Showing posts with label TERMINOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TERMINOLOGY. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Application: Application is another term for software program; basically a program you use on a computer, like Word, TurboTax, Outlook, etc.
Bandwidth: A measurement of a data line's transmission speed, or the amount of data a network can transfer from one computer to another in a given amount of time.
BIOS: Basic Input/Output System. This term is used to refer to ROM BIOS chip inside the computer. This chip starts and manages the computer bootup process.
Bootstrap Loader: A small program that manages a computer boot up process until the operating system can take over. The bootstrap loader’s only job is to load other software, usually in a sort of sequential chain up to the point when the operating system can get loaded into memory and start. The name "bootstrap loader" comes from the idea that the computer is pulling itself up by its "bootstraps".
Broadband: A bandwidth term that means a data line that will allow large amounts of data to be transferred very quickly. Basically a broadband line will be much, much faster than an old dial-up line.
Burn: To “burn” a CD or DVD means to write data files to it using a special piece of hardware.
Bus: A collection of (usually copper) wires through which data is transmitted from one part of a computer to another. You can think of a bus as a "highway" on which data travels within a computer.
Cable vs DSL: Cable and DSL are types of broadband data lines. Cable internet access uses the same lines that bring cable television cable to your house, and DSL (Which stands for Digital Subscriber Line) is a type of high speed data compression which runs over plain old telephone service (POTS) lines.
CMOS: A type of computer chip which is able to operate with a very small amount of electricity from a battery. The term also refers to the contents of a CMOS chip within the computer, which holds information about the computer boot devices, the date and time and its peripherals even while the system is turned off.
Computer Resource: This is a general computer terminology for the components that comprise the processing flow of a computer, including the memory, CPU, etc. You might hear someone say "this program is a resource hog", meaning it takes up a lot of the computer processing ability, and might make the computer run slower overall.
CPU: This stands for Central Processing Unit, and it can mean the box that holds the guts of the computer, or the processor “brain” of the computer. The CPU is the place where all the computer calculations happen.
CPU Sink: CPUs heat up as they work. A CPU sink is a mechanism to keep the CPU cool while it does its calculations. It usually consists of a cooling fan and an aluminum heat sink which draws the heat away the CPU chip.
Defrag: Computers write information to a hard drive by filling in open places on the drive. They don’t write files all in one big block, which means your Word document might be spread out all over your hard drive.
To defrag your computer means to basically rearrange the files on your computer’s hard drive so that file parts are closer together. Once rearranged, the computer will take less time to access the files. Defragging is usually recommended to speed up a slow computer.
Hard Drive: This is the central storage space for your computer. Almost always, the hard drive is designated as C: drive. If the drive is partitioned (i.e., split up into different sections), there might also be a D: drive.
IP address: IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are assigned to each and every computer on a TCP/IP network. They work like your home address. Mail or any other package could not get to you if you had no address.
IP addresses basically insure that data on a network goes where it is supposed to go. IP addresses look something like this:
ISP: Internet Service Provider: This would be the company that provides your internet access.
Malware: a general term for any malicious piece of software, such as a virus, worm, or trojan.
Mother Board: The green board inside of a computer that allows all of the internal computer components to interact. Some would call it the "heart" of the computer. It routes data to and from all the other parts, including the CPU chip, the RAM, the power supply, etc.
Network Interface Card (NIC): This is a part of the computer that allows it to talk to other computers (aka, a network) via a network “protocol” or language like TCP/IP.
Operating system: This is the basic software that a computer runs on. Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Linux, Unix, and Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard are all operating systems.
Peripherals: This is a general term for computer add-ons like printers, mice, keyboards, scanners, monitor, etc..
POST: This stands for Power On Self Test. When you first turn on a computer, it checks to make sure all its parts are working; it makes sure a keyboard is attached, that memory loads, and that in general, its hardware is working and ready to load the operating system. This test is called the POST.
Processor chip (or just processor): This is the brain of the computer. You’ve probably heard the commercials for the "Intel" chip or the "Xeon" chip. They are talking about the "brain" of the computer, which does all the calculations and task processing.
RAM: this stands for Random Access Memory and is used generically as “memory”. This is the memory on a computer that allows you to hold and run a program so that you work with it on the monitor. More RAM is better.
At the risk of repeating myself, RAM is dependent on electricity, meaning it is cleared or reset when the computer's power is turned off.
So when your computer loses power or freezes up while you are writing an unsaved document, the document is lost. Train yourself to remember to press Control + S to save your documents when you are working on them. Saving them writes them to the hard drive where they will stay when the computer is turned off.
ROM: Read Only Memory. Usually seen in conjunction with BIOS, as in ROM BIOS. Usually a chip onto which the information is permanently burned. Also denotes memory that can be accessed and read, but not written to.
Routine: A series of instructions written to complete a specific but limited computing task.
TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. These are the basic data transmission protocols on which the internet and most commercial networks run.
Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS): A constantly charging battery which will act as a fail safe if the electricity shuts down while you are using your computer.
In the event of a total power failure, a UPS usually has just enough charge to power your computer for the time it takes you to save your work and shut down safely.
URL: Universal Resource Locater. The address of any website on the internet. For instance, my website home page has a URL of
Worm: A worm is a virus that does not infect other programs. It makes copies of itself, and infects additional computers, usually via network connection. It does not attach itself to other programs, but it might alter, install, or destroy files and programs. It's also used in computer terminology as a short word any malware in general.


