Computer Dictionary



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Please send any errors found to:
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Thanks!




A

AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port)

The Accelerated Graphics Port is a 32-bit connection running at 66MHz used to connect video cards to the motherboard. Video cards are also known as graphic cards. AGP cards are capable of higher and faster data transfer rates than PCI graphic cards. They connect the monitor to your computer. The AGP card and your monitor are what determine the quality of your screen's display.

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Analog

Continuous and without breaks. A steady uninterrupted flow. Analog is like water flowing in a stream. The opposite of analog is digital. Digital is non-continuous. Digital is like the rain that falls individually as separate drops.

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ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

A voluntary organization responsible for establishing computer industry standards.

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ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

A code that uses the numbers 1 through 127 to represent characters. This code enables the computer to transfer alphabetic, numeric, and symbolic characters to another computer. For example: With the ASCII code, the capitol letter "A" is represented by the number 65. The small letter "a" is represented by the number 97.

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AT (Advanced Technology)

AT refers to an older design of computers. The power supply, case, keyboard, and motherboard were designed specifically to be used with these types of computers.

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ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment)

A specification used for the connection of computer devices like hard drives and CD ROM's. The ATA specification supports data transfer rates of approximately 3.3MBs per second, and is limited to 538MBs per drive. Also known as IDE.

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ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended)

ATX refers to a design of computers. The power supply, case, and motherboard are designed specifically to be used with these types of computers.

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AVI (Audio Video Interleave)

The format for Microsoft's Video for Windows files. These files end with the ".avi" extension.

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B

BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)

An easier to learn programming language. It is ideal for the beginning programmer.

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Baud

The number of bits transmitted per second. This unit of measure is pretty accurate for lower data transfer rates. As the rates get faster, (over 1,200 bits per second), the accuracy drops. At higher baud rates, the transfer speed may be two bits per second, or even more. For this reason, transfer rates at higher speeds are normally given in bits per second (bps).

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BBS (Bulletin Board System)

Similar to a newsgroup. Users post and respond to messages posted on a bulletin board. Generally there is a topic for discussion.

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Binary

A system of numbers using only the two digits 1 and 0. A computer only understands binary information, known as machine language. Even though programs are written in C++, Assembly, Java, Basic, and etc., these programs eventually have to be translated into binary, (or machine language), so the computer can understand them. The binary numbering system, which is represented by 0, (for an "off" bit), and 1, (for an "on" bit), is not so hard to understand. Our normal numbering system is known as the decimal system. Binary 0000 = Decimal 0, Binary 0001 = Decimal 1, Binary 0010 = Decimal 2, Binary 0011 = Decimal 3, Binary 0100 = Decimal 4, Binary 0101 = Decimal 5, Binary 0110 = Decimal 6, Binary 0111 = Decimal 7, and so-on. The first place represents 8, the next 4, the next 2, and the last place represents 1. The numbers are multiplied by 2 for each position from right to left starting with the 2nd position from the right. If the first digit had been "on" and the rest were off like this: Binary 1000, the Decimal equivalent would have been 8, since the binary "8 position" would have been on. If all the positions for 8,4,2,and 1 were on like Binary 1111, the decimal equivalent would be 15, because 8+4+2+1 = 15. Binary 1010 = Decimal 10, because 8+0+2+0 = 10. What would 16 be? If you said Binary 10000 you were exactly right! Notice: (64x2=128), (32x2=64), (16x2=32), (8x2=16), (4x2=8), (2x2=4), (1x2=2), and finally the (1) position. This is all of the values for a binary number with 8 digits like binary 11110000, which equals Decimal 240, since 128+64+32+16+0+0+0+0 = 240. The maximum value for an 8 digit binary number is 255 (128+64+32+16+8+4+2+1). An 8 bit, (or digit), binary number is known as a byte. 00110011 is a byte just as 11000011 is a byte. They both just represent different binary numbers.

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BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)

BIOS is the computer's "built-in" operating system. It is always available even without battery power. When you first boot, (or turn on), your computer the BIOS is in charge. Once everything is functioning properly the BIOS turns the computer over to Windows or the primary operating system on your computer. When first starting your computer, (or booting), you are given the option of entering the BIOS setup. BIOS setup is where you can configure the components installed on your computer. This area is for advanced users only! The BIOS setup can cause your computer to go haywire if done wrong!

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Bit

A single on/off binary position. If the position is set to 1 the bit is "on." If the position is off the bit would be set to 0. 8 bits make a byte. (Now that makes me hungry!)

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BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich)

A great sandwich for all computer users! (Just felt like throwing that one in!) :-)

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BMP (Bit Mapped)

Graphic files ending with the ".bmp" extension. They are called "bit-mapped" because they are made up of a bunch of little on/off square bits, grouped together on a graphical map, composed of rows and columns. These bits are so tiny that we do not notice that they are squares. If you keep zooming in on the image eventually the squares will become visible.

