The field of computer graphics concerned with generating and
displaying three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional space
(e.g., the display screen).
A pioneering long-haul network funded by what's now-called DARPA
(formerly known as ARPA). It was the foundation on which the
Internet was built.
These programs are free to the end user and won't cost you a
penny. Some developers support their programs by placing
advertisements in their programs. If you appreciate the work done by
these dedicated authors, do them a favor and check out their
sponsors. Most adware authors will have a advertisment-free edition of their software
available for a small fee.
A type of nickname (usually short and easy to remember) that
refers to a type of network resource. Aliases are used so you won't
have to remember the long and difficult names.
The standard method for encoding characters as 8-bit sequences of
binary numbers, allowing a maximum of 256 characters. Text files are
customarily called "ASCII files".
By using the word "anonymous" as your user ID and your email
address as the password when you login to an FTP site, you can
bypass local security checks and gain limited access to public files
on the remote computer. This type of access is available on most FTP
Sometimes known as "client software" or an "app", an application is a program that
performs a specific function. Web browser, FTP, Mail, Gopher, and Telnet
clients are the most common examples of Internet applications.
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 current rule is that an applet can only make an
Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.
You'll usually hear this term referred to in the phrase "archie
search." Archie is a way of automatically gathering, indexing and
sometimes even retrieving files on the Internet. Most good archie
clients are able to FTP files once you've found the information
you're looking for.
A collection of files stored on an Internet machine. FTP sites
are sometimes known as archives.
A UNIX sound file format. On the Net you may come across the
option to hear sound. The file which is downloaded to your
computer when its link is clicked on might be in the ".au" format (if the sound
file was originally captured on a UNIX system or converted from
another platform). Your helper applications or browser plugins need
to be configured to know what to do with this type of file. Goldwave
Sound Editor and Player is great for playing .au files and just about
any audio file format you may encounter on the Internet.
Any process that ensures that users are who they say they are.
Usually, you are prompted to type your name or user id, and password, to authenticate you and
allowed access to a Web page or site. PAP and POP are two examples of authentication protocols.
A Windows platform audio/video (multimedia) file. A common format
which you will find on the Internet for delivering small movies and videos.
These files are usually pretty large and would require a connection
of 28.8 Kbps or better to download in any kind of reasonable time. A 20
second movie clip in AVI format could be as much a 3MB in size and
could take on average of about 15 minutes to download to your computer.
Some other types of video files found on the Internet include: MOV,
MPEG, and ASF.
Back to Top
This refers to the difference, between the
highest and lowest frequencies (measured in Hz), of a transmission. Most people
loosely refer to bandwidth as the amount of data that can be
transferred over a network connection in a measure of time.
A unit used to measure the number of data bits a modem can
transfer in one second. One baud is how many signals a modem can
handle in one second. Information is measured in bits. Higher baud modems can send and receive more signals
in a second, and the faster speeds also cram more bits into a
A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII.
This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII. Macintosh files also require the BinHex format to be trsnaferred over the Internet. Macintosh files using this format have an ".hqx" extension in their filename.
A Bookmark is a way to mark a document's location or specific place in a document for later
retrivel. Nearly all Web brousers support a bookmarking feature that
lets you save the address (URL) of Web page so that you can easily
revisit the page at a later time. Netscape browsers use "Bookmarks"; Microsoft Internet Explorer uses "Favorites".
If you send email and it fails to arrive at its intended
recipient for any reason (wrong email address, network failure, etc.),
the message "bounces" back (is returned) to you. The subject line in a
bounced message usually includes something like: "Undeliverable Mail" or
Bulletin Board System (BBS)
A computer which typically provides email services, file
archives, and announcements of interest to the bulletin board
system's operator (known as a sysop). BBS's started out as hobbies
for computer enthusiasts, and were mostly accessible by modem.
Recently, however, more and more BBS's are being connected to the
Internet, or replaced by different Internet services.
A program used to view, download, upload, surf or otherwise
access documents (pages) on the World Wide Web. Browsers can be text-based, meaning they do not show graphics or images but today most browsers display text, graphics, sound and video. Browsers read "marked up" or coded
pages (usually HTML but not always) that reside on servers, and they
interpret the coding and display what we see "rendered" as a Web page.
Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are popular examples of
Web browsers. The program you are using right now to view this
information is called a Web browser.
BSD stands for "Berkeley Systems Development", and is the name that refers to an edition of a UNIX-based computer operating system produced by Berkeley Systems Development.
