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FAT

1. file allocation table. A table used by an operating system to keep track of the files stored on the hard drive disk. Often files are broken into segments on a hard drive disk with each segment being record by FAT and associated with that file. The FAT is used when the file is open or run so the various segments can be sequenced together.

2. An application that is compiled to run on 2 platforms. For instance, on Macintosh computers, a FAT application could run on a PowerPC or a 680x0 platform.


fiber-optic cable - A data transmission wire made of glass or plastic. Data is transmitted using a modulated laser pulse.


FIFO - first in/first out. A method of processing the first file in the order it was sent. Typically used with printer queues.


file - A block of stored information that can be retrieve with a computer.


file allocation table - FAT. A table used by an operating system to keep track of the files stored on the hard drive disk. Often files are broken into segments on a hard drive disk with each segment being record by FAT and associated with that file. The FAT is used when the file is open or run so the various segments can be sequenced together.


file format - The file structure that determines how the file is organized and displayed on a monitor, printer, etc.


File Manager - The Windows-based application that manages files and directories/folders.


file sharing - A networked system that allows more than one user to access the same file.


file server - A computer that supports a network of computers allowing them to communicate with one another and share resources.


file transfer protocol -FTP. A common way to transfer files over the Internet. FTP has been adapted to nearly all platforms and can be used in two modes: ASCII or binary.


finder - An essential component of the Macintosh system and loads with the system.


Firewire - A new, fasted serial port that allows the chaining of devices. Firewire is faster than most parallel ports.


firmware - Software codes that are written directly and permanently onto chips.


first in/first out - FIFO. A method of processing the first file in the order it was sent. Typically used with printer queues.


fixed width - As applying to fonts, fixed width fonts are fonts whose characters take up the same amount of space independent of the specific character. For example, both an “i” and an “o” will take up the same amount of space even though the characters themselves are different widths. Variable width fonts (also called proportional fonts) are those fonts in which the characters take up different widths.


flash memory - Similar to RAM except it does not lose its information when the power is shut off and is slower.


floating point operations per second - FLOPS. A measure of the speed of computer. Floating point operations are mathematical calculations with floating point numbers.


floppy drive - Term used for the diskette drive. Diskettes are disks with about 1.4 MB of storage.


FLOPS - floating point operations per second. A measure of the speed of computer. Floating point operations are mathematical calculations with floating point numbers.


font - A set of characters, punctuation marks, and symbols. Fonts can be either scable (TrueType and PostScript fonts) or of fixed point size.


format -

1. To format a disk to be compatible with a specific platform. Also called initialization of a disk.

2. The way text is arranged in a document with such formatting as columns, bold, font size, etc.


formula translation - FORTRAN. FORTRAN is the oldest programming language, is not very portable, is compiled, but fast. It has lost its appeal to other programming languages such as Java and C++.


FORTRAN - formula translation. FORTRAN is the oldest programming language, is not very portable, is compiled, but fast. It has lost its appeal to other programming languages such as Java and C++.


frame - A single image that can be displayed with a series of other frames to generate an animated image or video clip. Computer video often runs at 30 frames per second while film run at 24 frames per second.


freeware - Software that is in the public domain and can be used free of charge.


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


FTP - file transfer protocol. A common way to transfer files over the Internet. FTP has been adapted to nearly all platforms and can be used in two modes: ASCII or binary.


full dump - A backup of an entire computer system’s set of files. (See also incremental dump.)


full-motion video - Frames that are usually displayed at 30 frames per second.


function keys - One of a dozen or more keyboard keys labeled F1, F2, etc. each have a specific pre-determined or programmed function such as copy, cut, paste, or print.


G

GB - gigabyte. Approximately 1,000,000,000 bytes (1 billion bytes), 1,000,000 kilobytes, or 1,000 megabytes. Exactly 1,073,741,824 bytes, 1,048,576 kilobytes, or 1,024 megabytes calculated from 2 to the 30th power.


