Glossary of Computer Terms - Continued

1-0 A B C D E F G H I JK L M N O P QR S T U V W X Y Z

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M

MCA
Micro Computer Architecture, an alternate slot design used in early computers to provide 32 bit access, also the bus associated with such slots.
Megabyte (Mb)
1024 kilobytes or 1048576 bytes (2 ** 20 bytes)
MegaHertz
A measure of frequency in millions of cycles per second. Can be used to compare relative speed of CPUs which carry out the same number of operations per cycle but meaningless in comparing different types of CPUs
Menu
the row of names which appears under the title and any drop-down lists which appear if you select one of the names
modem
modulator/demodulator, converts digital signals to analog and vice versa, used to connect a digital device (such as a computer) to an analog device (such as a phone line) allowing communication
monitor
the tv like display attached to the computer, comes in varieties with names like CGA, EGA, VGA, super VGA which indicate the maximum resolution of the displayed image
motherboard
the main circuit board inside of the computer
mouse
a pointing device that when moved around the desk moves a pointer around the computer screen
mouse button
one of the two or three buttons at the top edge of the mouse, used to perform actions on the object pointed at by the mouse pointer.
multiplier
the speed differential between the CPU and the FSB.
multi-tasking
also known as pre-emptive multi-tasking. The operating system shares the computer resources between two or more applications so that the applications appear to be running simultaneously.

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N

NIC
Network Interface Card, used to attach a computer to a network

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O

operating system
a collection of computer programs that control the execution of other programs, it schedules jobs, assigns memory locations, and controls I/O, (see DOS, OS/2, windows NT)
ODBC
open data base connectivity, a common interface that windows programs can use to access most databases.
OLE
object linking and embedding, allows creation of compound documents where parts of the document have been created using different applications.
optical resolution
the true resolution of a scanning device.
option buttons
also known as radio buttons The little circles that appear to the left of some fields. They are used to select one from a number of choices. Where a dot appears in the circle the associated condition applies and the other conditions listed do not apply. In text mode option buttons are usually shown as ( ).
OS/2
an operating system which allows each application program to run in its own separate protected region (see also Windows NT)
Overtyping
where a single character or block of text is selected, the next character typed will replace the selected text. To turn overtyping on or off press the Insert key.

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P

partition
a section of a hard drive treated by the operating system as a separate logical drive
PCI
peripheral component interconnect, a newer style of slot for add-on cards, usually 32 bit but sometimes extended to provide 64 bit access, usually white, also the bus associated with such slots.
PERL
practical extraction and report language, an interpretive programming language commonly used to write CGI scripts.
peripheral
any part of the computer not contained within the same case as the CPU
Petabyte (Pb)
1024 Terabytes or 1 125 899 906 842 624 bytes (2** 50 bytes)
PHP
PHP hypertext preprocessor (originally called personal home page), a server side scripting language that can be used to provide interactive pages on the internet
PIM
personal information manager, a suite of programs including address book, diary, and scheduling functions
pixel
picture element, a single dot displayed on your monitor
POP3
a method of temporarily connecting to a mail server in order to download email addressed to you.
POST
Power On Self Test, a series of tests run to check the computer hardware when the computer is first turned on.
printer
a device that attaches to your computer that will convert images and text from your computer into an image on paper
prompt
a visual indication provided by a command line interface to show that the program or operating system is ready to accept another input

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QR

RAID
redundant array of inexpensive disks, methods of using a number of smaller cheaper disks instead of larger (and hence more expensive) disks to provide higher capacity drives and also redundancy in the event of hard drive failure. There are six different versions of RAID and most allow for the content of one drive to be recreated from the content of the others.
RAM
random access memory, the memory that the computer uses to run your programs
Relational Database
A file containing a number of tables. Each table contains logically related data eg. a table to contain name and address details. A special program (called a database engine or optimizer) determines the most efficient way to access the information and controls all access. Several users can access the data at the same time and data being updated by one user will be locked to prevent conflicting updates requested by another user.
RDRAM
rambus dynamic random access memory, the type of main memory used by top end Pentium 4 systems.
RGB
red green blue, the primary colours, used by most computer monitors and TV sets
ROM
read only memory, used by the computer to store the startup routines (see BIOS)