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Browser

A program used to browse files. A Web browser browses Internet files. Both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are Web browsers.

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Bus

The connections between the computer's components. PCI busses are paths, (or connections), that connect the PCI slots to the Processor. Busses can be wires, paths, or any other type of electrical circuit used to connect one component to another.

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Byte

A group of 8 binary on/off bits. Bytes often have an extra bit known as a "parity bit" that is used for error checking. This type of byte actually has 9 bits instead of 8, but normally a byte is only thought of in terms of 8 bits.

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C

Cache

Memory that is readily available to the CPU. Level 1 Cache is located in the CPU itself. Level 2 Cache is located outside the CPU, but can still be accessed much faster than the RAM memory. The CPU stores commonly accessed data in its cache memory. This causes the processing cycle to be much quicker and more efficient.

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CAD (Computer-Aided Design)

CAD software is sophisticated graphical software used to design 3 dimensional objects. It is commonly used by drafting engineers and architects.

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CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory)

A compact disk player that reads compact disks. (Makes sense to me.) :-) CD-ROM disks can hold approximately 700MBs of data.

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CD-R (Compact Disk Recordable)

A compact disk player that can read compact disks and also record information to them. Although a CD-R drive can record information, it cannot erase it. A special CD-R disk is needed in order to record information.

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CD-RW (Compact Disk ReWritable)

A compact disk player that can read, record, erase, and rerecord information to and from compact disks. In order to use the rewrite feature one must use a special CD-RW disk.

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CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

Used to transfer information between a Web server and a CGI program. CGI programs are commonly written in PERL or C++. They can include JavaScript, HTML, and other languages also. The CGI program is stored on the WebSite's server computer. Normally it is in a directory called "cgi-bin" and runs from there and not on the user's computer. These programs are called "server-side" programs. Java applets, JavaScript, and ActiveX controls run from the user's computer and are referred to as "client-side."

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CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor)

CMOS is the memory used to store computer settings, time and date information, BIOS information, and any other information that must not be erased when the computer is turned off. CMOS memory usually relies on a small battery to provide continuous power while the computer is off.

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CODEC (COder/DECoder)

CODEC technology is included in software and hardware for coding and decoding data. MPEG is a common CODEC used for video data.

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COM (COMmunication port)

Refers to the serial communications ports. A computer normally has only two physical serial ports, but each has 2 serial communication ports: COM1, COM2, COM3, and COM4. Usually COM1 and COM3 relate to one serial port and COM2 and COM4 the other. In order to use two devices on the same serial port they both must be set to different COM's. COM's on the same serial port can never be used at the same time or an error will most likely occur.

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Compiler

A program that converts higher level languages, (non-binary), into lower level machine language, (binary). A computer can only understand machine language. Humans can understand both, but due to the complexity and difficulties of machine language, (all 1's and 0's), humans better understand the higher level languages like C++, Java, Basic, etc. The higher the language level, the easier it is to understand. Visual Basic is a higher level language than C++ and is easier to understand. A high level language may have something like this: variable1 = variable2, which simply causes variable1 to be equal to variable2. This is much easier to understand than several lines of: 00110011, 11000101, 11110000... Compilers convert the much easier to understand high level languages into machine language that the computer understands.

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CPU (Central Processing Unit)

Often referred to as the brain of a computer. The central processing unit, or CPU, with its level 1 cache memory, contains the control unit and the arithmetic/logic unit, both working together as a team to process the computer's commands. The control unit controls the flow of events inside the processor. It fetches instructions from memory and decodes them into commands that the computer can understand. The arithmetic/logic unit handles all of the math calculations and logical comparisons. It takes the commands from the control unit and executes them, storing the results back into memory. These 4 steps, (fetch, decode, execute, and store), are what's called the "machine cycle" of a computer. These 4 basic steps are how the computer runs each and every program. The microprocessor's level 1 cache memory, is memory that is contained within the CPU itself. It stores the most frequently used instructions and data. The CPU can access the cache memory much faster than having to access the RAM, (or Random Access Memory). Level 1 cache memory is usually smaller and faster than level 2 cache memory. Level 2 cache memory is memory between the RAM and CPU. It is used when the level 1 cache memory is full or is too small to hold the intended data. Originally it was not directly on the CPU chip itself, although today, it normally is. The Clock Driver is what times and sets the pace for the computer. The clock's speed is how CPUs are rated. Each machine cycle consists of two beats. Each beat the Control Unit fetches and decodes data. This is the Instruction Cycle. At the same time the Arithmetic/Logic Unit executes and stores data. This is called the Execution Cycle. The speed of the clock is rated by how many beats per second it can accomplish. 1 million beats per second is referred to as 1Mhz. For every beat, (except the very first), a machine cycle is completed. Common CPUs available today perform at 550Mhz and faster. This means that a 550Mhz CPU can execute 550,000,000 instructions in a single second!