GIF - Graphic Interchange Format. A popular graphical format developed by CompuServe commonly used on the world wide web. Gif files are 8-bit graphic files that can possess 256 different colors and are compressed without loss of information. GIFs can be also animated.


gigabyte - GB. Approximately 1,000,000,000 bytes (1 billion bytes), 1,000,000 kilobytes, or 1,000 megabytes. Exactly 1,073,741,824 bytes, 1,048,576 kilobytes, or 1,024 megabytes calculated from 2 to the 30th power.


gopher - A method of distributing information by computers that has waned in popularity to ftp. Most gopher files contain only text information with few images, audio, or video components. Files can be downloaded with a similar protocol like ftp.


graphical user interface - GUI. A graphical interface where the user uses a mouse, keyboard, icons, and menus to send commands to the CPU. Non-GUI systems would include MS-DOS which required typed commands such as “>format a:” to format a diskette.


Graphic Interchange Format -GIF. Graphic Interchange Format. A popular graphical format developed by CompuServe commonly used on the world wide web. Gif files are 8-bit graphic files that can possess 256 different colors and are compressed without loss of information. GIFs can be also animated.


graphics accelerator - An expansion card used to do calculate pixel values separately from the computer’s CPU.


GUI - graphical user interface. A graphical interface where the user uses a mouse, keyboard, icons, and menus to send commands to the CPU. Non-GUI systems would include MS-DOS which required typed commands such as “>format a:” to format a diskette.


H

hard disk/hard drive/hard disk drive - These words are often used interchangeably. The mechanism contains a disk that data is stored on. There is also a mechanism used to read and write data to the disk, and there is a housing unit that holds the mechanism together. Hard drives are becoming much more portable (e.g., Zip drives) and larger (e.g., 20GB non-portable drives are now commonplace).


hardware - Often referring to the mechanical and electrical parts that make up a computer system. These devices would include the mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer, scanner, motherboard, RAM, etc.


hexadecimal - A base-16 numbering system based rather than the commonly used based 10. Numbering in base 16 has 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, G (these numbers and letters correspond to 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16). The place holders in base-10 are 1's, 10's, 100's, 1000's; in base-16 numbering systems the place holders are 1's, 16's, 256's, 4,096's, etc. So 5CA means 5 256’s, 12 16’s, and 10 one’s for a total of 1482.


high resolution - An adjective that describes a higher number of dots per inch (DPI) relative to some other resolution. Currently, laser printers and scanners have 1200 DPI while monitors often have 1600 x 1200 DPI.


HLS - hue, luminance, and saturation. A color model system used to define colors on monitors and televisions. Other color models include CYMK and RGB. HLS is also sometimes abbreviated HSI or HSV for hue, saturation, and intensity, or hue, saturation, and value, respectively.


host - A computer that provides services to another computer; for example, storing downloadable files.


HTML - hypertext markup language. A file format and programming code commonly used with pages located on the world wide web. It is read by web browsers and can be used to embedded graphics, audio, video, and applets. It links to other HTML pages using uniform resource locators (URLs).


http - hypertext transfer protocol. The protocol used on the Internet to transfer hypertext media based on the TCP/IP protocol.


https - hypertext transfer protocol secure. The protocol used on the Internet to transfer secure hypertext media based on the TCP/IP protocol and the SSL security protocol.


hub - A location on the Internet that acts as a junction for many nodes.


hue - A color in the spectrum which can be represented by a word (e.g., red), by a hexidecimal value (e.g., #000000, white), and by other coding schemes. Hue along with luminence and saturation are used in the HLS color model.


hue, luminance, and saturation - HLS. A color model system used to define colors on monitors and televisions. Other color models include CYMK and RGB. HLS is also sometimes abbreviated HSI or HSV for hue, saturation, and intensity, or hue, saturation, and value, respectively.


hyperlink - A link within a hypertext document created with HTML.


hypertext - A document created using HTML.


hypertext markup language - HTML. A file format and programming code commonly used with pages located on the world wide web. It is read by web browsers and can be used to embedded graphics, audio, video, and applets. It links to other hypertext markup language pages using uniform resource locators (URLs).


hypertext transfer protocol - http. The protocol used on the Internet to transfer hypertext media based on the TCP/IP protocol.


I

icon - A graphic used to link to an application, document, etc. Used extensively in GUI systems.


IDE - 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 EIDE.


IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A professional organization of engineers, students, and other related professions established in 1963. Among other things, it establishes standards for the computer and electronics industry.


image - A computer graphic.


image resolution - A representation of the quality of the image usually measured in dots per inch (DPI). Typical DPI for world wide web graphics is 72 though higher resolutions of 600 DPI are not uncommon.


import - Commonly used to refer to documents or images created by one application in one platform that are opened by another application or in a different platform. For example, opening a MSWord document using WordPerfect, a PC MSWord document on a Macintosh, or a Photoshop image with Fireworks.


incremental dump - Backing up a computer’s files that have changed since the last backup. (See also full dump.)


infrared communication - A means of communicating using an infrared signal. For example, remote controllers for televisions work by sending an infrared signal to an infrared receiver on the television. Similarly, laptop computers can send documents to printers using an infrared port.


Infrared Data Association - IrDA. A voluntary group of manufacturers who have a common communications system to allow all IrDA compliant devices to communicate with one another.


INI file - initialization file. A file commonly used in earlier PC Windows systems (i.e., Windows 3.1) that contains simple initialization information for the drivers, system, and other basic computer applications.


initialization file - INI file. A file commonly used in earlier PC Windows systems (i.e., Windows 3.1) that contains simple initialization information for the drivers, system, and other basic computer applications.


input device - Any device that can provide information to a computer including a keyboard, mouse, joystick, audio recognition device, track ball, light pen, etc.


input/output - I/O. The process of providing data for a computer that can then process or store that data for later retrieval and output to a user.


insertion point - Typically a location in a text document shown as a blinking vertical bar where additional text or other data objects will be added.


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - IEEE. A professional organization of engineers, students, and other related professions established in 1963. Among other things, it establishes standards for the computer and electronics industry.


integrated device electronics - IDE. 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 EIDE.


integrated service digital network - ISDN. A set of standards used for the communication of voice, data, video, and audio signals over a single communication line. Typically, ISDN lines are much faster than traditional telephone/modem lines and transfer data via a digital signal.


interface - The junction between two items. These items can be two hardware items (a printer and a computer), two applications, the user and the computer (e.g., GUI), the user and an application, etc. The interface define the functions and protocols between the two items.


International Organization for Standardization - ISO. An international organization that reviews devices and establishes standards in communications. (Often incorrectly called the International Standards Organization.) http://www.iso.ch/welcome.html


Internet - A worldwide connection of smaller networks hooked together into a massive network contains millions of hosts and nodes.


Internet Explorer - The Microsoft world wide web browser that is available for a variety of platforms including PC Windows and Macintosh.


Internet Protocol - IP. The basic protocol of the Internet. It provides the protocols so two computers will be able to find one another but does not provide any protocols to assure that the data sent will actually arrive, will not arrive in duplicate form, nor will arrive in a non-corrupted state. Other protocols are established to monitor data integrity.


Internet relay chat - IRC. A method of voice communication between two individuals using the Internet in real-time.


Internet service provider - ISP. An organization (typically a company) that provides Internet access to individuals, companies, and organizations.


interpreter - A program that reads source code and interprets it line by line. It does not create an executable file.


I/O - input/output. The process of providing data for a computer that can then process or store that data for later retrieval and output to a user.


IP - Internet Protocol. The basic protocol of the Internet. It provides the protocols so two computers will be able to find one another but does not provide any protocols to assure that the data sent will actually arrive, will not arrive in duplicate form, nor will arrive in a non-corrupted state. Other protocols are established to monitor data integrity.


IP address - In TCP/IP, a 32-bit number that identifies each host on a network.


IRC - Internet relay chat. A method of voice communication between two individuals using the Internet in real-time.


IrDA - Infrared Data Association. A voluntary group of manufacturers who have a common communications system to allow all IrDA compliant devices to communicate with one another.


ISDN - integrated service digital network. A set of standards used for the communication of voice, data, video, and audio signals over a single communication line. Typically, ISDN lines are much faster than traditional telephone/modem lines and transfer data via a digital signal.


ISO - International Organization for Standardization. An international organization that reviews devices and establishes standards in communications. (Often incorrectly called the International Standards Organization.) http://www.iso.ch/welcome.html


ISP - Internet service provider. An organization (typically a company) that provides Internet access to individuals, companies, and organizations.


J

Java - A platform-independent object-oriented programming language designed for the web and developed by Sun Microsystems. A Java application on the web, an applet, is downloaded by a client and then runs on the client’s computer. Since it is platform-independent, a separate Macintosh, Windows, etc. version is not needed.


JavaScript - A programming language that is interpreted by both majors browsers (though not necessarily in identical ways) and is used to enhance a web page, for instance, by accepting user input. JavaScript is not related to Java.