A programming error that causes a program or computer system to
perform erratically, produce incorrect results, or crash. Perhaps an urban myth, the term
"bug" was coined when a real insect was discovered to have fouled up
one of the circuits of the first electronic digital computer, the
Back to Top
"Cache" means "storage place". An Internet browser cache is a method to temporarily store the information on a page in your
computer. If you request a page (or part of a page, e.g. an image) that is stored in your cache, Web browsers
can retrieve the page from your cache more quickly than retrieving
the page again from it's location on the Internet. Sometimes
you may not want a page to be retrieved from a cache. The page you
viewed initially may no longer be identical to the page currently
offered by the network. If a modification to a particular URL has
occurred, you may want to view the updated page rather than the copy (now
stale) stored in your cache. You can modify your cache preferences in
Netscape under Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Cache.
In Internet Explorer go to View > Internet Options >
Temporary Internet Files > Settings.
Same as postcardware
Careware is software that is freely distributed via
download. The only payment expected for careware, is the user
must care about something, anything, and show it in some way to better
themselves or their community.
The standard for running programs on a server from a Web page.
Gateway programs, or scripts, are executable programs which can be
run by themselves. They have been made external programs in order to
allow them to run under various (possibly very different)
information servers interchangably. Gateways conforming to this
specification can be written in any language which produces an
executable file. Some of the more popular languages to use include:
C or C++, Perl, Python, TCL, shells, and many others. Some of the
most common CGI scripts found on the Web are programs which process
the information a user might enter on a form or whenever an imagemap
is "clicked" on - although most imagemaps these days are done via a
client side script which resides in the HTML file itself. To see an
example of what a CGI script looks like, click here. SEE ALSO:
FastCGI. Web Developers Virtual Library: CGI Matt's CGI Script
Archive - Where most of the CGI programs you see around the Internet
An authentication method that can be used when connecting to an
Internet Service Provider. CHAP allows you to login to your provider
automatically, without the need for a terminal screen. It is more
secure than the Password Authentication Protocol (PAP) (another widely
used authentication method) since it does not send passwords in text
Another term for IRC. Also, an acronym meaning "Conversational Hypertext Access Technology."
Short for "client software" - software that is used by and stored on a user's computer (as opposed to "server software" which is used by and stored on a server.) In Internet terms, it's an application that performs a specific
function, such as Telnet or FTP. It's the "front-end" to an Internet
process. In more general terms, a client is a computer system or
process that requests service from another computer system or
process. The much talked about "client-server architecture" refers
to a workstation requesting the contents of a file from a server.
The CERT was formed by DARPA in November 1988 in response to the
Internet worm incident. CERT exists to facilitate Internet-wide
response to computer security events involving Internet hosts and to
conduct research targeted at improving the security of existing
systems. They maintain an archive of security-related issues on
their FTP server at "cert.org." Their email address is
"email@example.com" and their 24-hour telephone Hotline for reporting
Internet security issues is (412) 268-7090.
A special file which contains information about you, something you clicked
on, and/or your computer system, and is stored in a text file on
your hard drive. This information is usually accessed by an Internet server
when you connect to a Web site which wants to know some information
about you or your system. One common occurance of a "setting a
cookie", would be when you as a user, log into a system through a
Web site. After you enter your username and password, a text file
is saved by your browser on your hard drive for later access by the same WEeb site. This prevents you from
having to log in again if you happen to leave the Web site and then
return at a later time. Cookies are often used to aid and streamline the process of
purchasing items on the Web. It is because of the cookie that the
"shopping cart" technology works. By saving in a text file, the
name, and other important information about an item a user "clicks"
on as they move through a shopping Web site, a user can later go to
an order form, and see all the items they selected, ready for quick
and easy processing.
The "world of computers and the society that gathers around
them," as referred to by William Gibson in his fantasy novel
"Neuromancer." It now loosely refers to the online world and even
more loosely to the Internet.
An error-checking procedure for data transmission, usually used by modems. The sending
device performs a complex calculation, generating a number based
upon the data being transmitted, and sends that number to the
receiving device. The receiving device performs the same calculation
after transmission. If the results match, the transmission succeeds.
If the numbers don't match, it means the message was received in an
altered state, and the data may be incorrect.
Back to Top
Much like an actual key used for locking and re-opening doors,
DEKs are used for the encryption and decoding of message text,
sometimes in the form of a digital signature.
A standardized encryption method widely used on the Internet.
A block of data that is "smart" enough (actually, which carries
enough information) to travel from one Internet site to another
without having to rely on earlier exchanges between the source and
A communications line that is used solely for computer
connections. If you install an additional phone line only for your modem,
that's considered a dedicated line. There are other types of dedicated lines
(such as DSL for home high speed Internet, and T3 and T1 that are used for larger corporate networks.)
