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Technical Terms

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Packet Switching
The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks each with the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-exist on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

A code used to gain access, or login, to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple, easy to guess words such as "rover". A good password might be "big6&3"
POP (POP2, POP3) (Point Of Presence or Post Office Protocol).
1. Point Of Presence
This is the place you telephone into to get a connection to the Internet through a service provider. If it's within your local call area communicating with people on the other side of the world is only going to cost you the price of a local call. An important factor in making a decision on which service provider to use is whether they have a local POP?

2. Post office protocol.
The means by which email software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell account you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail.

An article or message which appears on a newsgroup; the act of sending it is known as posting.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
Most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make a TCP/IP connection to the Internet. PPP is gradually replacing SLIP for this purpose

Means very much the same as it means in diplomacy - its just a recognised way of establishing who does what and in what order things happen, a standard way of doing things.

A format for video files

Real time
As it happens, rather than delayed. Usually used if the delay is in seconds.

RFC (Request For Comments)
The name of the result and the process for creating a standard on the Internet . New standards are proposed and published on line, as a "Request For Comments". The Internet Engineering Task Force is a consensus-building body that facilitates discussion, and eventually a new standard is established, but the reference number/name for the standard retains the acronym "RFC", e.g. the official standard for email is RFC 822.

A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on

A machine with allows you to convert pictures into digital form to be processed by your computer.

Search engine
Used with databases which hold descriptions and addresses of files on the Internet. They allow you to search the database using certain criteria and then the search engine returns a list of matches, or hits, to you.

A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers on the same network. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g. "Our mail server is down today, that's why e-mail isn't getting out." A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network

Service provider (Access Provider, ISP, Internet Service Provider).
These are the people such as Demon, Compuserve etc. who supply you with an Internet connection and associated facilities. They collect and store your email and may host your web pages, so that they are permanently available to others.
The most important things you need to find out before you sign up to one are; how much is the monthly charge, are there any online usage charges, have they got enough help lines and to what time are they available in the event that you should get stuck plus, of-course, have they got a local POP?

Computer software which has been made widely available by the author, in the hope that on receiving and using it you will return a (usually small) payment.

A few lines of information which are added to the end of each email message you send, for example your name and address.

Like a site where a building has been placed, this is where a web home page and other related files have been placed (or with things like FTP, a collection of files) and from where, if you click on some of the highlighted text (see Hypertext Links), you could be whisked effortlessly to a site in another country without you even realising it.

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol)
A standard for using a regular telephone line (a "serial line") and a modem to connect a computer as a real Internet site. SLIP is gradually being replaced by PPP

A set of characters that looks like a face if you turn it sideways.Used in E-mail messages which only allow text.
For example Frown :-( Smile :-) Wink ;-)

Snail mail
The letters delivered by the Post Office, and pretty useful for real things.

This is the programs running on a computer. Without it, your computer (the hardware) would just be an object d'art

Usually advertising, this is sending out the same message to many newsgroups or mailinglists. See flaming

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service)
A new standard for very high-speed data transfer.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
A way of delivering E-mail

Joining a mailing list or discussion group

To browse the Internet with no definite destination in mind.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.
The "transmission control" aspect handles the division of messages into packages and its reassembly for delivery to the user, while the "internet protocol" aspect takes care of addressing and routing, ensuring that the right packets get to the right places.

Using computers linked to telephone lines for communication and to share information.

A program that allows you to Login to another computer on the Internet. The telnet command/program gets you to the "login:" prompt of another host. You may use to check online library catalogues or other information services, using software on another machine when you don't have it installed or using online games and chat services.

The use of computers and telecommunications to change the accepted geography of work.

A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer - the software pretends to be ("emulates") a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.

Terminal Server
A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.

When connecting to a remote computer, communications software will send out a request for data. If there is too long a delay in receiving this data, the connection will timeout and have to be reconnected.

Upload is copying files from your computer to another. Download is the term for copying files from another computer to yours.

A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is "multi-user") and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for Servers on the Internet

URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
This is a complicated name for the address of where a Web page is. Once typed in, your Browser will take you to the computer it's held on (maybe on the other side of the planet) in moments. An example is which is this the Sussex Community Internet Project home page. It looks complicated but if you're going to go back to it, it can be saved as a bookmark so that next time all you have to do is click one button once.

Part of the Internet that devotes itself to distributing news and information on any subject that you care to think of. Each subject area is known as a newsgroup. Rather than being called "newsgroups", they might more accurately be called "interest groups".
After email, this is probably the most popular Internet feature. Usenet newsgroups are not specifically part of the Internet but most Internet sites receive these discussion forums, of which there are now more than 10,000. There also are many local and regional newsgroups.

Username (UserId, Account Name)
The alias you are given for logging on to a computer system, for example while my name is Peter Mason, my username is pmason. Used in conjunction with passwords for logging in.

A file copying protocol - used for some mailing lists and newsgroups on Usenet

Veronica (Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives)
This is a tool that searches for information on Gopher (menu) systems, attempting to organise the information. It is a constantly updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher servers. The Veronica database can be searched from most major gopher menus

WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers)
A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked according to how relevant the "hits" are, and that subsequent searches can find "more stuff like that last batch" and thus refine the search process.

WAN (Wide Area Network)
Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.

Webmaster (Webmeister, web manager)
The person responsible for maintaining a web site. Sometimes also used to describe someone who has a great deal on knowledge about the Internet

Web Pages
Files which are used to display information across the Internet and which make up the world wide web. They are written in HTML and may contain references to other such files, images or just about anything else. When they arrive at their destination, a browser is used to display the contents.

Winsock (Windows Sockets)
A standard way for TCP/IP programs and Internet client programs (E-mail, Browser, FTP) to communicate on windows.

WWW (World Wide Web, The Web, W3, The Net)
1. The whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher , FTP , HTTP , telnet , Usenet , WAIS and some other tools.

2. The universe of Hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files etc. to be mixed together. This is the part of the Internet that has caused an explosion of interest in being online in the last couple of years. Text can be informative but it is also quite boring to look at; the WWW can display pictures, sounds and video along with text. Information and stunning graphics together are a powerful tool. Click your mouse arrow on either a piece of text or a picture or photo and you will immediately be taken to another Web page which will expand on your given subject and that too will have high lighted text and graphics waiting to take you to another page.