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CRT (Cathode-Ray Tube)

More commonly known as a "Picture Tube," the CRT is what most televisions and monitors use for their display screens.

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D

Data

Simply another name for information. While data is correctly known as bits of electronic information stored for computer use, it can also be information written on paper, information stored in our heads, or any other type of information.

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Database

A collection of data. A filing system capable of accepting data. Normally referred to as a well organized and easily accessible computer filing system containing a collection of information. A database can also be a file cabinet or any other item that stores data.

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Dedicated Line

Also known as a dedicated channel. A line or channel dedicated for a specific purpose. A dedicated phone line for a computer would be a phone line reserved for the computers use only.

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DHTML (Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language)

A variation of HTML that allows much better movement, manipulation, and interactivity with WebPages. A user is able to interact with DHTML WebPages without having to go through the Web server. With DHTML better WebPages video games and other things are possible than with regular HTML.

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Digital

Non-continuous. Computers are digital. They process information bits at a time. Computers can convert analog information into digital information for processing then back into analog again. A sound card can take your voice, (analog), convert it into digital, (for processing), then convert it back into analog again, playing it through the speakers. A digital clock is a good example of how digital information is handled. The numbers on the clock go from one to the next, stopping for a split second in-between. Clocks with hands move continuously in a slow and steady circular motion, (analog). They never stop moving unless the power goes out.

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DIMM (Dual In-Line Memory Module)

A memory expansion card that has several memory chips. There are contact points on both sides of this type of module. The contact points are not connected.

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DLL (Dynamic Link Library)

DLL files are used by programs to access commonly needed functions used with Windows. Programmers use them to eliminate having to write extra code. These files are often shared between many different programs. The winsock.dll file is one example. Programmers can use the winsock.dll functions to eliminate having to write a tremendous amount of extra code to connect to different types of modems, configure the connection, specify protocols that will be used, and many other things. Instead they may only need to write one line of code as simple as "openWinsock1." A few more lines of code will probably be needed to complete the connection, but by using the winsock.dll file the programmer has eliminated having to write hundreds, if not thousands, of extra lines of code.

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DMA (Direct Memory Access)

DMA refers to accessing the computer's main memory from a device, (like a hard drive), without having to go through the central processing unit.

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DMI (Desktop Management Interface)

DMI enables programs to collect information about the computer environment. It can obtain information like what kind of hardware or programs are installed on a computer.

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DNS (Domain Name System)

The naming system used on the Internet to identify WebSites. The domain name for Kids Online is: www.kids-online.net.

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DOS Disk Operating System

An older 16 bit operating system. DOS is still available on most computers, but people rarely use it today. Computer technicians often use it to access a computer that is having problems starting normally. With time, DOS will probably become obsolete.

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DPI (Dots Per Inch)

A standard for measuring the quality of an image's resolution. The more dots per inch that an image has the better the picture quality. Commonly used when talking about monitors or printers.

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DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)

This memory module type is the most commonly used. DRAM holds data only for a short period of time before having to refresh itself.

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DS/DD (Double Sided/Double Density)

A double-sided computer disk is capable of being recorded to on both sides. A double-density computer disk can be formatted to store twice the information of a single-density disk. A 3.5-inch DS/DD disk can hold 720k of data. These disks are now fairly obsolete.

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DS/HD (Double Sided/High Density)

Computer disks commonly used today are the 3.5-inch DS/HD disks. They are capable of holding 1.44Mb of information and can be recorded to on both sides. High-density disks can store twice the information that a double-density disk can.

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Dumb Terminal

A keyboard and monitor hooked to a remote computer. The dumb terminal can send and receive information, but it lacks the ability to alter the primary computer's information. It cannot process data or store data by itself. It can only enter, transmit, receive, and display data.

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DVD (Digital Video ( or Versatile) Disk)

DVD disks are capable of storing from 4.7GB to 17GB of data. Eventually DVD drives will replace CD-ROM drives that store much less information.

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E

EBCDIC (Extended Binary-Coded Decimal Interchange Code)

An IBM code, like the ASCII code, for representing characters with numbers. It allows character data to be transferred via computer. Most computers use the ASCII code.

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ECC (Error Correction Code)

A form of error checking used with DRAM memory modules. Unlike parity error checking, using only one bit per byte to check for errors, ECC normally uses three additional bits per byte. It is capable of detecting multiple bit errors and fixing single bit errors.

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EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)

Normally used by businesses, EDI is the direct electronic exchange of information from one computer to another using networks.

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EDO (Extended Data Out)

A type of DRAM that allows the CPU to access main memory several times faster than previous types could.

