COMPUTING VOCABULARY LIST
225 Basic Terms
Beginners’ Kaffee Klatch
Prepared by Bill Wilkinson
November 22, 2008
1. Acrobat Reader: A free program from Adobe Systems used to read PDF (Portable Document Format)
files. Acrobat Reader is often bundled with software for scanners and is available for downloading from a
variety of Web sites, including the Beginners’ Kaffee Klatch site at www.scscc.com/bkk.
2. Active Window: The Window currently affected by on-screen cursor movement. The active window is
usually a different color than other windows or is at the forefront of the screen. Active windows usually
contain what the user is currently working on.
3. ActiveX: ActiveX is a catch-all term applied to a collection of programming tools developed by Microsoft
that most commonly are used to add enhanced functionality to Web pages. The technology lets Web
browsers automatically launch and work with program files over the Internet. Programmers can make the
programs as complicated as they like, so the programs let designers do just about anything with their Web
sites. Thousands of more advanced ActiveX controls exist that let browsers do things such as play audio
and video in various formats or display Acrobat Reader documents without having to launch an external
program. ActiveX is somewhat controversial because crackers can use the technology to exploit security
holes in Web browsers. Because some Web browsers (and some e-mail programs) automatically process
ActiveX controls, accidentally navigating to a site or opening a message containing a malicious control can
seriously compromise your PC. Past ActiveX exploits have done everything from erasing victims' hard
drives to opening up computers to direct attack from the Internet, giving crackers access to all files on the
4. Address Book: A feature of most e-mail programs that lets users maintain and store multiple e-mail
addresses. The address book enables users to easily send an e-mail message to multiple recipients. It lets
users click the addresses they want and then their e-mail program automatically adds each selected address
to the header or the To: field.
5. Adware: A slang term used to describe free, sponsored software that often, but not always, contains
cookies and Registry keys that are loaded onto your computer when you install the main program. These
data are then used to track your Web movements and/or target ads to suit your tastes and needs. Sometimes,
uninstalling the original software will not remove the cookies and Registry keys from your system and will
still let advertisers track you. However, you can use programs, such as Lavasoft’s Ad-aware or Spybot
S&D, to remove these sticky components for you.
6. ALT key: The ALT (Alternate) key on a computer is used in conjunction with other keys to give a key an
additional function other than the one indicated by its label. The ALT key is similar to the CTRL (Control)
key. For instance, employing the ALT-F key combination in most Windows applications will open the File
menu. When using the ALT key, it is best to press the ALT key and, before releasing it, press the other key
7. Applications Software: Includes programs that do real work for users. For example, word processors,
spreadsheets, tax programs, home finance programs, and database management systems fall under the
category of applications software.
8. Back Up: To copy a file or files to an alternate location so a safe copy remains if the original is destroyed
or damaged. A single file or an entire drive can be backed up if media of sufficient size are available.
9. Basic Input/Output System (BIOS): (Pronounced bye-ose) A special piece of software built into most
computers. BIOS routines control the startup process of the machines and other basic functions such as the
keyboard, display, and disk drives. On older computers, the BIOS is stored in read-only memory, which is
not erased when the power to the computer is shut off. Newer computers store BIOS on flash ROM, which
can be erased and rewritten if the user needs to update the BIOS program.
10. Bay: A term used to describe the area toward the front of a computer typically where the disk drives and
CD-ROM drives are housed. Bays usually are stacked on top of each other. The word comes from the
telephone industry, where equipment was mounted on racks in similar bays.
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11. Bells And Whistles: A phrase describing desirable features of a computer or application. If something has
all the "bells and whistles," it must include everything and more than one expects from such a product. For
example, today's major word processing programs provide more bells and whistles than most people need.
12. Beta Version: In the development of hardware and software, a version of a product released to a group of
testers. Beta software often is available on the Internet, where users can download it at no charge.
Developers want users to report any problems so they can be fixed before the product is released in the
general marketplace. Beta software usually has most of the capabilities of a final release, unlike rougher
alpha versions, but it usually has a set of known bugs that makes it unsuitable for a professional setting.
13. Bits, Bytes, Megabytes, Gigabytes. Bit is the acronym for binary digit, the smallest unit of information on
a computer. A single bit can hold only one of two values: 0 or 1. More meaningful information is obtained
by combining consecutive bits into larger units. For example, a byte is composed of 8 consecutive bits.
Byte is the acronym for binary term, a unit of storage capable of holding a single character. On almost all
modern computers, a byte is equal to 8 bits. Large amounts of memory are indicated in terms of kilobytes
(1,024 bytes), megabytes (1,024 kilobytes), gigabytes (1,024 megabytes), and terabytes (1024
14. Boot: To turn on a computer and cause it to start executing the basic startup software usually housed in the
BIOS. Booting up a computer is the first step to using it, as the computer must load certain information into
its memory before running more advanced programs. A user might reboot a computer that has crashed in an
effort to regain control. The word comes from "bootstrap," the straps that help people pull on their boots. In
a fancifully similar way, booting helps the computer get started.
15. Boot Drive: The primary hard drive on a user’s computer; the drive that contains all the startup
information. If the boot drive isn’t working, you won’t be able to start your PC normally. Most PCs
designate the C: drive as the boot drive.
16. Bounced E-Mail: E-mail that could not be delivered to the intended recipient and is returned to the sender.
The most common causes of bounced E-mail messages are misspelled or improper addresses or the
recipient exceeding the mail capacity established by the Internet service provider (ISP). E-mail messages
also may bounce because of network errors or configuration errors. Bounced E-mail messages almost
always include a lengthy description of what went wrong when your ISP tried to deliver the message. Look
for misspellings if you see errors such as "User not found" or "Host not found." If the address is spelled
correctly, the problem probably is related to a network malfunction or mail capacity being exceeded. The
best recourse is to wait a few hours for those problems to clear up and then resend the message.
17. Browse: To view data, usually in such a way that you can page through screens or windows quickly.
Today the verb is associated with looking at sites on the Internet.
18. Browser: An application that allows users to download Internet Web pages and view them on their own
computers. Graphical browsers can display pictures and text and allow you to navigate from one page to
the next with a mouse. Two of the most popular browsers are Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet
19. Buffer: A temporary storage area in a computer's memory, usually RAM, that holds recent changes to files
and other information to be written later to the hard drive. Because hard drives are relatively slow
compared to RAM, buffers speed up performance. However, buffers generally are wiped clean by power
outages; saving a file moves the information to the hard drive. Print buffers allow printing in the
background while the user moves to another application or document. Buffers also are used by some
transmission protocols. Incoming data might be stored in a buffer until they are verified.
20. Bundled Software: Software included, often at no charge, with another application or piece of hardware.
For instance, many new computers are sold with preloaded operating systems and other applications.
Modems are frequently sold bundled with communications software. Increasingly, free programs, such as
Web browsers, are bundled with other programs purchased at software stores. Bundled software can add
considerable value to a product.
21. Button: a small outlined area in a dialog box that you can click to select an option or command.
22. Cable Modem: a modem designed to operate over cable TV lines. Because the coaxial cable used by cable
TV provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve
extremely fast access to the Internet. This, combined with the fact virtually all homes in Sun City are
already wired for cable TV, has made the cable modem something of a holy grail for Cox Communications.
23. Cache: (Pronounced CASH.) A bank of high-speed memory set aside for frequently accessed data.
Whenever data is accessed from or saved to main memory, a copy, along with the address, is saved in the
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cache. When the processor attempts to access an address, the cache checks its stores. If the memory cache
holds the requested address (called a cache hit), it returns the data to the processor. If not (called a cache
miss), a traditional memory access takes place.
24. Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT): The display screen used in most televisions and standard computer monitors.
