology - Computers

Computer jargon is perhaps one of the most explosive areas of jargon to have evolved in recent years. The industry is full of geeks eagerly making up new computer jargon on a daily basis in order to be unique in their simple little lives.

Computer jargon is the one area that has crossed over into mainstream language as most people these days seem to know what a byte or cd rom is. That is because we all use computers so we have been forced to understand the computer jargon if we are to make sense of it all.

The geek speak of computer jargon will continue to evolve and grow for decades to come. Computer jargon is here to stay. Use our jargon buster to decipher your own computer jargon and do not be afraid to let us know if we have missed any words or phrases that we have missed in our computer jargon section.

Computer jargon can be complex and silly to the very obvious abbreviations. Much computer jargon is actually started by city slickers rather than geeks in an effort to market a new gismo or service with a catchy trendy name. Some of it sticks - some of it does not.

 


Computer Jargon

A

 

Access

Or making a connection to the internet. You would normally do this via an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Supanet, but you may also have access to the internet through work.

 

Acrobat

Also known as the Acrobat Reader. This program allows you to read documents that are stored in the PDF format (Portable Document Format).

 

Address

The location of an Internet resource. An email address may take the form of joebloggs@mywebsite.com. A web address looks something like http: //www.mywebsite.com. Also know as the URL (Uniformed Resource Locator).

 

ADSL

Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a technology that provides high-speed internet access (also known as ‘broadband’) over an ordinary telephone line. Connection speeds can be up to 20 times faster than ordinary modems and provide a permanent link to the internet.

 

Applet

A small program that can be run on different types of machines, i.e. Apple Mac and IBM PC compatible.

 

Anchor

Either the starting point or destination of a hyperlink.

 

Archive

A large file containing several smaller files, usually compressed. Commonly used archive file formats are ZIP, TAR, ARJ, LZH, UC2.

 

Archive site

Contains archived files, which users can download either by FTP or a browser.

 

Attachment

A file or document appended to an email message, can be text, graphics, sound, video, spreadsheet, database, or even an entire application.

 

AVI

Audio/Video Interleaved - a common video file format (.avi). Video quality can be very good at smaller resolutions, but files tend to be rather large.

 

B

 

Bandwidth

A measurement of the volume of information that can be transmitted over a network at a given time. Think of a network as a water pipe - the higher the bandwidth (the larger the diameter of the pipe), the more data (water) can pass over the network (through the pipe).

 

Banner

Also known as ‘banner ad’ – an advert in the form of a graphic image, normally situated right at the top of a web page.

 

Baud rate

The technical term for the speed at which you connect to the internet via your modem, and is measured in kbps (kilobits per second). Most modems have a maximum baud rate of 56kbps, but the actual connection speed may be somewhat lower because of factors such as interference on the phone lines.

 

Bitmap File

A common image format (.bmp) defined by a rectangular pattern of pixels.

 

Body

The part of an email message containing the actual message.

 

Bookmark

A shortcut to a particular web site. You can bookmark interesting pages so you can return to them easily.

 

Broadband

A high-speed internet connection that is much faster than an ordinary 56kbit modem. See also ADSL.

 

Browser

A browser is software that enables you to view websites. It contains a number of controls in the form of a menu bar, tool bar and shortcut menu. The most common is Internet Explorer.

 

Button

Usually a graphic with a hyperlink embedded on a web page, which you can click on.

 

C

 

Cache

An area created by the browser on your computer's hard drive that stores web page graphics and/or text files to speed up internet browsing.

 

Channel

This is a term borrowed from television and is a way of categorising the different areas of a large website.

 

Chat

A system that allows for online text communication between internet users.

 

Click

Depressing once, and releasing, the button on the left-hand side of the mouse.

 

Client

A program (like a web browser) that connects to and requests information from a server.

 

COM Port

Communication Port: the place where peripherals like modems and mice connect to your computer.

 

Compress

Data files available for download from the Internet are typically compressed in order to save server space and reduce transfer times. Typical file extensions for compressed files include zip (DOS/Windows) and tar (UNIX).

 

Connection

Your computer connects to an ISP over the telephone line in order to gain access to the internet.

 

Cookies

A name for files stored on your hard drive by your web browser that hold information about your browsing habits, like what sites you have visited, which newsgroups you have read, etc. Many view 'cookies' as an invasion of privacy however they can be really useful. For example when you are shopping online your items in your virtual shopping basket can be stored by a cookie until you decide to "checkout" and the server requests information on what you have bought.

 

Cursor

The small moveable icon on the screen, which indicates your current control position. The cursor changes appearance depending upon what your computer is doing - for example, it may look like an arrow when the computer is waiting, an hourglass when it is busy or a pointed finger when it passes over a hyperlink. You can change the position of the cursor by moving the mouse.

 

D

 

Desktop

The area on your monitor behind any open windows or programs, which displays icons.

 

Dial-up Network Connection

A connection to the internet via phone and modem.

 

Domain

The Internet is divided into smaller groups known as domains, including .co.uk (business), .gov.uk (government) and .ac.uk (educational).

