Acronym: a word made from initials; for example PC stands for personal computer.

Address book: an area for storing e-mail addresses; allows you to quickly send e-mail without having to remember long addresses; usually has a place to store additional info such as phone numbers, birthdays, nicknames.

Adware or advertising-supported software: is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertising material to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used.

Apple Computer: a personal computer company founded in 1976 by Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In 1984, Apple released the first Macintosh computers. The graphical user interface and mouse of the Macintosh revolutionized personal computing, and Macintosh quickly became popular for desktop publishing. Other Apple products are the PowerBook laptops and the Newton personal digital assistant.

Anti-spyware program: computer software designed to detect and clean non-malicious software installed and used by companies to report how you use your computer.

Anti-virus program: computer software designed to detect computer viruses and either clean them (remove them) or stop the virus' files before they are able to do harm (quarantine them). Anti-virus programs need to be updated regularly because new viruses are created frequently.


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Backup: copying files to another location to keep in a safe place so that they are not completely lost if something happened to the originals. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Background: an image, color or pattern on a computer screen which is behind the text and graphic elements.

Backslash: \ is a backslash. Think of it as originally standing up straight, then falling backward. We see it in the location of files for example C:\My Documents\My Pictures. The backslash separates directories, also called folders. In this example we can tell that the location begins on the hard drive (C :) then inside the My Documents folder, followed by the My Pictures folder - giving you precise directions to a location.

Banner: Banner is a comprehensive, integrated system that encompasses student records, financial aid, admissions, alumni, advancement, and accounting operations. Banner, a product of SunGard Higher Education, has been available for two decades, and during that time has been undergoing constant development. It is currently the most widely used package in higher education administration. It covers all of the areas that our older systems address, and adds some new capabilities. It is integrated - all the parts work together and run using the same database (e.g. a person in Banner has a single set of demographic records whether they are a student, faculty, or alum, or all three at once). It provides hundreds of Web-based transaction screens and self-service functions for students and faculty that will be integrated gradually into my.newpaltz.edu.

Bcc: stands for blind carbon copy; sends a copy of an e-mail message to a second person, but doesn't allow the first recipient to see the name and address of the second one.

BIOS: (basic input/output system) is the program a personal computer's microprocessor uses to get the computer system started after you turn it on. It also manages data flow between the computer's operating system and attached devices such as the hard disk, video adapter, keyboard, mouse and printer.

Blog: (short for web log) is a web site where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Blogger: someone who maintains a weblog.

Bookmarks: a list of Web sites you want to visit again in Mozilla Firefox or Netscape. To bookmark a site, click on bookmark, then on add bookmark - to return to that site, click on bookmark, then on its title in the list. Other browsers say Favorites instead of Bookmarks, e.g. Internet Explorer.

Browser: a program you use to surf or browse the internet such as Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Bullets: dots beside each item in a list.

Burn a CD: save or record data, music or pictures onto a CD.


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C: drive: the hard drive or computer's main storage area. It's found inside the computer case. When something is saved to the C drive it remains on that computer, you must be at that computer to retrieve that saved document.

Cc: stands for carbon copy; type an e-mail address in the cc: box to send that message to a second person; (you can also type multiple e-mail addresses separated with a comma, no space, in the To: field).

Cable modem: a device that enables you to hook up your computer to a local cable tv line instead of a telephone line. Cable modem speeds vary widely. While cable modem technology can theoretically support up to about 30 Mbps, most providers offer service with between 1 Mbps and 6 Mbps bandwidth for downloads, and bandwidth between 128 Kbps and 768 Kbps for uploads. Unlike a phone modem, a cable modem connects to the cable company for Internet access and remains connected 24 hours a day.

Canned air: canned air is exactly that, air in a spray can. It can be used to clean parts of the computer, blowing dust out of small or delicate places. It's important that you keep your computer clean to prevent overheating.

Case sensitive: whether a letter is capital or lower case; is important to consider when creating a password.

CD Burner (can also be a CD-R or CDRW drive): a drive that will not only let you play CDs, but save to CDs - called burning to a CD. It looks like an ordinary CD drive. Some can save, burn, more quickly than others depending on the speed of the drive such as 24X or 54X. Higher numbers indicate faster reading or burning. CD-R (compact disk recordable) allows you to burn information to a blank CD once. CD-RW (compact disk re-writable) allows you to erase and save information to the disks similar to the way you would save to floppies over and over.

Chat: to have a real-time conversation online in which users can type messages back and forth to each other.

CMOS: Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. CMOS is a special kind of memory chip that retains its data when power is turned off as long as it receives a small amount of electricity from a battery. The CMOS chip in a personal computer stores a record of what components are installed. Any changes to the basic system configuration, such as the addition or removal of drives, is recorded in the CMOS setup data.

