Mavi Design glossary of internet terms
Here is our glossary of internet and computer terms to help you better understand the world wide web.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Active Matrix - This is the higher-quality type of flat-panel display. It is used for laptop computers or those thin monitors. In a flat-panel or LCD display, the images on the screen are created by laying diodes over a grid of ultra-small wires. When a current passes through the diodes, they are activated, forming an image.

ActiveX - A technology from Microsoft that links desktop applications to the World Wide Web. For example, Word and Excel documents can be viewed directly in a browser if ActiveX is enabled.

AND - Advanced Digital Network. Usually refers to a 56Kbps leased-line.

ADSL - Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line. A popular technology for transferring large amounts of data over ordinary local phone wires. It allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second.

AGP - Accelerated Graphics Port. It is a bus slot, designed by Intel, that is used for graphics cards. PCI graphics ports typically run at 33 MHz and have a maximum transfer rate of 132 MB/sec. AGP ports, on the other hand, run at 66 MHz and can transfer data up to 528 MB/sec. This allows for faster retrieval of large amounts of data in system memory rather than video memory, to run 3D games for example.

alias - Most simply a nick name representing a person or group of people. A musician can have an address book entry that says '' and when email is sent to that address, it goes to everyone who is on the list.

AIFF - Audio Interchange File Format. This sound format was developed by Apple Computer to store high-quality sampled audio and musical instrument information. AIFF files are similar to the PC "WAV" files in both size and quality. They are usually usable by both PC and MAC.

ANSI - American National Standards Institute. An organization that works with American industry groups to develop technology standards. It is also a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). By working with the standards committees of other nations to develop standards, ANSI helps make international trade and telecommunications easier and more efficient. ASCII and SCSI are two examples of technologies that were standardized by ANSI.

Anonymous FTP - Logging onto a server by using a general user name and password to download files. Differs from private servers that you have to have special permission to access.

Applet - A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from full Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers across a network. The current rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.

Archie - A piece of software for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites. You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it.

ARPANet - Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. The precursor to the Internet. Developed in the late 60's and early 70's by the US Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking that would survive a nuclear war.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is the de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111. (because 2^7 = 128).

.asp - Active Server Page. It is a web page that has one or more scripts embedded in it. You can tell if you're accessing an active server page if the suffix of the URL is ".asp" (as opposed to ".html"). Like CGI-based pages, ASP's are proccessed on a Web server before they are transferred to anyone who accesses them. ASP's are typically used for pages that have dynamic, or frequently changing, information. A common ASP script will get input from the user or user's computer, then access a database on the server, from which it will build and/or customize the page.

ASP - Application Service Provider. Sometimes refered to as an "app-on-tap," this is a third-party company that distributes software-based services from a central location to customers across a wide area network (WAN). In other words, a typical ASP will offer companies access, via the Internet, to programs and services that would otherwise have to be stored on their own computer systems. Application Service Providers are often seen an inexpensive way for companies and organizations to manage their information services. There are five main categories of Application Service Providers: 1. Local or Regional ASP - supplies many different application services for smaller businesses or individuals in a local area. 2. Specialist ASP - provides applications for specific needs, such as Human Resources or Web services. 3. Vertical Market ASP - provides support to a specific industry such as Education. 4. Enterprise ASP - delivers information and services for high-end business. 5. Volume Business ASP - supplies small or medium-sized businesses with services in high volume.

AVI -Audio Video Interleave, a popular format for video files.

Backbone - A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network. See Also: Network

Bandwidth - How much data you can send through a modem or network connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression. Like a pipe with water flowing through it, the wider the pipe, the more water can flow through.

Baud - In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Contrary to popular belief, baud is a measure of how frequently sound changes on a phone line. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second).

BBS - Bulletin Board System. A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time. There are many thousands of BBS's around the world, most are very small, running on a single PC with 1 or 2 phone lines.

Binhex - BINary HEXadecimal. A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII.

Bit - Abbreviation: "b". Binary DigIT. A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.

BITNET - Because It's Time NETwork (or Because It's There NETwork) A network of educational sites separate from the Internet, but e-mail is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs®, the most popular form of e-mail discussion groups, originated on BITNET. BITNET machines are usually mainframes running the VMS operating system, and the network is probably the only international network that is shrinking.

Bitmap - Most pictures you see on your computer are bitmaps. A bitmap is a really just a map of dots (or bits, hence the name). Common Bitmap filetypes include BMP, JPEG, GIF, PICT, PCX, and TIFF. Because bitmap images are made up of a bunch of dots, if you zoom in on a bitmap, it gets all blocky. Vector graphics (usually created in CorelDraw, PostScript, or CAD formats) scale up much better.

