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COBOL - common business-oriented language. One of the older programming languages aimed at business users that is portable but also longer (i.e., less efficient).


command-line interface - CLI. Typically refers to an operating system that is controlled by typing in command lines. A primary example of CLI is MS-DOS where a command line such as, c://format a:, is required to format a disk in drive “a.” Most desktop computers use a graphical user interface (GUI) instead (Unix is a CLI-based system).


comment - In programming languages, a comment is information placed there by the programmer but ignored by the compiler. In HTML, a "" ends the comment.


common business-oriented language - COBOL. One of the older programming languages aimed at business users that is portable but also longer (i.e., less efficient).


common hardware reference platform - CHRP. A hardware architecture that uses the PowerPC CPU and a PCI bus. The common hardware reference platform is found in Macintosh computers but supports other operating systems. (Also called the PowerPC Platform.)


compact disc read-only memory - CD-ROM. An optical storage medium that can hold about 600 MB of data and is accessed with lasers.


compiler - A application that takes source code and converts it into machine code that can be executed by the computer.


complex instruction set computing - CISC. A chip architecture with a variety of simple tasks hard-coded into the chip. Older chips such as the Motorola 680x0 and Intel 80x86 had a complex instruction set computing architecture; newer chips use the RISC architecture.


compressed video - A digital video segment that has been reduced in size by using computer algorithms. The compressed version usually has a lower resolution than the uncompressed version. The better the compression algorithm, the greater the reduction in size without the corresponding reduction in resolution.


compression - The process of taking a data object and reducing its size. The tradeoff that occurs is between the loss of resolution versus the reduction in size.


COM port - A connecting location on computers for a serial cable. Serial cables usually have 9 pins and pass data at a slower rate than parallel ports. Serial ports can be used for printers and modems.


computer-aided design - CAD. Using computers to help design, draw, and analyze the production of industrial or electronic components.


cookie - A cookie is a small amount of information written on a client computer (typically your personal computer) from a server and is especially common on the web. The information may include a userID or your previous Internet shopping excursion.


coprocessor - An additional processor that usually has a specific dedicated task such as number crunching or video processing. Coprocessors are attached on small circuit boards called cards and are inserted in expansion slots.


CPU - central processing unit. The CPU contains the chip or main processor of a personal computer. It performs the basic tasks and functions of the computer, and is often called the "brains" of the computer. The CPU may also refer to the housing or motherboard that contains the chip.


cross-platform - Different platforms would include Macintosh, PC Windows, and MS-DOS. An application that is cross-platform can be run on more than one platform; currently, most cross-platform applications are compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems (and/or UNIX systems).


CRT - cathode ray tube. The video/imaging tube of most TVs and computer monitors. The CRT contains phosphors (chemicals that glow when excited) that are chemically excited by an electron beam.


cyan, magenta, yellow, black - CMYK. A color description that defines colors with a subtractive color system starting with white and removing percentages of cyan, magenta, or yellow.


D

daisy chain - A method of connecting a series of peripherals on a bus in a chain. A signal is sent from the CPU along this chain of devices, if the device did not request the signal it passes it along to the next device.


DAT - digital audio tape. An audio tape similar to a magnetic cassette tape but using a digital process of recording and playing back.


database - A series of files connected and related by data objects it contains. In database programs, a database may contain forms, tables, queries, and other data manipulation files.


decompression - The process of taking a compressed file and returning it to its original uncompressed state.


decryption - The process of de-coding an encrypted set of data using the code’s key.


dedicated line - A communication line, often a telephone or ISDN line, that provides a specific function such as a modem connecting line.


delimiter - An item that divides data fields. Commonly used delimiters include a comma, space, or tab character.


desktop - The windows, icons, dialog boxes, aliases, and other items that appear on the computer screen of Macintoshes and Windows-based PCs.


desktop computer - A personal computer that resides on the desk’s top; a desktop computer is non-portable and can not function as a mainframe computer.


device ID - An identifying ASCII string used to identify each hardware device from another; i.e., an internal CD-ROM, a hard drive, a printer, etc., will each have their own unique device ID.


dialog box - A small window that appears on the desktop typically either notifying the user of some event (e.g., a system error) and requesting input from the user (“OK” to print).


dial-up connection - A connection between two devices over the telephone lines; e.g., connecting to an email service provider.


digital - A system that defines data in a discrete, non-fluctuating (i.e., non-analog), numerical method. Similar to a binary system.


digital audio tape - DAT. An audio tape similar to a magnetic cassette tape but using a digital process of recording and playing back.


digitalize - The process of converting a non-digital item (e.g., a photograph or video clip) into a digital data object.


digital video disk - DVD. An optical storage medium that can store video, audio, and text. This medium is beginning to replace magnetic video tapes.


DIMM - dual inline memory module. A pre-assembled RAM module that contains many smaller memory chips. A DIMM has a 168-pin connector allowing for 64-bit data transfer, twice the data transfer rate of SIMMs (single inline memory module).


DIP switch - dual inline package switch. A series of small switches on hard devices like hard drives used to define the configuration of that piece of hardware. For example, on computers with 2 hard drives, the DIP switches are used to define which hard drive is the master (primary) and which is the slave (secondary) hard drive.


direction keys - Sometimes also called arrow keys. The keys are usually found together on the key board and have an up, down, left, and right direction.


directory - A organizational technique used to store computer files. A directory can contain files, applications, or other directories called sub-directories. On computers with graphical user interfaces (GUIs), directories are called folders.


directory path name - The complete name of the directory starting with the root directory (top level directory). A directory name may be for example, c:/documents/personal. (See also absolute path name and path. Compare to relative path name.)


disk cache - Using the hard drive as a memory cache for faster data retrieval. Disk cache is used as temporary higher-speed storage and transfer of data. Cache is used because it improves computer performance making it faster. Cache memory can also be dedicated fast RAM memory.


