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Home > Glossary of Terms spacer

Glossary of Terms

This glossary of computer and Internet terms is taken from the ITrain reference guide, and can also be downloaded in PDF format.

A good basic glossary is provided by the TERENA Guide to Network Resource Tools (GNRT), while Webopedia and both offer extensive searchable dictionaries of information technology-related terms.

An Internet account allows you to access the Internet. If you have an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you will have one of these.

See Internet address.

Anti-Virus Program
A program that runs on your computer looking for viruses, and if it finds them it guides you on how to deal with the virus, from deleting the virus on the file to deleting the file itself. The virus program should to be updated with new virus definitions usually every month.

Also called a computer program. A set of instructions written in computer code that enables a computer to perform specific tasks - normally with some help from you, the user.

Name given to a message you post to a newsgroup, for example to ask for information.

An electronic file that you fix to an email message and send with it. For example, you could send a computer file of a Microsoft Word document to a colleague, friend, relative or client.

Bandwidth (the width of a band of electromagnetic frequencies) is used to mean (1) how fast data flows on a given transmission path, such as a network, and (2), somewhat more technically, the width of the range of frequencies that an electronic signal occupies on a given transmission medium. Bandwidth is important because it is a determining factor in setting the speed that information flows around the world and into your computer.

The number of signalling elements that can be transmitted per second on a circuit. Used in referring to the speed at which a modem transmits data. This is an older term being replaced by bps - bits per second. We still speak of the baud rate of modems.

The smallest unit of measure of computer data. A bit can be a "1" or a "0".

Bit rate
Bit rate is the amount of digital data that is moved from one place to another in a given time, usually in a second's time, for example, kilobits, or thousands of bits per second [Kbps].. The bit rate can be viewed as the speed of travel of a given amount of data from one place to another. In general, the greater the bandwidth of a given path, the higher the data transfer rate.

A term used in Netscape to describe a Web site that is marked for later reference. Called a 'favourite' in Internet Explorer. Bookmarks offer a convenient means to retrieve pages whose locations (URLs) you have saved. You store your bookmarks in a list that is saved on your hard disk.

Boot up your system
Simply means to start your computer.

Bits per second. The measure of a modem's speed. Often expressed in kbps, kilobits.per second.

Software that allows a computer to access information on the Internet. Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are browsers that use a graphical user interface (GUI) for searching, finding, viewing and managing information.

A error in computer software that can cause programs to malfunction.

A group of 8 bits.

You can choose whether you want sound recorded through one [mono] or two [stereo] channels. Stereo is important for audio files which contain music. For speech with some music in the background, mono will be sufficient.

Chat is an Internet communication service. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is software that allows you to use chat services on the Net.

A computer that uses the services of another computer called a server. When you are using the Internet to download information to your computer, your machine is a client.

Digital Data
Data transmitted or stored with digital technology is expressed as a string of zeroes and ones. Each of these state digits is referred to as a bit. A string of bits that a computer can address individually as a group is a byte.

Digitising is a consequence of recording - importing a raw audio file into your computer. Through this process the raw sound is saved as digital data, ie. a string of zeroes and ones.

DNS (Domain Name Server)
A computer on the Internet. It does the work of translating between an Internet domain name such as and an Internet numerical address such as 123.456.78.9.

Domain or domain name
Part of a computer's official name - for example, Your ISP can tell you more about obtaining a domain name. You can find a list of domain name registrars at - for a fee.

To transfer programs or data from a computer to a connected device, usually from a server to your personal computer.

Importing data into your computer for further usage. In the case of downloading audio, it means that one saves the audio file on their hard drive in order to manipulate it [play, edit, broadcast].

Short form for electronic mail, as opposed to snail mail, the realm of the post office.

In order for some email messages to be sent over the Internet they need to be altered. This process is called encoding. We describe two type of encoding below: MIME and UUencoding.

A process of scrambling communications so that they can not be intercepted. On the Internet, people can read an encrypted message if they have the right electronic keys.