Bot - An automated software program that can execute certain commands when it receives a specific input. The web searching bots, also known as spiders and crawlers, search the Web by retrieving a certain document and recording the information and links found on it. They then generate catalogs of the sites they have searched which can later be accessed by a search engine. Bots also function in chat rooms (IRC). They will do things like greet people when they enter a chat room, advertise web sites or special deals, or kick people out of chat rooms with an accompanying nasty message.

Bps - Bits-Per-Second. A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second.

Browser - A program (software) on a home or office computer that people use as their interface to the World Wide Web. It interprets HTML code including text, images, hypertext links, java applets, etc. allowing you to view web sites and navigate from one to another. The two most popular browsers are Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

BTW - By The Way. A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, in email, etc.

Buffer - A place for storing data temporarily because it is being received faster than it can be processed. Usually found on printers, CDR drives.

Byte - A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, in some rare cases there are more.

Cache - Pronounced like "cash". There are different types of caches but they all have the same function. They store recently used information in a place where it can be accessed quickly. For example, a web browser like Netscape uses a cache to store the pages, images, sounds, and URLs of web sites you visit on your hard drive so when you visit a page you have just been to, it doesn't have to download everthing again. This speeds up your surfing a little. Your computer also uses disk caching, which stores information you have recently read from your hard disk in the RAM, which is much faster to access than the hard disk. One more common type of cache is a processor cache which stores small amounts of information right on, or right next to, the processor. This helps make the processing of the most-used instructions much more efficient, thereby speeding up computation time.

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) - CAD software is used for three-dimensional designing in architecture, automobile design etc.

Certificate Authority - An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections. An example is Verisign.

CGI - Common Gateway Interface. A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the "CGI program") talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard. If you are submitting your name and password to a site, there is a good chance a CGI is doing to process the data. You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing "cgi-bin" in a URL, but not always. CGI programs are often written in Perl script.

cgi-bin - the most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored. The "bin" part of "cgi-bin" is a shorthand version of "binary", because once upon a time, most programs were refered to as "binaries". In real life, most programs found in cgi-bin directories are text files, scripts that are executed by binaries located elsewhere on the same machine.

Client - A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind of Client.

Cookie - The most common meaning of "cookie" on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server. Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browser's settings, the Browser may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a short time or a long time.

Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc. When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular user's requests.

Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their "expire time" has not been reached.

Cyberspace - Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.

DHCP - Domain Host Control Protocol. A network server uses it to dynamically assign IP addresses to networked computers. Basically, a DHCP server waits for a computer to connect to it, and then assigns it an IP address from a master list stored on the server. Using DHCP, managing IP addresses isn't a problem for network administrators.

Digerati - The digital version of literati, it is a reference to a group of people seen to be knowledgeable, hip, or otherwise in-the-know in regards to the digital revolution.

DSL - Digital Subscriber Line. A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber's premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.

Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both directions. "Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line" (SDSL)

Domain Name - the name of a site. Eg. There are many top-level domain names such as .net, .org, .edu, and .Countries have domain suffixes eg, .ca for Canada. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine.

Dongle - this term refers to a small hardware key that plugs into the serial port or parallel port of a computer. It is used to ensure that only authorized users can copy or use certain software programs. They're only used with ultra-expensive, high-end software programs that most people have never heard of. When the high-priced program runs, it checks the dongle for verification before continuing. If it doesn't find the dongle, the program usually quits. If more than one application requires a dongle, multiple dongles using the same port can be daisy-chained together.

Download - The process in which data is sent to your computer. Whenever you get information off the Internet, you are downloading it to your computer. For example, you might have to download an upgrade for your computer's operating system in order to play a new game (especially if you're using Windows). The opposite of this process, sending information to another computer, is called uploading.

DVD - Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. A DVD is a high-capacity optical disc that looks like a CD, but can store 4.7 GB of data. Usually used for full-length movies and very large data storage. There is a two-layer standard that doubles the single-sided capacity to 8.5GB. The disks can also be double-sided, ramping up the maximum storage on a single disc to 17GB. To be able to read DVDs in your computer you'll need a DVD-ROM drive. DVDs can also read your CDs, but to play DVD movies on your computer, you'll need to have a graphics card with a DVD-decoder.