CMOS battery: frequent CMOS errors are a sign of a dead battery. The CMOS battery maintains your settings while your PC is powered off. The most common type of batteries used in modern PCs is coin-shaped lithium/manganese-dioxide battery that looks like a large watch battery. An early warning of a dying battery is your clock losing time or you get occasional "Clock failure" or "Clock error" messages upon startup.

Compose: to create a new e-mail message to send.

Cookies: a cookie is a set of data that a Web site server gives to a browser the first time the user visits the site and it is updated with each return visit. The remote server saves the information the cookie contains about the user and the user's browser does the same, as a text file stored in a system folder. Depending on the type of cookie used and the browser's settings, the browser may accept or not accept the cookie, and may save the cookie for either a short time or a long time. Web servers can use cookies to keep track of how many times you've visited and when, and what sort of information you've been surfing for on their site. They can even use cookies to pass that information on to other Web servers, such as advertisement servers. On the positive side, cookies can be used to store your own Web site configuration, to remember items placed in your "shopping cart" at an online shopping site, or to store account and password information for subscription sites. Cookie data is never executed as code, so it can't contain viruses. Also, a cookie cannot be used to extract data from your system. Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their expire time has not been reached. For maximum privacy, allow return of cookies to trusted sites only.

Copy: to leave some text or image where it is, but copy it to another location also. To copy - use the mouse to highlight the text, then hold down the control key and press C at the same time. Press control-V in the new location to paste the text.

CPU: stands for central processing unit. The CPU controls the operation of a computer. Units within the CPU perform arithmetic and logical operations and decode and execute instructions.In microcomputers, the entire CPU is on a single chip. Sometimes computer technicians use the term CPU when referring to the whole computer or tower (minus the monitor, keyboard, mouse and other peripherals).

Cut: to move it or delete text. To cut - highlight then hold down the control key and press X, then to paste control-V.


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Delete: to remove data or files; usually PERMANENTLY. In Windows the file is moved to the Recycle Bin and then can be deleted for good.

Dell Computer Corporation: a PC manufacturer in Austin, Texas, they design, build and customize products and services dealing directly with customers. Dell is located at http://www.dell.com.

Desktop: the whole computer screen, which represents an office desktop. With a graphical interface, the icons on the screen resemble objects that would be found on a real desktop, such as file folders, a clock, etc.

DHCP: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.is a set of rules used by communications devices such as a computer, router or network adapter to allow the device to request and obtain an IP address from a server which has a list of addresses available for assignment. DHCP is a protocol used by networked computers (clients) to obtain IP addresses and other parameters such as the default gateway, subnet mask and IP addresses of DNS servers from a DHCP server. It facilitates access to a network because these settings would otherwise have to be made manually for the client to participate in the network.

Digital camera: a camera that takes and stores pictures electronically rather than on film. The digital pictures can then be used on the computer, edited, deleted, or printed.

Double click: clicking the left mouse button quickly 2 times to open programs and files. Single click the left mouse button for hypertext, buttons or links.

Download: loading something onto your computer from another computer, the Internet or e-mail; Downloading usually has to be followed by an installation process before the program you downloaded will become functional.

Drag and drop: clicking on something and HOLDING the mouse button down; this allows you to move your mouse around which moves the object you clicked on; letting go of the mouse button "drops" the object.

Driver: a program that enables an application to use a device such as a printer. Hardware devices such as sound cards, printers, scanners, and CD-ROM drives must each have the proper driver installed in order to run.

Drop down menu: a list of choices that pop up when you click on a small black arrow button at the end of a box.

DSL: Digital Subscriber Line or Digital Subscriber Loop. A technology which enables high-speed transmission of digital data over regular copper telephone lines. DSL services offered today typically range in performance from 128 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps. It can be difficult to pin down precise speed numbers for DSL because of the many variations in equipment. DSL is also a distance-sensitive technology, and that complicates the performance picture even further. The bandwidth available to a home user, for example, depends significantly on the length of cabling running from the home to the provider's facilities as well as the electrical quality of that line.

DVD: Digital Versatile Disk. Looks like an ordinary CD, but holds much more information such as full length movies. Holds anywhere from 4.7 GB to 8.5 GB depending on the DVD type.


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E-commerce: Electric Commerce. The conducting of business (selling and purchasing of products), communication and transactions over networks and through computers. E-commerce may include the use of electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic money exchange, Internet advertising, Web sites, online databases, computer networks, and point-of-sale (POS) computer systems.

E-mail: (electronic mail) a service that sends messages on computers via local or global networks.