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EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory)

EEPROM is memory that retains its data without any power source. EEPROM is erasable and rewritable, even though the abbreviation suggests it is read only.

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EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics)

An interface used by different types of disk drives. This interface is around 4 times faster than the older IDE interface. EIDE supports hard drives up to 8.4GB. It can transfer data up to 16.6MBs per second. Also known as ATA-2 and a later revision ATA-3.

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EISA (Extended Industry Standard Architecture)

EISA slots connect EISA cards to the motherboard. EISA is a 32-bit interface that operates at speeds up to 8.33MHz. EISA is a later version of the older ISA technology. The 32 and 64-bit PCI interface operates at 33Mhz and 66Mhz. It is has replaced the slower and less efficient EISA interface.

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E-mail (Electronic Mail)

The electronic transmission of messages over communication networks like the Internet.

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EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory)

EPROM stores its information until it is erased with an ultraviolet light. Once Erased, EPROM must be reprogrammed using a special PROM burner.

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F

FAT (File Allocation Table)

The table used by the computer to find files on the hard drive and/or disks. FAT keeps track of all the disks files. It is located at the beginning of a disk just after the boot sector. The FAT32 system replaced the older FAT16. NTFS is another file system used by Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. The last time FAT32 was standardly used was with Windows ME, but Windows 2000 and XP are capable of supporting it as well.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

A document often found on the Internet that is used to answer frequently asked questions.

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Fiber Optics

A technology that will soon replace telephone wires. Fiber optic cables have fishing line type threads, (or fibers), that carry data in the form of light beams. This data travels at the speed of light. It not only is much faster than wired transmission, it is also capable of digital transmission and can carry much more data. Digital data is the natural form of data used by computers.

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FIFO (First In, First Out)

FIFO usually refers to a method of storing information. Drink cans are stacked on top of each other inside of a drink machine. When the drinks are first loaded the first drink placed in the machine goes to the bottom of the dispenser. The first drink purchased will be the first that was put into the machine.

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FPU (Floating-Point Unit)

Floating-Point Units are special chips that perform math calculations for the microprocessor. Earlier versions were known as Math Coprocessors and were usually located separate from the central processing unit. Microprocessors now have both the FPU and CPU (Central Processing Unit) built into the same chip together.

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FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

An Internet protocol for sending and receiving files via the Internet.

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G

GB (Gigabyte)

A gigabyte is 1 billion bytes. To be precise, a gigabyte is actually 1,073,741,824 bytes, (or 2 raised to the 30th power).

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GHz (Gigahertz)

A gigahertz is one billion cycles per second.

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GIF (Graphical Interchange Format)

A compressed bit-mapped graphics file that is compatible for use over the Internet. GIF files are recognized by the ".gif" extension. Normally, image files with less than 256 colors are best used on the Internet as GIF's. If the image has over 256 colors the JPG format is usually best.

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Green PC

A computer that manages power consumption by monitoring certain devices is referred to as a Green PC. If certain devices are not required the computer will shut down power to them. Sleep mode is also supported. In sleep mode the computer will power down automatically after an extended period of inactivity.

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GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Graphics that aid the user in using computer programs or applications making things much simpler. Before GUI's commands had to be typed in. Now a person can simply double click an icon to do the same thing. Pointers, menus, pop-up dialogs, icons, and etc., are all part of the GUI. The Windows operating system is a good example of a GUI.

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H

Hardware

The physical components of a computer. Computer items that you can see and touch. Disks, keyboards, monitors, chips, computers, wires, and etc., are all hardware items.

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HDTV (High Definition Television)

HDTV uses digital signals for video output. A standard television uses analog signals. HDTV has much better resolution than regular television. Computer monitors operate with digital signals, but not all monitors are HDTV. HDTV screens are normally thin and flat.

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HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

The standard language used for creating WebPages or other HTML files.

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HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

The standard used to transfer WebPages on the Internet.

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Hz (Hertz)

A famous car rental company. :-) Actually, when referring to technology, a hertz is one frequency cycle per second.

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I

Icon

A part of the graphical user interface, (or GUI), used to represent programs and other items. When clicked, the icon opens its corresponding application. Icons are images normally designed to resemble something that will remind you of what the program is or does.

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IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics)

An IDE interface is a drive interface controlled from the drive itself. The IDE interface supports data transfer rates of approximately 3.3MBs per second, and is limited to 538MBs per drive. Also known as ATA.

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IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)

The IEEE organization is responsible for determining the standards for much of the computer and electronic industry.

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INI (Information Necessary for Initialization)

INI files are text files containing information necessary for initializing a corresponding program or application.

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I/O (Input/Output)

I/O refers to the process of entering and extracting data to and from a computer. Scanners, keyboards, cameras, and mice are examples of items used for input. Monitors, printers, and speakers, are examples of output devices. Floppy disks, hard disk drives, CD-RW drives, and memory are capable of both inputting and outputting information.