Demoware is limited evaluation software that has some of its features
disabled. This software usually allows the use of a fair amount of features to entice a user to
purchase the full product.
A widely-used method of accessing the Internet. A dialup
connection uses regular phone lines to connect one computer to
another via modem.
Microsoft DirectX is a group of technologies designed by
Microsoft to make Windows-based computers an ideal platform for
running and displaying applications rich in multimedia elements such
as full-color graphics, video, 3-D animation, and surround sound.
Built directly into the Microsoft Windows family of operating
systems, DirectX is an integral part of Windows 98 and Windows 2000,
as well as Microsoft Internet Explorer.
A "logical" region of the Internet. People sometimes refer to
them loosely as "sites." Generally, a domain corresponds to an IP
address or an area on a host. "africanamericanwebdesigners.com" is
the domain name used by AAWDD.
The DNS is a static, hierarchical name service used with TCP/IP
hosts, and is housed on a number of servers on the Internet.
Basically, a DNS server maintains a database for figuring out and finding (or
resolving) host names and IP addresses on the Internet. This allows
users to specify remote computers by host names rather than
numerical IP addresses The advantage of the DNS is that you don't
have to remember numerical IP addresses for all the Internet sites
you want to access.
To copy data (usually an entire file) from a remote source to a
local device. The term is often used to describe the process
of copying a file from an online service to one's own computer. Compare with upload, and see FTP.
Instructions written in HTML that enable Web pages to respond to
user input and produce content that changes each time it is viewed.
With dynamic HTML coding, Web pages are created "on the fly", as the
information is delivered to your desktop. There are many
technologies for producing dynamic HTML, including CGI scripts,
Back to Top
A foundation that addresses social and legal issues arising from
the impact of computers on society. You can find them at http://www.eff.org/
A method by which computer users can exchange messages with each
other over a network. Email is probably the most widely-used
communications tool on the Internet. There are many esoteric
conventions in Email, but most involve use of "To:", "From:", and
"Subject:" lines. One of Email's advantages is its ability to be
forwarded and replied to easily and at both the sender's and receiver's convenience.
The basis of network security. Encryption encodes network packets
to prevent anyone except the intended recipient from accessing the
A standard and probably the most popular connection type for Local Area
Networks (LANs). It was first developed by Xerox, and later
refined by Digital, Intel and Xerox (see also "DIX"). In an Ethernet
configuration, computers are connected by coaxial or twisted-pair
cable where they contend for network access using a Carrier Sense
Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) paradigm.
Ethernet can transfer information at up to 10 Megabit-per-second
Back to Top
Acronym for "Frequently Asked Questions." FAQs are widely
available on the Internet and usually take the form of large,
instructional text files. They are written on a wide variety of
topics, and are usually the most up-to-date source for specialized
information. FAQs can also be a list of common questions and
answered posted for the convenience of users.
The most widely-used way of downloading and uploading (getting
and putting) files across an Internet connection. The File Transfer
Protocol is a standardized way to connect computers so that files
can be shared between them easily. There is a set of commands in FTP
for making and changing directories, transferring, copying, moving,
and deleting files. Formerly, all FTP connections were text based,
but graphical applications are now available that make FTP commands
as easy as dragging and dropping. Numerous FTP clients exist for a
number of platforms.
A UNIX command that shows information about a user or group of
users on the Internet. When executed, the Finger command usually
returns the user's real name, whether or not they have unread mail,
and the time and date of their last login. Finger also displays two
files (if they exist) located in the home directory of the user you
fingered. These two files (the .PLAN and the .PROJECT files.) are
simply ASCII text files that can be entered by the user to display
any information upon being fingered. With present-day privacy
concerns, this protocol is becoming more and more rare.
Special computers or computer programs that are set up on a
network to prevent intruders from stealing or destroying
personal and confidential files.
A negative response to an email message or newsgroup posting. If
you post an article or send an email to an audience that deems your
message inappropriate, expect to get "flamed." The most common
recipients of flames are users who post commercial messages in
public forums, those who post adult material in non-adult areas of
the Internet, and users who post or send racial or
gender-biased comments. The worst sort of flame is known as a
"mail-bomb," which occurs when the user being flamed open his or her
email and receives a flood of letters with unusually long file
attachments that may make their computer crash.
A reply to an email or newsgroup posting that continues the
conversation or idea, known as a "thread."