Emoticons: typed symbols of expression, like a smiley face.

Ethernet hub: is a device for connecting multiple devices together, making them act as a single segment.The availability of low-priced ethernet switches has largely rendered hubs obsolete but they are still seen in older installations and more specialist applications.


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FAQ: stands for frequently asked questions.

Flag: to mark an e-mail message with a little red flag in your Inbox to bring it to your attention later.

Flaming: sending angry or inflammatory messages, either by e-mail or newsgroup posting. Flaming is considered bad netiquette.

Flash drive: (also called USB, jump, pen and thumb drive) A small, portable flash memory card that plugs into a computer’s USB port and functions as a portable hard drive. USB flash drives are touted as being easy-to-use as they are small enough to be carried in a pocket and can plug into any pc with a USB port. USB flash drives have less storage capacity than an external hard drive, but they are smaller and more durable because they do not contain any internal moving parts.

Flashing the BIOS: a process of upgrading the BIOS of a computer so that it can correct the Real Time Clock if it is currently unable to do so. This procedure can be very dangerous--if a problem occurs during the upgrade process, the microprocessor may be ruined. Thus, most manufacturers of computers recommend that this be done only by a qualified technician. If BIOS flashing is done, you should only use BIOS upgrades supplied by the manufacturer of your computer.

Flat panel: a video display that is lighter and much thinner than traditional television and video displays that use cathode ray tubes, and are usually less than 4 inches (100 mm) thick.

Flat screen: a computer monitor with a flat screen instead of a curved one; not to be confused with a flat panel.

Font: the way typed letters look; different fonts have different appearances. The default font for Microsoft Word is generally Times New Roman. Other examples of fonts are: Arial, Comic Sans, Lucida Handwriting.

Forward: passing an e-mail message you received on to other people. Some messages that have been forwarded many times over can even be hoaxes, untrue messages. Be aware.

Forward slash: / is a slash. Think of it as originally standing up straight, then leaning forward. That's our clue that it's not to be confused with a backslash. We see it in URL's, also called Web site addresses, for example http://www.newpaltz.edu/fsHelp Desk/index.html.

Frame: when a Web page is divided into sections, each section is called a frame.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol. A client/server protocol for exchanging files with a host computer.


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Ghosted: (more commonly known as grayed out) when a button has a faded or light gray appearance, meaning it's inactive, so you cannot click on it just then.

Gigabyte: one billion bytes of storage space; 109 or 1,000,000,000. Abbreviated GB, Gbyte or G-byte. One gigabyte contains 1,073,741,824 bytes. GB usually references the size of your hard drive or flash card. Older computers were measured in MB or megabytes.

Graphic: a picture; also known as an image.


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Handles: small markers around a graphic found at each corner and center point on each side, so that you can drag the handles to resize or crop the picture.

Hard boot: using the power button to turn your computer off and on without going through the proper steps such as Start & Shutdown or Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Hard drive: your computer's main drive or storage area. To save something to that particular drive, save it to a folder on your C: Drive.

Hardware: the parts of your computer such as the monitor, tower, & keyboard or internal parts such as motherboard, video card and network card.

Highlight: to surround something with color by clicking and dragging over it; highlighting indicates you are going to work with whatever you selected or highlighted; if something is highlighted with a flashing cursor (line) at then end of it you can begin typing and the old will be replaced with the new information you type, no need to backspace;
use highlight to cut, copy, and paste things.

Homepage: the first page of a Web site. Homepage can also mean the first Web site you see when your computer goes on the Internet. The homepage can be customized for any browser.

HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol. The protocol most often used to transfer information from World Wide Web servers to browsers, which is why Web addresses begin with http://.

HUB: see Ethernet Hub.

Hyperlink: something you can click on that jumps you to another location, can be pictures or text. Remember to only click once on links. Don't be a clicking maniac!

Hypertext: text that you can click on that jumps you to another location, sometimes underlined and colored. (For example: the link back to top on this Web page jumps you to the top of this page)



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Icon: a small picture on the screen which represents something. Files and programs have icons, and open when the user clicks twice on the icon.

IM: (Instant Message) sending and receiving messages instantly via a program such as Yahoo Instant Messenger or AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). Good keyboarding skills are critical! Your buddies will become frustrated if you are slow to send a reply.

IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol. A protocol that allows a user to perform certain electronic mail functions on a remote server rather than on a local computer. Through IMAP the user can create, delete, or rename mailboxes; get new messages; delete messages; and perform search functions on mail. A separate protocol is required for sending mail (SMTP). The biggest advantage to IMAP is that the e-mail is stored on the server thus allowing the user to check their e-mail anywhere Internet access is available. Also e-mail servers are often backed up on a regular basis whereas most users do not back up e-mail. The disadvantage to IMAP is that the user is given a specified amount of space on the server to store e-mail and the user is usually not allowed to exceed that requirement.