An electron beam moves across the back of the screen, lighting up phosphor dots inside the glass tube,
which causes an image to be displayed. In a color CRT, three electron guns direct the electrons at the
screen. Each gun focuses only on those phosphors that make up its color scheme: red, green, or blue.
25. CD-ROM Player: Short for Compact Disc-Read-Only Memory, the disk drive that reads a compact disk.
26. CD: a type of optical disk capable of storing large amounts of data -- the most common size on the general
consumer market is 650MB (megabytes). A single CD-ROM has the storage capacity of nearly 465 floppy
disks, enough memory to store about 200,000 text pages. CD-ROMs are stamped by the vendor, and once
stamped, they cannot be erased and filled with new data. To read a CD, you need a CD-ROM player. All
CD-ROMs conform to a standard format, so you can load any type of CD-ROM into any CD-ROM player.
In addition, CD-ROM players are capable of playing audio CDs, which share the same technology.
27. CD-R/W Player: Short for Compact Disc-Rewriteable. A drive that not only will read from a CD disk, but
also will write to a special CD disk (CD-R). Other special CDs (CD-RWs) permit writing over previously
28. Certificate Authority (CA): A trusted third party that vouches for the identity of an individual. A CA
issues a digital certificate that can validate the identity of an individual in online transactions. As issuers of
digital certificates, CAs play a key role in online security.
29. Clean Boot (Safe Mode): Starting a computer using a minimal set of files. Clean boots are used to
troubleshoot PCs because they eliminate any unnecessary device drivers or other problematic components.
30. Clean Install: The act of installing software on a system that doesn't already have a previous version of
31. 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. When you
cut a block of text, the word processor copies the block to the clipboard; when you paste the block, the
word processor copies it from the clipboard to its final destination.
32. CMOS: an abbreviation for complementary metal oxide semiconductor. Pronounced see-moss, CMOS is a
widely used type of semiconductor. CMOS chips require less power than chips using just one type of
transistor. This makes them particularly attractive for use in battery-powered devices, such as portable
computers. Desktop computers also contain a small amount of battery-powered CMOS memory to hold the
date, time, and system setup parameters.
33. Cold Boot: To start or restart a computer from the power-off condition, as opposed to a warm boot, which
empties memory and reloads the OS (operating system) without shutting off power. In a cold boot, the
computer goes through the complete startup process, while a warm boot lets it skip several steps. Generally,
a cold boot includes steps where the computer will run a series of self-diagnostic tests on its hardware
components. These tests are not likely to be run unless the computer is turned completely off before being
restarted, so it's a good idea to let a computer go through a cold boot at least a few times a week in order to
catch developing problems.
34. Compact Disc: Known by its abbreviation, CD, a compact disc is a polycarbonate with one or more metal
layers capable of storing digital information. The most prevalent types of compact discs are those used by
the music industry to store digital recordings and CD-ROMs used to store computer data. Both of these
types of compact disc are read-only, which means that once the data have been recorded onto them, they
can only be read, or played. Also available are CD-Rs (Compact Disc Recordable) and CD-RWs (Compact
35. Compressed File: A file that has had its contents compressed so it takes up less space in storage.
36. Control Panel: A program in Windows that lets the user modify some aspects of the interface such as
colors, fonts, keyboard, printer, sound, and screen savers.
37. Cookie: Information from a Web site sent to a browser and stored on a user's hard drive so the Web site
can retrieve it later. A Web server using the technology looks for a cookie when a user visits. Cookies
generally are used to identify visitors. A cookie can contain information about the user's login name,
password, and preferences. For subscription sites, the cookie can make it unnecessary to log in each time.
Users have the option to configure their browsers to either accept or reject cookies.
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38. Copying: Refers to duplicating a section of a document and placing it in a buffer (clipboard). The term
copy differs from cut, which refers to actually removing a section of a document and placing it in a buffer.
After cutting or copying, you can move the contents of the buffer by pasting it somewhere else.
39. Copy and Paste: To add (Copy) an object from one location, place it in a buffer (commonly called the
clipboard), and then afix it to a new location (paste). This process is often called copy-and- paste.
40. Corrupted File: To alter or partially erase information in memory or a file, rendering it unusable by the
computer. Hardware or software failure can corrupt a file by rearranging the bits of data. Corrupted
information no longer is readable.
41. CPU (Central Processing Unit): the part of the computer that controls all other parts. The CPU is the
“brains” of the computer. Sometimes referred to simply as the processor or central processor, the CPU is
where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element
of a computer system. On personal computers the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor.
Two typical components of a CPU are: the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and
logical operations, and the control unit, which extracts instructions from memory and decodes and executes
them, calling on the ALU when necessary.
42. Cracker: A person proficient at deciphering codes and passwords and breaking security systems for illegal
or unethical reasons. The term was invented by computer hackers to replace the term "hacker," which often
has been inaccurately associated with computer foul play. In fact, in many instances, "hacker" refers to a
savvy computer user.
43. Crop: To trim an image to refine it for use in a document. Backgrounds, individuals, or objects may be
cropped out of pictures. Cropping may result in a less-cluttered or more powerful image, but it also can
create a misleading picture.
44. Cursor and Cursor Keys: A special symbol, usually a solid rectangle or a blinking underline character,
that signifies where the next character will be displayed on the screen. To type in different areas of the
screen, you need to move the cursor. You can do this with the keyboard arrow keys or with a mouse. The
cursor may appear as a small arrow, called a pointer. (The terms cursor and pointer are often used
interchangeably.) In text processing, a cursor sometimes appears as an I-beam pointer, a special type of
pointer that always appears between two characters. Note also that programs that support a mouse may use
two cursors: a text cursor, which indicates where characters from the keyboard will be entered, and a mouse
cursor for selecting items with the mouse.
45. Cut and Paste: To remove (Cut) an object from one location, place it in a buffer (commonly called the
clipboard), and then add it to a new location (paste). This process is often called cut-and- paste.
46. Data: Information put into a form that can be processed by a computer. Information is condensed digitally
in a computer so text, picture, or sound can be represented on a screen.
47. Data Compression: Any method of condensing information so it can be stored in less space or transmitted
in less time. Many large graphics and sound files are compressed so they can be downloaded faster.
Although data compression can be done in many ways, a compression program generally looks for
redundancies in a file, then compresses the identical pieces of data into one representative token. Also
called data compaction.
48. Data Encryption: The transcription of data into an indecipherable code for security purposes. Encrypted
data cannot be viewed or used until it all has been converted into the original form. The government-
approved method in the United States is known as the Data Encryption Standard.
49. Debugging: The process of ridding a program of the logical or syntactical errors that occur in
50. Default: The standard setting, predetermined by your computer, that is engaged when the user fails to
denote a specific alternative. Defaults generally are the most often used settings for a particular program.
51. Defragmentation: The act of reorganizing a hard disk or diskette so individual applications or files aren't
fragmented, or scattered. This fragmentation occurs because of the way information is stored in little pieces
on a disk. As more information is stored, it becomes divided into tiny particles, so data for one application
or file can be found in many places on the disk. Defragmentation usually involves rewriting programs into
contiguous clusters. The process speeds a program's loading and retrieval time because the read/write head
doesn't need to search for scattered pieces. It also eliminates the small unused areas left behind when pieces
of information are deleted, which in turn allows the disk to store a maximum amount of information.
Defragmentation can be done with a disk optimizer such as the Windows defragmenter.
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52. Desktop: Refers to the Windows Desktop, the first screen you see when the operating system is opened.
The Desktop always includes at least four items: the Recycle Bin, the Start button, the Taskbar and the
53. Desktop Theme: An alteration that personalizes your computer’s Desktop by customizing the wallpaper,
icons, cursors, sounds, and color schemes. Some Windows versions include different themes, such as a
wildlife theme that changes different icons into animals.
54. Destination (target): The site to which data are directed. A site can be any hard drive, diskette, file,
directory, or document within the computer or online.