 

Domain Name

Unique address identifying each site on the internet.

 

Double-click

To quickly depress and release the left mouse button twice.

 

Download

The process of copying documents and/or files from the web onto your computer. The opposite action is upload where a local file is copied to a server.

 

Driver

A small piece of software that allows your PC to control another piece of computer equipment, such as a modem, printer or scanner.

 

E

 

Email

Electronic text messages sent between computers over the internet.

 

Emoticon

A combination of ASCII characters that form a facial expression. For example, if you turn your head sideways, the characters : ) make a smiley face. Frequently used in email messages to convey a particular tone.

 

F

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - a collection of common questions and answers on a particular subject.

 

File

A document or software program.

 

Filename extension

Commonly a three or four-letter extension on the end of a file name designating the file type. Eg html (Web page), .txt (text file), .gif (Graphics Interchange Format).

 

Firewall

Secures a PC from external access, notably from hackers.

 

Flame

An insulting message exchanged via email or within newsgroups. A series of flames are known as flame wars.

 

Forms

A form on a web page can be filled in by users and the information sent electronically to the relevant website.

 

Freeware

Software that is available for download and unlimited use without charge. Compare to shareware.

 

FTP

File Transfer Protocol - a set of rules for exchanging files between computers via the internet. An FTP Site is that which is provided by a company or organisation as a depository for all kinds of files, which users may download.

 

G

 

GIF

Graphics Interchange Format - a common image format. Most images seen on web pages are GIF files.

 

Gigabyte

One gigabyte is a thousand megabytes.

 

H

 

Hacker

A skilled programmer who breaks into other computers or networks. Some hackers are harmless and just do it for a challenge, but others are just plain crooked.

 

Hard disk

The part of a computer which stores files and software programs, also known as hard drive.

 

Header

The part of an email message indicating who the sender is and some other brief details, such as the subject of the message.

 

Hit

A term used to describe when someone looks at a web page. For example: "My Web page got 15,000 hits yesterday".

 

Home page

The first page of a website. Also, the website that automatically loads each time you launch your browser.

 

HTML

HyperText Markup Language: a tagging language typically used in the development of web pages. Allows pictures and text to be combined to create web documents, and the most important feature - hypertext - making it possible for links to be made between different documents.

 

HTTP

HyperText Transfer Protocol - a set of instructions for communication between a server and a World Wide Web client.

 

Hyperlink

In web pages, hyperlinks are highlighted text or images which, when selected (usually by clicking the mouse button), follow a link to another page. Can be within the same document/page or two totally different documents.

 

I

 

Icon

A small graphic on the desktop or in a window (which you generally double-click on to open).

 

Instant messaging

High-speed chat program that lets you instantly exchange messages with friends or colleagues. Popular programs include Microsoft's MSN Messenger.

 

Internet

The collection of all the interconnected networks in the world, and is often simply referred to as the 'net'.

 

Internet Explorer

The world’s most popular web browser.

 

IP Address

Internet Protocol Address - every computer on the internet has a unique identifying number, like 191.1.24.2.

 

ISP

Internet Service Provider - the company which provides you with a connection to the Internet via either a Dial-up Connection or broadband connection. MSN is one such company.

 

J

 

JPEG

(Joint Photographic Experts Group) a standard of image compression developed especially for use on the internet. Most photographic images can be highly compressed using this method, without greatly diminishing image quality.

 

K

 

Kb

A Kilobyte - a unit of computer storage consisting of 1024 Bytes.

 

L

 

Link

Another name for a hyperlink which you can click on to go to another web page.

 

Login

When a user wants to gain access to a protected website, they must Login using their password and username.

 

Lurking

The act of reading through mailing lists and newsgroups before posting any messages. Considered good netiquette to get the feel of the topic before joining in.

 

M

 

Mailing List

A list of email addresses to which messages are sent. You can subscribe to a mailing lists typically by sending an email to the contact address with the following in the body of the message: the word subscribe, the name of the list, and your email address.

 

Megabyte (MB)

A unit of data comprised of 1024 Kb, i.e. 1048576 bytes.

 

Modem

(MODulator - DEModulator) A device which converts information from your computer into phone signals enabling you to communicate with another computer and connect to the internet via the phone line.

 

MP3

MP3 files are used to store music or audio information on the internet. Audio content of an MP3 file is compressed so that it is smaller and easier to download than the original audio file.

 

MPEG

Motion Picture Experts Group - a video file format offering excellent quality in a relatively small file. Video files found on the internet are frequently stored in the MPEG format.

 

Multimedia

A combination of media types on a single document, including: text, graphics, animation, audio and video.

 

N

 

Netiquette

Internet etiquette.

 

Network

A system of connected computers exchanging information with each other.

 

Newsgroup

A particular section within the USENET system typically, though not always, dedicated to a particular subject of interest. Also known as discussion groups.

 

O

 

Offline

When NOT connected to the internet.

 

Online

When connected to the internet.

 

Outlook Express

This is the free Microsoft email application that is supplied with Internet Explorer.

 

P

 

Page

A webpage is an HTML document, or website.