A network system made up of community-based bulletin board system
with email, information services, interactive communications, and
conferencing. They are usually funded and operated by individuals or
organizations much like public television. Freenet providers are
part of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), a
Cleveland-based organization that works to make computer networking
services as freely available as public libraries.
Freeware is... free. Just as you'd imagine it! Freeware is software that was
developed just for the sake of providing you, the end user, with a
cool new application. If you really like the program, you might take
a moment to send the author a thank you note. But there are no
strings attached to acquiring or using these programs.
Back to Top
A kind of "go-between" device or program that passes information
between networks that normally couldn't communicate. What used to be
called a gateway is now called a router.
An electronic image format developed by Compuserve using compression technology from Unisys.
On the World Wide Web pictures and graphics you see on Web pages are
often in GIF format because the files are small and download
quickly. See also JPEG.
An information search and retrieval tool used historically by
researchers. Gopher information is stored hierarchically on computers
across the Internet. It uses a simple protocol that allows a client
to access information from a multitude of numerous Gopher servers at
one time, creating what's known as "gopher space." The most common
search tools in gopher are Veronica and Jughead. Gopher clients
exist for most platforms.
Stands for General Public License. See http://www.linuxberg.com/gpllicense.html for more information.
Back to Top
A computer user who works to understand the "ins and outs" of
computers, networks, and the Internet in general. Hackers are
generally benign, and believe that information should be free.
A computer that is attached to a network or the Internet. Hosts
allow users on client machines to connect and share files or
transfer information. Individual users communicate with hosts by
using client application programs.
The combination of hypertext and multimedia in an online
A type of text that allows embedded "links", or connections, to other documents.
Clicking on a hypertext link displays another document
or section of a document. Most World Wide Web documents contain
hypertext. Hypertext links in a Web page are usually underlined.
The standard way to mark text documents for publishing on the
World Wide Web. HTML is marked-up using "tags" surrounded by
brackets. To see what tagged HTML text looks like, click the View
Source option in the menus of the Web browser you are using to view
this document now, and you'll see a display of the HTML text used to
create this page.
The protocol that tells the server what to send to the client, so
the client can view Web pages, FTP sites, or other areas of the net.
Back to Top
A single graphic image containing more than one clickable "hot" spot. Image
maps are used extensively on the WWW. Each hot spot in a Web image
takes you to a different Web page or to another area of the same Web
A type of communications service that enables you to create a
private chat room with another individual. Typically, when you are online, the instant
messaging system alerts you whenever somebody on your private list
is online. You can then initiate a chat session with that particular
A forerunner to DSL which combines voice and digital
network services in a single medium. ISDN makes it possible for
communications carriers to offer their customers digital data
services as well as voice connections through a single line. CCITT (International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee - now ITU-T)
defines the standards relating to ISDN.
Something that connect two separate entities. For example, a user
interface is the part of a program that connects the computer with a
human operator (user).
An organization of 89 member countries (founded in 1946)
responsible for setting world standards in many electronics areas.
Members of the ISO are the national standards organizations of the
A large, uncontrolled, unadministered, anarchic cyber-state that
will soon take over the world! Basically, it's just everyone's
computers hooked together. It's not a corporation, organization, or
entity unto itself. When you connect to the Internet, you actually
become part of it. Always capitalized, the word Internet is also be
referred to colloquially as the "Net."
An industry standard, connectionless, best-effort packet
used as the network layer in the TCP/IP
The 32-bit address defined by the Internet Protocol. Every
resource on the Internet has a unique numerical IP address,
represented in dotted decimal notation. IP addresses are the closest
thing the Internet has to phone numbers. When you "call" that number
(using any number of connection methods such as FTP, HTTP, Gopher,
etc.) you get connected to the computer that "owns" that IP address.
An ISP is a company that maintains a network that is linked to
the Internet via a dedicated communication line, usually a
high-speed link known as a T1. An ISP offers use of its dedicated
communication lines to companies or individuals who can't afford the
high monthly cost for a direct connection. Using a modem, you can
dial up to a service provider whose computers will connect you to
the Internet, typically for a fee.
Meaning "Internet information Center," InterNIC is the combined
name for the original providers of registration, information, and database
services to the Internet. InterNIC is who you contact if you want to
register a domain name on the Internet.
A private computer 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. As the Internet has become more
popular many of the tools used on the Internet are being used in
private networks. For example, many companies have Web servers that
are available only to employees. Note that an "Intranet" may not
actually be an Internet, it may simply be a network.