Joint Photographic Experts Group - JPEG. A graphics file format developed by the ISO. JPEG files are more useful when the image contains a large color palette while the GIF format is more suited to a smaller number of colors. The compression algorithm for JPEG is a lossy one so image resolution is lost as the file is compressed; greater compression leads to greater loss.


JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group. A graphics file format developed by the ISO. JPEG files are more useful when the image contains a large color palette while the GIF format is more suited to a smaller number of colors. The compression algorithm for JPEG is a lossy one so image resolution is lost as the file is compressed; greater compression leads to greater loss.


K

KB - kilobyte. Approximately 1,000 bytes. Exactly 1,024 bytes calculated from 2 to the 10th power.


Kermit - A file transfer and terminal emulation protocol not used very often anymore.


keyboard buffer - A temporary memory in the keyboard that stores a number of key strokes. In this way, even if the computer does not initially respond to the key strokes, it will when it’s CPU becomes available with having to re-enter the key strokes.


keyword - A word used for sorting, filtering, and searching. In programming languages, it is a reserved word which can not be used, for example, as a variable name. For instance, a variable typically can not be name “then” because if-then statements have reserved the word “then.”


kilobyte - KB. Approximately 1,000 bytes. Exactly 1,024 bytes calculated from 2 to the 10th power.


L

L2 cache - level2 cache. Cache memory installed is called level 2 cache because level 1 cache is already on the CPU. Cache memory is high speed storage used as a transfer point for frequently used data between the CPU and the hard disk or RAM memory. Cache memory is used because it improves computer performance making it faster. Cache memory is usually either fast RAM memory or a specific region of the hard disk set aside for this specific use.


LAN - local area network. A network of personal computers usually in close proximity (in the same office or on the same floor of a building) hooked together so common resources like files, data, and printers can be used by an entire group of workers.


landscape - The orientation of a document or graphic to be horizontal; i.e., the width is greater than the height. See also portrait.


laptop - A portable computer slightly larger than a notebook computer. These computers are more expensive than desktops and can run on batteries for a short period of time.


laser printer - A printer that uses a laser beam to produce high quality text and graphic images. At this time, laser printers are the best resolution printers, come in black and white or color, and are the most expensive commercial personal printers.


LCD - liquid crystal display. The portable computer display screens filled with liquid crystals. There are 2 common types: the high quality active matrix displays and the lower quality passive matrix displays.


LED - light emitting diode. LEDs are the small green, yellow, orange, or red lights commonly found in computers and other small electronic devices. They are semiconductor diodes; i.e., containing 2 semiconductors sandwiched together.


level2 cache - L2 cache. Cache memory installed is called level 2 cache because level 1 cache is already on the CPU. Cache memory is high speed storage used as a transfer point for frequently used data between the CPU and the hard disk or RAM memory. Cache memory is used because it improves computer performance making it faster. Cache memory is usually either fast RAM memory or a specific region of the hard disk set aside for this specific use.


light emitting diode - LED. LEDs are the small green, yellow, orange, or red lights commonly found in computers and other small electronic devices. They are semiconductor diodes; i.e., containing 2 semiconductors sandwiched together.


Linux - Linux is an operating system that is very fast and stable. It can run on most platforms including PDAs; other platforms not yet compatible are under development. Since it is based on the Unix system, it can run all Unix software and is preferred by ISPs. It is gradually making headway in the personal computing market, and can be downloaded free over the Internet.


liquid crystal display - LCD. The portable computer display screens filled with liquid crystals. There are 2 common types: the high quality active matrix displays and the lower quality passive matrix displays.


Lisp - Lisp was the second programming language developed after FORTRAN. It is usually interpreted, is fairly portable but not fast.


load - The common use of load or loading is to place the machine-language instructions of an program, or some data, into memory.


local area network - LAN. A network of personal computers usually in close proximity (in the same office or on the same floor of a building) hooked together so common resources like files, data, and printers can be used by an entire group of workers.