Emoticons - those little happy faces and funny characters used to express emotion over email and in chats. Due to the lack of human interaction (sound, facial expression etc.) in computer mediated communication, people use symbols for smile :) frown :( wink ;) and more! (these are all sideways by the way) See what you can come up with! :@)

E-mail - Electronic Mail. Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses called a Mailing List. The most popular use for the internet today!

Encryption - The coding or scrambling of information in a file so that if it can only be decoded and read by someone who has the correct decoding key. Encryption is commonly used in e-mail and other data transferring so that if someone were to intercept the message or data they would not be able to read it. Also used to protect data transfer while doing on-line transactions such as bill payments etc.

Ethernet - A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet is the connection that allows the computers to communicate with each other. will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second or 10 mbps (megabits per second) through a copper cable and can be used with almost any kind of computer.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular site, product or subject. Most sites have FAQs written by support people who answer the questions, so you can see if you can find your answer before submitting the same question.

FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3).

Fiber-Optic Cable - A cable made up of thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials that can carry beams of light. Using a laser transmitter that encodes frequency signals into pulses of light, data can be sent through through these cables at the speed of light. The receiving end of the transmission translates the light signals back into frequencies which can be read by a computer. Because fiber-optics are based entirely on beams of light, they are less susceptible to noise and interference than other data-transfer mediums. However, the cables are fragile and are usually placed underground, which makes them difficult and expensive to install. Some fiber-optic cables are installed above ground, but if they break too many times, they need to be completely replaced, which is not cheap. The reason they need to replaced, is because breaks in the cables can only be fixed a few times, whereas copper wires can be spliced as many times as needed.

Finger - An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.

Fire Wall - A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes.

Flame - Originally, flame meant to carry forth in a passionate manner in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude.

Flame War - When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks against the debators, rather than discussion of their points of view.

FPU (Floating Point Unit) - Computer processors are better at dealing with integers than with real numbers (a.k.a. floating point numbers). So when the CPU encounters a floating-point expresion, it sends the problem to the FPU. The FPU is designed to handle specifically floating-point math, so it computes expressions invloving real numbers more efficiently. Floating point units used to be manufactured as a seperate chip, but they are now usually integrated into the CPU.

Freeware - Like shareware, freeware is software you can download, pass around, and distribute without any payment. No 30 day limit, no demo versions, no disabled features -- it's totally free. Things like program updaters (for minor updates) and small games are commonly distributed as freeware. Freeware is still copyrighted, so you can't go sell it as your own.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol. A common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible databases of files that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in and downloading them.

Gateway - The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example Prodigy has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet e-mail format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.

GIF - Graphic Interchange Format. A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIFs are compressed graphics files and use a compression formula originally developed by CompuServe. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.

Gigabyte (GB) - 1024 Megabytes.

Gopher - A widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.

GPS - Global Positioning System. GPS is a satellite navigation system used to determine ground position and velocity. Though it was created and originally used by the U.S. military, GPS is now available to the general public all over the world. It is currently being installed in a number of luxury cars, complete with an LCD map that shows the driver exactly where in the world they are. The advanced car GPS units can actually speak the directions to a certain destination to the driver and tell him when to turn or even tell him if he missed a turn back on 42nd street.

GUI - Graphical User Interface. The acronym is pronounced "gooey". It allows computer users to interact with their system by using a mouse instead of by typing in text at a command line. The two most popular operating systems -- Windows and the Mac OS -- are GUI based. The idea of a graphical user interface was first introduced by Apple with the Macintosh in 1984, but the idea was actually stolen from Xerox.

Handle - In online chat, the name you go by (not your real name) is called your handle. So if you named yourself CoolGirl99, that would be your handle. The term probably originated from CB radio, where people refer to each other by their handles.

hit- As used in reference to the World Wide Web, "hit" means a single request from a web browser for a single file from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 "hits" would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics. Another way the term "hit" can be used is in reference to search engine results. When you search for a phrase and the search engine finds 2000 results, you can say there were 2000 hits. People often use it to mean how many times a page has been accessed, which is a correct if not precise use for the term.

Home Page (or Homepage) - Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. "Check out so-and-so's new Home Page."

Host - Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and USENET.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) - The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client Program, such as Netscape or Mosaic.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) - The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).

Hypertext - Generally, any text that contains links to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) - A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion.

Hub - A small computer that serves as a central connection for all the computers in a network, which is usually Ethernet-based. Information sent to the hub can flow to any other computer on the network. So if you're planning on connecting more than two computers together, get a hub.