Application Files
Program files environment where you can create and edit the kind of document that application makes.

To select an object by pressing the mouse button when the cursor is pointing to the required menu option, icon or hypertext link.

To close a window that has been opened for viewing and / or editing.

A general-purpose machine that processes data according to a set of instructions that are stored internally either temporarily or permanently.

Central Processor Unit (CPU)
This term has two meanings (just to confound beginners, you understand)
1) Central Processor Unit--the main chip on the computer that makes everything go.
2) The box that holds the guts of the computer.
A faster CPU is always better than a slower one. You can never have too fast of a CPU.

Your computer or application no longer works correctly and so you "loose" all the work you've done since the last time you saved.

Creating A File
Storing data as a file with an assigned file name that is unique within the directory it resides in.

To remove an item of data from a file or to remove a file from the disk.

An on-screen representation of a desktop such as used in the Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

Dialog Boxes
Takes over your screen and allows you to "dialog" with the computer.

Directory (AKA Folder, sub-directory)
Allows you to organize files and other folders.

Disk Space
This is the place where your files live. The greater the disk space the more files you can keep. (See also Megabytes)
More disk space is always better than less. You can never have much disk space.

Files you create and edit.

Document Files
Files we care about (memos, letters, pictures, etc.)

Double Click
To press the mouse button twice in rapid succession without moving the mouse between clicks.

To move an object on screen in which its complete movement is visible from starting location to destination.

To make a change to existing data.

File Cabinet
Metaphorically, the hard drive (and other kinds of storage media like floppy disks) which store files and folders.

Folder (AKA Directory, Sub-Directory)
Allows you to organize files and other folders.

Folder Icons
Collections of documents and other folders.

In a graphical user interface (GUI), a small, pictorial, on screen representation of an object, such as a document, program, folder or disk drive.

Icon View
Allows you to see icons of folders and files primarily as icons with little information.

This if the primary text input device. It also contains certain standard function keys, such as the Escape key, tab, and arrow keys, shift and control keys, and sometimes other manufacturer-customized keys.

Kilo (K)
This is a unit of measure = 1,000.  So 1,000 bytes is a KiloByte.

List View
Shows the icons but also orders the icons (often by name, but can sort the list in other ways) and shows more information about them.

The brand name of a family of personal computers (hardware) and an operating system (software) from Apple, introduced in 1984.

Megabytes (Mb)
Mega = million so Mb is 1,000,000 bytes.  It's enough information for the computer to store one character (e.g. "h"), so 1mb text file = 1,000,000 keystrokes in that file. Just to confound the masses, although RAM and Disk Space do something completely different we measure both in megabytes. This leads to confusion.

MegaHertz (Mhz)
This stands for MegaHertz. A hertz is an electronics term. 1 hz = one cycle (or wavelength) per second. 1 megahertz = 1,000,000 cycles per second.
In computer jargon, Mhz measures how *fast* your CPU chip runs. Although it's more important to know the chip than the speed, if you're comparing the same kind of CPU chip then a higher / faster CPU speed (measured in MHz) is better than a slower speed.