LocalTalk - The hardware built into Macintosh computers used for networking using the AppleTalk protocol.


login - A process (i.e., noun) to gain access to a server using a user name and password.


log in - The action (i.e., verb) to send a user name and password to a server and gaining access to that server.


logout - A process (i.e., noun) to disconnect the link to a server that required a user name and password.


log out - The action (i.e., verb) of disconnecting the link to a server access with a user name and password.


locked file - A file that is in use, or one that has been protected or in some way limited is usage (i.e., read only files). For instance, a file opened in an application can not be deleted until it is closed from that application.


lossless compression - A compression algorithm that reduces the size of a file without losing any image quality and can be restored to its original form. This type of compression can not compress the file as much as lossy compression but no image quality is lost.


lossy compression - A compression algorithm that reduces the size of a file and also reduces image quality. It can not be restored to its original form but can compress to a greater degree than lossless compression.


low resolution - Low resolution typically implies that image quality is not high; i.e., the image is not as sharp as a high resolution image. Resolution can be measured in pixels per inch or DPI. For example, a low resolution graphic may be 72 DPI while a low resolution scanner may be able to scan images only at 300 DPI.


LPT1 - The first parallel port on PC computers that typically is used as a connection to printers. Parallel ports are faster than serial ports because they can send more than 1 bit of data simultaneously.


luminance - A measure of the total amount of light coming from a given surface area. The subjective description of luminance is brightness. Luminance along with hue and saturation are part of the HLS color model system.


M

Macintosh - First developed by Apple Computers in 1984 and one of the first computers to use a GUI. Older Macintosh computers used the 680x0 chips while most Macintosh computers from 1996 on use the PowerPC Platform.


MacBinary - A file format used by Macintosh computers to transfer files to other computers. MacBinary files have a “.bin” extension.


MacOS - The operating system used by Macintosh computers and developed by Apple Computers.


macro - Typically used to mean a sequence of recorded keystrokes that can be played back using a shortcut keystroke to re-do the recorded task(s) quickly.


mailbox - An email file used to store mail sent, received, or to be deleted.


maximize - A process of increasing the size of the active window to fill the desktop.


MB - megabyte. Approximately 1,000,000 bytes or 1,000 kilobytes. Exactly 1,048,576 bytes (1,024 kb) calculated from 2 to the 20th power.


Mbps - megabits per second. 1 Mbps is approximately 1,000,000 bits per second, and refers to the speed of data transmission.


MCAD - mechanical computer-aided design. A specific type of CAD that is used in the design of mechanical structures like bridges, cars, etc.


mechanical computer-aided design - MCAD. A specific type of CAD that is used in the design of mechanical structures like bridges, cars, etc.


megabits per second - Mbps. 1 Mbps is approximately 1,000,000 bits per second, and refers to the speed of data transmission.


megabyte - MB. Approximately 1,000,000 bytes or 1,000 kilobytes. Exactly 1,048,576 bytes (1,024 kb) calculated from 2 to the 20th power.


MegaFLOPS - million floating point operations per second. A measure of a computer’s speed. A MegaFLOP refers to do 1 million floating decimal point calculations in 1 second.


megahertz - MHz. A million Hertz, where a Hertz is one cycle (or wave) per second. MHz are often used to describe a processor’s speed with a greater MHz implying a faster processor. This is true only in the case where everything else is held constant and the only difference is the MHz or speed of the processor. In most cases, a comparison of the processor’s MHz will not reveal which processor is faster; in fact, many processor’s with slower MHz can actually process a task (e.g., apply a filter to a Photoshop graphic) faster than another processor with a higher MHz. (The term clock speed is often used in stead of MHz.)


memory - A temporary storage of an application, parts of an application, or files. Not to be confused with a hard drive which typically stores files or applications on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. There are a variety of different types of memory including RAM, ROM, VRAM, PRAM, DRAM, SRAM, and flash memory.


menu - A list of options for a given GUI operating system or application.


menubar - The bar at the top of a window in an application or the top of the desktop in a GUI operating system that lists all the titles of the drop-down menus. Some menu bar options do not have drop-down menus and that menu bar title is the entire menu (e.g., some Help options take the user to a Help file when clicked and do not produce a drop-down menu).


MFLOPS - million floating point operations per second. A measure of a computer’s speed. A MFLOP refers to do 1 million floating decimal point calculations in 1 second.


MHz - megahertz. A million Hertz, where a Hertz is one cycle (or wave) per second. MHz are often used to describe a processor’s speed with a greater MHz implying a faster processor. This is true only in the case where everything else is held constant and the only difference is the MHz or speed of the processor. In most cases, a comparison of the processor’s MHz will not reveal which processor is faster; in fact, many processor’s with slower MHz can actually process a task (e.g., apply a filter to a Photoshop graphic) faster than another processor with a higher MHz. (The term clock speed is often used in stead of MHz.)