Install: adding a program to your computer from a CD or via the network

IP: Internet Protocol. The IP part of TCP/IP; the protocol that is used to route a data packet from its source to its destination over the Internet and managed IP networks.

IP Address: the unique 32 bit number assigned to each computer connected to the Internet and used by the TCP/IP protocol to route packets of data to their destinations. The number is usually written in shorthand "dotted octet" notation in which the 32 bit address is grouped into four sets of 8 bits. Each of those eight-bit sets is converted into a decimal number, and the four resulting decimal numbers are written separated by dots. Most Internet addresses consist of a network portion and a node portion. The address for every computer and device must be unique on the network. When you connect to a Web server, for example, you may tell your browser to connect to www.mysite.com, but your computer ultimately has to translate the name to its IP address,, before the connection can be made.

ISP: Internet Service Provider (ISP). A company that provides individuals and companies access to the Internet and other related services such as e-mail and Web hosting.

Internet: this worldwide information highway is comprised of thousands of interconnected computer networks, and reaches millions of people in many different countries. The Internet was originally developed for the United States military, and then became used for government, academic and commercial research and communications. The Internet is made up of large backbone networks (such as MILNET, NSFNET, and CREN), and smaller networks that link to them. The Internet functions as a gateway for e-mail between various networks and online services. The World Wide Web facility on the Internet makes possible almost instantaneous exchange of information by linking documents around the world. Internet computers use the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). The Internet sometimes appears to be amorphous and unregulated, but there are several administrative bodies: the Internet Architecture Board, which oversees technology and standards; the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which assigns numbers for ports and sockets, etc.; InterNIC, which assigns Internet addresses; the Internet Engineering and Planning Group, Internet Engineering Steering Group, and the Internet Society


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Java: a cross-platform programming language from Sun Microsystems that can be used to create animations and interactive features on World Wide Web pages. Java programs are embedded into HTML documents. Netscape Navigator (2.0 or above) and Internet Explorer are Web browsers that run Java applications. Using small Java programs (called applets), web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.

Java applet: a little application written in Java language which can be embedded in an HTML document. On the World Wide Web, Java applets can be executed by most Web browsers.

JavaScript: a cross-platform WWW scripting language. JavaScript is a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. It was used under license for technology invented and implemented by Netscape Communications and current entities such as the Mozilla Foundation. It is popular because it is simple and easy to learn. It can allow for interactive Web sites by being included in an HTML file by using the tag <script language="JavaScript"> JavaScript is used for things such as "rollover buttons" (graphics that change color when you run your mouse over them), rotating banners, MIDI jukeboxes, pop-up windows, etc.


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Kbps: Kilobytes per second. Thousand bytes per second.

Keyboard shortcuts: quick ways, using the keyboard, to do things like copy (control-c) & paste (control-v).


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Link: a pointer in an HTML document that leads to another World Wide Web site, or to another place within the same document; also called a hyperlink. Linked text is usually underlined or shown in a different color from the surrounding text. Sometimes graphics are links or contain links. A link is activated by clicking on it.

Linux: A freeware implementation of UNIX originally written from scratch with no proprietary code by Linus Torvalds, which can be used with many different operating systems. Work on the kernel is coordinated by Linus Torvalds, who holds the copyright on a large part of it. The rest of the copyright is held by a large number of other contributors (or their employers). Regardless of the copyright ownerships, the kernel as a whole is available under the GNU General Public License. Hundreds of application programs have been written for Linux, some of these by the GNU project.


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MAC address: short for Media Access Control address, it is a unique code assigned to most forms of networking hardware. The address is permanently assigned to the hardware, so limiting a wireless network's access to hardware -- such as wireless cards -- is a security feature employed by closed wireless networks. It acts like a name for a particular network adapter, so, for example, the network cards (or built-in network adapters) in two different computers will have different names, or MAC addresses, as would an Ethernet adapter and a wireless adapter in the same computer, and as would multiple network cards in a router.

Malware: short for malicious software. can include viruses, trojan horses, worms, logic bombs, and other harmful computer code.

Mbps: megabits per second (million bits per second). Used to measure the rate of information transfer.

Megabytes: units of storage space; 1 megabyte is equal to 1 million bytes; Older computers were measured in megs or megabytes referring to the size of the hard drive showing how much storage space the computer has. Hard drives now offer more storage space, measured in gigabytes.

