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Dr. Alice Christie's Internet Glossary

Glossary of Common Computer & Internet Terms

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accessibility  The quality of a system incorporating hardware or software that makes it usable by people with one or more physical disabilities, such as restricted mobility, blindness, or deafness. 

active hyperlink  A hyperlink that is currently selected in a Web browser. Some Web browsers indicate the active hyperlink by changing its color. 

aliasing  In computer graphics, the process by which smooth curves and other lines become jagged because the resolution of the graphics device or file is not high enough to represent a smooth curve. Smoothing and antialiasing techniques can reduce the effect of aliasing.

anchor  See bookmark. 

animated GIF  A file containing a series of GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) graphics that are displayed in rapid sequence in a Web browser, giving the appearance of a moving picture. See also GIF. 

application  A program or group of programs designed for end users. Applications software includes database programs, word processors, and spreadsheets.

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banner  See page banner.

BMP  (bitmap)  The standard graphics file format on Windows-compatible computers. 

bookmark  A named location on a Web page that can be the target of a hyperlink. Bookmarks allow authors to link to a specific section of a target page. In a URL, a bookmark is preceded by the pound sign (#). Also called anchor

boot  To load the first piece of software that starts a computer. 

broken hyperlink  A hyperlink that points to an incorrect URL or a missing page or file. 

browser  See Web browser. 

browser-safe palette  A color table containing only 216 out of a possible 256 colors, used to precisely match the colors of graphics and pictures in cross-platform Web browsers. 

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cell padding  The space between the contents and inside edges of a table cell. 

cell spacing  The amount of space between cells in a table. Cell spacing is the thickness, in pixels, of the walls surrounding each cell. 

clip art  Electronic illustrations that can be inserted into a document.

clipboard  A special file or memory area (buffer) where data is stored temporarily before being copied to another location. Many word processors, for example, use a clipboard for cutting and pasting. 

clone  A computer, software product, or device that functions exactly like another, better-known product. In practice, the term refers to any PC not produced by one of the leading name-brand manufacturers, such as IBM and Compaq. 

cookie  A message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the message in a text file called cookie.txt. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

copy To copy a piece of data to a temporary location. In word processing, for example, copying refers to duplicating a section of a document and placing it in a buffer (clipboard).

CPU  Short for "central processing unit." The CPU is the brains of the computer and is where most calculations take place.

crop  In computer graphics, to cut off the sides of an image to make it the proper size or to remove unwanted parts.

cut To remove an object from a document and place it in a buffer (clipboard). In word processing, for example, cut means to move a section of text from a document to a temporary buffer. 

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desktop publishing Using a computer to produce high-quality printed documents.

distance learning  A type of education where students work on their own at home or at the office and communicate with faculty and other students via e-mail, electronic forums, videoconferencing and other forms of computer-based communication. 

DOS  Short for disk operating system. An operating system for IBM-compatible personal computers. 

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editor  A program that creates files or makes changes to existing files.  

e-mail (electronic mail)  The exchange of electronic text messages and computer file attachments between computers over a communications network, such as a local area network or the Internet. 

e-mail address  A name that identifies an electronic post office box on a network where e-mail can be sent. Different types of networks have different formats for e-mail addresses. On the Internet, all e-mail addresses have the form: <name>@<domain name > For example, 

external hyperlink  A hyperlink pointing to a page or file that is outside of the current web. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) A document listing common questions and answers on a particular subject. FAQs are often posted on Internet newsgroups where new participants ask the same questions that regular readers have already answered many times. 

file  A named collection of information that is stored on a computer. Also, an Internet protocol that refers to files on a disk or local area network. 

file extension  In DOS and some other operating systems, one or several letters at the end of a filename. Filename extensions usually follow a period (dot) and indicate the type of information stored in the file. For example, in the filename EDIT.DOC, the extension is DOC, which indicates that the file is a word processor file. 

file type  The format of a file, commonly indicated by its file name extension. 

folder  A named storage area on a computer containing files and other folders. 

form  A set of data-entry fields on a page that are processed on a Web server. The data is sent to the server when a site visitor submits the form by clicking on a button or graphic. 

frame  An area of a Web browser window defined by a frames page. A frame appears in a Web browser as one of a number of different areas in which pages can be displayed. A frame may be scrollable and resizable, and may have a border. 

