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Technical Terms

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One of the tools for browsing the Internet, a lot like FTP but easier to use. You select from a list (menu), leading you to more menus until you find the information you need, although much is academic. Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, but is being largely superseded by the WWW (World Wide Web). The name comes from its primary function, it "goes fer" information.

This is either a computer which routes packets of data, or a piece of software that allows easier access to other information.

A graphic file format commonly used on the Internet for pictures

Computers and the bits that go with them (printers, modems etc.)

The results from an online query or search engine, which match your search criteria

Home page
This is the first page one sees when visiting a Web site. A home page is usually a description or index of the site. Once you are using the World Wide Web, you can set your personal favourite page to become the first Home Page you see.

A computer which is directly connected to the Internet. It is also used to describe a computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and Usenet

HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language).
This is the name of the format used to create Web pages. It consists of text and punctuation, links and so on that define how a web page will look. HTML pages are viewed using a Browser, which interprets the file and displays the page. Rather than type in the codes, pages can now be created using WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors which work like word processors.

HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol)
The protocol, or agreed standard, for moving HTML files across the Internet. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).

Hyperlink (Hyper Text Links)
This is the name for the highlighted bits of text (usually Blue) and graphics found on web pages that when clicked on with the mouse arrow will take you to another page of related information which could actually be on another computer on the other side of the world.

Generally, any text that contains "links" to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)
A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum or email, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion.

Information Superhighway
At the moment this is the Internet, although this may change in the future.

Internet (upper case I)
The vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP Protocols and that evolved from ARPANet. The Internet connects thousands of independent networks into a vast global internet. Often thought of and referred to as if it were a company, it is not. Nobody owns the Internet, it is merely the name given to the network of networks.

internet (lower case i)
Any time you connect 2 or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.

Internet Provider
See Service Provider

Originating in corporate computing, this is the use of Internet software on existing internal networks. The idea may be expanded, however, to mean the use of Internet software on a local server network. Rather than signing up with an Internet Service Provider, you could connect to a low-cost local Intranet service which would give you services for your local area.

IP Number (Internet Protocol)
IP is the networking language which connects all of the computers on the Internet. An IP Number, sometimes called a "dotted quad" is a unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g. which every machine that is on the Internet has. Most machines also have one or more pseudonyms, or Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
IRC is like CB radio on the Internet. It is a system that allows thousands of users to exchange messages in real time (almost instantly) over the Internet to single or groups of people who may be in various places around the world. It has hundreds of channels of chat on as many subjects. Private channels can be created for multi-person "conference calls".

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
A type of telephone line which is completely digital. Where it is available, it can provide speeds of 64,000 bits per second over a regular phone line and with much less noise, but you'll need a special ISDN modem to access it.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)
See Service Provider

A programming language which can be embedded into Web pages. When the web page is downloaded onto your computer, the program runs.

A graphic file format commonly used on the Internet for pictures

Junk Mail
In the real world, junk mail usually comes from a mailing list with your name on it. On the Internet, you have control over which mailing lists you're on. That doesn't mean you won't get junk mail, but you can do with it what you do with junk mail through your door - put it straight in the trash.

1024 (2^10) bytes

LAN (Local Area Network)
A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of the building.

Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

See Hypertext Links

See Mail Server

The most common kind of mailing list management program. See Mail Server

Login (Logon)
1. The account or username used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with password)
2. The act of connecting to a computer system or network so you can send commands to it.
Logging in usually requires your unique, personal user identification (username) and your own secret password.

Logout (Logoff)
The necessary commands to sign off and disconnect when you are finished.

This is the text-only browser of the WWW for UNIX machines. Though not as flashy as the graphical Mosaic or Netscape, it works with all computers.

Mail Server
A program used to automatically manage mailing lists. Commonly Majordomo, Listserv and Listproc.

Mailing List (or Maillist)
These are online discussion groups to which you subscribe. A (usually automated) system allow people to send email to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the list. Only those people who have officially joined the discussion group can receive the messages. This differs from newsgroups in that everyone can read newsgroups.

See Mail Server

A million bytes. A thousand kilobytes

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
Internet standard for encoding and attaching files to email so they can transfer from one computer to another

Modem (MOdulator/DEModulator)
A device which connects your computer to a telephone line and allows you to communicate with other computers. Internal or external to your computer, these are annoying little boxes that emit a loud high pitch squawk as they convert the signals the computer makes into a form that can be sent down a telephone line. If you're receiving something over the 'Net it changes the incoming signal into something the computer can understand..

Once the most widespread web browser, the source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are now several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic.

NIC (Network Information Center)
Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet is the InterNIC, which is where new domain names are registered.

Internet etiquette. The unwritten rules and manners of the Internet. The etiquette actually applies to just about all computer networking.

A piece of software that allows users to browse the World Wide Web using Hypertext. It is the most popular of such browsers, with 59% of the market. It is available free to users via FTP.

Any time you connected 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet.

Newcomers to the Internet.

Newsgroup (Bulletin Boards, Forums, Discussion groups).
The name for discussion groups on Usenet . This is one term not to slip up on as it is a misnomer. Newsgroups have nothing to do with `hard` news but are areas where groups of people chew the fat on whatever subject the newsgroup is devoted to and there are thousands of them. Here you can read the messages other people have left and if you wish to contribute, you too can E-mail your thoughts to the group for the rest of the world to read.
Any single computer connected to a network.

Not connected to the Internet

Online (On-line, Connected)
This means you are doing something over the Internet, your computer has actually opened up a connection to the net over the telephone line, when you've finished and you disconnect you're off-line. Can also mean in office terms that a computer or other piece of equipment is operating.

Online services
A service that you can subscribe to (monthly or hourly usage fees), that may provide e-mail, bulletin boards, games, news, weather, encyclopaedia and with some, a connection to the Internet. Examples include: Prodigy, America-Online, CompuServe, Delphi, GEnie, etc.