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Technical terms, acronyms and jargon explained in clear English.

A useful list of terms you may find within this site and elsewhere on the Web.



An account consists of a user identification, password and access rights that have been granted.


The name Microsoft has given to a set of object-oriented technologies and tools. Enables interactive content on the Web, making sites using this technology comparable to CD-Roms in visual and interactive effect.


A unique identification - either an email address or web address.

ANSI Lumens

The way that projector brightness is measured. 'Lumens' is projected light and the higher the number the brighter the picture.


Another name for a software package. Microsoft Word, for example is an application, while Microsoft Office is a software suite, or collection of applications.


Active Server Page. An HTML page that includes scripts that are processed on a Microsoft Web server. An ASP can tailor the information presented to the user. A script on the Web page uses the information requested by the user to access data stored on the server to build a customised page.


Application Service Provider. A company that provides programs remotely accross the internet or a similar connection.


Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line. ADSL is a broadband Internet solution, that is one that offers in excess of 100Kbps network access. ADSL provides different upload and download speeds, and is faster at receiving information than sending it.



A measurement of the amount of information that can be transmitted over a network at a time. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can pass over the network. Bandwidth is measured in either bits per second (bps) or cycles per second (Hertz/Hz and megahertz/MHz). The greater the bps or Hertz, the wider the bandwidth, and the more data that can pass down a channel at any one time.

Boolean search

A manner of expressing a query on a search engine using Boolean operators (symbols like + - "") to refine your search.


A high-speed Internet connection, traditionally in excess of 100 Kbps. ISDN and ADSL are currently two popular broadband options.

Broadcast fax

Similar to a mail merge and using the same technology, a broadcast fax lets you send various people the same fax communication while personalising certain details.


A software package used to search information posted on the Web; Microsoft Internet Explorer is a good example.



The area in the memory of your computer where data can be stored for rapid access. In an internet context, when you return to a previously visited Web site your browser does not have to download the information all over again, but can access it from your cache. If you want to view recently updated material on a previously visited page you will often need to refresh that page so that you are not viewing a cached version.


Central Processing Unit. This commonly refers to one of two things, either the box that houses the main components of your computer or the microchip that it has been built around.

Client computer

A computer that accesses shared network resources provided by another computer (called a server). Also referred to as a workstation or client machine.

Client/server network

A type of network in which one computer, the server, acts as the central storage device for files and programs that can be accessed by PCs, or clients, on the network.


A block of data a web server stores on a client computer. Thereafter when a web user returns to the web site, the browser sends a copy of the cookie to the server. Cookies identify users, instruct the server to send a customized version of the requested web page, submit account data for the user, and fulfill other administrative purposes.


Dialog box

A window that appears temporarily to request information. You will usually need to acknowledge a dialog box before it will go away.

Dial-up connection

The most common type of internet connection where your computer is connected to an ISP via a standard telephone line.


Information is encoded using a binary system ("1" or "0") as opposed to analogue where information is encoded as a variable but continuous waveform.

DNS - Domain Name System

This is the system that translates internet domain names, like www.microsoft.com, into internet addresses, which are series of numbers (otherwise known as IP addresses). Without this system you would have to remember long lists of numbers if you wanted to look up Internet sites.

DNS - Domain Name Server

This is a computer or program that converts internet domain names into IP addresses.

Domain Name

Name of a web site's address.



Electronic commerce. The buying and selling of goods and services via the web. This can take the form of a virtual store or mall, business-to-business commerce, and the gathering and exchange of data. Virtual stores are open 24 hours a day and have a global reach. They can also provide custom information and ordering and provide opportunities for market research.


Electronic Data Interchange: exchanging information forms electronically, such as invoices and orders.


Electronic mail. A system by which messages can be sent and received electronically, via email software like Microsoft Outlook.


Encrypted data is not readable by those who are not authorised to read it.


If you have an intranet, you can turn part of it into an extranet by allowing customers, suppliers and other key people secure access to the areas they need.



Security technology that prevents unauthorised access to a company's network.


Frames per second. When a camera captures video it is actually capturing a series of still pictures called frames. The higher the number of frames displayed per second the smoother the video quality.


Frequently Asked Questions. A collection of questions and answers that are regularly asked about a specific subject or area.

Front Page Extensions (FPE)

FPE or Front Page Extensions is the software program used by the web server, in conjunction with Microsoft FrontPage, which allows your computer and the server to communicate with each other. It is used for forms and dynamic content.


File Transfer Protocol. A common way to move files between computers connected to the Internet and a popular way to upload web files.



This is a dedicated computer or a programme that routes information between networks until it gets to its destination.



Traditionally the collective name for the items that make up a PC, including the case and its hard drive, internal components, monitor, keyboard, mouse and monitor. Can also refer to equipment such as printers and scanners.

Home page

The main page of a web site and the first screen that a visitor sees displayed when connecting to that site; usually has links to other pages, both within that site and to other sites.


See web space.


HyperText Markup Language. The main programming language used to create web pages.


Embedded "hot spots" in Web pages that allow users to jump from one document to another document, regardless of where it "lives" on the internet.



1. The point at which a connection is made between two elements so that they can work with one another.

2. Software that enables a user to work with an application (otherwise known as the user interface, which can be a command-line interface, menu-driven, or a graphical user interface), with another application, such as the operating system, or with the computer's hardware.

3. A card, plug, or other device that connects pieces of hardware with the computer so that information can be moved from place to place.