55. Dialog Box: A box that appears on a display screen to present information or request input. Typically,
dialog boxes are temporary -- they disappear once you have entered the requested information. Dialog
boxes cannot be resized.
56. Digest: An email mailing list that collects several mailing list emails at a time and sends them to the user
in a single email. Digests benefit the user by not cluttering up the mailbox.
57. Disk Drive: A machine that reads data from and writes data onto a disk. A disk drive rotates the disk very
fast and has one or more heads that read and write data. There are different types of disk drives for different
types of disks. For example, a hard disk drive (HDD) reads and writes hard disks, and a floppy drive (FDD)
reads and writes floppy disks. A magnetic disk drive reads magnetic disks, and an optical drive reads
optical disks. Disk drives can be either internal (housed within the computer) or external (housed in a
separate box that connects to the computer).
58. Document: A textual or graphical compilation of data that is dependent upon an application program for
its creation but is treated independently from the application's files for storage purposes.
59. Domain: In the Internet, a domain is a group (large or small) of connected computers. Within a domain,
there might be subdomains. On the Internet, domains are denoted by a three-letter code. Some of the
largest, most common domains are as follows: .edu--educational institution; .gov--government site, other
than state-funded universities; .com--commercial site; .mil--military site; .net--network site; .org--nonprofit
or private organization. In addition, most countries, states, provinces, and regions have domain names.
Subdomains range from fairly broad categories, such as a university, a military base, or a large corporation,
to small intranets and single computers. A domain also can refer to a group of workstations on a network.
60. Download: To retrieve an application or file from another computer through a network connection or
modem. Download is synonymous with "receive," while upload is synonymous with "transmit."
61. Drive Bay: The system unit space reserved for the installation of any type of drive. These slots are usually
located on the front panel of a computer. Empty drive bays may be protected by a plastic cover. To install
many types of add-on components, an empty drive bay is required.
62. Drop-Down Menu: A menu that is opened when the menu name is clicked, letting the user choose one
command from a list of several options. The File menu of a word processing document is an example of a
63. DVD: Short for digital versatile disc or digital video disc, a type of optical disk technology similar to the
CD-ROM. A DVD holds a minimum of 4.7GB of data, enough for a full-length movie. DVDs are
commonly used as a medium for digital representation of movies and other multimedia presentations that
combine sound with graphics. The DVD specification supports disks with capacities up to 17GB.
64. Electronic Mail (E-Mail): Text messages sent through a network to a specified individual or group.
Received messages are stored in an Inbox and can be kept, deleted, replied to, or forwarded to another
recipient, depending upon the e-mail program. Besides a message, an e-mail may have an attached file or
graphic. Users can make sure a message was received by requesting a receipt. Although not all items can be
sent electronically, e-mail's big advantage over postal mail, nicknamed "snail mail," is speed. E-mail can be
delivered within seconds or minutes across thousands of miles. May also be spelled email or E-mail.
65. Email Aliasing: Email aliasing refers to the practice of having multiple email address funnel into a single
email account. The practice is helpful in that you have only to check one account rather two or more
66. Email Client: An application (for example, Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird) that provides access
to electronic mail (email).
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67. Email Message Filter: A program that sorts a user's incoming mail. Email filters may sort mail into
specified folders based upon rules, such as who sent the message or what words are in the subject. One of
the most common uses of email filters is removing spam from an inbox.
68. Email Spoofing: By altering the headers in an email message, someone with the proper know-how can
make an email message appear as if it came from someone or somewhere else. SMTP (Simple Mail
Transport Protocol; the protocol most often used to send email) doesn’t include much security, making it
possible for people to forge, or spoof, the origins of the email.
69. Emoticons: Also known as smileys and short for emotion icons, these punctuation combinations form
small pictures, often best viewed sideways. For example, users can form faces like this one to relay
emotions: :-). Emoticons are most often seen in electronic mail (E-mail) and Internet messages.
70. Encryption: Encoding a file to prevent others from accessing its contents. An encrypted file appears as a
string of gibberish. Users must decrypt the file to read or use it. Files are usually encrypted using
71. End-User License Agreement (EULA): The typical license agreement for software used by individuals.
72. Ergonomics: The study or science of how people interact with their work areas. Ergonomics can help
determine the proper setup of a chair, desk, or monitor height. It also can suggest the position of the hands
on the keyboard or how to get rid of glare on a screen. The goal is to keep things as comfortable and
effective as possible. Ergonomics has become common in the 1990s because computers have become a
prevalent part of the office. Improper ergonomics may cause carpel tunnel syndrome and other repetitive
stress injuries and conditions.
73. Executable File: A file that can be executed, or run, as opposed to data files, which are collections of data
used by executable files. Executable files are identified by the extension .EXE or .COM (for example,
Program.exe). Such files basically are lists of instructions for the computer to carry out. Also called a
74. False-positive. In antivirus software, a false alert of the presence of a virus in a file or system. False-
positives can be caused by an uninfected object on your computer containing a bit of code or behaving in
such a way that it may fool the antivirus software into thinking that a virus is present. Some types of
antivirus software, such as behavior blockers, are more prone to producing false-positives than others and
are rarely used anymore.
75. Fatal error: An error that causes an operating system to crash.
76. Favorites: A user-defined shortcut to a frequently visited Web site. This is Microsoft Explorer’s version of
the Firefox Bookmarks.
77. Fax/Modem: communications device enabling one computer to talk to another computer via telephone
lines; most modems sold with computers today are combination FAX/MODEM units, permitting the user to
both send and receive facsimile copies Short for modulator-demodulator, a modem is a device that enables
a computer to transmit data over telephone or cable lines. Computer information is stored digitally, whereas
information transmitted over telephone lines is transmitted in the form of analog waves. A modem converts
between these two forms.
78. Flash Drive or Thumb Drive: one of several miniature, lightweight and portable external hard drives that
can be used to physically transport data from one computer to another using a Universal Serial Bus (USB)
2 connection. Some are the size of a pen or match box and have a capacity of from 64 MB (megabyte) to 8
79. Files: A collection of data or information that has a name, called the filename. Almost all information
stored in a computer must be in a file. There are many different types of files: data files, text files, program
files, directory files, and so on. Different types of files store different types of information. For example,
program files store programs, whereas text files store text.
80. File Folders: One or more files that have common attributes may be stored in a file folder. The icon that
represents the file folder even looks like a manila folder that we have used in the real world to store our
important personal and business papers.
81. File fragmentation: A situation in which parts of a file are scattered around many different sectors of a
disk drive. A computer keeps track of the location of all segments, but tracking them down can slow
read/write operations. Windows comes with utilities to defragment drives when they become overly
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82. File Manager: A program included with Windows that lets users view the contents of a storage medium,
usually hard drives, CD-ROM drives, and diskettes. File Manager includes, among other capabilities, ways
for users to move, delete, copy, and rename files and create, view, and remove entire directories.
83. File name: A complete title for a particular file. A file name includes a name and possibly an extension.
For example, in the file name Letter.txt, "Letter" is the file name and ".TXT" is the extension.
84. File recovery: The process of rebuilding lost files from a diskette or hard drive after a malfunction or
deletion. Usually, files are not entirely deleted from a hard drive or diskette, and unless the file location on
the diskette where the file once was has been overwritten with new data, a variety of utility programs can
be used to recover at least some, if not all, of the data. File recovery also can refer to restoring files from a
backup tape or diskette.
85. File server: A computer on a local-area network (LAN) that provides network users access to shared data
and program files. A file server is sometimes a standard PC, but also can be a dedicated system with fast
microprocessors and large hard drives designed for use as a file server.
86. File sharing: Multiple computers accessing the same information residing in the same location, often over
a network. Some types of access, such as the ability to change or delete a file, may be limited to certain
users through the use of passwords or other protection schemes.