Memory: (RAM - Random Access Memory) the amount of memory available for your programs to use. Working with graphics or animation programs will use up a lot of RAM and may cause your computer to become slow. Shutting down and restarting your computer resets the RAM.

Menu bar: the bar across the top of the window that begins with File, Edit, View... It's called a Menu Bar because every item on it has another menu.

Microprocessor: A microprocessor is a computer processor on a microchip. It is the "engine" that goes into motion when you turn your computer on. A microprocessor is designed to perform arithmetic and logic operations that make use of small number-holding areas called registers. Typical microprocessor operations include adding, subtracting, comparing two numbers, and fetching numbers from one area to another. These operations are the result of a set of instructions that are part of the microprocessor design. When the computer is turned on, the microprocessor is designed to get the first instruction from the basic input/output system (BIOS) that comes with the computer as part of its memory. Some examples of common microprocessors are Intel, AMD.

Modem: a device in your computer that connects to and communicates with the phone lines to get access to the Internet or fax machines. Provides the slowest connection to the Internet, speed no higher than 56kbps compared to DSL which can reach 8 Mbps.

Monitor: also called a display. A device that displays text and graphics generated by a computer. Desktop monitors are usually cathode-ray tubes, and laptop monitors are usually liquid crystal display. A monitor can be monochrome (black and white) or color. Color monitors may show either digital or analog color.

Motherboard: also called system board. The main circuit board inside a computer that everything in the computer plugs into and contains the central processing unit, the bus, memory sockets, expansion slots, and other components (the CPU, RAM and cache all plug into the motherboard). Additional boards, called daughter boards, can be plugged into the motherboard.


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Netiquette: good manners for Internet and e-mail use.

Network: a group of interconnected computers, including the hardware and software used to connect them.

Network administrator: the person who is responsible for setting up and maintaining a network. Duties of the administrator include installing software, assigning passwords, making backups, and finding a way to restore the network when it goes down.

Network cable: a flexible wire or bundle of wires, usually metal (glass or silica in fiber optic cable), insulated with plastic or rubber, and having connectors on the ends. Some kinds of cable, especially coaxial cable and fiber optics cable, are used in electronics and computer networking.

Network card (network adapter or NIC: network interface controller) is a piece of computer hardware designed to allow computers to communicate over a computer network.

Norton Ghost: software made by Symantec for cloning and imaging your hard drive . It can back up everything on your computer - digital music, photos, financial documents, applications, settings, operating system, etc. - in one easy step. We use this software at the Help Desk to set up new computers as well as to repair problems with the operating system. The name Ghost originated as an acronym for "General Hardware-Oriented Software Transfer".

Network switch: a network switch is a small hardware device that joins multiple computers together within one local area network (LAN). Network switches appear nearly identical to network hubs, but a switch generally contains more "intelligence" (and a slightly higher price tag) than a hub. Unlike hubs, network switches are capable of inspecting data packets as they are received, determining the source and destination device of that packet, and forwarding it appropriately. By delivering each message only to the connected device it was intended for, a network switch conserves network bandwidth and offers generally better performance than a hub.

Novell, Inc: a software company in Provo, Utah, known mainly for Novell NetWare and other networking products.

Novell Netware: is a network operating system developed by Novell, Inc.

Numeric keypad: the group of number keys found on the side of a keyboard. Pressing the Num Lock key turns the numeric keypad feature off/on. An indicator light above the keypad shows whether it is on or off.


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Online help: easy to access help, explanations, or instructions provided on-screen by clicking the Help button found in the menu bar. A search feature is generally offered so that you can type a keyword to quickly find the help you need. Tip: knowing the proper terms often help you locate the help you need.

Operating system (OS): the main control program of a computer that schedules tasks, manages storage, and handles communication with peripherals. Its main part, called the kernel, is always present. The operating system presents a basic user interface when no applications are open, and all applications must communicate with the operating system. Windows 2000 and Windows XP are operating systems made by Microsoft.

Optical mouse: A mouse that uses a laser to track movement instead of a ball and wheels inside the mouse.



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Paste: to insert some text or an image you previously cut or copied; To paste - hold down the control key and press V (you must have cut or copied something first).

PDA: (personal digital assistant) is a term for any small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use, often for keeping schedules, calendars and address book information handy. The term handheld is a synonym.

Phishing: the act of attempting to fraudulently acquire sensitive information. Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message masquerading as a trustworthy person or business with a real need for such information in a seemingly official message — for example, a bank, online payment service (like PayPal), an Internet service provider (ISP), companies like eBay or Amazon, or even a government agency. The message may ask you to “update,” “validate,” or “confirm” your account information. The “phishy” e-mail may look exactly like what you would receive from your bank, eBay, PayPal or any other legitimate company. Since it may be difficult to determine the legitimacy of the suspect message, it is always best to check with the company in question about the suspicious e-mail. Most companies have a policy stating that they will NEVER ask for sensitive information (password, account numbers) via e-mail.