Stands for Internet Relay Chat - the world-wide "party line" of the 1990s. IRC allows multiple
users to converse in real time on different "channels." Channels
(which have a "#" sign preceding their name) vary in traffic and
content. Channel operators (or Ops) moderate the conversation, and
have the ability to "kick" people from channels, or even ban them if
their actions warrant it. IRC clients are available for nearly all
Back to Top
A JAR (Java ARchive) file is a file that contains the class,
image, and sound files for a Java applet gathered into a single file
and compressed for faster downloading to your Web browser. An applet
that comes as part of a Web page that you may happen to request may
include several files, each of which would have to be downloaded
along with the Web page. By putting them in a single file and
compressing that file, download time is saved.
Developed by Sun Microsystems, Java is a programming language
that is specifically designed for writing 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. Java is a simple, robust, object-oriented,
platform-independent multi-threaded, dynamic general-purpose
programming environment. It is best for creating applets and
applications for the Internet, intranets and any other complex,
A software development package from Sun Microsystems that
implements the basic set of tools needed to write, test and debug
Java applications and applets.
JavaBeans is an object-oriented programming interface from Sun
Microsystems that lets you build re-useable applications or program
building blocks called components that can be deployed in a network
on any major operating system platform. Like Java applets, JavaBeans
components (or "Beans) can be used to give World Wide Web pages (or
other applications) interactive capabilities such as computing
interest rates or varying page content based on user or browser
One of the two most common types of images used on the World Wide
Web, the other being GIF. The shorter JPG (without the E)
is usually used as an extension on JPEG image files. A standardized image compression mechanism. JPEG is
named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group, the original name
of the committee that wrote the standard.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Acronym for "Local Area Network," a collection of two or more computers in close proximity, connected in a network. LANs are now used by
most businesses, allowing users to send email and share resources
such as files, printers, Internet connection, etc. Currently, most larger
companies connect their LANs to the Internet, allowing users
to connect to the Internet via the LAN.
full-time connection used to link a user or network to an Internet
Service Provider or another network.
- A collection of files.
- In programming, a library is a
collection of precompiled routines that can be referenced in programming code.
Text and/or an image area on a Web page that a user can click on
to "connect to" or reference another document (also known as "hypertext hyperlink"). There are many
possiblities of what that document could be. Usually, links are
thought of as a connection between two Web pages or Web sites. They can
also be used to reference a different part of the same Web page,
linking to some text elsewhere on a page, or to a cause a file to download to your computer or trigger
the launching of an external or helper application which will then
do something with the clicked on file.
What actually occurs when you click on
a link is determined by the file's MIME type which is configured
(set up) on your computer system to make certain things happen when a
MIME type file is encountered. A basic example is your Web browser, which is preconfigured to display Web page files whenever it encounteres a file whose
MIME extension is HTML or HTM. Links are also called hyperlinks, hypertext
and hot links, and they are coded in HTML by Web page authors.
Back to Top
A symbol, name, or key that represents a list of commands,
actions, or keystrokes. Many programs allow you to create macros so
that you can enter a single character or word, or key combination, to perform a whole
series of actions. Microsoft Word uses macros to streamline and automate many program actions.
A program that distributes files or information in response to
requests sent via email. Many Listservs have mail reflectors. You
can request documents of a reflector by sending a message with the
subject "SEND document name" or a similar command. Mail reflectors
are also being used to provide FTP-like services for users with
limited Internet access.
A list of email addresses used to forward messages to groups of
people. When you subscribe to a mailing list, you receive all mail
sent to that list. There are several different kinds of mailing list services.
A connectivity standard which enables you to hook together
computers, musical instruments, and synthesizers to make and
orchestrate digital sound. Pronounced "middy," the term is used to
describe the standard itself, the hardware that supports the
standard, and files that store information that the hardware can
use. MIDI files are like digital sheet music--they contain
instructions for musical notes, tempo, and instrumentation--and are
widely used in game soundtracks and recording studios. MIDI sound
files usually have an extension of .mid. If you come across
these files on the Internet you will need a helper application
configured to work on your system in order to play them. MIDI files are just one of a few different file formats
which can be embedded on a Web page with the BG SOUND= HTML tag,
which causes the sound file to play when the Web page is accessed.
NOTE: This feature may not be supported by all Web browsers.
Due to the popularity of some FTP and Web sites, mirror sites
are used to spread the load of Internet traffic over several computer servers, each "mirroring" the same content. If you have trouble getting connected to an FTP site, for
example, because of the high amount of traffic (other people connecting at the same time), you can often
connect to an alternate mirror site that contains the same files but on a
The best way to explain the module format, is starting with the
old protracker format, coming from the Amiga: a MOD file. A MOD-File
is a collection of sample data (similar to the WAV format) and a
description of how to play these samples (similar to the MIDI
Mpeg Layer 3 is an amazing new standard for the compression of audio files. It
is capable of 10:1 compression with no noticeable loss in quality.