FTP  (File Transfer Protocol) The Internet service that transfers files from one computer to another over standard phone lines. 

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GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) A graphics file format commonly used to display graphics on the World Wide Web. GIF is a compressed format, designed to minimize file transfer time over standard phone lines. See also interlaced GIF. 

graphics  Pictures displayed by a computer.

graphics file formats  Formats such as BMP, EPS, GIF, JPEG, PCD, PCX, PNG, RAS, TGA, TIFF, and WMF. 

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heading  A paragraph style that is displayed in a typeface larger than normal text. The size of a heading is related to its level: Heading 1 is the largest, Heading 2, the next largest, and so on. Use headings to provide names or titles for text paragraphs or entire pages. 

home page  On the World Wide Web, an entry page for a set of Web pages and other files in a Web site. The home page is displayed by default when a visitor surfs to the site using a Web browser. The name of a home page depends on the type of Web server used to host the Web site. Some Web servers reserve Index.htm as the name for the home page, while others name the home page Default.htm. 

host  See server. 

hotspot  A graphically defined area in a graphic or picture containing a hyperlink. A graphic with hotspots is called an image map. Hotspots are invisible in Web browsers. Site visitors can tell that a hotspot is present because the mouse pointer changes appearance when the mouse is moved over the graphic.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)  The standard markup language used for documents on the World Wide Web. The HTML language uses tags to indicate how Web browsers should display page elements such as text and graphics, and how Web browsers should respond to user actions such as hyperlink activation by means of a key press or mouse click. 

HTML tag  A text string used in HTML to identify a page element's type, format, and appearance. 

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)  The Internet protocol that enables Web browsers to retrieve information from World Wide Web servers. 

hyperlink  A pointer from text, from a picture or a graphic, or from an image map to a page or file on the World Wide Web. On the World Wide Web, hyperlinks are the primary way to navigate between pages and among Web sites. Also called link

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image map  A graphic containing one or more invisible regions, called hotspots, which are associated hyperlinks. Typically, an image map gives site visitors visual cues about the information made available by clicking each part of a picture or graphic. For example, a geographical map could be made into an image map by assigning hotspots to each region of interest on the map. 

information highway  A popular buzzword to describe the Internet, bulletin board services, online services, and other services that enable people to obtain information from telecommunications networks.

instant messaging  A type of communications service that enables you to create a private chat room with another individual. Typically, the instant messaging system alerts you whenever somebody on your private list is online. You can then initiate a chat session with that particular individual. 

interlaced GIF  A picture in GIF format that is gradually displayed in a Web browser, showing increasingly detailed versions of the picture until the entire file has finished downloading. See also GIF. 

internal hyperlink  A hyperlink pointing to any page or file within the current web. See also hyperlink. 

Internet  The worldwide collection of computers, networks and gateways that use TCP/IP protocols to communicate with one another. At the heart of the Internet are high-speed data communication lines between major host computers, consisting of thousands of commercial, government, educational, and other computer systems that route data and messages. Currently, the Internet offers a range of services to users, such as e-mail, the World Wide Web, FTP, Usenet newsgroups, Gopher, IRC, telnet, and others. 

Internet address  See network location

Internet service provider  A business that supplies Internet connectivity services to individuals, businesses, and other organizations. 

intranet  A network designed for information processing within a company or organization. 

IP address (Internet Protocol address)  The standard way of identifying a computer that is connected to the Internet, much the way a telephone number identifies a telephone on a telephone network.  

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JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)  A graphics file format used to display high-resolution color graphics on the World Wide Web. JPEG graphics apply a user-specified compression scheme that can significantly reduce the large file sizes usually associated with photo-realistic color graphics. A higher level of compression results in lower quality, whereas a lower level of compression results in higher quality. 

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LAN (local area network)  A computer network technology designed to connect computers separated by a short distance. A LAN can be connected to the Internet and can also be configured as an intranet. 

link  See hyperlink. 

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mailto  The Internet protocol used to send electronic mail. 

menu  A list of commands or options from which you can choose. Many applications have pull-down menus. You can choose an item from the menu by highlighting it and then pressing the Enter or Return key, or by pointing to the item with a mouse and clicking one of the mouse buttons. 