87. Filter (or email filter): A function of email management applications that allows users to channel email
with certain characteristics to specified locations. A user might, for example, divert incoming e-mail that
has a relative's e-mail address in the Sender field to a folder called Family.
88. Firewall: Software or hardware that limits certain kinds of computer access from a network or other
outside source. Firewalls are used to thwart would-be hackers from infiltrating computer systems.
89. Firewire (1394): A very fast external bus standard that supports very fast data transfer rates. Products
supporting this standard go under different names, depending on the company. Apple, which originally
developed the technology, uses the trademarked name FireWire. Other companies use other names, such as
i.link and Lynx, to describe their 1394 products. A single 1394 port can be used to connect up 63 external
devices. In addition to its high speed, 1394 also supports isochronous data -- delivering data at a guaranteed
rate. This makes it ideal for devices that need to transfer high levels of data in real-time, such as video
devices. Although extremely fast and flexible, 1394 is also expensive. Like USB, 1394 supports both Plug-
and-Play and hot plugging, and also provides power to peripheral devices.
90. Firmware: A program stored in a computer's ROM or elsewhere in a computer's circuitry. Firmware
programs remain even when the computer's power is turned off. They usually deal with basic computer
functions, such as the boot-up process. One example is the BIOS. Unlike software, firmware cannot be
changed by the user.
91. Floppy Drive or Drive A: the disk drive into which the floppy diskette is placed. Short for floppy disk
drive (FDD), a disk drive that can read and write to floppy disks.
92. Floppy Disk: A soft magnetic disk. It is called floppy because the medium inside the plastic case flops if
you wave it. Unlike most hard disks, floppy disks (often called floppies or diskettes) are portable, because
you can remove them from a disk drive. Disk drives for floppy disks are called floppy drives. Floppy disks
are slower to access than hard disks and have less storage capacity, but they are much less expensive. Most
importantly, they are portable.
93. Fonts: Typists will be able to relate to this term. For years, typewriters came in two basic “flavors” –either
Pica (with 12 point characters) or Elite with 10 point characters. Now computers can store and use literally
hundreds of fonts. A font is a design for a set of characters. A font is the combination of typeface and other
qualities, such as size, pitch, and spacing. For example, Times New Roman is a typeface that defines the
shape of each character. Within Times New Roman, however, there are many fonts from which to choose--
different sizes, italic, bold, and so on. The height of characters in a font is measured in points, each point
being approximately 1/72 inch. The width is measured by pitch, which refers to how many characters can
fit in an inch. Common pitch values are 10 and 12.
94. Format Bar: A specialized bar that provides the user with ways to determine such things as the font; the
font size; bold, italicized, and/or underlined text; the alignment (left, center, right, and total justification),
line spacing, paragraph numbering, bulleting, indenting, bordering, highlighting, text color, etc.
95. Formatting: Preparing a diskette so it can store information. Formatting organizes the tracks and sectors
that store information. Formatting a diskette erases all previously stored information.
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96. Garbage: Unreadable characters displayed on a computer screen or printed page. Failed data transmissions
can result in the display of a series of unintelligible characters, including letters, numbers, punctuation
marks, and other symbols that may or may not mean something. Garbage characters also appear when a file
is opened by a program other than that used to create it. Also can mean data no longer needed and placed in
RAM (random-access memory) by the operating system.
97. General Protection Fault (GPF): A warning in Windows operating systems that a program has tried to
reach a portion of memory that is not supposed to be accessed and that the program is trying to perform a
function it cannot. This error often forces the user to exit the application and reboot the computer.
98. Ghost imaging: A method of copying the contents of a computer's entire hard disk to a file. The file can
then be placed onto the hard disk of another computer, creating a system with the identical software and
settings as the first. This is a simple way to set up several systems with identical configurations.
99. Gigabit (Gb): A common measurement for 1 billion bits. One gigabit equals 1,073,741,824 (2 to the 20th
power) bits, but the number is usually expressed as 1 billion.
100. Google: A popular search engine that uses PageRank technology to determine search results and rankings
by a combination of the number of hits, number of links to the site, and quality of links to the site. Google
can also be used as a verb when referring to searches for specific individuals' names.
101. Graphics resolution: The quality of printed graphics expressed in dpi (dots per inch). A high dpi results in
a higher-quality graphic.
102. Grayscale: A type of screen display that uses dots and shades of gray from white to black to form images.
The more shades of gray an image can include, the better the quality and depth of the image.
103. Hacker: A technically sophisticated user who spends a lot of time at a computer. It refers to a person who
writes computer programs, "hacking" up the digital code. Hacker is often erroneously used, instead of
cracker, to refer to those who illegally break into computer systems to do damage, steal secrets, or enter
simply because they can.
104. Handshake: This term is used in several areas of computing to refer to what two devices do before they
begin communicating with each other. During the handshake, the two devices greet and identify each other.
Then they establish which protocols will be used to transfer data. There can be handshakes between
modems during online communication or between other hardware devices, such as a printer and PC before
105. Hang: Occurs when a computer fails to switch applications or execute commands as quickly as it should,
causing the system to lag and freeze-up. Such a situation means the machine will not recognize input from
the keyboard or mouse. To recover from a hang, it is often necessary to reboot the computer.
106. Hard copy: A document printed on paper or other physical media. A hard copy is the physical version, as
opposed to an electronic soft copy.
107. Hard disk: The inflexible platters inside a hard drive; the main data storage device in desktop computers.
Hard disks are the actual media on which the hard drive magnetically stores information. These round disks
rotate as the hard drive's read/write heads record or retrieve information from the platters, much like a
record player arm over a record. Hard disks are usually sealed inside the hard drive's casing to keep dust
and particles out. Typically, a hard drive holds two to eight platters.
108. Hard Drive (usually Drive C): permanently installed storage device inside the computer, generally having
a storage capacity of 40 gigabytes or greater.
109. Header: A section of a message, ordinarily at the beginning, that routes it to its destination and often
identifies the sender. Another type of header is text such as numbers or chapter titles that appear at the top
of each page in a document. In data storage, a header lists a file's name, size, and the time and date of its
creation or revision. In a database, a header is a record identifying the fields and kinds of information in the
following data records.
110. Heatsink: An object used to absorb and eliminate heat to prevent overheating and breaking down. Some
computer components generate heat as they operate because they run so quickly. Computer manufacturers
often install these small metal devices on powerful microprocessors
111. Heuristic: A method of problem solving that relies on trial and error, as opposed to algorithmic problem
solving, which relies on static formulas and equations. Heuristic programs can learn; they develop
common-sense rules for solving similar problems and then use them to solve the same type of problems in
the future. Antivirus programs use algorithms to check for viruses, but if the virus doesn't match a known
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bug, the program won't detect it. Heuristic scanning, on the other hand, looks for suspicious code that the
heuristic scanner has come to "know" resembles viral activity. Heuristic scanning methods are used
primarily by those who are on the hunt for new viruses. They can set off too many alarms to be of use to
112. Hibernate: Hibernate is a power management mode that saves data from memory to the hard drive and
then turns off all power to the system. Although similar to turning off a system, the data can be transferred
from the hard drive back to memory within seconds, reducing the time it takes for the computer to become
available. Hibernate mode should not be used when working on the system’s hardware.
113. History: Many Internet browsers keep lists of the sites you recently visited online. The list includes links to
the sites you visited. You can often configure the history to track your online activities for a specific period
114. Home page: The main page of a Web site that often includes hyperlinks to other pages in the site. It serves
as a welcome mat for a Web site and may include a logo, table of contents, and/or hyperlinks to related
115. Horizontal scrolling: The ability to move a document or spreadsheet beyond the limits of a screen to the
left or right. Scrolling horizontally is usually performed by clicking an arrow on the left or right side of a
window's scrollbar. Some mice also include a horizontal scrolling function, which lets the user scroll
horizontally as well as vertically.