IDE/EIDE (Enhanced) Integrated Device Electronics - It is the most widely-used hard drive interface on the market. The fancy name refers to how the IDE technology "integrates" the electronics controller into the drive itself. The IDE interface, which could only support drives up to 540 MB has been replaced by the superior EIDE technology which currently supports up to 25 GB and also allows for over twice as fast data transfer rates. The other hard drive interface is SCSI, which is faster than EIDE, but usually costs quite a bit more.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineere) - A nonprofit organization that develops, defines, and reviews electronics and computer science standards. Though it is a U.S. organization, standards developed by the IEEE often become International standards. Some examples of products standardized by the organization are the IEEE1284 cable, a high-speed parallel port printer cable, and the1394 interface, a super-fast connection for video input devices and other peripherals. The IEEE describes itself as "the world's largest technical professional society -- promoting the development and application of electrotechnology and allied sciences for the benefit of humanity, the advancement of the profession, and the well-being of our members."

Internet (Upper case I) The vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early 70's. The Internet now (July 1995) connects roughly 60,000 independent networks into a vast global internet.

Believe it or not, the Internet was created in 1969, during the Cold War, by the United States military. It was meant to be a "nuke-proof" communications network. Today, it consists of countless networks and computers all over the world, allowing millions of people to share information. The majority of the information is transferred on huge lines known collectively as the Internet backbone. Instead of being regulated by the government, the Internet is now mainly controlled by the major Internet service providers such as MCI, Sprint, GTE, ANS, and UUNET. Because these providers make huge amounts of revenue off the Internet, they are also motivated to maintain consistent and fast connections which benefits everyday Internet users like you and me. Many people think the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing. They're not. The World Wide Web is what you are browsing right now -- it is only part of the Internet.

internet (Lower case i) Any time you connect 2 or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.

Intranet - A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use.

IP - Stands for "Internet Protocol." This is what allows for data to be transferred between systems over the Internet. People often say "IP" when referring to an IP address. The two are not necessarily synonymous, but I don't care if you say IP instead of IP address. I do it, I mean, nobody cares.

IP Number (Internet Protocol Number) - Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.

Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP. If you have a standard dial-up account with an Internet Service Provider, you will either be assigned a static IP address (which is always the same), or, as in most cases, you will be given a dynamic IP address, (which changes every time you log on). If you connect through a network, it is very likely that you have a static IP address. ISPs and organizations usually apply to the InterNIC for a range of IP addresses so that all their clients have similar addresses. There are three classes of IP address sets: Class C, which consists of 255 unique IP numbers, class B which will gives you 65,000 unique IP addresses, and class A addresses are for very large companies. Because the InterNIC is actually running out of IP addresses, and therefore, ranges of IPs, Class A and Class B addresses are very hard to get. Most large companies have to get multiple Class C addresses instead. In case you care, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which brought us the IP protocol in the first place, is working on a new protocol called "IP Next Generation" or IPng.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) -- Basically a huge multi-user live chat server that users connect to. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) - Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000 or 64,000 bits-per-second.

ISO - International Standards Organization. A voluntary organization that coordinates industrial standards organizations in many member countries. Yes, those numbers like ISO 9000.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) - A company (or institution like a university) that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money. Most ISPs are made up of a network of servers, including Web, e-mail, and news servers. When your modem dials your ISP, a point-to-point protocol (PPP) connection is established with another modem on the ISP's end. From there, you are connected to routers which route you to the Internet "backbone". From there, you can access public material from anywhere around the world.

Java - Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.

JavaScript - A programming lanuguage designed by Sun Microsystems in conjuction with Netscape which can be integrated into standard HTML pages. It is based off the Java programming language, but is used mainly to create interactive web pages. Because of the usefulness of JavaScript, many professional web sites incorporate it in the HTML of their web pages to make them more dynamic and interactive.

JDK (Java Development Kit) - A software development package from Sun Microsystems that implements the basic set of tools needed to write, test and debug Java applications and applets

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) - JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art. Like GIFs, JPEGs are cross-platform, meaning the same file can be viewed equally on both a Mac and PC.

Kbps - Stands for "Kilobits Per Second." Try not to confuse this with Kilobytes per second (which is 8 times more data per second). This term is most often used in describing modem speeds. For example, two common modem speeds are 33.6 Kbps and 56 Kbps.

Kermit - This is a protocol for transferring files during direct dial-up communications that's named after one of Jim Henson's Muppets. Kermit is sound but old and can be very slow--slower than Xmodem, Ymodem, and much slower than Zmodem.

Kilobyte (K) - A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.

LAN - (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building. Large companies and universities use these networks to share information.

