||An error message received when you try to
access a web page that either doesn't exist or is unavailable at the
address you gave.
|80211a, 80211b, 80211g, 80211i, 80211n
||Different standards for operating wireless networks (Wi-Fi).
Loosely the higher the letter, the faster the speed.
So far they are mostly incompatible
with each other.
|80286, 80386, 80486 (or 286, 386, 486)
||Three generations of PC processor, now pretty much obsolete, the
ancestors of Intel's Pentium. The 286 was the earliest processor
able to run (just about) a version of Windows, although the 386
was really the minimum to run it properly. The 486 was the earliest processor
able to run Windows 95 - just about. Machines of this vintage
cannot run modern versions of Windows at all, but many are still in
use as basic
word-processors or where a dedicated machine is required which doesn't
need to be powerful.
||A Windows technology which allows programmers to do various things on
your computer. Unfortunately it also allows hackers to
do bad things
to your computer, particularly via webpages in Internet Explorer, and
is safest switched off. (In Internet
Explorer go to Tools/Internet Options/Security and set the Security Zone
slider for Internet to High. A few websites won't display quite as
intended without it, but most bad ones won't be able to hijack you).
||(Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A method of connecting a
computer to the internet over an ordinary phone line using ethernet
office networking technology instead of an ordinary modem, which
produces a much faster (broadband)
connection. Asymmetric because it is faster from internet to PC than the
other way (also true of a 56K modem).
||Software which displays advertisements on your computer. Sometimes
installed as part of a "free" application, sometimes by stealth.
See also Malware,
|AFAICS, AFAIK, AFAIR
||(As Far As I Can See/Know/Recall)
||(Advanced Graphics Port)
A special slot on the PC motherboard for graphics cards,
and the format of the cards themselves. Standard on new PCs from 1998. "AGP
x 2" runs at twice the speed of the original AGP, AGP x 4 at four
times the speed etc. Now being replaced by PCI Express.
||(Artificial Intelligence) A program
designed to respond "intelligently" to various situations, for example
the computer opponent(s) in a game.
||(As I Understand It) Internet
||An internet connection which remains on 24/7 such as ADSL
or cable, rather than only connecting on demand like
||AMD is a leading manufacturer of processor chips for PCs, including
the Athlon and Duron chips.
||An antispam program is used to filter out
email spam, and sometimes to block it or complain about
||Software which protects computers from viruses and suchlike. Has to be
updated frequently to keep up with the latest threats, so is usually sold
with a subscription which enables you to download updates from the internet.
||(America On Line) An Internet
Service Provider, or ISP. AOL were in business as a large commercial
bulletin board before the internet really took off. Now they are
an ISP specialising in family-friendly internet access.
||The Apple Corporation makes the only successful
personal computer which doesn't use Microsoft Windows, the Macintosh,
and the popular iPod music player.
||A small program used to carry out a particular task, often on a web page.
||Software used to carry out a particular task, such as word processing
or desktop publishing. Essentially another word for program.
||The basic design of a computer's hardware. Computers with different architecture,
such as the PC and the Mac, cannot run each others' programs.
||(American Standard Code for
Information Interchange) An early and very basic format for text files,
standard across pretty much all computers and mail systems. It only includes
upper and lower case letters, numbers, and standard punctuation marks, but
more sophisticated text formats still tend to be based on it. An ASCII file
is a basic text-only file generated by a program like Notepad.
||(ATtAchment Packet Interface)
An upgrade to EIDE which allows the hard disk controller to control
CD drives as well. Almost all CD and DVD drives are controlled this way.
||A PC processor - AMD, the other leading chip manufacturer's equivalent
to Intel's Pentium. Like the Pentium, constantly being upgraded.