116. Host: A computer that shares information with other computers, or the act of sharing information with or
providing services for other computers. Examples of host computers include a file server, which shares files
and programs with other computers on the network; a Web server, which shares content with the rest of the
Internet; and a mail server, which accepts e-mail messages and sends them to the intended recipients.
117. Hotkey: A key or combination of keys, such as CTRL and an alphanumeric character, that activate a pop-
up program or cause some other predetermined action to occur. For instance, CTRL and C are hotkeys used
to copy selected items to the clipboard.
118. Hub: A device that connects two or more network devices so they can communicate. In other words, a
point on the network where multiple devices are connected to each other.
119. Hyperlink (aka Link): An icon, graphic, or word in a file that automatically opens another file for viewing
when clicked with the mouse. Web pages often include hyperlinks that display other Web pages when
selected by the user. Hyperlinks include the address or file names of the files to which they point, but
typically this code is hidden from the user.
120. Hypertext: Hyperlinked text that automatically displays a related file when selected. Web pages are filled
with hypertext and other hyperlinks. Hypertext is usually denoted by having a different color than the
121. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML): A language used to create pages that contain connections called
hyperlinks for use on the Internet. HTML tells a Web browser how to display Web pages it receives. A
standard group of tags tells the browser how to handle items such as text and graphics. A tag, for example,
can tell a browser to display text as a headline of a certain size. The hyperlinks in these files let users jump
from one document to another by clicking an icon or hypertext phrase. For instance, users might jump from
a company name on a Web page to that company's home page.
122. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): The set of standards that let users of the Web exchange
information found in Web pages. You can use a Web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or
Netscape Navigator, to read documents formatted and delivered according to HTTP. The beginning of
every Web address, "http://", tells the browser the address' document is HTTP-compatible.
123. Hypertext Transfer Protocol, Secure (HTTPS): A version of HTTP developed by Netscape. It provides
secure online transactions by encrypting and decrypting secure page requests.
124. Icons: A small picture that represents an object or program. Icons are very useful in applications that use
windows, because with the click of a mouse button you can shrink an entire window into a small icon or
125. Import: To bring a file created in one application or system into another application or system. Some
applications are designed to use files created in a variety of formats, but others can only read certain
formats. One method of importing incompatible files is to convert a file from the format of the primary
document to that of the secondary document using a conversion program.
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126. In The Wild: The phrase “in the wild refers” to a computer virus that continues to spread from one
unsuspecting user’s computer to another. Thousands of computer viruses exist, but most are contained in
computer labs and used for research. A few hundred viruses are spreading from computer to computer
through the everyday use of unsuspecting computer users. These viruses are considered in the wild.
127. Inactive Window: A window not being used. Operating systems that allow users to have more than one
application open, and more than one window to be visible at one time, have active and inactive windows
on-screen. Any window, other than the one being worked in, is considered an inactive window. Operating
systems often distinguish inactive windows from the active window by the color of the title bars in each
window. For example, if the active window has a blue title bar, the inactive window might have a gray title
128. Inbox: The place where new mail is stored in email programs.
129. Initialization: The sequence a computer system runs when started. Initialization includes self-diagnostics
(the process of checking for hardware components and making sure everything is running properly),
loading the operating system, and other procedures that prepare the system for user interaction.
130. Input Buffer: A portion of memory that holds incoming information before it continues to the CPU for
131. Input Device: Any device that sends information to the CPU. Keyboards, mice, trackballs, and scanners
are input devices.
132. Insertion Bar: The point where the next characters typed from the keyboard or pasted from the clipboard
will appear on the display screen. The insertion bar is usually represented by a blinking vertical line. You
can reposition the insertion point by pressing arrow keys or by moving the I-beam pointer.
133. Install: The process of setting up a piece of hardware or software for operation. The installation of
hardware involves connecting the new component to the rest of the computer, loading any accompanying
software on the hard drive, and configuring the computer system so it will communicate with the new
device. The installation of software involves loading the program on the hard drive and configuring the
software for use with the system.
134. Instant Message: Similar to email, but it lets users send messages to one another through the Internet in
real time. Messages automatically appear on the recipient's screen. There are several programs available
used for instant messaging, most notably AOL's Instant Messenger.
135. Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) Cable: A standard used since the mid-1980s for connecting hard
drives, CD-ROM drives, and tape drives to computers. Up to two IDE devices can attach to a single IDE
136. Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP): A protocol that lets email users retrieve messages. IMAP
performs similar, but expanded, functions compared to Post Office Protocol (POP), which it is replacing.
With IMAP, users can examine email messages while the messages are still on the Internet service
provider's server and specify which messages to download. IMAP and POP both use Simple Mail Transfer
Protocol (SMTP) for sending messages from the user to the mail server. See Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
137. Internet Protocol (IP): The set of rules that governs the transmission of data from one computer to another
over the Internet. IP assigns each computer (or host) on the Internet a unique address called an IP address
and facilitates the transmission of data from one to another in a series of small chunks of data called
packets. As long as each packet that makes up a transmission arrives at its destination, it doesn’t matter
what route it takes, and IP lets them travel from place to place using the best available route. This negates
the need for a constant, secure connection from one computer to the other (such as the connection required
during a telephone call), which in turn makes the Internet quite efficient and very resilient. If, for example,
part of the Internet goes down temporarily because of hardware or software problems, transmissions that
would normally travel through the affected area can be re-routed and still arrive intact in a timely fashion.
138. Internet service provider (ISP): An organization that lets users pay a fee to dial into its computers and
connect to the Internet. ISPs generally provide an Internet connection, an electronic mail (email) address,
and World Wide Web browsing software. You can use an ISP based in your town that offers an access
number in your local calling area or a national ISP that provides local-access numbers across the country.
You can also connect to the Internet through a commercial online service such as America Online. With
this kind of connection, you get Internet access and the proprietary features offered by the online service,
such as chat rooms and searchable databases. Internet access through online services can be more
expensive than that obtained from an ISP.
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139. Internet Protocol spoofing (IP spoofing): IP spoofing is a method by which a user can send a message
from one computer and fool the recipient computer into believing the message came from a different
computer. Malicious crackers commonly use IP spoofing to gain unauthorized access to a computer system.
IP spoofing relies on the structure of IP data packets, as well as the lack of security in the current IPv4
(Internet Protocol version 4). An IP data packet has two 32-bit header fields that contain the source and
destination IP addresses. Some computer systems are configured to only accept messages from trusted
hosts, computers in which the system knows the IP addresses. If the source field of a message contains an
unrecognized IP address, the system will not accept the message. If you know the IP address of the
computer you want to attack, and the IP address of one of its trusted hosts, you can forge a data packet with
the IP address of the trusted host as the source address, making the message appear to be acceptable.
Although IP spoofing is still used for many computer attacks, it is easily defeated with properly configured
security systems, including firewalls and routers.
140. Java: A programming language designed to write programs that users can safely downloaded from the
Internet to their computers and immediately run without fear of viruses. Using small Java programs (called
applets), World Wide Web pages can include functions such as animation, calculators, and other small
applications. Java, created by Sun Microsystems, can run on any computer with an installed Java
interpreter. Web browsing applications such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer include
Java interpreters and can run Java applications.
141. Keyboard: Whether we are touch typists or not, we are all familiar with the typewriter keyboard, which
has remained substantially unchanged since 1873. Computer keyboards are similar to electric-typewriter
keyboards but contain additional keys. However, the basic layout of the keys is just like the typewriter that
was introduced over 130 years ago.
142. Keypad: A small keyboard holding only numbers and arithmetic keys used for data entry. Numeric
keypads occupy less space than full-size keyboards, so they are valuable on small desks when only numeric
input is needed.