Plug and play:a feature of a computer system by which peripherals are automatically detected and configured by the operating system.

Plug-in: a little program you can add to your computer; it allows you to do extra things such as added movement and play videos. A popular Internet plug-in is Macromedia Flash Player, once installed it allows you to view animation over the Web.

POP3: local e-mail clients use the Post Office Protocol, version 3 to retrieve e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection. Uses TCP port 110. POP3 e-mail is moved off the server and stored on the local pc. The disadvantage to POP3 is that once the user has accessed the e-mail it then is stored on that specific local machine and cannot be retrieved from any other pc. Also e-mail on local computers are often not backed up. The advantage to POP3 is there are virtually no limitations on the amount of space used to store the e-mail (depending on the size of the hard drive.

Pop-under: a variation on the pop-up window is the pop-under advertisement, which opens a new browser window hidden under the active window. Pop-unders do not interrupt the user immediately and are not seen until the covering window is closed, making it more difficult to determine which Web site opened them. Pop-unders are usually ads.

Pop-ups: are a form of online advertising on the Internet intended to increase Web traffic or capture e-mail addresses. It works when certain Web sites open a new Web browser window to display advertisements. The pop-up window containing an advertisement is usually generated by Javascript, but can be generated by other means as well.

Pop up blocker: tool to block pop-up ads. In the early 2000s, all major Web browsers allowed the user to block unwanted pop-ups almost completely. In 2004, Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 2, which added pop-up blocking to Internet Explorer.

Protocol: an a greed-upon method of communications used by computers. A specification that describes the rules and procedures that products should follow to perform activities on a network, such as transmitting data. If they use the same protocols, products from different computers should be able to communicate on the same network. On the Internet, there are the TCP/IP protocols, consisting of: TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), which uses a set of rules to exchange messages with other Internet points at the information packet level. IP (Internet Protocol), which uses a set of rules to send and receive messages at the Internet address level. HTTP, FTP, and other protocols, each with defined sets of rules.

Purge: to delete permanently, as in using the "purge print jobs" option to stop and delete all pending print jobs that have been sent to that printer. Data can also be purged.


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Radio button: a group of buttons on the computer screen of which only one can be selected at a time (by clicking on it). Radio buttons are used a lot with interactive forms on World Wide Web pages. Use a radio button to select one of a group of options by clicking inside the radio button. A bullet in the radio button indicates that the option is selected.

RAM: Random Access Memory. The part of your computer that temporarily stores information you're using at that time so that it can more quickly appear than if it had to retrieve it each time from the hard drive. (Sometimes simply called "memory") Memory chips can sometimes be added to provide more memory. Compare the amount of RAM when purchasing a computer. A computer with little RAM could operate more slowly as you work, or you might see an error message letting you know that your computer is low on virtual memory and cannot continue to operate. Shutting down the computer resets the memory so that you start with a fresh amount again. A typical computer might have 512MB (megabytes) of RAM; the more the better.

Reboot: the act of resetting, or booting a computer system.This is not the same as shutting down a computer. To shut down is to completely power off the computer. A reboot on the other hand simply restarts the computer from the beginning without ever powering off. In Windows please use the Start button

Remote control software: is software used in remote administration to allow use of computers or other hardware at a separate location. A typical use is to control a server or desktop computer from another desktop computer. The remote control software consists of two separate computer programs, a "host version" that is installed on the computer to be controlled, and a "remote version" that is installed on the controlling computer.

Right-click: using the button on the right side of the mouse to pop up a list of choices or a menu.

Rogue: Rogue security software  also known as "scare ware,” is a form of computer malware that deceives or misleads users into paying for the fake or simulated removal of malware/viruses. Rogue security software, in recent years, has become a growing and serious security threat in desktop computing.

Rootkit: a tool that captures passwords and message traffic to and from a computer. It is software designed to replace specific components of an operating system, so that once installed it creates back doors in the compromised system, allowing continuous system access to the cracker even if the root password is changed, or if a system reconfiguration is performed.

Router: a device that connects multiple computer networks. Routers can find the best route between any two networks, even if there are several different networks in between. Routers provide network management capabilities that allow network managers to detect and correct problems even in a complex network of networks. Given these capabilities, routers are often used in building wide area or enterprise wide networks.


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Scanner: a device you can connect to your computer that will scan or "copy" pictures or documents so that you can store that image as a file on your computer. There are flat-bed scanners that look somewhat like a copy machine, hand held scanners and single page scanners, for use in multi-function printers.