You will often see a number such as 2700 following the word Athlon, which
is a rough measure of the processor's speed - the higher the number, the
faster the chip.
||(All The Best) Internet slang.
||(At The Moment) Internet
|| A file sent by email is "attached" to the email. An attachment
can be a picture, a word processor document, a program or any other type
of file. You should never open an attachment if you are not sure what
it is, because some viruses propagate as email attachments; but
they can't infect your machine if you don't open the attachment.
||(Acceptable Use Policy)
A document setting out what an Internet Service Provider deems an acceptable
use of their services, usually published on their website. Typically it
will forbid the publication of obscene or defamatory material, and sending
email or newsgroup spam. If you violate your ISP's AUP, they will
usually close your account down immediately.
||A feature in MS Word and other programs which automatically corrects
your spelling, and even your grammar, as you type. Better switched off
if you use obscure technical terms, or prefer your own interpretation
of the rules of grammar, or else you are likely to find that it's "corrected"
your text to something you didn't intend.
||A picture or figure representing a person
in an online environment.
|Backup, back up
||A backup is an extra copy of your work, eg documents, pictures etc, saved
onto a removable storage medium such as CD, DVD or magnetic tape, so
your computer is stolen or breaks down you
lose everything. Backup is a noun, back up is a verb.
||A program (or system) designed to work with data generated by earlier
versions of itself, even though the format may since have changed completely.
||A measure of total amount of data transferred over a period of time,
often used to measure how busy a website is. A webhost will usually
base its charges on the bandwidth a website uses, ie how much data per
month is requested
||A computer game in which you control one
or more characters fighting onscreen using karate, kung-fu and so forth.
Derives from shoot-'em-up.
||A system that examines biological things like fingerprints or retinas,
usually for security purposes.
||(Basic Input/Output System;
pr. "by-oss") A program built into every PC for setting up very basic things,
like how many hard and floppy disks you have and what type they are; the
first thing that loads when you start your PC. You usually only need to
access the BIOS if you are upgrading your hardware, eg adding more RAM
or an extra disk drive, or setting a power-on password. BIOS settings
are stored in a special type of memory called CMOS.
||The smallest unit of information in a computer, can either equal 0 or
1. Eight bits equal one byte.
||(weBLOG) A website documenting someone's
life and/or thoughts.
||A wireless communication system for PCs and other computing
devices. However Bluetooth devices
from different manufacturers won't always communicate with each other
reliably, so it hasn't really taken off as the industry had hoped, and
is now under threat from faster wireless technologies (see Wi-Fi).
||(BitMaP) A standard type
of graphics file. An uncompressed format, so the files tend to be fairly
|Boot, boot up
||Usually used to mean "start up the computer". Literally, the process
of loading up the operating system and getting the computer ready for
use. See Reboot. A "boot password" is a password you have to
give to start up the computer.
||A floppy disk which holds a copy of the operating system, or
enough of it to start the computer, useful if the computer won't start
up properly from the hard disk. Because modern operating systems are
so large, these days it is often a boot CD rather than a floppy.
||(roBOT) A semi-automated
program, usually performing a function on the internet such as indexing
webpages or sorting email.
||(Bits Per Second) A measure
of how quickly information is being transferred, usually via a modem or
network. Divide by ten to get an approximation of the number of characters
per second (cps). See also Kbps, Mbps.
||(Be Right Back) Internet
||Internet access over a connection much faster than an ordinary modem,
such as ADSL or cable.
||A program used for viewing World Wide Web pages on the Internet. The
most widely used is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, because it is built-in
||(By The Way) Internet slang.
||A temporary storage area for data, often used to "smooth out" incoming
audio or video streams. Several seconds worth of material is stored in
the buffer and it is then played back from there, so that if there is
a brief interruption in the stream your music or video doesn't stop.
||Error, especially in a program, that has been missed in testing. The
story goes that the original bug was an insect that got itself cremated
inside an electrical circuit in an early computer, causing it to fail
(and I don't suppose the insect enjoyed it much, either).