143. Kilobyte (KB): Equal to 1,024 bytes, or enough space to store 1,000 characters of information.
144. Kiosk: A computer and a display screen that display information in public areas. Kiosks can display simple
rotating graphics or HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) pages. More complicated, interactive kiosks
allow a user to access the information they want. Kiosks are used to provide information about a specific
location, to provide directions, or to provide countless other services to the public. An ATM is a good
example of a kiosk.
145. Label: A word or group of words that identifies something. A label, in the physical sense, is a sticker, piece
of paper, or some type of identifying tag affixed to an object. Labels, in the electronic sense, identify
computer files, cells in spreadsheets, and programs.
146. Laser Printer: A printer that uses laser technology to print images on paper. The laser re-creates the image
on a negatively charged drum. The areas where the laser hits the drum become less charged, which attracts
toner, a powdery printing substance. The printer transfers the toner from the drum to paper and applies
intense heat to fuse it to the paper. Laser printers print high-quality, high-resolution images, and are faster
than inkjet printers, but are also more expensive.
147. Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD): A flat, lightweight display technology used in calculators and notebook
computers. Special molecules in the screen have the ability to bend and twist light to create desired images.
148. Listserv: A mailing list server developed in 1986 that became the de facto standard for mailing lists. The
original program is now owned by L-soft, but the term is often used generically to refer to any mailing list
server. Listserv, and programs like it, manage mailing lists. They distribute messages to the list's
subscribers as well as handle subscribe and unsubscribe requests, and commands from the list owner.
149. Local Bus: A bus (pathway) on a computer motherboard that allows a more direct access path to the
processor for a limited number of devices. For example, a video card plugged into a slot in the local bus
should produce good video playback because it has a direct connection to the microprocessor. Most new
computers have both a local bus and a regular expansion bus.
150. Local-Area Network (LAN): A group of computers, usually in one building or office, that physically
connect in a manner that lets them communicate and interact with each other. In order for a network to
operate, it needs a server, which is a computer that stores data used by the different computers on the
network. Some of the benefits of a network connection include the ability to share document files and
expensive equipment, such as laser printers. Networks can connect using different combinations of
topologies, protocols, software, and hardware. Compare to wide-area network.
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151. Mailbox: A storage area, either in memory or on disk, for email messages. This area is usually divided into
folders, notably Inbox and Outbox folders.
152. Mail Filter: Software that sorts incoming email by analyzing the message header.
153. Mail Server: A computer that holds email messages for clients on a network. Also refers to a program that
distributes messages to individual members of a mailing list.
154. Malware: Software intentionally designed for a malicious purpose, such as to erase a computer’s memory
or gain unauthorized access to a system. Trojan horses and purposefully system-damaging viruses are some
examples of malware.
155. Megahertz (MHz): Used to measure a CPU's (central processing unit's) speed. One megahertz is
equivalent to 1 million cycles per second.
156. Memory: The place a computer holds information currently being used or worked on. Programs must be
loaded into memory before they can run, so the amount (or capacity) of memory determines which
programs a computer can run, how many programs can run at once, and how quickly the computer can
process data. The contents of RAM (random-access memory, or short-term memory), are erased when the
computer is turned off.
157. Memory Capacity: The amount of RAM (random-access memory) and, sometimes, ROM (read-only
memory) on a computer. A computer's memory capacity determines which programs it can run, how many
programs can run at once, and how quickly the computer can process data.
158. Memory Module: Traditionally used to describe a replaceable circuit board bearing solid-state memory
chips, such as DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules), SIMMs (single in-line memory modules),
SODIMMs (small outline DIMMs), and others. In this scenario, memory modules add volatile “working
space” to the computer to help applications run faster than they would from hard disk or other storage. In
the late 1990s, the term also spread to flash memory cards such as CompactFlash and SmartMedia, which
add nonvolatile storage space to a device.
159. Menu: A list of commands or options from which you can choose. Most applications now have a menu-
driven component. You can choose an item from the menu by highlighting it and then pressing the Enter
key, or by simply pointing to the item with a mouse and clicking one of the mouse buttons. Real world
menus (options) are available in all restaurants, from the very expensive to the fast food chains.
160. Menu Bar: A horizontal menu that appears underneath the title bar near the top of a window. Usually, each
option in a menu bar is associated with a pull-down menu.
161. Microsoft Office: A popular collection of Microsoft office productivity software titles. Microsoft
introduced the first version of Microsoft Office in 1989 and has released several updates since, including
versions for Windows and Macintosh, and 32-bit versions of the suite beginning with Office 95. Several
programs make up the Office suite, including Word (word processor), Excel (spreadsheet), Outlook (email
and contact manager), and depending on the edition, PowerPoint (presentation designer), Publisher
(desktop publishing), Access (database), FrontPage (Web page creator), and PhotoDraw (graphics
162. Mirror Site: A site, or directory, that contains the same directory structure as another area. Mirror sites
were developed after heavy traffic slowed access to popular locations on the World Wide Web.
163. Modem: Acronym for modulator/demodulator. Lets a computer transmit and receive information over
telephone lines. Modems convert analog data into digital data computers can read and convert digital data
into analog data so it can be transmitted over telephone lines. Modems are the primary way home computer
users connect to outside networks such as the Internet and commercial online services. Different modems
are able to transmit data at different speeds, but faster modems are still able to communicate with slower
modems at the highest shared speed.
164. Monitor: the display screen also known as a CRT (cathode ray tube). Newer (and more expensive) flat
screen monitors are LCDs (liquid crystal display).
165. Mouse: a device that controls the movement of the cursor or pointer on a display screen. A mouse is a
small object you can roll along a hard, flat surface. Its name is derived from its shape, which looks a bit like
a mouse, its connecting wire that one can imagine to be the mouse's tail, and the fact that one must make it
scurry along a surface. As you move the mouse, the pointer on the display screen moves in the same
direction. Mice contain at least one button and sometimes as many as three, which have different functions
depending on what program is running. Most newer mice also include a scroll wheel for scrolling through
long documents. There are three basic types of mice: mechanical--has a rubber ball on its underside that
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can roll in all directions. Mechanical sensors within the mouse detect the direction the ball is rolling and
move the screen pointer accordingly; optomechanical--same as a mechanical mouse, but uses optical
sensors to detect motion of the ball; optical--uses a laser to detect the mouse's movement. Some optical
mice have difficulty “reading” a plain white highly reflective surface inasmuch as there is no frame of
reference to the mouse’s movements. Optical mice have no mechanical moving parts. They respond more
quickly and precisely than mechanical and optomechanical mice, but they are also more expensive.
Cordless mice aren't physically connected at all. Instead they rely on infrared or radio waves to
communicate with the computer. Cordless mice are more expensive than plugin mice, but they do eliminate
the cord, which can sometimes get in the way.
166. Motherboard: The main circuit board of a personal computer. The motherboard contains the connectors
for attaching additional boards. Typically, the motherboard contains the CPU, BIOS, memory, mass storage
interfaces, serial and parallel ports, expansion slots, and all the controllers required to manage standard
peripheral devices, such as the monitor, keyboard, and disk drives. Collectively, all these chips that reside
on the motherboard are known as the motherboard's chipset. On most PCs, it is possible to add memory
chips directly to the motherboard. You may also be able to upgrade to a faster PC by replacing the CPU
chip. To add additional core features, you may need to replace the motherboard entirely. Also called system
board or mainboard.
167. Multitasking: The process of having a computer perform multiple tasks simultaneously. During
multitasking, some tasks (such as sending faxes or calculations) can be performed in the background while
you work on another program. With true multitasking in a Windows environment, there is virtually no loss
168. Navigate: To find one's way around a software interface, or to find the location of a file or other object.
169. Network: A set of conjoined computers that can share storage devices, peripherals, and applications.
Networks may be connected directly by cable connection, or indirectly by telephone lines or satellites, and
can be part of a small-office system or a global web of numerous other networks. See local-area network.