Latency - The time it takes for a data packet to move across a network connection. While a packet is being sent, there is "latent" time, where the sending computer waits for a confirmation that the packet has been received. Latency and bandwidth are the two factors that determine your connection speed.

LCD - Stands for "Liquid-Crystal Display." LCDs are very thin displays which are used for laptop computer screens and flat screen monitors (as well as handheld TVs and video game devices). The image on an LCD screen is created by sandwiching an electrically reactive substance between two electrodes. By increasing or reducing current, LCDs can be lightened or darkened. Since LCDs are based on the principle of blocking light (rather than emitting it), they use up much less power than a cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitor.

Leased Line - Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7 -days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

Linux - Pronounced "liniks", this is an operating system similar to Unix, created by Linus Torvalds. His reason for developing it was because he wasn't happy with any of the currently available options (oh, if we all could do that...). His freely distributed his OS, helping it to gain popularity. Today, Linux is currently used by hundreds of thousands of people (maybe more) around the world. I guess computer hobbyists (a.k.a. geeks) love it because it's very customizable as you can actually add your own source code to OS itself. However, Linux has also become the choice for some corporations because it is an inexpensive substitute for Unix. The current supported hardware platforms are Intel, PowerPC, DEC Alpha, Sun Sparc, and Motorola.

Listserv® - The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv" is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. is a small program that automatically sends e-mail addresses on a mailing list. When someone subscribes to a mailing list, the listserv will automatically add the address and distribute future e-mail postings to that address along with all the others on the list. When someone unsubscribes, the listserv simply removes the address.

Login - Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password). Verb: The act of entering into a computer system, e.g. Login to the WELL and then go to the GBN conference.

Maillist (or Mailing List) - A (usually automated) system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the maillist. In this way, people who have many different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.

Megabyte (MB) - A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.

Megahertz - A Megahertz is 1 million complete cycles per second and is used to measure transmission speeds of electronic devices. The most common area you'll see Megahertz used is in measuring processor speed (like a 500Mhz PentiumIII). However, this only measures the clock speed of the computer's microprocessor - not the overall speed. Because of this, a PowerPC G3 400 is actually faster than a Pentium III 500 in most computations. Mac users love to stress this point. Abbreviation: "Mhz".

Microprocessor - This little chip is the heart of a computer. The microprocessor, often referred to as just the processor, does all the computations like adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, duplicating, etc. In PCs, the most popular microprocessor used is the Intel Pentium, whereas Apple Macintosh computers use the PowerPC chip (developed by Motorola, IBM, and Apple). Microprocessors perform many operations using instructions that are integrated into each chip, but software programs can tell the processor to do specific instructions as well. Megahertz are used to measure the clock speed of microprocessors but higher Megahertz doesn't always mean faster speeds. Though a 600-MHz chip has a clock speed that is twice as fast as a 300-Mhz chip, it doesn't mean the computer with the 600-Mhz chip will run all tasks twice as fast. This is because the speed of a computer is also influenced by other factors, such as the amount of memory available, the design of the program you're running, and most importantly, the efficiency of the processor. Some processors can complete more operations per clock cycle, making them more efficient that other processors with higher clock speeds. This is why the PowerPC is usually faster than Pentium chips at that are clocked at higher Megahertz.

MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a popular cross-platform format for sound files.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) -- The standard for attaching non-text files to standard Internet mail messages. Non-text files include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc.
An email program is said to be MIME Compliant if it can both send and receive files using the MIME standard.
When non-text files are sent using the MIME standard they are converted (encoded) into text - although the resulting text is not really readable.
Generally speaking the MIME standard is a way of specifying both the type of file being sent (e.g. a Quicktime™ video file), and the method that should be used to turn it back into its original form.
Besides email software, the MIME standard is also universally used by Web Servers to identify the files they are sending to Web Clients, in this way new file formats can be accommodated simply by updating the Browsers' list of pairs of MIME-Types and appropriate software for handling each type.

Mirror - Usually a mirror site is an exact copy of the original web or ftp site, but kept in a separate location or server so that the visitor traffic is divided and not clogging up one system.

Another common use of the term "mirror" refers to an arrangement where information is written to more than one hard disk simultaneously, so that if one disk fails, the computer keeps on working without losing anything.

Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator) - A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system transfer data. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.

MOO - (Mud, Object Oriented) -- One of several kinds of multi-user role-playing environments, so far only text-based.

Mosaic - The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX all with the same interface. Mosaic really started the popularity of the Web. The source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic, most notably, Netscape.