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IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)

An IP Address is used to identify a specific computer using the Internet. An IP Address consists of 4 numeric parts. The first part denotes the geographic region where the computer is located. The second part identifies the company or organization the computer is linked to. The third part reveals the computer group network. The fourth and final part identifies the specific computer the user is connected to.

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IPX/SPX (Internet Packet eXchange/Sequenced Packet eXchange)

IPX/SPX is a data transport protocol used by Novell NetWare networks to exchange information on networks.

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IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

IRC is an Internet activity that enables people to send and receive messages using an IRC chat program.

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IrDA Port (Infrared Data Association Port)

An IrDA port allows a user to send information from one device, (or computer), to another without any physical connection. Information is sent using infrared light waves. The data transfer rate is about the same as with parallel ports.

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IRQ (Interrupt ReQuest line)

A computer contains many components that must communicate directly with the central processor. Components must request an interruption when they wish to send information to the processor. If several components try to send their information at the same time the processor will not be able to handle it. It often will cause the computer to make an error or crash. IRQ settings must be made so that no two devices send data at the same time.

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ISA (Industry Standard Architecture)

ISA slots connect ISA cards to the motherboard. ISA is an 8 or 16-bit interface that operates at speeds of up to 8.33MHz. EISA or Extended ISA is a later 32-bit interface. Although the faster 32 and 64-bit PCI technology has replaced the slower ISA interface, Some sound cards, modems, and other expansion cards can still be found using the older ISA technology.

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ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)

A communication standard that uses special digital telephone lines to transfer data at speeds of 64,000 bits per second per channel. Many ISDN users have 2 of these 64kbps channels and are capable of transferring data at 128kbps. This is much faster than a standard 56kbps telephone connection that often operates even slower than that due to the limitations of telephone services in different locations.

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Interface

An interface is an item that connects two or more individual items. A User Interface connects the computer user to the computer. Keyboards, mice, icons, and menus, are examples of user interface items. A Device Interface connects a device to the computer.

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J

JavaScript

A scripting language that is an extremely useful companion to HTML for WebPages. JavaScript code is very similar to C++ and Java. It is a great language for advanced WebPage designers to learn. With JavaScript one can write video games and many other things not possible with standard HTML. All you need to write JavaScript is the Windows Notepad application or any other text application.

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JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A compressed image format with the ".jpg" or ".jpeg" extension, (most commonly ".jpg"). This format is especially useful for Internet image files because of its smaller size. An image is normally best saved as a JPEG type when it has over 256 colors. If an image has less than 256 colors and you are going to use in on the Internet it is normally better to save it as a GIF type.

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K

KB (Kilobyte)

A kilobyte is one thousand bytes. To be precise, a kilobyte is actually 1,024 bytes, (or 2 raised to the 10th power).

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KHz (Kilohertz)

A kilohertz is one thousand frequency cycles per second.

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L

LAN (Local Area Network)

A small network, (connection of computers), covering a specific area. A bank would most likely be set up on a LAN.

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LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

Liquid Crystal Display screens output graphical data to a video screen that uses a liquid crystal solution to display the information. LCD screens are normally very thin and have a flat viewing surface. Notebook computers have LCD screens.

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LIFO (Last In, First Out)

LIFO usually refers to a method of storing information. Using the Stack method of storage, data is placed on top of a stack and removed from the top of the stack when needed. Using a stack of CD's as an example, when you're through listening to a CD you place it on top of the stack. When your ready to listen to a CD again you must first pick up the last CD you placed on the stack before listening to any other CD.

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Logon

The process of entering a user name and/or password to gain access to a computer system.

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LPT (Line Printer Terminal)

A name used to identify a printer port. Although computers usually have three LPT printer ports available, (LPT1, LPT2, and LPT3), most computers with only one printer will use the LPT1 port.

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M

MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface)

MAPI is a Windows operating system application that allows the user to distribute and read email between different email programs.

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MB (Megabyte)

A megabyte is 1 million bytes. To be precise, a megabyte is actually 1,048,576 bytes, (or 2 raised to the 20th power).

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MHz (Megahertz)

A megahertz is one million frequency cycles per second.

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MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

A musical file with the ".mid" or ".midi" extension. MIDI's are musical files in digital form. The computer is able to process midi files quickly, since they do not have to be converted from analog form. MIDI files are much smaller in size than most any other musical files. This makes them an excellent choice for Internet use.

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MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second)

A computer's speed is often measured by how many million instructions per second, (or MIPS), it can perform. The CPU is responsible for decoding each instruction.

