A Glossary of Internet Terms A-K

To reach, connect or interact with a remote resource.
A unique alphanumeric sequence used to identify a computer transmitting or receiving data. Also a location in memory
The use of continuously changing quantities to represent numbers.
A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from full-fledged Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers across a network. The common rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.
Software which does productive external work, as opposed to system software which is internal to the computer system.
Application Server
Server software that manages one or more other pieces of software in a way that makes the managed software available over a network, usually to a Web server. By having a piece of software manage other software packages it is possible to use resources like memory and database access more efficiently than if each of the managed packages responded directly to requests.
By 1999 Archie had been almost completely replaced by web-based search engines. Back when FTP was the main way people moved files over the Internet Archie, a tool for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites, was quite popular.
Verifying the identity of a person or computer process.
BBS — (Bulletin Board System)
A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time.
B-ISDN/Broadband ISDN
a more technical way of describing the information superhighway.
A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second.
Baud, baud-rate
Named after 19th century French engineer J.M.E. Baudot and much used in telegraphy, the baud-rate is the number of characters a second sent down a single communications channel. 1 baud=1 character per second. When the channel is transmitting bits, one baud equals one bit per second. Bauds are used to measure the speed of a communications channel.
Information consisting entirely of ones and zeros. Also, commonly used to refer to files that are not simply text files, e.g. images.
Binhex — (BINary HEXadecimal)
A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII.
Bit — (Binary DigIT)
A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data.
Blog — (weB LOG)
A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.” Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.
bps — (Bits-Per-Second)
A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another.
Communications channels which use modulated carrier signals for data, like radio waves, and are therefore faster and more capacious than baseband (ie. they have a higher bandwidth). Examples are satellite and fibre optic cable systems.
Browse / Browser
You get access to the WWW through an application called a ‘browser’, like Chrome or Firefox. To ‘browse’ is to search the WWW for information.
A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made. The unit of memory on a PC. 1 Kilobyte = 1024 Bytes, 1 Megabyte = 1024 Kilobytes, 1 Gigabyte = 1024 Megabytes.
BTW — (By The Way)
A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum.
Compact disk/Read-only memory. A compact disk used to carry data rather than, or as well as, audio in permanent memory. CD-ROMs can store up to 660 Megabytes of data, making them useful for large databases or multimedia applications.
CDMA — (Code Division Multiple Access)
A protocol for wireless data and voice communication, CMDA is widely used in cellphone networks, but also in many other data communications systems. CDMA uses a technique called “Spread Spectrum” whereby the data being transmitted is spread across multiple radio frequencies, making more efficent use of available radio spectrum.
Certificate Authority
An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.
Talking in real time to other network users from any and all parts of the world.
The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored.
cgi script
cgi script (Common Gateway Interface) is a program that is is run on a web server, triggered by input from a browser. The gateway script is usually a link between the server and some other program running on the system. (e.g. Cgi scripts are used to process form information.)
The ability to connect computer or communications systems to exchange data or share resources.
A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser or email program are specific kinds of Client.
Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on their own network.
A mechanism for server-side connections to store and retrieve information on the client side.
When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular users’ requests.
Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their “expire time” has not been reached.
Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them.
Different computing systems being able to share data.
CSS — (Cascading Style Sheet)
A standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS was developed for use with HTML in Web pages but is also used in other situations, notably in applications built using XPFE. CSS is typically used to provide a single “library” of styles that are used over and over throughout a large number of related documents, as in a web site. A CSS file might specify that all numbered lists are to appear in italics. By changing that single specification the look of a large number of documents can be easily changed.
Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel “Neuromancer.” The word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.
Literally, “that which is given”, data refers to raw facts, measurements, numbers, and so on. Data can exist in any form, but is commonly identified with electronic digital signals.
Organized files containing information of the same type. Data communications: Transmission and reception of data on networks.
A computer small enough to sit on a desk top. Also used to refer to the graphical representation of an office environment (with card index, waste bin, filing cabinet, and so on) that is a feature of GUIs.
Method of accessing on-line services using ordinary telephone connections.
Using numbers to represent quantities or symbols. An electronic digital signal consists of discrete, countable pulses of fixed size.
To retrieve a file from another machine, usually a host machine, to your machine.
The Domain Name System. A system for translating computer names into numeric Internet addresses.
Domain name
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. A given machine may have more than one domain name, but a given domain name points to only one machine. It is also possible for a domain name to exist but not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or business can have an Internet e-mail address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, an Internet service provider’s machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed domain name.
dots per square inch. This refers to the amount of pixels in one square inch of a graphical image. The higher the dpi of an image the better the quality the image will be.
When these letters appear at the end of an address (info@mit.edu), they indicate that the host computer is run by an educational institution. It also means that the host computer is most likely located in the United States.