A popular email program for Windows and Mac computers. Download the software and a comprehensive users manual at

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
A collection of questions that are commonly asked in a newsgroup or mailing list - including answers. A good place to start when you join a newsgroup or mailing list.

A rude or inflammatory Internet message. Most often occurs when you write someone complaining about something they have written to a mailing lists or newsgroup. Often leads to more flaming and generally unproductive use of everyone's time and energy.

An area where you store similar material so you can find it later. You should create these in Windows to store and organise the messages you receive, the Web site information you capture and the software you download from the Net.

Software that is provided free of charge. You do not need to buy a license to use the software.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
A way of transferring data from one computer to another over the Net.

This is a compact graphics format, which has become poplar on the Internet. Many web browsers accept JPEG images as a standard format for viewing graphics on Web pages.

1,000,000,000 bytes of data. This seems to be a huge amount of data but present software takes a good bite out of a one-gigabyte hard drive.

Hard Disk
A computer component that stores your program and data files. This is different than RAM because the information is stored even if the power is turned off.

Home Page
The first area you see on your monitor when you access a Web site.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
A "tag" language used to format Web pages. To see HTML coding, load a Web page in Netscape Navigator 4, select View, Page Source.

HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol)
The method used to transfer documents from the host computer or server to browsers and individual users. Commonly seen as the first letters of most URLs, or Internet addresses.

Connections between one piece of information and another. In browsers, hyperlinked text is underlined.

Allows the user to select text and immediately display related information. You click on a hypertext link and your browser sends you to the place on the Web or a file that is associated with the address you click on.

A real-time chat program that allows you to communicate with other people on the Internet running the same program.

The interconnection of over 100,000 computer networks world-wide. The Internet allows estimated 50 million computer users to exchange email and information.

Internet Address
A unique combination of letters, most of which start with HTTP.

Internet Explorer
See Microsoft Internet Explorer.

An Internet at the level of an organisation, most often a business. Using popular Internet software, an intranet allows people to exchange data within an organisation, as they do on the Internet, with the world.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
A digital telephones system, faster than normal telephone service, operating up to a speed of 128 kilobits per second.

Short form of internet service provider. This is the organisation that has a hook-up, often direct, to the Web. An individual or small organisation normally accesses the Internet through an ISP.

A computer language that can run on any modern computer and is therefore ideal for the Internet.

Indicated by the letters JPG on a computer file, this is popular method used to compress the size of photographic images. Many web browsers accept JPEG images as a standard format for viewing graphics on Web pages.

See mailing list.

Mailing lists
An email service that 'remails' all incoming mail received by the list. Each message is sent to people who subscribe to the list, unless they arrange otherwise. Also called electronic mailing lists, Internet mailing lists, listservers and discussion groups.

A program behind the scenes of a mailing list, making it possible for the list to send messages to all members and perform other functions.

Microsoft Internet Explorer
Microsoft's browser that allows WWW access.

The most popular method for encoding messages and email attachment. It stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. Eudora Light automatically converts your messages and attachments into MIME format without any extra effort on your part. Virtually all Internet mail programs now will seamlessly receive and decode MIME encoded messages and attachments. MIME is capable of encoding virtually any kind of file for the Internet including documents sound and video.

Modem (MODulator-DEModulator)
Computer hardware that enables digital data (computer info) to be transmitted over analogue transmission facilities like telephone lines.

An important person for a moderated mailing list. The moderator or a group of moderators review the messages posted to a mailing list or some newsgroups and decide whether they can be released to the public.

MP3 is slang for "MPEG Layer-3". MPEG stands for "Moving Picture Experts Group," and refers to the experts who developed MPEG - a set of industry standards for digitally encoding video and audio information.

The combining of audio, video and data. Internet browsers have multimedia capability due to the addition of plug-ins.

Short form for Internet.

Rules for how to behave on the Internet, especially in mailing lists, email and newsgroups.

Netscape Navigator
Netscape’s Internet browser. Can be used with the Internet or intranets to access the wealth of information in cyberspace.