A standard Wave Audio file containing an audio sample at CD Quality (44KHz, 16 bit, Stereo) takes up 172
bytes for every second. Making use
of Mpeg Layer 3 (MP3) compression each second takes only 16 bytes,
when compressed at the standard bitrate of 128 kbits/sec. By
compressing at lower bitrates, MP3s can be lowered to 12 bytes per
second of audio with slight quality loss. The only disadvantage to
this format is that MP3 needs to be decoded while it is being played
back. This is done with a player such as WinAmp, or Winplay3. This
requires a fairly decent computer, I recommend a Pentium 100
processor, with 16 megabytes of RAM minimum. This should yield
reliable playback. If you do have a slower machine, Mp3s can still
be played but at reduced quality.
A type of audio/video (multimedia) file found on the Internet. In
order to hear or see an MPEG movie, you will need to install a
helper application or Web browser plugin. MPEG is an algorithm for
compressing audio and video; not to be confused with Motion-JPEG.
"Modem" means "Modulate/de-modulate" because that's what it does
with a signal. A modem is a piece of computer
hardware, located either inside or outside your computer, that allows your computer to
connect, via phone line, to another computer. Most modems are "FAX/modems" which adds faxing capabilities. A FAX/modem needs related software, like Windows Dial-Up Networking and FAX software, to work.
A person who manages mailing lists or Usenet newsgroups by screening new messages being added to newsgroups, or
online discussion forums for services such as AOL, CompuServe, or
the Microsoft Network, to name a few.
A graphical browser for the World Wide Web that supports
hypermedia. The NCSA (National SuperComputer Association) invented
the Mosaic browser in the mid 1990s, and it quickly became the industry standard.
Soon after, however, Netscape Communications and Microsoft
stormed the market with more feature-rich browsers, and this has
radically redefined the Web.
Acronym for Multi-User Domain or Dimension. MUDs are role-playing
games that take place on a computer. Users can Telnet to a MUD host,
and create a character. MUDs can be action-, adventure-, or
fantasy-based games, and allow you to save your character for future
play. Some MUDs have thousands of registered characters, and most
foster a community or culture of their own. These are
highly-addictive areas of the Internet, and users can spend many
hours enthralled in this type of activity.
Refers to different kinds of data that can be processed and displayed by computers, including text, graphics, video, animation,
and sound. The World Wide Web is considered the multimedia part of the Internet.
MIME is a standardized method for organizing divergent file
formats. The method organizes file formats according to the file's
MIME type. When Internet (usually email) software retrieves a file
from a server, the server provides the MIME type of the file, and
the file is decoded correctly when transferred to your computer.
Back to Top
The combination of the words "Net" and "etiquette," this refers
an assumed standard of proper behavior on a network, and more generally the
Internet. The key element in Netiquette is remembering that actual
people are on the other end of a computer connection, and offensive
comments or actions are just as offensive even if you can't see or hear the
recipient. Netiquette includes rules about not to waste network bandwidth
and other users' time, such as sending unsolicited (not asked for) email messages and
Two or more computers that are connected to each other. The most common types
of networks are:
- LAN - local area network; the computers are near
each other, like in the same office space, room or building.
- WAN - wide area network; the computers are at different geographic
locations and are connected by telephone lines or radio waves. WANs can be used to connect several LANs.
A protocol developed by Sun Microsystems. NFS allows a computer
to access and use files over a network as if they were on a local computer. This
protocol has been incorporated into so many products that it is now a de facto Internet standard.
An industry standard protocol for the distribution, inquiry,
retrieval, and posting of news articles in Usenet newsgoups. There are many popular
newsreader programs to help you sort through the wealth of data that
Back to Top
Back to Top
The common term for the standard unit of data sent across a
network. When you send or request data, it is broken up into packets
which are collected and rejoined together again at the destination.
The simplest way to test or time the response of an Internet
connection. PING sends a request to an Internet host and waits for a
reply (PONG). When you PING an address, you get a response telling
you the number of seconds it took to make the connection. PING
software exist for a number of platforms, or you can use a UNIX or
Windows 95/98/NT prompt to issue a PING command directly.
One of the many authentication protocols, or methods, that can be used when
connecting to an ISP (Internet Service Provider). PAP allows one to login automatically to an ISP, without
having to use a previously commonplace terminal window to type in your username and
password. One warning about PAP: passwords are sent over the
connection in text format, which means there is no protection if
someone is "listening-in" on your connection.