Screen saver: a program which automatically displays a moving picture or pattern on the computer screen after the computer has been idle for a certain period of time. If the keyboard or mouse is touched, the working desktop screen returns. The original purpose of a screen saver was to prevent a fixed image from being burned into the phosphor of the screen, by darkening the screen and displaying moving images. Screen burn is less likely to occur with current monitors, and would take many hours. But screen savers are fun, and users can get very creative programming different effects. One of the most famous screen savers is the one with flying toasters; there are many other effects such as underwater scenes, fireworks, stars and galaxies, etc.

Server: a system that provides network services such as disk storage and file transfer, print services or a program that provides such a service. A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network. The most common example is a file server which has a local disk and services requests from remote clients to read and write files on that disk. Another common example is a Web server.

Smiley: typed symbols of expression like a smiley face.

Soft boot: pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys to reboot your computer in case of a problem; this is better for your computer than a hard boot.

Software: programs you add to your computer to provide specific functions such as Microsoft Word to type documents or Photoshop to edit pictures.

Spam: stands for "sending particularly annoying messages"; sending unwanted e-mail. The electronic equivalent of junk mail often in the form of commercial announcements. The act of sending a spam is called, naturally, "spamming."

SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A TCP/IP protocol governing electronic mail transmission and reception. The standard protocol used on the Internet; also used on other TCP/IP networks. Defined in RFC 821, with associated message format descriptions in RFC 822. Uses TCP/IP port 25. Risks related to e-mail are the spreading of viruses in files that are attached, and 'spam', the junk-mail of the Internet.

Splash page: an opening page that you must click on to enter the site, sort of like a book cover; this site begins with a splash page: http://apple-corps.westnet.com.

Spyware: any type of software that sends information about your Internet sessions back to the computer from which it's launched. Spyware is often built into free downloads and works in the background without a user's knowledge. Since it doesn't record an individual's personal information, it's often used to create marketing profiles based on surfing habits. Gathering this information may benefit the user indirectly, e.g. by helping to improve the software he is using. It may be collected for advertising purposes or, worst of all, to steal security information such as passwords to online accounts or credit card details. There are many tools available to locate and remove various forms of spyware from a computer. Some cookies could be considered as spyware as their use is generally not made explicit to users. It is however possible to disallow them, either totally or individually, and some are actually useful, e.g. recording the fact that a user has logged in.

Stand-alone: the opposite of networked - one computer only. Some software is made to work on networks where it needs to be installed on the server and shared by all the workstations using the network. Other times software is intended for "stand alone" use, to be installed on only one individual computer.

Start button/menu: in Windows, starting with Windows 95, the Start menu is a launching pad for applications. It is also used to turn the machine off. The default location of the Start menu button is the left side of the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. The Start menu contains pointers (shortcuts) to the programs stored on the hard disk, because installation programs place an icon in the Start menu's Programs section. You can also drag icons of applications from the desktop or from any Explorer window onto the Start menu, and you can rearrange their position by dragging them up and down the menu.

Static IP Address: when assigned a static IP, the computer uses the same IP Address every time it connects to the network compared to dynamic IP Address which means that the computer is assigned an available IP Address every time the computer connects to the network and it may or may not be the same IP Address it had for the previous connection.

System tray: the area at the bottom of the screen, right corner of the task bar, where you find the time display and other small icons.


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Table: a chart of columns and rows used to divide and organize information. Tables are especially helpful to keep items in line.

Taskbar: a bar at the bottom of the screen in Windows versions that contains the Start button and a button for each program that is currently running. The taskbar can be used to switch from one task to another. It can also be dragged around with the mouse and adjusted in size.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): collection of "protocols" underlying the functioning of the Internet. Each computer connected to the Internet is identified by a unique IP Address. TCP/IP is a networking protocol that provides communication across interconnected networks, between computers with diverse hardware architectures and various operating systems. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol) are only two protocols in the family of Internet protocols. Over time, however, "TCP/IP" has been used in industry to denote the family of common Internet protocols.

Text: the written part, no pictures.

Temporary files: a file created by an application for its own purposes. In the days of limited main memory, temporary files were the only way to store large amounts of interim data that the application was generating. Today, main memory is often used instead. Temporary files typically have a .TMP or .TEMP file extension, but any naming convention might be used. An application is responsible for deleting its temporary files; however, such files often remain on disk if the computer crashed, and the program was not closed properly.