At least 2 computers that are linked together (through modem, cable, satellite etc) and have the ability to share files or other resources.

A topical area in Usenet Newsgroups.

Software that allows you to read and respond to messages in newsgroups.

A comprehensive term embracing the Web, Internet and intranets.

Outlook Express
An email free email program that usually comes with Internet Explorer. It can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Website at

A way of collecting and conveying information on the Net. Pages may be of any length and contain a variety of elements including text, graphics, sound, video.

Stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is a freeware encryption program with considerable support on the Internet.

A computer program that you add to your Internet browser to handle additional functions such as audio and video.

Rules governing how computers talk to each other. The ’p’ in HTTP, TCP/IP and other important Net conventions.

Pull-down menu
A menu appearing at the top of the screen in Windows applications. When selected, another menu drops down.

Push technology
Push technology or Webcasting enables Web sites to deliver their content directly to users’ desktop computers.

RAM (Random Access Memory)
Memory that a computer software uses to run programs. Similar to a hard drive except the data is lost when the computer is turned off.

With this plug-in installed in your browser, you can listen to live and on-demand audio over the Internet using your standard modem.

RealPlayer is a real-time audio and video delivery system for the Internet. It is distributed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4. Using RealPlayer, you can listen and view thousands of hours of live and pre-recorded clips, including sporting events, live radio stations, news, music, and lectures.

Sample rate
A sample is simply a snapshot of a sound at a given point in time. The sampling rate is a measurement of how many snapshots are taken. The best example is a movie camera that takes 24 still photographs per second. When they are played back at a certain speed in the cinema, the result is almost like a real life. Each frame of film is a sample; 24 frames per second is a sampling rate. If you reduce the number of frames per second, the film would look like a sequence of still images.

Search tool
A free service on the Net. Search tools are like master librarians that index and find links on the Internet to the information you request. When you types in a phrase or keyword, the search tool scans the pages in its index for matches.

A computer that provides services to another computer - called a client.

Service provider (ISP)
A commercial company selling Internet access. Also called an Internet Service Provider or ISP.

Computer programs that you can download from the Net. You are free to use them for a period of time — often 30 days. If you keep them longer, you are expected to pay the shareware provider.

Sometimes called Macromedia Shockwave. This is the most popular plug-in for viewing multimedia.

A combination of keyboard characters that portray emotions like :-) for a smile or :-( for a frown. Also called an emoticon.

Snail mail
The slow stuff from the post office. As opposed to faster email.

The verb and noun referring to sending a commercial email message to a large number of people. Also used to cover a multitude of other disruptive, nasty things that happen via email from time-to-time.

Search tools send out small programs that we once called robots but now refer to as spiders, crawlers or 'indexers' - to review and catalogue Web sites and copy text they finds into a database.

Looking for interesting things on the World Wide Web using search engines and hyperlinks.

The process of putting any data [text, audio, video] online.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
A Web site address with the name of the server where the site's files are stored, the file’s directory path, and its file name. For example

Usenet (USEer NETwork)
Internet newsgroups currently with over 25,000 different newsgroups.

UUencoding is an older format for sending attachments via Internet mail. It is not as flexible as MIME and is no longer widely used on the Internet. However, there are still some mail systems on the Internet that send attachments in Uuencoded format. To deal with these attachments in Eudora Light you will require an additional utility to decode the attachments since Eudora Light does not support Uudecoding.

Small computer programs that make your computer malfunction — sick, for short. Some are a nuisance. Others can destroy all your data.

Web page
The same thing as a Web site.

Web site
A location where Web information is collected and made available, normally to anyone with access to the Internet.

WinZip is a compression utility that lets Windows users make their files smaller for faster transfer over the Internet. This utility also decompresses files that were originally compressed using PKZIP or TAR formats. You can obtain WinZip at

WWW (World Wide Web)
The World Wide Web provides a way of linking the computers on the Internet through HTML tags and using hyperlinks that allow you to click on a link and advance to another location on the Web.

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