A protocol that provides a method for transmitting packets over
serial point-to-point links. PPP is one of the most popular methods
for dialup connections to the Internet, since it allows you to use
other standard protocols (such as IPX, TCP/IP,) over a standard
telephone connection, but it can also be used for LAN connections.
A protocol designed to allow single users to read mail from a
server. There are three versions: POP, POP2, and POP3. When email is
sent to you, it is stored on a server until accessed or retrieved by you. Once
you are authenticated, the POP is used to transmit the stored mail
from the server to your local mailbox on your computer.
Postcardware is a kind of freeware that requires only that the user send the
software author a postcard as payment for use of and appreciation for the software. This shows the software provider that
someone is actually using the software and lets the user thank the
provider personally. The postage stamp also indicates where in the world the software is being used. Same as Cardware.
Adding or sending a message to a Usenet newsgroup, discussion forum, or BBS.
The person to contact at a particular site to ask for information
about the site or to complain about one of his/her user's behavior.
Simply, a "language" spoken between computers to help them
exchange information. More technically, it's a formal description of
message formats and the rules that two computers must follow to
exchange those messages. Porotocols differ depending on what is being communicated between computers. Protocols can describe low-level details of
machine-to-machine interfaces (like the order in which bits and
bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between
allocation programs (the way in which two programs transfer a file
across the Internet). See PAP and POP.
Back to Top
Immediate response by a computer system. Real time can also refer
to events simulated by a computer at the same speed that they would
occur in real life.
A device that forwards traffic between networks. Forwarding
decisions are made based on network layer information and routing
tables, often constructed by routing protocols.
Back to Top
A program that searches one or more documents (usually a large collection of documents) for specified
keywords and returns a list of locations where those keywords were
found. Although "search engine" defines a very general class of programs,
the term usually refers to Internet search engines like Yahoo, Alta
Vista and Excite, all of which enable users to search for documents on the
World Wide Web and in USENET newsgroups.
A record of keystrokes and commands
that can be played back in order to automate routing tasks, such as
logging on to an online service. A macro is a kind of script.
This is software you can download, try out, and decide whether
or not it's right for you. If you like it you pay a small nominal
fee for the full-featured program. If you don't want to keep it,
shareware programs usually either stop functioning after a period of
time or they will continue to work but with reduced
features compared with the purchased version.
Similar to PPP, SLIP is another standard protocol used to run
TCP/IP over serial lines, such as telephone circuits or RS-232
cables. Unlike PPP, however, SLIP does not work on a LAN
connection. SLIP used to be the most popular way for dialup users
to access the Internet. PPP is the current standard.
Simply, a computer that stores and delivers resources, such as files or
other information. Common Internet server typess include mail, file servers and
A servlet is a small program that runs on a server. The term was
coined in the context of the Java applet, a small program that is
delivered as a separate file along with a Web (HTML) page. Java applets,
usually intended for running on a user's computer (as opposed to a server), can provide such
services as performing a calculation for a user, or positioning an
image based on user interaction.
A way to add a consistent "sign off" to your email or newsgroup messages. A signature is usually an ASCII text file that can be automatically attached to the
bottom of a message. Many signatures (historically called "sigs") use symbols and characters to
create images or words to make the signature more interesting.
A protocol used to transfer email. SMTP transfers mail from
server to server, and the end user must use a Post Office Protocol (POP) to transfer the messages to their computer.
An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or
other networked communications facility as if it were a broadcast
medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large
number of people who didnít ask for it. The term may have come from someoneís low
opinion of the food product with the same name, which is generally
perceived as a generic content-free waste of resources. (Spam is a
registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat
Audio, video, and text usually located on a Web site, that can be viewed on your computer
even while parts of it are still in the process of downloading to your computer.
Back to Top
A term used to denote the type of connection of a host to the
Internet. A T1 transmits a DS-1 formatted digital signal at 1.544
megabits per second.
A term used to denote the type of connection of a host to the
Internet. A T3 transmits a DS-3 formatted digital signal at 44.746
megabits per second.
To properly use the TCP/IP protocol, PCs require a TCP/IP stack.
A TCP/IP stack consists of TCP/IP software, sockets software (such as
WINSOCK.DLL for Windows machines), and hardware driver software
(known as packet drivers). Windows 95/98/NT comes with Microsoft's own
built-in TCP/IP stack.
The Internet standard protocol to connect to remote terminals.
Telnet clients are available for most platforms. When you Telnet to
a UNIX site, for example, you can issue commands at the prompt as if
the machine were local.