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Modem (Derived from: {Mo}dulation/{Dem}odulation)

A modem converts the computers digital data into analog data, allowing it to be transmitted across telephone wires that can carry only analog signals. The modem also converts the incoming analog data back into digital data so that the computer will be able to understand it. A modem's speed is rated in bits per second, (or bps). A 56k modem is capable of handling 56,000 bits per second, although phone lines often restrict the data flow to about 28.8k. This forces a 56k modem to only be able to transmit and receive at 28.8k. Modulation converts digital pulses into analog waves for sending, (or transmitting) data. Demodulation is the process of converting the received analog carrier waves back into their original digital pulses.

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Motherboard (Also called: Mainboard)

The main circuit board that connects all of the computer's components together. Everything connected to the computer, whether inside or out, communicates either directly or indirectly with the motherboard. The CPU can be found at the heart of every motherboard.

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MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group)

A leading group responsible for the standards used with compressed full motion audio/video files. MPEG files are recognized by the: ".enc", ".m1v", ".mp2", ".mp3", ".mpa", ".mpe", ".mpeg", ".mpg", ".mpv2", and other extensions. The MPEG movie file format is a very good quality file format that is close to VCR quality. The MP3 music file format is another high quality file format that is close to CD quality.

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mV (MilliVolt)

A millivolt is one thousandth, (or .001), of a volt.

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mW (MilliWatt)

A milliwatt is one thousandth, (or .001), of a watt.

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N

Network

A network is simply two or more computers linked together.

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ns (Nanosecond)

A nanosecond is one billionth of a second. In more simple terms, "It's pretty darn fast!" :-) It is commonly used to specify the amount of time it takes to access data.

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NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory)

NVRAM is memory that is preserved by battery power while the computer is off. NVRAM usually contains information like setup settings and other user settings that need to be remembered each time the computer is booted.

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O

OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

OCR programs allow text from items like pictures or magazine pages to be converted into editable text that is useable in text based applications like MS Word or Notepad.

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ODBC (Open DataBase Connectivity)

ODBC provides compatibility between different programs and database management systems, (or DBMS), that are ODBC compliant. A special database driver is needed as a mediator between the program and the DBMS. The DBMS must be capable of receiving ODBC commands. The program must also be capable of sending them.

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OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

An OEM computer product is usually considerably cheaper than the boxed version of the same item. An OEM product is quite often packaged only in a plastic bag or plain box. Sometimes no manuals or installation instructions are included. The manufacturer may also not provide any product support. Sometimes the software necessary for installation must be downloaded from the Internet as well.

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OLE (Object Linking and Embedding)

OLE allows a user to create an object with one program and embed it into another, while the object retains its original format.

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OS (Operating System)

The software that manages your computer environment. Windows XP is an example of an operating system.

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P

Parity Bit

A single bit that is added to a byte of memory in order to check for errors. A byte is composed of 8 bits. Counting the parity bit, a byte is actually composed of 9 bits. Sometimes there is more than one parity bit per byte.

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PC (Personal Computer)

A personal computer conforming to IBM PC standards. While the technical term refers only to IBM PC compatible computers, it commonly refers to almost any "personal" computer.

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PC 100

PC 100 refers to motherboards with 100Mhz bus speeds. Memory modules need to be PC 100 compatible in order to work properly with this technology.

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PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)

PCI slots connect 32-bit and 64-bit PCI expansion cards to the motherboard. PCI cards send and receive data at speeds of 33Mhz for 32-bit cards and 66Mhz for 64-bit cards.

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PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association)

The PCMCIA is responsible for the development of the credit card size PC expansion cards. These cards are used to provide additional memory, network connections, additional drives, and other things for notebook computers. To install a PCMCIA card you simply plug it into a PCMCIA slot located on the computer, normally without even rebooting. To uninstall a PCMCIA card you just unplug it.

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PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)

A PDA is a small handheld computer that uses a special pen for inputting data. These small computers, while not as powerful as most standard computers, have most of the basic functions of a regular computer. Many PDAs also allow access to the Internet and can send and receive faxes, email, and even telephone calls. Also known as "palm", "handheld", and "pocket" computers.

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PICT (PICTure)

A type of image file compatible with the Internet. PICT files end with the ".pct" or ".pict" extension. These files are not as common as JPEG or GIF files.

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PIM (Personal Information Manager)

A device or program that manages notes, appointments, phone numbers, addresses, calendars, calculations, or other helpful day to day tasks. A PIM is not as powerful as a PDA.

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PIN

A small pin-like connection used on circuit boards, chips, or other hardware to make a connection to a jumper or socket.

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Plug-In

A helper application for a program that expands the program's capabilities. Web browsers are a good examples of programs that use plug-ins. Macromedia's Shockwave plug-in allows Web browsers to display Shockwave files.