See wide-area network.
170. NT file system (NTFS): A file organizational system by which data is stored and accessed in a Windows
NT operating system. NTFS offers better methods of data protection and file recovery than a FAT (file
allocation table), the file system used in DOS, Windows 3.x, and recent versions of Windows. It also
supports long file names.
171. Numeric Keypad: The 17-key keypad usually found on the far right side of a typical IBM 101/2-key
keyboard. In addition to the numerical 0 to 9 keys, a numeric keypad also includes the mathematical signs
for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, a decimal point, ENTER key, and a NUM LOCK key that
engages the numeric keypad for use. When the NUM LOCK key is disengaged, the Numeric keypad also
can be used for cursor movement.
172. Open Source: Source code that is freely available to programmers for use in developing new software.
The source is usually in the form of a standard--a sound format such as MP3, for example. It can also refer
to an entire program (such as Netscape Communicator) or an operating system, such as Linux. Proponents
of open source argue that by letting as many developers as possible work on a program, the software
evolves. Developers will fix bugs, add new features, and adapt it for new uses or operating systems.
173. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM): A company that produces fully manufactured computers and
adds hardware, software, and its name to a product. The OEM then sells the system as its own.
174. Page Setup: The parameters defined by the user that help determine how a printed page will appear. Those
parameters can include everything from the size of the margins on the page to the quality of print. A Page
Setup option is available in the File pull-down menus of many applications.
175. Parallel Cable: A 25-pin cable used to connect peripherals to the parallel port.
176. Parallel Port: A parallel interface for connecting an external device such as a printer. Most personal
computers have both a parallel port and at least one serial port. On PCs, the parallel port uses a 25-pin
connector and is used to connect printers, computers and other devices that need relatively high bandwidth.
It is often called a Centronics interface after the company that designed the original standard for parallel
communication between a computer and printer. Macintosh computers have a SCSI port, which is parallel,
but more flexible.
177. Partition: A reserved portion of disk or memory that functions as a separate unit; when used as a verb,
partition refers to the process of dividing up the space on a disk into smaller units. A partition acts as a
separate space, but physically it is still part of the whole disk. A user could, for example, partition a hard
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disk into several separate drives (such as E:, F:, and G:), while maintaining the physical structure of only
one disk. This is a way to make the hard drive more efficient. Hard drives partitioned into multiple sections
often work faster because the computer only needs to search a specific section for information rather than
the entire drive.
178. Path Name: The file name designation that shows the user where to find a file in a hierarchical system. For
example, the path name C:\ NOVICE\ STORY\ Index.doc indicates the file Index.doc is in a directory
called STORY that resides in the NOVICE directory on the C: drive.
179. Phishing: Phishing is the act of trying to trick users into giving up personal information by making them
think they’re dealing with a legitimate business. A phisher sends unsolicited bulk emails to a large number
of users. The email claims to be from a legitimate company, such as AOL or eBay, and claims the user’s
account will be suspended unless they click on the provided URL and supply the requested information
(often passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information). The URL is on a server controlled
by the phisher, but its appearance is similar to that of the real site.
180. Portable Document Format (PDF): A file format developed by Adobe that facilitates the conversion of
graphics-heavy documents into a form that requires the free Acrobat Reader to read. Creating a PDF file,
however, requires the full Acrobat program. PDF is especially useful for mass distributing documents, such
as online brochures or software documentation. PDF documents retain their original layouts, so users see
them as they were created. PDF files offer some benefits over converting brochures and other documents to
HTML(Hypertext Markup Language); namely, it's easier to preserve the look of the document because
users have more control over placement of graphics and can include copies of fonts in the document so that
the file will look and print as intended. See Hypertext Markup Language.
181. Power Up: To turn on a computer system.
182. Print Buffer: A temporary storage area that holds information waiting to print until the printer is ready to
use it. A print buffer is often located in RAM or in the printer's own memory. By holding the information
and feeding it to the printer as needed, the print buffer lets the computer continue with other work.
183. RAM: acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly;
that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most
common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers. There are two basic types
of RAM: dynamic RAM (DRAM) and static RAM (SRAM). The two types differ in the technology they
use to hold data, dynamic RAM being the more common type. Dynamic RAM needs to be refreshed
thousands of times per second. Static RAM does not need to be refreshed, which makes it faster; but it is
also more expensive than dynamic RAM. Both types of RAM are volatile, meaning that they lose their
contents when the power is turned off. In common usage, the term RAM is synonymous with main
memory, the memory available to programs. For example, a computer with 256 megabytes RAM has
approximately 256 million bytes of memory that programs can use. In fact, both types of memory (ROM
and RAM) allow random access. To be precise, therefore, RAM should be referred to as read/write RAM
and ROM as read-only RAM.
184. Recycle bin: An icon on the Windows desktop that represents a folder where deleted files are temporarily
stored. This enables you to retrieve files that you may have accidentally deleted. The recycle bin is modeled
after the Macintosh trash can, which was modeled after the wastepaper basket that sits beside your desk at
185. Resizing Tools: The three buttons that appear in the upper right corner of most Windows. The Minimize
Button, when activated, will cause the Window to become inactive, but appear as a button on the Taskbar
for easy access. The Maximize/Restore Button is a dual-purpose toggle that will cause the active Window
to fill the entire screen or be reduced in size to reveal any open Windows that are behind. The Close Button
will close the Window.
186. Restore Point: In Windows, a restore point refers to the point at which a system was backed up. If a
system change causes a problem, you can restore the system to the last working restore point.
187. ROM (read-only memory): enables the computer to interpret and follow instructions; this memory is not
accessible to the typical computer user. ROM refers to special memory used to store programs that boot the
computer and perform diagnostics. Most personal computers have a small amount of ROM (a few thousand
188. Save and Save As: To copy data from a temporary area to a more permanent storage medium. When you
edit a file with a word processor, for example, the word processor copies the entire file, or portions of the
file, into an area of main memory called a buffer (clipboard). Any changes you make to the file are made to
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the copy in the buffer, not to the real file on the disk. The buffer is temporary -- as soon as you exit the
program or turn off the computer, the buffer disappears. To record your modifications to the file on the
disk, you must save the file. When you do this, the word processor copies the contents of the buffer back to
the file on the disk, replacing the previous version of the file. Save As is used if you want to give the file a
new name without deleting the old version or if you want to copy the file to a new location.
189. Scanner: an input device that takes an optical image (e.g. drawing, photograph) and digitizes it into an
electronic image which can be saved as a computer file. A device that can read text or illustrations printed
on paper or positive or negative film and translate the information into a form the computer can use. A
scanner works by digitizing an image -- dividing it into a grid of boxes and representing each box with
either a zero or a one, depending on whether the box is filled in. (For color and gray scaling, the same
principle applies, but each box is then represented by up to 24 bits.) The resulting matrix of bits, called a bit
map, can then be stored in a file, displayed on a screen, and manipulated by programs. Optical scanners do
not distinguish text from illustrations; they represent all images as bit maps. Therefore, you cannot directly
edit text that has been scanned. To edit text read by an optical scanner, you need an optical character
recognition (OCR ) system to translate the image into text characters. Most optical scanners sold today
come with OCR packages. The most common scanner for home use is the flatbed scanner, similar to a
photocopy machine. It consists of a board on which you lay books, magazines, and other documents that
you want to scan.
190. Scroll Bar: In graphical user interfaces, a bar along the sides, top, or bottom of a window that lets the user
view information outside of the window's viewing area. Scroll bars are typically manipulated using the
mouse. Scroll arrows at each end of the scroll bar can be clicked to move the viewing area slightly in the
specified direction. The scroll box can be moved up and down or left and right inside the bar to move the
viewing area more rapidly.