A graphic or image purposely made smaller in size in order to
display multiple images on the same Web page at the same time. A
popular practice on the Web because it gives the user the chance to
choose the image they would like to see a larger version of. This is
usually done by clicking your mouse on it. The practice of using
thumbnails is also used to display "samples" of images that are
"free" thus, when a user click on it, they either need to enter in a
password in order to get at it, or they are instructed on how to
provide payment for the higher resolution larger version, before
they can actually see it.
A slight variation of Telnet used to connect the user to an IBM
mainframe. TN3270 clients exist for most platforms.
A type of LAN in which networked computers are wired into a
"ring." Each computer (or node) is in constant contact with the next
node in the ring. A control message, called a "token", is passed
from one node to another, allowing the node with the token to send a
message out to the network. If the ring is "broken" by one computer
losing contact, the network can no longer communicate. The IEEE
802.5 token ring standard is the most common.
The "layout" of all the computers on a network and the links that
TCP/IP is the standard communications protocol required for
Internet computers. To communicate using TCP/IP, PCs need a set of
software components called a TCP/IP stack. Macintoshes typically use
a proprietary software called MacTCP. Most UNIX systems are built
with TCP/IP capabilities.
Back to Top
More commonly referred to as the URL, the Uniform Resource
Locator refers to the entire address that is recognized
"universally" as the address for an Internet resource. Each resource
on the Internet has a unique URL. URLs begin with letters that
identify the resource type, such as http, ftp, gopher, etc. These
types are followed by a colon and two slashes. Next, the computer's
name is listed, followed by the directory and filename of the remote
resource. For example, the URL for this glossary is
To transmit or copy data (one or more files) from a local source to a
remote device. The term is often used to describe the process
of copying a file from a computer to an online service. Compare with download.
Usenet groups are more commonly known as "newsgroups." There are
thousands of groups hosted on hundreds of news servers around the world,
dealing with various topics. Newsreader software is required to
properly download and view "articles" in the groups, but you can
usually "post" and article to a group simply by emailing to it. see also NNTP protocol.
A program that performs a very specific task, usually related to
managing system resources.
A method for converting binary information into ascii. It can be
used for posting to Usenet and/or e-mailing with non MIME compliant
Back to Top
A search engine (not unlike Archie) that is built into Gopher. It
allows searches of all gopher sites for files, directories and other
Microsoft Visual Basic development system, the world's most
popular rapid application development (RAD) tool and member of the
Microsoft Visual Studio development tools suite.
A program which replicates itself on computer systems by
incorporating itself into other programs that are shared among
computer systems. Read about how to detect/remove a computer virus.
Back to Top
The format developed jointly by
Microsoft and IBM, for storing sound in files. Support for WAV files was built into Windows 95,
making it the de facto standard for sound on PCs. WAV sound filenames
contain a .wav extension and can be played by nearly all Windows
applications that support sound.
Databases containing email addresses, telephone numbers, and
postal addresses of Internet users. You can search the Internet
White Pages to find information about particular users.
An Internet program (related to Finger and the White Pages) that
lets you enter an Internet entity (such as domains, networks, and
hosts) and display information such as a person's company name,
address, phone number and email address.
A distributed information service and search engine that allows
natural language input and indexed searching. Many Web search
utilities use a WAIS engine.
Stands for "Windows Sockets." Winsocks is a set of specifications
or standards for programmers creating TCP/IP applications for use
The "Web" is a collection of online documents housed on Internet
servers around the world. The concept of the Web was created by
researchers at CERN in Switzerland. Web documents are usually written or
"coded" in HTML. To access these documents, you have to use a Web
browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. When these
browsers access (or hit) a page, the server uses the HyperText
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to send the document to your computer.
A computer program that replicates itself and is
self-propagating. Whereas viruses are designed to cause problems on a
local system and are passed through boot sectors of disks and
through files, worms are designed to thrive in network environments.
Network worms were first defined by Shoch & Hupp of Xerox in ACM
Communications (March 1982). A famous (or infamous) worm was
the Internet Worm of November 1988. It successfully propagated
itself on over 6,000 systems across the Internet.
Back to Top
Back to Top
A Microsoft Windows-based compressed file. Can contain one or
many files as well as a directory structure. On the Internet large
graphics and programs are often compressed into ZIP files and then
made avaliable for download as a single file. After you download this file you need
to use a decompression software program to "UNZIP" the file. Several
popular tools exist for zipping: WinZip and NetZIP in Windows, MacZip for Macintosh users, and Zip
and UnZip in UNIX systems. Read about How to open a .zip and other compressed files.