MP3 "MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3." It's the latest standard and format for compressing audio files. On average, an MP3 is about one-twelfth the size of the original file. However, the amazing part about MP3s is that the sound is nearly CD-quality. Because of their small size and exceptional sound, MP3s have become enormously popular. In fact, there are many web sites, like and, containing huge archives of MP3 audio files.
To listen to MP3s, you'll need a program like WinAmp (PC) or MacAmp (Mac). To create an MP3 file from a CD, you'll need an encoder program to convert the audio track to an MP3 file. "Is this against the law?", you ask. Well, not really, but the record label companies are getting worried. To get all your MP3 questions answered, check out CNET's MP3 Resource Center.

MPEG - Stands for "Moving Picture Experts Group." The MPEG organization, which works with the International Oganization for Standardization (ISO), develops standards for digital audio and video compression. The group constantly works to develop more efficient ways to digitally compress and store audio and video files. The term also refers to an actual type of multimedia file. MPEG files, which typically end with ".mpg," are compressed movies that can contain both audio and video. Though they are compressed (using the compression algorithms created by the Moving Picture Experts Group), they still maintain a high amount of quality from the original, uncompressed movie. This is why so many videos on the web use MPEG format.

MUD (Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension) - A (usually text-based) multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others are used for serious software development, or education purposes and all that lies in between. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact with in their absence, thus allowing a world to be built gradually and collectively.

MUSE (Multi-User Simulated Environment) - One kind of MUD - usually with little or no violence.

Netiquette - net etiquette refers to etiquette on the Internet. Based on the Golden Rule, good netiquette is basically not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. The three areas where good netiquette is most stressed are online chat, e-mail, and Usenet newsgroups. People that spam other users with unwanted e-mails or flood them with messages have very bad netiquette.

Netizen - Derived from the term citizen, referring to a citizen of the Internet, or someone who uses networked resources. The term connotes civic responsibility and participation.

Netscape - A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape (tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

Netscape has grown in features rapidly and is widely recognized as the best and most popular web browser. Netscape corporation also produces web server software.

Netscape provided major improvements in speed and interface over other browsers, and has also engendered debate by creating new elements for the HTML language used by Web pages -- but the Netscape extensions to HTML are not universally supported.

The main author of Netscape, Mark Andreessen, was hired away from the NCSA by Jim Clark, and they founded a company called Mosaic Communications and soon changed the name to Netscape Communications Corporation.

Network - When you have two or more computers connected to each other, you have a network. The purpose of a network is to enable the sharing of files and resources between mulitple systems. The Internet is a commonly described as a "network of networks." Some common types of network connections are through serial, phone, and Ethernet cables.

Newsgroup - The way newsgroups work is by sending the posted messages to a news server which then sends them to a bunch of other participating servers. The groups can be either "moderated", where someone decides which postings will become part of the discussion, or "unmoderated", which is what most newgroups are. To participate in a newsgoup, you must subscribe to it. It doesn't cost anything, but some groups can be hard to get into. Nearly all newsgroups are found on Usenet, which is a collection of computers around the world.

NIC (Networked Information Center) - Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet is the InterNIC, which is where new domain names are registered. Another definition: NIC also refers to Network Interface Card which plugs into a computer and adapts the network interface to the appropriate standard. ISA, PCI, and PCMCIA cards are all examples of NICs.

NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol) - The protocol used by client and server software to carry USENET postings back and forth over a TCP/IP network. It is what queries, distributes, posts, and retrieves news articles. If you are using any of the more common software such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc. to participate in newsgroups then you are benefiting from an NNTP connection.

Node - Any single computer connected to a network.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) - This is what allows you to scan that paper you printed out, but lost on your hard drive, back into your computer. When a page of text is scanned into a computer, at first, all the computer sees is a bunch graphical bits. In other words, it has no idea that there's text on the page, much less what the text says. However, an OCR program can convert the characters on the page into a text document. It usually isn't a perfect translation, but the newer OCR programs are very accurate. The better ones can even keep the formatting of the document in the translation.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) - The term refers to a company that produces hardware to be marketed under another company's brand. For example, if Sony makes monitors marketed by Dell Computers, they might be labeled "Dell", but the OEM is Sony. Operating System Also known as an "OS", this is the software that actually communicates with computer's hardware. Without an operating system, all software programs would be useless. The OS is what allocates memory, processes tasks, accesses disks and peripherials, and acts as the user interface. With an operating system, like the Mac OS or Windows 98, Packet A small amount of computer data sent over a network. Any time you receive data from the Internet, it comes to your computer in the form of packets. Each packet contains the address of its origin and destination, and information that allows it to "connect" to related packets being sent. The process of sending and receiving packets is known as "packet-switching". Packets from many different locations can be sent on the same lines and be sorted and directed to different routes by various computers along the way.