Microsoft Disk Operating System - MS-DOS. The operating system developed by Microsoft and used on most PCs. MS-DOS is a command-line interface (CLI) rather than a GUI and can run only on x86 chips.. Both Windows 3.1 and 95 can be used on top of MS-DOS to create a GUI. MS-DOS is sometimes referred to as simply DOS.


MIDI - musical instrument digital interface. A standard file format and control language used to specify musical notes and timing. The code can be written and outputted to a MIDI-compatible musical instrument (e.g., synthesizer) or it can be created by a MIDI-compatible musical instrument attached to a computer.


million floating point operations per second - MegaFLOPS (or MFLOPS). A measure of a computer’s speed. A MegaFLOP refers to do 1 million floating decimal point calculations in 1 second.


millions of instructions per second - MIPS. A measure of the speed of a CPU; in this case, the number of instructions a CPU can process per second. Since different processors require different numbers of instructions to perform the same task (RISC requires more instructions than CISC), and since a variety of other factors play a role in the overall computer’s “speed,” a greater number of MIPS processed (like MHz) does not necessarily imply a “better” computer.


MIME - multi-purpose Internet mail extensions. A protocol used to transfer non-ASCII files such as video, audio, and graphics as an email attachment.


minimize - A process of decreasing the size of the active window on the desktop. In the Windows operating system, the active window is reduced to a small title bar at the bottom of the desktop. In Macintosh computers, the active window is hidden except for its title bar. The title bar is not reduced in width and is not moved to the bottom of the desktop.


MIPS - millions of instructions per second. A measure of the speed of a CPU; in this case, the number of instructions a CPU can process per second. Since different processors require different numbers of instructions to perform the same task (RISC requires more instructions than CISC), and since a variety of other factors play a role in the overall computer’s “speed,” a greater number of MIPS processed (like MHz) does not necessarily imply a “better” computer.


modulator-demodulator - modem. A device used as a bridge between a desktop computer and the telephone lines. The modem converts digital signals from the computer into analog signals which can be sent over telephone lines. If the message is sent to a server, then another modem must first receive the analog signal, convert it back to a digital signal, and then pass it on the server.


modem - modulator-demodulator. A device used as a bridge between a desktop computer and the telephone lines. The modem converts digital signals from the computer into analog signals which can be sent over telephone lines. If the message is sent to a server, then another modem must first receive the analog signal, convert it back to a digital signal, and then pass it on the server.


monochrome - Monochrome means literally one color and refers to one-color monitors where there is one color associated with background and one for the foreground. The common monochrome monitors are white on a black background or green on a black background. Monitors that have shades of gray are not monochrome but gray-scale monitors.


Mosaic - The first widely used web browsers available free and developed by NCSA.


motherboard - The main circuit board of the computer that contains the CPU, the RAM, the SBus, the ports, the BIOS, and expansion slots. (Also called system board.)


Motorola - The manufacturer of the 680x0 chip and a co-developer and manufacturer of the PowerPC chip.


mouse - An input device that controls the location of the cursor. The mouse works with a small ball that rolls underneath as the mouse housing is moved. The rolling ball’s motion can be detected and converted into an electronic signal which correspondingly moves the cursor on the monitor. There are variations to this design (e.g. track balls), and newer models use lasers and an optical/electical pad that detects the laser motion. These laser mouse is more sensitive to movements since there is an optical rather than a mechanical interface.


mouse button 1 - The primary mouse button that starts applications, etc. On Macintosh computers, mouse button 1 is the only button since it is a one button mouse. On PCs, the left-most button is mouse button 1.


mouse button 2 - The secondary mouse button. There is no mouse button 2 on a Macintosh computer mouse since it has only one button. On PCs, mouse button 2 is the right-most button.


moving pictures experts group - MPEG. A standard lossy compression to compress video and audio data streams.


MPEG - moving pictures experts group. A standard lossy compression to compress video and audio data streams.


MS-DOS - Microsoft Disk Operating System. The operating system developed by Microsoft and used on most PCs. MS-DOS is a command-line interface (CLI) rather than a GUI and can run only on x86 chips.. Both Windows 3.1 and 95 can be used on top of MS-DOS to create a GUI. MS-DOS is sometimes referred to as simply DOS.