 

Password

Your password is the key to your dial-up and email account so choose something that is unique but also memorable. If your password is not accepted check that the ‘Caps lock’ key has not been accidentally pressed, as passwords are case sensitive.

 

Peer-to-peer (also known as P2P)

A type of internet network that allows a group of computer users with the same networking computer program to connect with each other and directly access files from one another's hard drives. Sharing copyrighted files in this way is illegal, while P2P is also responsible for the spread of many viruses.

 

PING

Ping - a program for determining if another computer is presently connected to the internet.

 

Pixel

Short for picture element - the smallest unit of resolution on a monitor. Commonly used as a unit of measurement.

 

Plug-In

A small application which extends the built in capabilities of your web browser. Examples include Macromedia's Shockwave, providing animation, and Real Audio, offering streamed sound files over the internet.

 

POP

Post Office Protocol - a method of storing and returning email.

 

Portal

A portal is a website that is designed to lead you to other websites that contain information you are interested in. A good example of a portal, as it leads you to a wide range of other websites and pages that are divided into convenient categories.

 

Post

To send a message to a mailing list or newsgroup.

 

Provider

An Internet Service Provider, or ISP.

 

QuickTime

A common video file format created by Apple Computer. Video files found on the internet are often stored in the QuickTime format - they require a special viewer program for playback.

 

R

 

Real Audio/Real Video

Real Networks was one of the first companies to develop new audio and video formats for use on the internet, and many websites now carry material in either Real Audio or Real Video format. You need the RealPlayer program to play these files, but you can download it free of charge.

 

Right-click

To press once, and release, the button on the right-hand side of the mouse.

 

Robot

A program that automatically searches the web for files.

 

S

 

Search Engine

A tool for searching information on the internet by topic. Popular engines include Google and Ask Jeeves.

 

Server

Within a network, a server makes files available to client programs located on other computers when requested. Your web browser is a client of a web server.

 

Shareware

Software distributed freely, but with certain conditions applying to it. Either the software is released on a trial basis only, and must be registered after a certain period of time, or in other cases no support can be offered with the software without registering it. In some cases direct payment to the author is required.

 

Signature

The automatic addition of a few lines of text at the foot of an email. Usually consists of the sender's email address, full name and other details.

 

Site

A single or collection of related webpages.

 

Smileys

Characters often used in news messages, emails and on web pages to offer some degree of character or emotion. For example :-). Also known as emoticons.

 

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - a protocol dictating designed to allow the delivery of mail messages to internet users.

 

Spam

The internet equivalent of direct mail; someone sends multiple, sometimes thousands, of unwelcome messages to promote a commercial product or website.

 

Streaming

Streaming audio or video files start playing as soon as you start to download them, rather than having to download the entire file first. You need a high-speed broadband connection to stream audio and video properly as an ordinary modem isn’t fast enough.

 

Surfing

A popular term used to describe someone exploring the web.

 

T

 

Taskbar

The bar in the Windows operating system that typically runs across the bottom of the screen. It displays the Start button, any programs or windows that are active, plus tiny 'shortcut' icons as well as the time.

 

Text-box

A box into which text can be typed.

 

Thread

An ongoing message-based conversation on a single subject.

 

Trojan

A Trojan is a computer program, or part of a programs code, that disguises itself as a useful software application that is used to gain access, or change settings on your computer. It takes its name after the Trojan horse used to infiltrate Troy.

 

U

 

UNIX

A powerful operating system used on the backbone machines of the internet. Web servers frequently run on UNIX.

 

Upload

To copy a file from a local computer connected to the internet to a remote computer. Opposite is download.

 

URL

Uniform Resource Locator - the method by which internet sites are addressed. An example would be "http: //www.mywebsite.com".

 

User

TV has viewers, radio has listeners and the web has users.

 

Username

The name that you chose when you sign up. It forms part of your email address too - everything after the @ sign.

 

V

 

Virus

A program that transfers from computer to computer with the use of the internet, email and various other networks. A virus can do a number of harmful things to a recipient such as reformatting hard drives (destroying data).

 

W

 

WAV

Waveform Audio (.wav) - a common audio file format for computers.

 

Webmail

Email account where you access, read and write your emails through a regular website, accessable from any PC.

 

WINSOCK

Winsock - a Microsoft Windows DLL file that basically allows Windows to use web browsers, FTP programs, and others.

 

Webpage

An individual document on the web, usually a combination of text and graphics.

 

Website

A collection of pages on the web, generally located on the same server.

 

World Wide Web (WWW)

The Web: a subset of the internet which uses a combination of text, graphics, audio and video (multimedia) to provide information on most every subject imaginable.

 

Window

An area of the screen containing boxes and/or buttons.

 

Windows

A computer operating system developed by Microsoft that runs on the majority of computers in the world. Windows can often be referred to as a GUI (Graphical User Interface).

 

Worm

Another term for a virus.

 

X

Y

Z

 

ZIP

A compressed file format (.zip). Many files available on the internet are compressed or zipped in order to reduce storage space and transfer times. To uncompress the file, you need a utility like WinZip.

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