Temporary Internet Files: a collection of the most recent Web pages and files downloaded from the Web. The files are stored in a folder that acts as a cache so that subsequent requests are retrieved from the local hard disk. When the user requests the same page again, a request is sent to the Web site for the date of the file. If the date is newer than the one stored locally, the page is downloaded. If it is the same, the page is read locally. A storage setting determines how large the folder can grow. When the limit is reached, old files are discarded when new ones are added. In Windows Internet Explorer, the temporary files storage allocation can be found by going to the Tools menu and selecting Folder Options/Settings.

Thumb drive: (see flash drive)

Tilde: ~ the "little squiggle mark" found in some URL's; it is on your keyboard just to the left of the #1 key. Hold the shift key down and click on the tilde ~ to type it.

Title bar: the blue strip across the top of a program's window; it tells you what program you are working in.

Tool bar: a vertical or horizontal bar containing icons that represent the commands that can be used in an application. Sometimes the toolbar can be moved around or made to disappear.

Tower: a tall case that contains the major components of a computer system. It is usually stored on the floor underneath the monitor.

Trojan: a program that appears desirable, is disguised as legitimate software, but actually contains something harmful; the term is derived from the classical myth of the Trojan horse. The software may look useful or interesting to an unsuspecting user, but is harmful when executed.  E.g. "when he downloaded the free game (screensaver or music, etc.) it turned out to be a Trojan horse"


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Undo: a button with a blue curvy arrow that will "undo" the last change made to a file. Some programs allow only an undo of the last change made; some allow the user to undo a series of edits, in sequence.

Unix: A multi-user, multitasking operating system developed by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others in the 1970s and originally licensed by AT&T's Bell Laboratories. It was originally designed for minicomputers, then revised for use on mainframes and personal computers. There are now many versions of UNIX which can be used on many different platforms. UNIX is written in the C programming language, which was also developed at AT&T. Because it allows multiple programs to run simultaneously and multiple users to access a single computer, it has been used by universities and businesses where many people use the same computer. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet. In the late 1990s variations of UNIX became very popular with the introduction LINUX and the Mac OS X.

Upgrade: 1. A newer, presumably better, version of hardware or software. 2. To make a new version of a product. 3. To install a new version of hardware or software.

Upload: sending information from your computer to another one. Publishing a Web site is an example of uploading files from your computer to the server where the site will be hosted.

URL: stands for uniform resource locator and is what you type in to go to a site; also called the Web site address, but it's correct name is URL. The first part of the address indicates what protocol to use, and the second part specifies the IP address or the domain name where the resource is located. A sample URL is http://www.mysite.com/Welcome.html, where http is the protocol, www.mysite.com is the machine name, and Welcome.html is the document. The correct pronunciation is U-R-L spelled out, it does not rhyme with pearl.

USB: Universal Serial Bus. A computer bus which can support up to 127 peripheral devices in a daisy chain configuration including printers, digital cameras, keyboards and mice, and storage devices. USB supports data transfer of 12 Mbps. It uses inexpensive cable, which can be up to 5 meters long. USB also supports Plug-and-Play installation and hot plugging.

usb cable


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Video card: also called graphics adapter, display adapter, video adapter. A circuit board that enables a computer to display information on its screen. The resolution, number of colors, and refresh rate of a monitor is determined by the kind of video card used, plus the limitations of the monitor itself.

Virtual memory: a way of using disk storage space to make the computer work as if it had more memory. When a file or program is too big for the computer to work with in its memory, part of the data is stored on disk. This virtual storage is divided into segments called pages; each page is correlated with a location in physical memory, or RAM. When an address is referenced, the page is swapped into memory; it is sent back to disk when other pages must be called. The program runs as if all the data is in memory. The computer uses a hardware device called a memory management unit (MMU) to manage virtual memory. The virtual memory provides 32 bit (minimum) protected address space for each task and facilitates efficient sharing of that address space.

Virus: computer code or programs written for the purpose of causing annoying problems or even damaging your computer by changing files it uses to operate properly. The virus' files can be passed on to your computer through e-mail, instant messages, or downloading from the Internet. Some viruses are not obvious, so your computer could have a virus and you might not know.


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Wallpaper: a picture or design on your desktop in the background for decoration (not a screen saver).

Web: see WWW

Webmaster: someone who creates Web pages.

Workstation: a computer in a network that is not the server.

Word processor: a computer program that allows you to type and easily edit text before printing; writing processors generally include extras like the ability to insert graphics, copy and paste, use colors, etc.

WWW: the World Wide Web (WWW or simply Web) is all the resources and users on the Internet that are using the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). The Web gives universal access to a vast collection of documents. The Web's protocols are a superset of many of the most common Internet application services. Web servers exist for libraries, corporations, and a wide variety of other sites.


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