MS-Windows - A GUI interface operating system written by Microsoft that can refer to a some or all of the Windows operating systems developed (Windows 3.1, Window 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows CE).


multi-purpose Internet mail extensions - MIME. A protocol used to transfer non-ASCII files such as video, audio, and graphics as an email attachment.


multimedia - A package of information that usually includes several formats of information including video, audio, animation, graphics, and/or text. Because of the large size of multimedia files, many multimedia projects are available only on CD-ROMs.


multiprocessor - A computer with more than one CPU allowing parallel tasks to be completed simultaneously.


multisync - The ability of a monitor to run at different scan rates which permit different resolutions.


multitasking - The process of running two or more tasks at the “same” time. Actually, the programs take turns using the available input/output ports and the CPU. There are different types of multitasking: Cooperative multitasking is a system that requires programs to take turns using the CPU while preemptive multitasking is a system that prioritizes programs, stopping some programs to allow others to access the CPU.


multiuser - A system that allows more than one user to access information in a sequential fashion in a given time frame.


musical instrument digital interface - MIDI. A standard file format and control language used to specify musical notes and timing. The code can be written and outputted to a MIDI-compatible musical instrument (e.g., synthesizer) or it can be created by a MIDI-compatible musical instrument attached to a computer.


N

nanosecond - A time unit of one billionth of a second or 0.000000001 seconds.


National Center for Computer Applications - NCSA. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who developed the original NCSA Mosaic web browser.


navigation keys - Keys on the keyboard that can move the cursor. These include the arrow keys, the home, end, page up (PgUp), page down (PgDn), and tab keys.


NCSA - National Center for Computer Applications. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who developed the original NCSA Mosaic web browser.


Netscape browser - A web browser called Communicator, that works on the Macintosh, Windows, and other platforms.


network - The hardware that connects a collection of computers and their peripherals wired together so they can communicate and share resources like hard drives and printers.


node - A device or computer with a specific address connected to a network.


notebook - A small laptop portable computer.


O

object - A graphical image such as a photograph, video clip, etc. It is also one of the principle building blocks in object-oriented programming and can include buttons, tables, forms, etc.


object linking and embedding - OLE. A software design that allows objects to be shared among applications. If the original object is changed, that changed is also made in all documents containing that object.


object-oriented design - A software design approach that models the characteristics of real or abstract objects to create objects that mimic these items and events. Common object-oriented programs include Java and C++.


OCR - optical character recognition. Software and hardware components that can recognize bitmaps and characters and convert them into ASCII text characters.


office suite - A collection of software sold as a package and often containing a word processing application, a spreadsheet application, a database application, and a drawing application. Many vendors have such suites including MSOffice, Corel Office, and ClarisWorks among others.


OLE - object linking and embedding. A software design that allows objects to be shared among applications. If the original object is changed, that changed is also made in all documents containing that object.


online - A computer or device that is connected to a network and is functioning.


open source - An application that not only is freeware but the source code for the application itself is also available for developers to use and adapt as needed.


operating system - OS. The software program(s) on a computer that monitors the computer, is in charge of input and output for that system, controls data storage, and executes other applications. There are many different operating systems including MacOS, MS-DOS, Windows, Unix, and OS/2 among others.


optical character recognition - OCR. Software and hardware components that can recognize bitmaps and characters and convert them into ASCII text characters.


OS - operating system. The software program(s) on a computer that monitors the computer, is in charge of input and output for that system, controls data storage, and executes other applications. There are many different operating systems including MacOS, MS-DOS, Windows, Unix, and OS/2 among others.


OS/2 - A GUI operating system developed by IBM and Microsoft for use on the 80x86 chip computers. OS/2 Warp is the current version of OS/2.


OS/2 Warp - The current version of OS/2.


P

parallel port - A port on PC computers that typically is used as a connection to printers. On PCs, the first parallel port is designated LPT1. Parallel ports are faster than serial ports because they can send more than 1 bit of data simultaneously.


parameter RAM - PRAM. PRAM is a portion of RAM that is used on Macintosh computers to store system information such as time, date, Control Panel settings, etc. The PRAM is maintained with a small battery so information is not lost when the computer is shut down. Occasional corruption of the PRAM information occurs and can be corrected by “zapping” the PRAM.


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