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PnP (Plug and Play)

PnP refers to a computer having the ability of automatically configuring device settings for a component without the user having to make any manual adjustments. A computer without a PnP operating system has to be configured manually with the BIOS setup program and/or by setting jumpers located on the device and/or motherboard. Most all versions of Windows are PnP. Most all of today's hardware is PnP also.

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POST (Power On Self Test)

A computer goes through POST each time it is booted before loading Windows or any other operating system. POST is a test run by the BIOS. It is the first thing a computer does when you turn it on. It checks the memory, connected devices, expansion cards, and other items. It then compares the results with previously stored information on the CMOS chip.

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PPP (Point to Point Protocol)

A protocol that provides a connection to the Internet. It is used to send and receive information.

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PROM (Programmable Read Only Memory)

PROM can only be programmed one time and can never be erased. PROM is programmed with a special PROM burner, (also known as a PROM programmer). Unlike ROM that comes preprogrammed, PROM is completely blank when manufactured.

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Protocol

A format which is agreed upon and recognized as a method of data transmission between two or more computers.

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Q

Query

The process of requesting information.

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Queue

A storage area where tasks wait to be processed by the computer or other device. In simplest terms it is a waiting line. Items normally come out of the queue in the same order they went in, although certain items with a higher priority may get to cut line. (That's not fair!) :-)

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R

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks)

RAID level 1, (Or RAID 1), storage systems use 2 identical hard drives that are created containing the same information. This type of RAID operation is called mirroring and provides a backup copy of the first drive. RAID level 5, (or RAID 5), uses 3 or more hard drives. Information is written to each drive simultaneously. This provides quicker disk access. Parity information is also written to each hard drive. This parity information is used to recreate lost data on a drive should it fail and need to be replaced. This type of RAID operation is called striping with distributed parity. There are several other RAID levels, but these 2 are among the ones most commonly used.

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RAM (Random Access Memory)

Memory that the computer readily reads from and writes to. Once the computer is turned off the RAM is erased.

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RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer)

A RISC CPU contains fewer instructions than a non-RISC CPU. One might think the RISC CPU would be inferior to the non-RISC CPU, but actually a RISC CPU is faster because of the fewer instructions. Many of the eliminated instructions are deemed fairly obsolete. One disadvantage of the RISC CPU is that it makes software more complex, because the software has to work around the eliminated instructions.

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RGB (Red Green Blue)

Red, green, and blue, are the three colors an RGB monitor uses to create full color images. Combining red and green makes yellow. Red and blue combine to make magenta, a purplish color. By varying the proportions and combinations of each color the color possibilities are virtually endless.

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RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)

The number of times an object rotates completely in a 60 second time period.

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RPS (Revolutions Per Second)

The number of times an object rotates completely in 1 second. Sometimes it is denoted as r/s.

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RTC (Real Time Clock)

The computer's RTC keeps track of time even while the computer is off. The clock is powered by a small battery located on the motherboard.

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ROM (Read Only Memory)

Computer memory that never changes. ROM memory contains data that is permanently recorded on the ROM chip. ROM is memory that is normally never erased or altered. It is for reading only. Unlike RAM, ROM retains its data even when the power is off or disconnected.

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S

SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface)

The SCSI interface has many different variations. Some of the SCSI interfaces allow up to 15 devices to be connected to a single SCSI port. Ultra320 SCSI-3 can transmit data up to 320MB per second.

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SDK (Software Developers Kit)

A kit containing programs, program code, files, tools, documentation, and other components that help a programmer develop software.

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SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory)

Using a clock, the SDRAM module synchronizes the data transfer rate to the CPU with the CPU's clock. SDRAM modules are about 25% faster than EDO modules, because they are able to send and receive data in sync.

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Serial Device

A device like a keyboard or mouse that transmits data one bit at a time.

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Server

A computer that serves other computers connected to it. When you go to a WebSite you are connecting to that site's Web server computer. The Web server computer is what delivers, (or serves), the WebPages.

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SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language)

HTML is said to have been derived from SGML. Both languages, while somewhat different, use similar tags and have many other similarities. SGML is nowhere near as widely used as HTML: the most common Internet language.

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SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module)

A memory expansion card that has several memory chips. There are contact points on both sides of this type of module. The contact points are connected from one side to the other.

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SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol)

A protocol that provides a connection to the Internet. It is used to send and receive information.

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SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

A standard used to send electronic mail between computers.

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Software

The actual program itself. It does not refer to the disk. A disk is hardware, but the program contained on the disk is software. Software can't be seen.

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Spam

Spam is a term referring to mass email forwarded messages, junk email, email hoaxes, and etc. Spam is especially bad, because it bogs down the Internet with unwanted junk email making it slower for us to download files or access WebPages.

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SPOOLing (Simultaneous Peripheral Operation OnLine)

The method of placing tasks in a waiting buffer and accessing them once the task in front of them has been completed. Once a task has been placed in the buffer, the task is saved. If the task is waiting to be printed and the program that sent the task to the buffer closes the task will still get printed.