Disks - A portable storage disk. Disks come in a variety of sizes and capacities. Older versions included the 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 inch floppies. Newer versions are the 3.5 inch disks with about 1.4 MB storage capacity. Even newer magneto-optical disks such as Zip disks, can store about 100 MB of storage, while Jazz disks can be as large as 2 GB.


disk drive - The part of the hard drive that holds and spins the disk. The heads of the disk drive read and write data to the disk.


disk partition - Disk partition occurs when a segment of a disk is set aside for a specific system file or function. Disk partitioning can also refer to the process of dividing a hard drive’s disk into smaller segments for more efficient data storage.


dithering - Simulating an unavailable color usually on a monitor by using other colors. A common example of this is with the world wide web; not all colors are available on all monitors and computer systems so those colors not available on the client computer are dithered to create a similar color as the one on the server.


DNS -

1. domain name service. A service that takes a domain and searches until a specific host is found.

2. domain name server. A server that provides routing for a particular domain (i.e., wisc.edu).

3. domain name system. A system that converts IP addresses into a specific domain.


domain/domain name - A name such as wisc.edu that identifies the host or organization with that name.


domain name service - DNS. A server that provides routing for a particular domain (i.e., wisc.edu).


domain name service - DNS. A service that takes a domain and searches until a specific host is found.


domain name service - DNS. A system that converts IP addresses into a specific domain.


dots per inch - DPI. A measure of the resolution of a scanner, printer, image, etc. The higher the dots per inch, the higher the resolution.


download - The process of transferring data from one computer to another. Usually, download refers to the transfer of data from a server to a client computer. The opposite of upload.


downtime - The time when a desktop or network computer is down and unavailable to use.


DPI - dots per inch. A measure of the resolution of a scanner, printer, image, etc. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution.


drag - The process of moving an object on a graphical user interface (GUI) computer by holding the mouse button down while moving the mouse.


drag and drop - The process of dragging a GUI item such as a document and then releasing the mouse button to copy, print, or perform some function on that data object.


DRAM - dynamic random access memory. DRAM is a type of RAM that contains a capacitor and requires refreshing since capacitors gradually lose their charge over time. Data transfer rates are slower with DRAM than with static RAM (SRAM), about 60 versus 10 nanoseconds, respectively.


driver/device driver - Software that is used to interface the computer’s OS with external hardware such as printers or scanners.


drop-down menu - A menu that drops down when a user chooses a menu title in the menu bar.


dual inline memory module - DIMM. A pre-assembled RAM module that contains many smaller memory chips. A dual inline memory module has a 168-pin connector allowing for 64-bit data transfer, twice the data transfer rate of SIMMs (single inline memory module).


dual inline package switch - DIP switch. A series of small switches on hard devices like hard drives used to define the configuration of that piece of hardware. For example, on computers with 2 hard drives, the dual inline package switches are used to define which hard drive is the master (primary) and which is the slave (secondary) hard drive.


DVD - digital video disk. An optical storage medium that can store video, audio, and text. This medium is beginning to replace magnetic video tapes.


dynamic random access memory - DRAM. Dynamic random access memory is a type of RAM that contains a capacitor and requires refreshing since capacitors gradually lose their charge over time. Data transfer rates are slower with dynamic random access memory than with static RAM (SRAM), about 60 versus 10 nanoseconds, respectively.


E

EIDE - enhanced integrated device electronics. A disk format used by most common platforms in which the controller electronics reside within the drive housing removing the need for a separate adapter. Other formats include SCSI, UltraSCSI, and IDE.


em dash - A dash (—) the width of the letter M in the same font and font size.


emulator - The process where one computer mimics another computer; for example, a Macintosh computer emulating a Windows-based computers. Once emulated, the computer theoretically has the same functioning capacities as the computer it is emulating.


encryption - The process of protecting a set of data usually for security reasons. The process codes the data which can later be de-coded (decryption) using the code’s key.


en dash - A dash (–) half as wide as the em dash in the same font and font size.


Encapsulated PostScript - EPS. A graphical file format used with desktop publishing programs.


end of file - EOF. A marker on a file to designate the end of the file has been reached.


enhanced integrated device electronics - EIDE. A disk format used by most common platforms in which the controller electronics reside within the drive housing removing the need for a separate adapter. Other formats include SCSI, UltraSCSI, and IDE.


EOF - end of file. A marker on a file to designate the end of the file has been reached.


EPS - Encapsulated PostScript. A graphical file format used with desktop publishing programs.


Ethernet - A networking system that enables high speed data communication over coaxial cables. The Ethernet network system supports TCP/IP, AppleTalk, Novell Netware, and other network protocols.


expansion bus - Control lines that interface with devices on the system board or expansion cards. Common expansion buses include USB and PCI.


expansion card - A processor that can be added to an expansion slot located on the mother board of a PC. The card can be a video accelerator card (a processor dedicated to processing video) or it can function in a variety of other capacities. Also called a card.


expansion slot - The location on the mother board that the expansion card connects to.


extension - Typically a 3 letter ending that follows the file name and is separated by a period. Extensions are used in MS-DOS systems and often used with world wide web pages’ graphics and other multimedia files. Common extensions include .doc, .wpd, .txt., .rtf for word processing documents; .gif, .jpg., .bmp, .psd, .png, and many more for image files; .wav and.aiff for audio files; and .mov, .mpeg, .avi for video files.


F

FAQ - frequently asked questions. A document that tries to answer frequently asked questions. This is a popular mode of support with the world wide web.

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