4. A networking or communications standard that defines ways for different systems to connect and communicate.


Internet Protocol. When information is sent across the Internet it is broken up into tiny units of data that each speed along separate routes to their destination. These units are known as packets or IP datagrams. Along with TCP, IP is the most important of the Internet protocols, and allows information to travel from one place to another by the fastest possible route.

IP address

Internet Protocol address. The unique identifying number of each computer on the internet.


Integrated Services Digital Network. A system of digital high bandwidth telephone lines that allows data transfer at high speeds, and can carry data, audio and video signals.


Internet Service Provider. A company that provides you with a connection to the Internet.


A global networks connecting millions of computers. As of 1999, the internet has more than 200 million users worldwide, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 100 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions.


A network based on the same principles as the Internet, normally found within a corporate organisation. It allows employees and those with authorised access to exchange and share information. You can use an intranet to navigate between objects, documents, Web pages, and other destinations using hyperlinks.


Jaz drive

Drives used by many businesses to save and transport information on 1 or 2GB disks. Particularly good for storing and transporting files like digital video, DTP or CAD layouts and multimedia presentations.



Kilobits Per Second. A measurement of the amount of data that a network is capable of transmitting.


LAN - Local Area Network

A group of computers and other devices located within a small area and connected by a communications link that enables any device to interact with any other on the network. LANs commonly include computers, printers, internet connections and large hard disks.


Mail merge

Microsoft Word's mail merge feature lets you send multiple letters containing the same content to various people while personalising certain details.


A device that translates digital information into sound data that can be sent down a standard telephone line.



The term for a group of PCs connected via cabling and the software that allows those PCs to share and access information stored on other PCs, and users to share printers and other computer resources. Also see client/server network and peer-to-peer network.



Open Data Base Connectivity - a standard database access method developed by Microsoft. The goal of ODBC is to make it possible to access any data from any application, regardless of which database management system (DBMS) is handling the data.

Operating system

The program such as Microsoft Windows that makes all the elements within your PC work together.



Portable Document Format. A document that can be downloaded and then viewed in its original format. PDFs are created using Adobe Acrobat and used to electronically view a document that has been designed for print.

Peer-to-peer network

A network linking PCs to one another, with no central control or data store for the whole network.


The smallest element that can be displayed on a display screen or printed page; a single dot.

Post Office Protocol Email boxes (POP3)

Short for Post Office Protocol, a protocol used to retrieve email from a mail server. Most email applications (sometimes called email clients) use the POP protocol.


Point to Point Protocol. This is a method of connecting a computer to other computers and the internet via a modem and a standard telephone line.

Proxy server

This is a computer that caches information from other servers to make it easy for people from different locations to quickly access that information.



Random Access Memory. The area where information and programmes are temporarily stored while you work on them.


How image quality is measured. Resolution is measured in pixels (tiny dots), and is expressed according the number of pixels high by the number of pixels wide that it captures per frame. The larger the number of pixels the better the picture.


Search Engine

A program that searches documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

A protocol developed for transmitting private documents via the Internet, such as credit card numbers. Web pages that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http:

Serial port

A connection point on a PC that transmits data a bit at a time and is used modems and mice and other devices.


This commonly refers to the host computer on the internet or a network that answers requests for information. The term can also refer to the software that makes serving up the information possible.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is the standard protocol used to transfer email between servers on the Internet. Once the email is at its destination server another protocol like POP is used to transfer the mail from the server to individual computers.


Perform complex calculations using rows and columns of figures. Also used to carry out analysis, and produce graphs and charts (e.g. Microsoft Excel).

Structured Query Language (SQL)

Pronounced either “sequel” or as separate letters. SQL - a standardised query language for requesting information from a database.


Used in the context of searching for something on the internet. The application creates a list of possible word forms for a given word, commonly a verb. For example, stemming the word "swim" produces a list of word forms including "swimming" and "swam".


Tape drive

Tape drives store information to high-capacity cassette-type cartridges and are popular for backing up entire hard drives. They are the most common back-up devices for servers.


Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. The set of protocols developed by the US Department of Defence in the late 1970s to allow computers to talk to each other over long distance networks. Also see IP.


A way to use the internet as a telephonic communication medium. Some modems come with a microphone and a speaker so that you can use them as speakerphones to make phone calls.


In the context of creating a document, a predefined set of parameters that is applied to each new document you create.



Universal Serial Bus. A port used to connect a variety of devices, like printers, to your computer.


Address of a web site (stands for Uniform Resource Locator)


A programme that makes it easier to use a computer or another piece of software.



The standard since 1998 for 56K modems.


Virtual Private Network. This commonly refers to a network that is partly connected via the internet. The data sent across the internet is encrypted, so the network is almost entirely private, but not quite.



Wireless Application Protocol. Technology that allows you to access internet information, send and receive email and manage your calendar from your mobile phone.


Another name for a desktop videoconferencing camera.

Web space

This is the amount of space you choose to allocate to your web site.


An interactive help utility within an application that guides you through each step of a task.


World Wide Web: The system of special internet servers that support websites.


Zip drive

Drives commonly used to save information for transport from place to place. Zip disks come in 100MB and 250MB sizes.

Zip files & zipping

Zipping is when you package or compress a set of files into a single archive called a zip file. Compressing files in this way makes it easier to send them to other people over the internet. Zipped files end with .zip. Popular zip tools include WinZip for Windows, Zipit for Macintosh and UnZip for UNIX. Providing that you have the utility, you can typically double-click on a Zip file to uncompress and store the original files.

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