Electronic mail. Human-readable messages sent between computers. When used as a verb, to send such messages.
Data which has been organized, stored and named. In computing, files are usually stored on disks.
Forms add extra interactivity to web sites. Questionaires can be created, that include text areas, check boxes and radio buttons which are then sent by the viewer to a specified mail box, usually the manager of the web site.
File Transfer Protocol. A method of transferring one or more files from one computer to another over a network or phone line.
A filter for messages. A system that has a firewall lets only certain kinds of messages in and out from the rest of the Internet. If an organization wants to exchange mail with the Internet, but does not want other Internet members “Telnetting in” and reading those files, its connection to the Internet can be protected by using a firewall.
A computer that connects one network with another when the two networks use different protocols. The UUNET computer connects the UUCP network with the Internet, providing a way for mail messages to move between the two networks.
Graphics Interchange Format. A platform-independent file format developed by CompuServe, the GIF format is commonly used to distribute graphics on the Internet.
1000 Megabytes (Actually 1024)
GUI (pronounced “gooey”), Graphical user interface
Software designed to make applications easier to use by giving them all the same look and feel, usually involving a `mouse’ to move a pointer on the computer screen, menus to select actions, and a variety of `buttons’ or `sliders’ (“widgets”) which can be used to perform tasks or manipulate the screen.
Equipment. The electronic, electrical and mechanical components of information systems.
helper application
This is an application that adds extra functionality to web documents. e.g. If you download a movie clip the web browser is unable to play the file but it can boot up a helper application, such as a movie player application.
Home Page (or Homepage)
Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages.
A central computer which provides services, such as database access, to users across a network — also known as a server.
A single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 “hits” would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics.
Computer applications that have the ability to link information to information created by another application, characteristic of Internet Applications.
Any text that contains links to other documents – words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The protocol for moving hypertextfiles across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
Hypertext Markup Language. A system used for writing pages for the World Wide Web. HTML allows text to include codes that define fonts, layout, embedded graphics, and hypertext links.
Image map
An image map is another way of creating links between web pages. In image maps, different parts of the image activate different links.
IMAP — (Internet Message Access Protocol)
IMAP is gradually replacing POP as the main protocol used by email clients in communicating with email servers.
Using IMAP an email client program can not only retrieve email but can also manipulate message stored on the server, without having to actually retrieve the messages.
IMHO — (In My Humble Opinion)
A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion.
Information systems (IS)
Computer and communications hardware and software used to supply information rather than, for example, control machines. Often used interchangeably with information technology.
Information technology (IT)
Computer and communications hardware and software used to automate and augment clerical, administrative, and management tasks in organizations.
The characteristic of systems which accept user input as well as delivering output. Distinguishes, for example, conventional TV or video from multimedia or videoconferencing.
The ability to link hardware, typically from different manufacturers, so they can communicate.
An intercontinental network of networks originally based on military and academic systems but increasingly used for commercial and private communications.
Internet access
Internet access is usually made through a University Network or a commercial service provider.
Interoperability, interworking
The ability to link systems so that they can actually work together like one, big system.
A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use.
Internet Protocol. The transport layer protocol used as a basis of the Internet. IP enables information to be routed from one network to another in packets and then reassembled when they reach their destination.
IP Number (Internet Protocol Number)
A four-part number separated by periods (for example, that uniquely identifies a machine on the Internet. Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP number; if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more domain names that are easier for people to remember.
Internet Relay Chat. A system that enables Internet users to talk with each other in real time over the Internet rather than in person.
Internet Relay Chat. A system that enables Internet users to talk with each other in real time over the Internet rather than in person.
Integrated services digital network. Digital telephone systems capable of transmitting data much more quickly than conventional analogue systems and without the need for modems.
International Standardisation Organization. A United Nations body with responsibility for international technical standards, except those covered by the CCITT.
ISP — (Internet Service Provider)
An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.

This programming language works in conjunction with HTML to allow dynamic programs to run and interact with your computer. It is network friendly and is often used to build large, complex systems that involve several different computers interacting across networks, for example transaction processing systems.
Java is also becoming popular for creating programs that run in small electronic devices, such as mobile telephones.
A very common use of Java is to create programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called “Applets”), Web pages can include functions such as animations,calculators, and other fancy tricks.
A programming language that is mostly used in web pages, usually to add features that make the web page more interactive. When JavaScript is included in an HTML file it relies upon the browser to interpret the JavaScript.
JDK — (Java Development Kit)
A software development package from Sun Microsystems that implements the basic set of tools needed to write, test and debugJava applications and applets
JPEG-Joint Photographic Experts Group.
A group that has defined a compression scheme that reduces the size of image files by up to 20 times at the cost of slightly reduced image quality.
A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (210) bytes.


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