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S

scanner
a device that attaches to your computer that will convert printed material into images on the computer.
scroll
the movement of text as it rolls up or down the screen.
SCSI
small computer system interface, a computer bus system allowing a number of different types of devices to be attached to the same interface card
SDRAM
synchronous dynamic random access memory, a type of memory used by most current low to mid range systems for their main memory.
SGML
standard generalized markup language, the generalized markup system upon which other markup languages such as HTML and XML are based.
SMTP
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, a method used to transfer email between computers that are permanently connected to the network.
shortcut
a combination of keys which when pressed together perform a function without having to traverse menus to reach it eg. Ctrl-X = cut, Ctrl-C = copy, Ctrl-V = paste.
slot
one of a number of special sockets usually aligned along the back of the motherboard to allow add-on cards to be installed
software
computer programs, stored as magnetic or electric fields, they have no physical existence
SQL
Structured Query Language, pronounced Sequel. A standardized set of commands used to access relational databases.
super VGA
a display mode greater than 640 x 480 dots (eg. 800 x 600 , 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1600 x 1280)

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T

task swapping
also known as concurrent multi-tasking. Where one application can give up control of the computer to another application and when control is returned will resume from where it left off.
TCP/IP
a communications protocol that allows computers attached to one another via network hardware or dial up connections to share information. Used by computers attached to the internet.
Telnet
a method of connecting to a remote computer and carrying out operations on that computer as if it were your own
Terabyte (Tb)
1024 Gigabytes or 1 099 511 627 776 bytes (2** 40 bytes)
trojan
a piece of software that appears to perform some useful function but having its primary and more destructive purpose concealed.
toolbar
a row of buttons etc. which may appear at the top of a window under the menu bar.

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U

upload
the process of transferring data from your computer to a server
URL
universal resource locator, addresses used to identify specific documents on the web.
USB
universal serial bus, one means of connecting peripheral devices to your computer.

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V

VESA
a 32 bit extension to the 16 bit ISA standard slot specifically designed for high speed graphics cards,now superseded by PCI and AGP
VGA
video graphics array, a display mode of 640 x 480 dots
virus
a piece of software that can replicate itself across computer networks, often carrying a destructive payload with it.
VPN
virtual private network, a wide area private network that piggybacks off of the internet. The message packets between the computers on the VPN are transferred using the internet but can only be interpreted by computers on the VPN.

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W

WAP
wireless application protocol, used to connect mobile devices to the web
web
the world wide web is that part of the internet where pages of information stored for later display by browsers
Windows
a graphical user interface which runs on DOS, allows you to switch between programs and return to the same point at a later time
Windows NT/2000/XP
an operating system which allows each application program to run in its own separate protected region (see also OS/2)
Windows 95/98/SE/ME
modern version of DOS with the windows graphical interface included
word
the amount of data corresponding to the size of the data bus of the computer, eg. the word length on a 32 bit data bus is 4 bytes
Working Directory
the directory which will be assumed for all file references where a directory is not specified.
worm
code deliberately introduced into a computer in order to perform an action different from and contrary to that intended by the user
WORM
write once read many
WWW
World Wide Web, a part of the internet where documents written in HTML can be downloaded via HTTP and viewed in a web browser

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X

XGA
a screen resolution of 1024 x 768
XML
extensible markup language, a subset of SGML that can be used to create tags that describe the data contents

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Y

Yottabyte (Yb)
1024 Zettabytes or 1 208 925 819 614 629 174 706 176 bytes (2** 80 bytes)

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Z

Zettabyte (Zb)
1024 Exabytes or 1 180 591 620 717 411 303 424 bytes (2** 70 bytes)
zip file
a file that has been compressed
ZIP drive
a disk drive produced by Iomega which uses removable disks having a capacity of 95.7Mb each (100,000,000 bytes) or 238.4Mb (250,000,000 bytes).

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