Packet Switching - The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks, each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Password - A code used to gain access to a locked system (like in the real world). Usually a combination of letters and numbers, they always suggest you stay away from using your birthday or middle name or predictable things like that!

Plug-in - A piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins.

The idea behind plug-in's is that a small piece of software is loaded into memory by the larger program, adding a new feature, and that users need only install the few plug-ins that they need, out of a much larger pool of possibilities. Plug-ins are usually created by people other than the publishers of the software the plug-in works with.

POP (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol) - Two commonly used meanings: Point of Presence and Post Office Protocol. A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines. So if an Internet company says they will soon have a POP in Belgrade, it means that they will soon have a local phone number in Belgrade and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network. A second meaning, Post Office Protocol refers to the way e-mail software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell account you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail.

Port - 3 meanings. First and most generally, a place where information goes into or out of a computer, or both. E.g. the serial port on a personal computer is where a modem would be connected.

On the Internet port often refers to a number that is part of a URL, appearing after a colon (:) right after the domain name. Every service on an Internet server listens on a particular port number on that server. Most services have standard port numbers, e.g. Web servers normally listen on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case the port number must be specified in a URL when accessing the server, so you might see a URL of the form:


shows a gopher server running on a non-standard port (the standard gopher port is 70). Finally, port also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from one type of computer system to another, e.g. to translate a Windows program so that is will run on a Macintosh.

Portal - Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a "Portal site" has a catalog of web sites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main "point of entry" (hence "portal") to the Web.

Posting - When you send a single message to a newsgroup or message board and it gets 'posted' up on the board so everyone can read it.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol)- Most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make TCP/IP connections and thus be really and truly on the Internet.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) - The regular old-fashioned telephone system.

QuickTime - Most .mov files that you see on the web are QuickTime movies. Originally developed for Macintosh by Apple computer, the format is now used by both PC and Mac.

RFC (Request For Comments) - The name of the result and the process for creating a standard on the Internet. New standards are proposed and published on line, as a Request For Comments. The Internet Engineering Task Force is a consensus-building body that facilitates discussion, and eventually a new standard is established, but the reference number/name for the standard retains the acronym RFC, e.g. the official standard for e-mail is RFC 822.

Router - A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.

Security Certificate - A chunk of information (often stored as a text file) that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection.

Security Certificates contain information about who it belongs to, who it was issued by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid dates, and an encrypted "fingerprint" that can be used to verify the contents of the certificate.

In order for an SSL connection to be created both sides must have a valid Security Certificate.

Server - A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g.Our mail server is down today, that's why e-mail isn't getting out. A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) - A standard for using a regular telephone line (a serial line) and a modem to connect a computer as a real Internet site. SLIP is gradually being replaced by PPP.

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service) - A new standard for very high-speed data transfer.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) - The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.

SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program receiving mail should interact.

Almost all Internet email is sent and received by clients and servers using SMTP, thus if one wanted to set up an email server on the Internet one would look for email server software that supports SMTP.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) - A set of standards for communication with devices connected to a TCP/IP network. Examples of these devices include routers, hubs, and switches.

A device is said to be "SNMP compatible" if it can be monitored and/or controlled using SNMP messages. SNMP messages are known as "PDU's" - Protocol Data Units.

Devices that are SNMP compatible contain SNMP "agent" software to receive, send, and act upon SNMP messages.

Software for managing devices via SNMP are available for every kind of commonly used computer and are often bundled along with the device they are designed to manage. Some SNMP software is designed to handle a wide variety of devices.

Spam (or Spamming) - Any unsoclicited mail or mass mailing can be considered spam. Also, posting the same message to bulletin boards or Usenet groups is considered spamming. Watch out though, because when you enter your email address on any given site whether it is to sign up for a contest or mailing list, they may have the right to send you ad email; read the privacy policy! The term may come from a famous Monty Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over. The term may also have come from someone's low opinion of the food product with the same name, which is generally perceived as a generic content-free waste of resources. (Spam is a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat product.)

E.g. Some guy spammed 50 USENET groups by posting the same message to each.

SQL (Structured Query Language) - A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application will have its own version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) - A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet.

SSL used mostly (but not exclusively) in communications between web browsers and web servers. URL's that begin with "https" indicate that an SSL connection will be used.

SSL provides 3 important things: Privacy, Authentication, and Message Integrity.