Displays a list of commands, some with images next to them.

Modifier Keys
Keys that change the meaning of what you type.

Pointing device that allows you to tell the computer what to do.

Operating System (OS)
System software that allows your computer to work.

Pointer (AKA Cursor)
The name of the arrow (or other shape) that tracks across the screen as you move the mouse (or other pointing device) around.

Random Access Memory (RAM)
This stands for Random Access Memory. You can think of this as the "space" where you computer does its processing. The more space you have the more processes you can run at the same time. More RAM is always better than less. You can never have much RAM.

Recycle Bin
Place where you put files and folders that you may later want to delete or get rid of. Compare Trash.

Resize Box
Allows you to change the size and shape of a window.

Right click
To press the right button on the mouse. (This is Windows specific. On a Mac running System 8 or higher, you hold down the Control key and then click to get the same effect.)

Tell the computer to create a file on disk that has the information you've put into the document (usually typing).

Save As
Give the file a name and/or store the file in a certain place.

Scroll bar
Allows you to move around through your document.

Shut down
To quit all applications and turn off the computer.

Instructions that tell the computer what to do.

System files
Allows our computer to work.

Place where you put files and folders that you want to delete or get rid of.

Volume Icons
Devices that hold files and folders.

1) The most widely used operating system for personal computers from Microsoft. (Software only. Other companies manufacture the hardware that runs the Windows Operating System.) Compare Macintosh. (Windows with a large "W".)
2) The thing you see on screen that contains a directory listing or the contents of a document. (Window with a small "w".)