META tag  An HTML tag that must appear in the HEAD portion of the page. META tags supply information about a page but do not affect its appearance. 

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navigation bar  A collection of graphical or textual buttons containing hyperlinks to pages that are part of the same web structure. 

network location  In a URL, a unique name that identifies an Internet server. A network location has two or more parts, separated by periods, as Also called host name and Internet address.

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operating system  The most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. 

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page  A single document in a Web site written in HTML. 

page banner  A section of a Web page containing a graphic element and text, such as the page title. Page banners are usually displayed at the top of a Web page. 

page template  A predesigned, generic Web page you can use to create new custom pages.  

page title  A descriptive text string identifying a page. 

password  A security measure used to restrict access to computer systems and sensitive files. 

paste To copy an object from a buffer (or clipboard) to a file. In word processing, blocks of text are moved from one place to another by cutting and pasting.

path  The portion of a URL that identifies the folders containing a file. For example, in the URL, the path is /hello/world/. 

PCX  A graphics file format.

picture  A graphics file that can be inserted on a Web page and displayed in a Web browser. Also called image

pixel  Short for Picture Element. A pixel is a single point in a graphic image.

plug-in  One of a set of software modules that integrate into Web browsers to offer a range of interactive and multimedia capabilities. 

PNG  (Portable Network Graphics) A graphics file format. 

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reboot  To restart a computer. 

resolution  Refers to the sharpness and clarity of an image. The term is most often used to describe monitors, printers, and bit-mapped graphic images. For graphics monitors, the screen resolution signifies the number of dots (pixels) on the entire screen. For example, a 640-by-480 pixel screen is capable of displaying 640 distinct dots on each of 480 lines.

RTF (Rich Text Format)  A method of encoding text formatting and document structure using the ASCII character set. 

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server  A computer that offers services on a network. On the World Wide Web, a server is a computer that runs the Web server software that responds to HTTP protocol requests. Also called host

snail mail  A term invented after the use of e-mail became popular to identify normal postal mail and to point out the relative slowness of traditional mail. 

spam  Electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. 

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table  One or more rows of cells on a page used to organize the layout of a page or arrange data systematically.

tag  See HTML tag. 

template  A set of predesigned formats for text and graphics on which new pages and webs can be based. After a page or web is created using a template, you can customize the page or web.

thumbnail  A small representation of a picture on a Web page, usually containing a hyperlink to a full-size version of the graphic. Thumbnails are used to load pages that have lots of graphics or pictures more quickly in a Web browser.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)  A graphics file format. 

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URL (Uniform Resource Locator)  A string that supplies the Internet address of a Web site or resource on the World Wide Web, along with the protocol by which the site or resource is accessed. The most common URL type is http://, which gives the Internet address of a Web page. Some other URL types are gopher://, which gives the Internet address of a gopher directory, and ftp://, which gives the network location of an FTP resource. 

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WAN (wide area network)  A computer network that spans a long distance and uses specialized computers to connect smaller networks. 

watermark  A graphic that appears on the backgrounds of pages in a Web site to decorate and identify the pages, but does not scroll as the page scrolls. Not all Web browsers support watermarks. 

web  A home page and its associated pages, graphics, documents, multimedia, and other files stored on a Web server or on a computer's hard drive. 

Web browser  Software that interprets the markup of files in HTML, formats them into Web pages, and displays them to the user. 

WMF (Windows Metafile Format)  A graphics file format. 

word processing Using a computer to create, edit, and print documents. 

World Wide Web  The total set of interlinked hypertext documents residing on HTTP servers all over the world. Documents on the World Wide Web are called pages or Web pages, which are written in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Web pages are identified by URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) that specify the particular computer and path name by which a file can be accessed, and transmitted from node to node to the end user under HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Web pages may contain text in a variety of fonts and styles, pictures, graphics, movie clips, sounds, as well as small, embedded software programs that are executed when a site visitor activates them by clicking a hyperlink.  

WYSIWYG Short for "what you see is what you get." A WYSIWYG application enables you to see on the display screen exactly what will appear when the document is printed.

(Source: Microsoft FrontPage 2000 & Webopedia)

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