It took them ages to figure out what was causing the problem, and when
they eventually found the bug the story passed into legend.
||A semi-public area which computer users can connect to using a modem,
to read and post messages and/or exchange files. Now largely replaced
||Create a CD or DVD.
||A basic unit of measurement for pieces of information; the space required
to store one character. See also Bit, Kilobyte, Megabyte,
||An always-on high speed internet connection similar to ADSL but
using cable TV technology instead of a phoneline.
||A temporary storage area for frequently or recently used data, either
in memory, on your hard disk or the internet. For example, if you go
to a webpage you have recently visited, your PC will usually be able
to display it from the internet cache on your hard disk, so it won't
need to download
it from the internet again.
||(Computer Aided Design)
Software used to produce complex technical drawings by designers
||(Charge Coupled Device)
The component of a scanner or digital camera which actually takes
the pictures. The quality of image it is capable of is usually measured
in Megapixels - the higher the number, the more detailed the image.
||A CD drive that can create ("burn") CDs.
||(Compact Disk-Read Only Memory)
A misnomer, as strictly speaking it is not memory but storage. Identical
to standard music CDs. Currently the most popular medium for releasing
on, as it can hold literally hundreds of times as much information as a
standard floppy disk, about 650 Megabytes in total. Once a CD-ROM
created its contents cannot be changed. Now starting to be replaced by
A CD drive which can create CDs, either audio or data, using special rewriteable
CDs which are also often called CD-RWs. A CD-RW drive can also create ordinary
CDs, though not rewrite them.
||A PC processor - Intel's budget chip, cheaper than the Pentium,
but also less powerful.
||A letter of the alphabet, number, space or punctuation mark is a character.
||A website where you can meet and chat live (via the keyboard) with other
internet users. Most such websites have multiple "rooms",
each dedicated to a particular topic or theme.
||A silicon wafer with millions of tiny circuits engraved on it - what
computers are made of..
||A temporary storage area in Windows. When you cut (Ctrl-X) or copy (Ctrl-C)
highlighted text, documents or whatever in Windows they are sent to
the clipboard; when you paste (Ctrl-V) they are copied from the clipboard
to the cursor
position. Sending something to the clipboard automatically overwrites
its previous contents.
||Data stored on a disk is spread across a number of clusters, small physical
areas on the disk. How big they are depends on the way the disk is formatted
- generally a few kilobytes each.
||(Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor;
pr. "see-moss") A special type of memory which retains its data when the
PC is switched off, used to store settings for things like what type of
hard disk you have, and how much memory. The settings are accessed via the
||(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Keystone
black ) The standard four colours used by most printers - almost any
colour can be created out of these. See also RGB.
A small piece of computer code that tells the computer how to decode particular
types of information, usually video files. If your video player won't play
a particular format, you can usually download and install a codec which
will tell it how from the internet.
||Compatible pieces of equipment can work together; incompatible ones can't.
|| A way of making files smaller, either to fit into restricted storage
space or to speed up transmission over the Internet. Popular compression
standards include JPEG and GIF for pictures, MP3
for music files, MPEG for movies, and zip for just about everything
|| Nowadays usually refers to a dedicated gaming computer such as the Playstation
or X-Box. Originally meant a terminal connected to a mainframe computer.
|| A small data file stored on your computer by a website, in theory to
allow it to "remember" your preferences, but in practise mostly used to
track which adverts you have seen. You can set most browsers to reject
all cookies, or to ask your permission before storing them, but this can
generate multiple error messages on some websites and is generally more
hassle than it's worth - they are pretty harmless.
||(Characters Per Second)
A measure of how quickly information, particularly text, is being transferred
over a modem link or network. See also bps.
||(Central Processing Unit)
The nerve centre of the computer : everything flows through it. Often just
called "the processor". The best known PC processors are Intel's Pentium and
|| A crack is a small program intended to defeat software's copy protection,
thus allowing unlicensed copies to be made - stealing it, in effect. Software
that is distributed with its copy protection disabled or bypassed has
||When a computer program or operating system stops working completely
or almost completely it (or the computer) is said to have "crashed". When
a computer crashes it usually needs to be rebooted before it can
be used again. See also lockup.
||A program that indexes pages on the World Wide Web for search engines.
||(Cathode Ray Tube) The imaging
technology used in most desktop monitors. Provides an excellent colour display,
but is extremely bulky and is now being gradually supplanted by TFT.