access time - The performance of a hard drive or other storage device - how long it takes to locate a file.
active program or window - The application or window at the front (foreground) on the monitor.
alert (alert box) - a message that appears on screen, usually to tell you something went wrong.
alias - an icon that points to a file, folder or application (System 7).
apple menu - on the left side of the screen header. System 6 = desk accessories System 7 = up to 50 items.
application - a program in which you do your work.
application menu - on the right side of the screen header. Lists running applications.
ASCII (pronounced ask-key ) - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. a commonly used data format for exchanging information between computers or programs.
background - part of the multitasking capability. A program can run and perform tasks in the background while another program is being used in the foreground.
bit - the smallest piece of information used by the computer. Derived from "binary digit". In computer language, either a one (1) or a zero (0).
backup - a copy of a file or disk you make for archiving purposes.
boot - to start up a computer.
bug - a programming error that causes a program to behave in an unexpected way.
bus - an electronic pathway through which data is transmitted between components in a computer.
byte - a piece of computer information made up of eight bits.
card - a printed circuit board that adds some feature to a computer.
cartridge drive - a storage device, like a hard drive, in which the medium is a cartridge that can be removed.
CD-ROM - an acronym for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory.
Chooser - A desk accessory used to select a printer, or other external device, or to log onto a network.
Clipboard - A portion of memory where the Mac temporarily stores information. Called a Copy Buffer in many PC applications because it is used to hold information which is to be moved, as in word processing where text is "cut" and then "pasted".
Clock Rate (MHz) - The instruction processing speed of a computer measured in millions of cycles per second (i.e., 200 MHz).
command - the act of giving an instruction to your Mac either by menu choice or keystroke.
command (apple) key - a modifier key, the Command key used in conjunction with another keystroke to active some function on the Mac.
compiler - a program the converts programming code into a form that can be used by a computer.
compression - a technique that reduces the size of a saved file by elimination or encoding redundancies (i.e., JPEG, MPEG, LZW, etc.)
control key - seldom used modifier key on the Mac.
control panel - a program that allows you to change settings in a program or change the way a Mac looks and/or behaves.
CPU - the Central Processing Unit. The processing chip that is the "brains" of a computer.
crash - a system malfunction in which the computer stops working and has to be restarted.
cursor - The pointer, usually arrow or cross shaped, which is controlled by the mouse.
daisy chaining - the act of stringing devices together in a series (such as SCSI).
database - an electronic list of information that can be sorted and/or searched.
data - (the plural of datum) information processed by a computer.
defragment - (also - optimize) to concatenate fragments of data into contiguous blocks in memory or on a hard drive.
desktop - 1. the finder. 2. the shaded or colored backdrop of the screen.
desktop file - an invisible file in which the Finder stores a database of information about files and icons.
dialog box - an on-screen message box that appears when the Mac requires additional information before completing a command.
digitize - to convert linear, or analog, data into digital data which can be used by the computer.
disk - a spinning platter made of magnetic or optically etched material on which data can be stored.
disk drive - the machinery that writes the data from a disk and/or writes data to a disk.
disk window - the window that displays the contents or directory of a disk.
document - a file you create, as opposed to the application which created it.
DOS - acronym for Disk Operating System - used in IBM PCs.
DPI - acronym for Dots Per Inch - a gauge of visual clarity on the printed page or on the computer screen.
download - to transfer data from one computer to another. (If you are on the receiving end, you are downloading. If you are on the sending end, you are uploading ).
drag - to move the mouse while its button is being depressed.
drag and drop - a feature on the Mac which allows one to drag the icon for a document on top of the icon for an application, thereby launching the application and opening the document.
driver - a file on a computer which tells it how to communicate with an add-on piece of equipment (like a printer).
Ethernet - a protocol for fast communication and file transfer across a network.
expansion slot - a connector inside the computer which allows one to plug in a printed circuit board that provides new or enhanced features.
extension - a startup program that runs when you start the Mac and then enhances its function.
fibre channel - as applied to data storage and network topology
file - the generic word for an application, document, control panel or other computer data.
finder - The cornerstone or home-base application in the Mac environment. The finder regulates the file management functions of the Mac (copying, renaming, deleting...)
floppy - a 3.5 inch square rigid disk which holds data. (so named for the earlier 5.25 and 8 inch disks that were flexible).
folder - an electronic subdirectory which contains files.
font - a typeface that contains the characters of an alphabet or some other letterforms.
footprint - The surface area of a desk or table which is occupied by a piece of equipment.
fragmentation - The breaking up of a file into many separate locations in memory or on a disk.
freeze - a system error which causes the cursor to lock in place.
get info - a Finder File menu command that presents an information window for a selected file icon.
gig - a gigabyte = 1024 megabytes.
hard drive - a large capacity storage device made of multiple disks housed in a rigid case.
head crash - a hard disk crash caused by the heads coming in contact with the spinning disk(s).
high density disk - a 1.4 MB floppy disk.
highlight - to select by clicking once on an icon or by highlighting text in a document.
icon - a graphic symbol for an application, file or folder.
initialize - to format a disk for use in the computer; creates a new directory and arranges the tracks for the recording of data.
insertion point - in word processing, the short flashing marker which indicates where your next typing will begin.
installer - software used to install a program on your hard drive.
interrupt button - a tool used by programmers to enter the debugging mode. The button is usually next to the reset button.
K - short for kilobyte.
keyboard shortcut - a combination of keystrokes that performs some function otherwise found in a pulldown menu.
kilobyte - 1024 bytes.
landscape - in printing from a computer, to print sideways on the page.
launch - start an application.
Measurements (summary) -
*a bit = one binary digit (1 or 0) *"bit" is derived from the contraction b'it (binary digit) -> 8 bits = one byte
*1024 bytes = one kilobyte
*K = kilobyte
*Kb = kilobit
*MB = megabyte
*Mb = megabit
*MB/s = megabytes per second
*Mb/s = megabits per second
*bps = bits per second
i.e., 155 Mb/s = 19.38 MB/s