191. Scroll Box: In graphical user interfaces, a small square object inside a scroll bar that indicates the position
of a window's viewing area and can be moved to change that viewing area.
192. Search Engine: A program that lets users locate specified information from a database or mass of data.
Search engine sites are extremely popular on the World Wide Web because they let users quickly sift
through millions of documents on the Internet. Google is one example.
193. Spyware: A category of software that tracks user behavior without a user's knowledge. Spyware can find
its way onto a user’s computer in a variety of ways. It may, for instance, manifest itself as part of a virus or
Trojan horse. Recently, however, spyware is increasingly finding its way onto user’s computer systems
through legitimate software and applications. Companies may, for instance, install spyware on a user's
computer to track browsing habits and relay the information to advertisers. Companies such as DoubleClick
and RealNetworks have come under fire in spyware-related incidents.
194. Surge Protector: A plug-in device that protects electronics from high-voltage surges or spikes in electrical
current. Surge protectors are better than nothing, but they are not a guarantee against electrical problems.
Users should still power down and unplug equipment during an electrical storm. Also called a surge
195. Start Button: The button that appears in the lower left corner of the screen and gives the user access to
virtually every area of the computer.
196. Status Bar: The bar that appears at the bottom of many windows and offers details about that window. If it
is available it can be selected/deselected under View on the Window’s Menu Bar.
197. Systems Software: Includes the operating system and all the utilities that enable the computer to function.
Your Windows XP operating system is an example of system software.
198. Target: The destination file or device where source data is moved, copied, or stored, whether transferred
internally or over communication lines. For example, if a user wishes to download a file from the A: drive
into the C: drive, the A: drive is the source, and the C: drive is the destination and therefore the target. The
target can also be the audience for whom a certain product is designed.
199. Telephony: Technology that lets users make and receive telephone calls with a PC. Telephony software
often includes features such as voicemail, auto dialing, and on-screen messaging. Sounds are converted into
electrical signals as they are transmitted to another location where they are converted back to sound.
Telephony includes communications such as teleconferencing and facsimile (fax). Telephony also lets you
have a universal inbox, where email, fax, and voicemail messages are all accessible from your computer.
200. Thumbnails: A miniature display of a page to be printed. Thumbnails enable you to see the layout of many
pages on the screen at once.
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201. Title Bar: A bar on top of a window. The title bar contains the name of the file or application. You can
move (drag) a window by grabbing the title bar.
202. Tool Bar: A series of selectable buttons in a Window that give the user an easy way to select desktop,
application or Web browser functions. Toolbars are typically displayed as either a horizontal row or a
vertical column around the edges of the Window where they are visible while the application is in use.
Most applications use toolbars as they give the user another option aside from pull-down menus.
203. Tools: A set of selectable buttons that gives the user an easy way to select desktop, application or Web
browser functions. Toolbars are typically displayed as a horizontal row along the top edge of a Window.
204. Tower: Refers to a computer in which the power supply, motherboard, and mass storage devices are
stacked on top of each other in a cabinet, made of either aluminum or plastic, or a combination of both.
205. Trojan Horse: A malicious program that falsely appears to be a useful application, such as a game or a
utility. Usually the recipient either downloads the Trojan horse from a Web site or receives it as an email
attachment. Unless coupled with another type of malware, such as a worm, the Trojan horse will remain
harmless unless a user opens the file.
206. Underscore: A character in a document that is underlined. The underscore usually denotes emphasis on a
letter or a word.
207. Undo: To return to a previous state by undoing the effects of one or more commands. The undo command
is a valuable feature supported by many software products. It lets you try unknown commands with less
risk, because you can always return to the previous state. Also, if you accidentally press the wrong function
key, you can undo your mistake. Many programs allow you to undo an unlimited number of commands.
Each time you press the undo key, the previous command is undone. You can roll back an entire editing
session this way. Other programs impose a limit on the number of commands you can undo.
208. Uniform Resource Locator (URL): A standardized naming, or "addressing," system for documents and
media accessible over the Internet. For example, the URL for the Computer Club’s Website is
209. Uninstall: To remove software from a computer. Applications can be uninstalled using their own uninstall
utilities, if available, or through the Add/Remove Programs function in Windows.
210. Unzipping: Refers to the process of decompressing and extracting compressed files.
211. Update: To replace older versions of software or files with a newer version. Also refers to when a
company releases a new version of software that's already on the market. This is usually indicated by a
change in the version number, such as changing from 6.2 to 6.21. These software updates usually fix minor
problems, or bugs, the older version contained.
212. Upgrade: To change a system or program to a new version of a specific hardware or software product.
Usually, companies will provide registered users with the more powerful upgrade of a product at a
discounted price to keep them as customers.
213. Upload: To transfer an application or file to another remote computer through a network connection or
modem. Upload also can mean "transmit," while download can mean "receive." Compare to download.
214. USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0: The successor to USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.1, USB 2.0 (also known
as Hi-Speed USB) competes with the other current high-speed data-transfer technology FireWire (also
known as IEEE 1394, or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 1394). USB 2.0 achieves data
transfer rates of up to 480Mbps, compared to 12Mbps for USB 1.1 and 400Mbps for FireWire.
215. Username: A code used by individuals, in addition to a password, that lets them access a network
computer, an online service, or a bulletin board system. Most of the time, users select their own usernames
216. Utility: Software designed to perform certain housekeeping tasks, such as those related to managing system
resources (such as diskette drives and printers) and file capabilities (such as sorting and copying). Utilities
also can be used to diagnose a problem on a PC. Utilities are usually installed as memory-resident
programs permanently stored in memory.
217. (Plain) Vanilla: A slang term used to describe a software program or piece of hardware that is plain or has
very few added features.
218. Virtual Memory: A type of hard drive space that mimics actual memory (RAM). When actual memory
space is limited, the use of virtual memory can let users work with larger documents and run more software
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at once. When a program needs information held in virtual memory addresses, the information is moved to
actual memory addresses. This process of moving sets of virtual addresses (or pages) into actual memory is
known as paging or swapping. When virtual memory is used, it appears to the user as if actual memory is in
use. The process may be a bit slower, however, because of the time required to swap information between
virtual and actual memory.
219. Virus: A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs
against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. Unlike viruses that are a part of the natural
world and cause health problems, computer viruses are manmade. A simple virus that can make a copy of
itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it
will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt. An even more dangerous type of virus
is one capable of transmitting itself across networks and bypassing security systems.
220. Wallpaper: A graphic that appears as a backdrop on the Windows desktop and other operating
environments. In Windows 3.x, wallpaper is controlled from the Windows' Desktop icon in the Control
Panel. Wallpaper images can be basic images (such as the Windows logo) or patterns (such as argyle or
tartan) to more elaborate photographs, cartoons, or other images created by users or provided by third-party
manufacturers. Also called backdrop.
221. Windows XP: A major revision to the Microsoft Windows series operating systems software, released Oct.
25, 2001. WinXP was billed as the biggest upgrade to the Windows brand since Windows 95, featuring
improved stability and a plethora of innovative features. It’s also one of the most resource-intensive
applications to date, requiring a minimum of 128MB RAM.
222. Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer): Provides a handy tool and a
straightforward way to allow you to manage your system and the files and folders within it. By taking the
time to learn how to use this tool, you’ll work smarter, faster, and more efficiently than ever before.
223. Wizard: A feature that provides step-by-step instructions to lead users through certain tasks in
applications. Unlike online help menus, which often must be read before executing a task or printed out,
wizards use dialog boxes that walk users through each step of a process.
224. Worm: A destructive program containing code that replicates itself until it fills the target drive or network,
thereby causing it to malfunction. Worms are sent out either as a practical joke or for purely malicious
reasons; for the recipient whose computer or network has crashed, however, worms are not fun.
225. Window Panes: In several instances, the information that is displayed in a window will be assigned to one
of two columns. These columns are called panes.
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