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Technical Terms

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56K Line
A digital phone-line connection (leased line) capable of carrying 56,000 bits per second. At this speed, a megabyte will take about 3 minutes to transfer. This is 4 times as fast as a 14,400bps modem.

Access provider
See Service Provider

ADN (Advanced Digital Network)
Usually refers to a 56K bps leased-line.

1. Software programmes - Word processors, spreadsheets, web browsers etc.
2. Practical uses for hardware and software.

This is an application that can find files stored on anonymous FTP sites.
Search using `key` words and archie will scurry off and return later with a list of files that match your exact file name, sub-string, word or description on all the ftp sites in the world

Anonymous FTP

ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Administration Network)
Developed in the late 60's and early 70's by the US Department of Defense as a military experiment Wide Area Networks in that would survive a nuclear war. The Internet is a descendant of the ARAPANet

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
The de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111. Some character sets use slightly different versions of this, more suited to their alphabets.

A file that you inlcude as part of an E-mail

A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.

The measure of how much information can travel down a connection, a cable or a modem. Cables may be segmented For modems, 2400 bits per second is slow, 14,400 is OK, 28,800 what to aim for, anything else is boasting. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.

Baud Rate (BPS, bits per second)
A unit to measure the speed a modem transmits information, the more bits it can transfer, the faster the modem. The terms BAUD and BPS are often (incorrectly) interchanged. Technically, BAUD refers to the number of changes in the electrical signal and at high rates, the BAUD RATE and BPS are not the same.

BBS (Bulletin Board System)
A computerised meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time. There are many thousands of BBS's around the world and many are very small, running on a single PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. Some are very large - for example a system like Compuserve may be loosely described as a bulletin board.
A copy of an application which has not completed testing by the manufacturer, but may be on the market already. Usually free.

Base 2 number counting system with just ones and zeros that computers use. Binary files can contain graphics, sounds, video, programs or other information.

Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal)
A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet E-mail can only handle ASCII.

Bit (Binary DigIT)
A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits per second

BITNET (Because It's Time Network)
A network of educational sites on IBM machines separate from the Internet, but email
is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. The network is shrinking. Listservs, the most popular form of email discussion groups, originated on BITNET.

Marker that indicates a spot or web page you want to return to.

When an email is returned to you because of delivery problems

Browser (Web Browser)
The software that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources, including web pages.The two main browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer or more commonly Netscape Navigator. They enable you to move around the Internet just by clicking the arrow on the screen on highlighted bits of text (see Hypertext Links). It can also be used to do a lot of other things too like FTP and Gopher.

BTW (By the way)
An abbreviation used in online discussions and email messages

A set of 8 bits that represent a single character.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
This is a programming language for servers. Instead of retrieving a web page for you, the server runs a program (written in CGI) which may write a new page on the fly, send you an email or register you on a database.

Communications Software
A program that handles the business of computer to computer communications. It allows you to set up your modem, dial out to another computer, write messages and send and receive information. Many times it is packaged within other software (Windows, Works, Word). Also called modem software, comm software or term software.What you need on your computer to use a modem. The good news, much is free or shareware.

A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of server programs.

If two pieces of computer hardware or software are able to communicate with each other, they are said to be compatible. The Internet is designed so that all information passed on it can be accessed by any computer.

Reducing the size of a file so that it becomes cheaper to store and transmit. Compression techniques are used in files on the Internet to speed up download times

Commercial online service that provides many Internet services and online support for computer products. See Service Provider

A live, online discussion. See IRC

Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel "Neuromancer", the word Cyberspace is currently (over-) used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.

Dial-up access
An online service which can be accessed by dialling a number on the telephony network

Digital Cash (Ecash, Electronic Cash)
Money that only exists as information. A way to pay for goods over the Internet.

Domain Name
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine. Usually, all of the machines on a given network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names. Domain Name can exist as aliases These web pages are accessed as, even though they resides on a server which also has the name This is done so that a group or business can have an Internet email address without having to establish a real Internet site.

DNS (Domain Name Server)
A program which converts a domain name into a unique numerical address or IP Number

Copying or retrieving a file (text, picture, photo or sound files etc.) from another computer or an online service to your computer over the Internet. Beware, that doesn't mean it's now on your hard disc - you must then save it if you want to keep it.

E-mail (Electronic Mail, email, Email)
The most widely used part of the Internet, email is private messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer links. An email can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses anywhere in the world almost instantaneously and requires no postage - see MailingList

E-mail address
This is where your "mailbox" is. If you have a user id you have an address. (e.g. or It works the way as a P.O. Box, except that to collect your mail, you just need to connect to the computer in which your mailbox resides. (e.g. pavilion)

A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits per second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.

The most popular email software program for reading and writing, receiving and sending email messages.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject and are written by people who have tired of answering the same question over and over. When using online services, it is a sign of respect for other users that you try to answer a question yourself first, by checking the FAQs, before asking for help.When getting into something new, look for the FAQs for quick and easy information.

FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)
A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits per second (10 times as fast as Ethernet)

An angry or abusive email or online message. If an unwanted guest continually leaves irrelevant messages in a mailing list, for example, they may be flamed by the other members, leaving them with a mailbox full of rubbish.

Computer system which prevents some information from passing through it. Passes authorised requests from one side to the other, rejecting unauthorised requests. It maybe used to give access to the Internet, while protecting your computer from anyone else.

An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site.

A free (or very cheap) public-access information and discussion service, usually for a local geographical area.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
A common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files and is a great way to get shareware and free software for your computer.

There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name "anonymous", thus these sites are called "anonymous ftp servers".