MB - short for megabyte.
megabyte - 1024 kilobytes.
memory - the temporary holding area where data is stored while it is being used or changed; the amount of RAM a computer has installed.
menu - a list of program commands listed by topic.
menu bar - the horizontal bar across the top of the Mac¹s screen that lists the menus.
multi finder - a component of System 6 that allows the Mac to multi task.
multi tasking - running more than one application in memory at the same time.
nanosecond - one billionth of a second. ( or, the time between the theatrical release of a Dudley Moore film and the moment it begins to play on airplanes).
native mode - using the computers original operating system; most commonly used when talking about the PowerPC can run software written for either the 80x0 systems, or the PowerPC¹s RISC code.
NuBus - expansion slots on the Mac which accept intelligent, self-configuring boards. NuBus is a different bus achitecture than the newer PCI bus and the boards are not interchangable.
operating system - the system software that controls the computer.
optical disk - a high-capacity storage medium that is read by a laser light.
palette - a small floating window that contains tools used in a given application.
partition - a subdivision of a hard drives surface that is defined and used as a separate drive.
paste - to insert text, or other material, from the clipboard or copy buffer.
PC - acronym for personal computer, commonly used to refer to an IBM or IBM clone computer which uses DOS.
PCI - acronym for Peripheral Component Interchange - the newer, faster bus achitecture.
peripheral - an add-on component to your computer.
point - (1/72") 12 points = one pica in printing.
pop-up menu - any menu that does not appear at the top of the screen in the menu bar. (may pop up or down)
port - a connection socket, or jack on the Mac.
Power PC - a processing chip designed by Apple, IBM and Motorola (RISC based).
Power Mac - a family of Macs built around the PowerPC chip.
print spooler - a program that stores documents to be printed on the hard drive, thereby freeing the memory up and allowing other functions to be performed while printing goes on in the background.
QuickTime - the Apple system extension that gives one the ability to compress, edit and play animation, movies and sound on the Mac.
RAM - acronym for Random-Access Memory.
reset switch - a switch on the Mac that restarts the computer in the event of a crash or freeze.
resize box - the small square at the lower right corner of a window which, when dragged, resizes the window.
RISC - acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computing; the smaller set of commands used by the PowerPC and Power Mac.
ROM - acronym for Read Only Memory; memory that can only be read from and not written to.
root directory - the main hard drive window.
save - to write a file onto a disk.
save as - (a File menu item) to save a previously saved file in a new location and/or with a new name.
scroll - to shift the contents of a window to bring hidden items into view.
scroll bar - a bar at the bottom or right side of a window that contains the scroll box and allows scrolling.
scroll box - the box in a scroll bar that is used to navigate through a window.
SCSI - acronym for Small Computer System Interface.
SCSI address - a number between zero and seven that must be unique to each device in a SCSI chain. Fast and Wide SCSI devices will allow up to 15 SCSI Ids (hexidecimal); however, the length restriction (3 meters) is such that it is virtually impossible to link 15 devices together.
SCSI port - a 25 pin connector on the back of a Mac (native SCSI port); used to connect SCSI devices to the CPU. Some SCSI cards (like the ATTO) have a 68 pin connector.
SCSI terminator - a device placed at the end of a SCSI chain to complete the circuit. (some SCSI devices are self-terminating, or have active termination and do not require this plug).
serial port - a port that allows data to be transmitted in a series (one after the other), such as the printer and modem ports on a Mac.
server - a central computer dedicated to sending and receiving data from other computers (on a network).
shut down - the command from the Special menu that shuts down the Mac safely.
software - files on disk that contain instructions for a computer.
spreadsheet - a program designed to look like an electronic ledger.
start up disk - the disk containing system software and is designated to be used to start the computer.
surge suppressor - a power strip that has circuits designed to reduce the effects of surge in electrical power. (not the same as a UPS)
System file - a file in the System folder that allows your Mac to start and run.
System folder - an all-important folder that contains at least the System file and the Finder.
32 bit addressing - a feature that allows the Mac to recognize and use more than 8MB of memory.
title bar - the horizontal bar at the top of a window which has the name of the file or folder it represents.
upload - to send a file from one computer to another through a network.
Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS)- a constantly charging battery pack which powers the computer. A UPS should have enough charge to power your computer for several minutes in the event of a total power failure, giving you time to save your work and safely shut down.
UPS - acronym for Uninterruptible Power Source.
vaporware - "software" advertised, and sometimes sold, that does not yet exist in a releasable for.
virtual memory - using part of your hard drive as though it were "RAM".
WORM - acronym for Write Once-Read Many; an optical disk that can only be written to once (like a CD-ROM).
zoom box - a small square in the upper right corner of a window which, when clicked, will expand the window to fill the whole screen.