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SQL (Structured Query Language)

An extremely popular database management language. SQL is used to request data from a database.

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SRAM (Static Random Access Memory)

SRAM does not need to be refreshed as often as DRAM. SRAM is accessible at speeds of about 10 nanoseconds, as opposed to a much slower rate of around 60 nanoseconds with DRAM.

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SS/SD (Single Sided, Single Density)

An older disk type that could only be recorded to on one side. Single density disks can only store half the amount of information a double density disk can.

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SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array)

SVGA monitors support 16 million colors and an 800 x 600 resolution.

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T

TB (Terabyte)

A terabyte is 1 trillion bytes. To be precise, it's actually 1,009,511,627,776 bytes, (or 2 raised to the 40th power).

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TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)

A standard used for transmitting data over the Internet. TCP and IP are actually 2 different standards, but they are used together. TCP/IP is the most widely accepted standard for transmitting data between computers.

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TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

An image file format that stores bit-mapped images. The format supports any resolution or color scheme. These files usually have the ".tif" extension. They are compatible with both PC and Macintosh computers.

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TWAIN (Technology Without An Interesting Name)

This is the standard used for scanners and digital imaging devices. A TWAIN driver is normally included with a scanner, webcam, digital camera, or other digital imaging device.

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U

UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter)

The UART manages serial communications. Serial ports are managed by a UART. A modem also has a UART to handle its transmissions.

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UNIX (UNiplexed Information and Computing Service)

Originally called UNICS, UNIX is a smaller multitasking operating system with excellent networking capabilities that can be installed on almost any computer.

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UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)

A UPS prevents a computer from shutting off in the event of a power outage. The computer and other components are plugged into the UPS, which has a battery capable of providing power for several minutes. This gives the user time to shut the computer down properly and not loose any of his or her current work. Most UPS units come with software that will close programs and shut the computer down automatically.

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URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

The address of documents and resources on the Internet. Every item on the Internet has an address. A Web browser uses the URL to retrieve its intended target.

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USB (Universal Serial Bus)

USB is a 4 pin interface capable of connecting up to 127 devices that operate at transfer speeds up to 12Mbits per second. USB technology is significantly faster than a regular serial port. Devices can be plugged in and installed without shutting the computer down. USB is plug and play compliant. It is also one of the easiest ports for adding expansion devices.

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V

VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association)

The group responsible for developing video display standards.

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VGA (Video Graphics Array)

VGA monitors support 262,144 different colors and a resolution of 640 x 480.

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VIRUS

A program that replicates itself and spreads throughout your computer or network. A virus usually remains hidden in another program or object and depends on a person to activate it. The virus normally will contain a routine that will destroy files, modify data, open up unwanted access to a computer, hog all your memory, or do anything that is possible with a computer program. Viruses only damage software and cannot destroy hard drives, monitors, or anything else like that as commonly rumored.

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VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language)

A language used to create 3-dimensional virtual worlds, (or objects), that can be used on the Internet. VRML can be written with notepad or any another text program. VRML files have the ".wrl", ".wrz", ".vrml", or ".wrb" extension. A VR world usually has a life-like environment that is designed to be as realistic as possible. A user can move about and interact within this VR environment.

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W

WAIS (Wide Area Information Server)

A primitive program for locating files on the Internet.

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WAN (Wide-Area Network)

A network of computers that span a large geographical area. The Internet is a wide area network.

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WAV (WAVeform)

The Waveform sound format is used for many audio files. These files are recognized by the ".wav" extension. Most of the standard Windows sound files are WAV files.

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WORM (Write Once, Read Many)

An optical disk technology that allows information to be recorded only once. The disks can store anywhere from 600MB to over 3GB of information. The negative aspect of the WORM disk technology is that only the same type of drive that recorded the data is able to read it.

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WWW (World Wide Web)

A group of Internet server computers linked to each other all around world. These computers serve documents and files that have links allowing you to jump from one location on the Web to another. Some Internet servers are not part of the World Wide Web.

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WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)

WYSIWYG text applications display text exactly as it will appear when printed.

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X

XON/XOFF

A protocol used for controlling the flow of data between computers and other devices.

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XOR (eXclusive OR)

The XOR operator is a true/false Boolean operator that returns true if its two operands have different values.

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XT (eXtended Technology)

A PC capable of running a hard drive is considered an XT. This is an older obsolete technology.

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Y

Y Connector

A Y shaped cable which plugs into a single terminal. The terminal is then capable of connecting two devices instead of one.

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Z

ZIP

A very popular method of compressing a file, making it much smaller in size and capable of being transferred from one computer to another more quickly. ZIP files are recognized by the ".zip" extension.

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