In an SSL connection each side of the connection must have a Security Certificate, which each side's software sends to the other. Each side then encrypts what it sends using information from both its own and the other side's Certificate, ensuring that only the intended recipient can de-crypt it, and that the other side can be sure the data came from the place it claims to have come from, and that the message has not been tampered with.

Sysop (System Operator) - Anyone responsible for the physical operations of a computer system or network resource. A System Administrator decides how often backups and maintenance should be performed and the System Operator performs those tasks.

T-1 - A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet.

T-3 - A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) - This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.

Telnet - The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host.

Terabyte - 1000 gigabytes.

Terminal - A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer - the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.

Terminal Server - A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.

UHF - Ultra High Frequency. A range of spectrum designated by the FCC for television broadcasts: originally channels 14 to 84, late 14 to 69.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol) - One of the protocols for data transfer that is part of the TCP/IP suite of protocols. UDP is a "stateless" protocol in that UDP makes no provision for acknowledgement of packets received.

UNIX - A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is multi-user) and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) - This is the alphanumeric address of any site as opposed to the numbers you may see. A URL looks like this: or telnet:// or news:new.newusers.questions etc.

Most web addresses are of the form

http:// - This tells the computer information it needs to process the Webpage it finds.

www. - This is the convention that stands for WorldWideWeb. When typing in a URL, sometimes just the 'ourcompany' portion will bring up the whole thing (you don't have to type in the http:// and www. and .com - this usually only works for .com sites though)
This is the domain portion of the URL-the real address. The .com indicates in the United States that this is a "commercial" address. You'll also see .edu for "educational", .net for "network services provider", .org for "nonprofit organization" and .gov for "government". The endings don't really affect you as a user, though--they're just to sort some things out administratively.USENET - A world-wide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all USENET machines are on the Internet, maybe half. USENET is completely decentralized, with over 10,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.

UUENCODE (Unix to Unix Encoding) - A method for converting files from Binary to ASCII (text) so that they can be sent across the Internet via e-mail.

Veronica (Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives) - Developed at the University of Nevada, Veronica is a constantly updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher servers. The Veronica database can be searched from most major gopher menus.

VRML  (Virtual Reality Markup Language) - A way to describe "worlds" that are displayed in three dimensions for the user to "walk through" or "fly over."

VPN (Virtual Private Network) - Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is "virtually" private. A typical example would be a company network where there are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet the two offices mereg their networks into one network, but encrypt traffic that uses the Internet link.

WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers)- A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked (scored) according to how relevant the hits are, and that subsequent searches can find more stuff like that last batch and thus refine the search process.

W3 - The name of the consortium that is steering standards development for the World Wide Web

WAV - A Windows format for sound files.

WAN (Wide Area Network) - Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.

WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get. HTML editors that let you work with pictures and fonts and colors instead of the direct code. Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe's PageMill are examples of WYSIWYG editors.

Web - the name given to the network of computers we know as the world wide web, because the machines are all connected to eachother in a web like pattern.

WWW (World Wide Web) - Frequently used when referring to "The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, generally used: the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be accessed from any computer with a connection to the internet.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) - A system for defining specialized markup languages that are used to transmit formatted data. XML is conceptually related to HTML, but XML is not itself a markup language. Rather it's a metalanguage, a language used to create other specialized languages.

xmodem - This is a protocol for transferring files during direct dial-up communications. Developed by Ward Christensen in 1977, Xmodem has basic error checking to ensure that information isn't lost or corrupted during transfer; it sends data in 128-byte blocks. Xmodem has undergone a couple of enhancements: Xmodem CRC uses a more reliable error-correction scheme, and Xmodem-1K transfers data faster by sending it in 1,024-byte blocks.

ymodem - This is a protocol for transferring files during direct dial-up communications. It builds on the earlier Xmodem protocol. Ymodem sends data in 1,024-byte blocks and is faster than Xmodem. However, it doesn't work well on noisy phone lines, unlike its successor, Zmodem. Ymodem has undergone a few enhancements: Ymodem-Batch can send several files in one session; Ymodem-G drops software error correction, which speeds up the process by leaving hardware-based error correction in modems.

zip - An open standard for compression and decompression used widely for PC. ZIP was developed by Phil Katz for his DOS-based program PKZip, and it is now used on Windows-based programs such as WinZip and Drag and Zip. The file extension for ZIP files is .zip.

zmodem - this protocol supersedes zmodem and ymodem. It is faster and includes features like error checking. It can also resume a file transfer after a break in communications.

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