||(Cascading Style Sheets)
A set of HTML commands used to control the style of web pages, much
more complex than the <FONT> tag-set it is intended to replace, but
also more powerful and particularly useful for retaining a uniform style
a large website. Generally only used by professional web designers.
||Loosely speaking, the internet, and virtual
||Someone who buys up internet domain names
in order to sell them on at a profit.
||Any information created by a user, such as documents, pictures or sound
||A program used for organising any kind of information on a computer
into a searchable form, anything from a list of contacts to a complex
stock control and accounts system.
||(Double Data Rate) A fast
type of RAM for a PC, originally only used on high performance
graphics cards but now being used for general memory in most high-end
PCs. DDR2 is a yet faster version.
||A default setting is one you haven't changed - what a program will do
(or use) if you don’t tell it any different. "Accept the defaults" means
leave any settings as they are.
||A computer designed to sit on a desk (as opposed to a laptop). In Windows,
it also means the screen you see when you aren't running any programs,
with "My Computer", the Recycle Bin and so on.
||Literally "to do with numbers". Often used to describe a device using
computer technology to replace older, traditional technologies. For example,
a digital camera is one that stores images electronically rather than
on chemical film.
||(Dual In-line Memory Module;
pr. "dim") A module of RAM (memory) for a PC, replacing the older
||An area on a disk for storing files, particularly in DOS. Usually
called a folder in Windows.
||Generic term for a type of storage device, such as a hard disk
or a floppy disk (diskette). So called because the important
part, where the information is actually stored, is circular, although
you can't see it because it is hidden away inside a protective shell.
||Also known as a floppy disk. Called a diskette because it was smaller
than the original huge floppy disks, now long obsolete.
||(Domain Name Service/System) An internet
service that converts a human web address such as www.jonstorm.com
into the numeric address that computers use, called the IP
address. "Can't resolve DNS" usually means that this conversion
has failed and therefore the website can't be found.
||An internet address owned by a company, organisation or individual, such
as jonstorm.com, nasa.gov or bbc.co.uk. See also TLD.
||A small hardware device used for copy protection with some software.
The dongle must be plugged in to a port on the computer, often the printer
port, or the software won't function. They are often unpopular with users
because if the dongle gets lost or broken, the software won't function.
||(Disk Operating System;
pr. "doss") Usually refers to MS-DOS, which was the standard operating
system for PCs until Windows
95 came out, now pretty much obsolete. Controlled by typing in
text commands and has several serious limitations, but
less powerful computer
than Windows 95.
||(Denial of Service) A form
of attack on (usually) an internet service, which aims to prevent the service
from operating properly, often by bombarding it with more information than
it can process. See also Mailbomb.
||To transfer information (files) from a network (such as the Internet)
onto a user's PC. See also upload.
||(Dots Per Inch) A measure
of picture quality, often used to measure printer capabilities.
The higher the number, the better the quality.
||A small program used by the operating system to control hardware
such as a sound or video card. Often downloading the latest driver for
a device from the manufacturer's website will improve its functionality.
||(Digital Rights Management) Software
intended to prevent the unauthorised duplication of copyrighted video
or audio, usually built into a computer's operating system.
|Dual core, dual-core
||PC processors which have
two complete processors on the same chip, allowing computers to handle
multiple tasks faster. See also quad-core.
||A technology allowing two layers of data
to be written to a DVD instead of the usual one, thus increasing its
||(Digital Versatile Disk) A more advanced
version of the standard CD which can hold far more information, now standard
on most new PCs. Widely used for high-quality digital movies. DVD drives
can usually also read ordinary CDs.
|DVD RW, DVD Writer
||(Digital Versatile Disk ReWriter)
A DVD drive that can create ("write") rewriteable
DVDs. There are several competing formats at the moment, but most
recent drives support more than one format. It is likely that one of these
formats will become standard in time, but at
moment it is not clear which. To add to the confusion, they tend to have
very similar names : for example DVD+RW and DVD-RW are completely different
formats, and incompatible with each other.
||(Direct Video Interface)
A special type of connector for computer monitors, particularly flat panels.