Computing Dictionary

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This dictionary is a work in progress.   Currently we have about 30 definitions.
Last work on this page was done June 7th, 2003.  Head on down the page ...


Alpha --- (DEC/Alpha) a 64-bit processor (CPU) architecture. Your Pentium, Celeron, AMD, Cyrix, or Via C3 machine is a 32-bit machine.

AMD --- Advanced Microchip Devices. Makers of the Athlon, Duron, and K6 CPU chips. Major competitor of Intel.


Berkeley UNIX --- see "BSD".

BlueTooth --- a wireless data transfer/communication protocol developed by Ericsson.   Bluetooth is an extremely "portable" protocol, that is, it interfaces with computers, cellphones, palm devices, and just about any kind of machine engineers can program.  One of the most interesting uses of this technology of which we are aware is in overnight shipping operations --- warehouse sorters have "Bluetooth Scanner Rings" which read barcodes on parcels as they are handled.  Bluetooth's range of operations is a shortcoming, however; the range is on the order of tens of feet.

Browser --- a "client" program (software) for viewing HTML pages on the "World Wide Web." The most popular Web Browsers are Internet Explorer and Netscape. Other browsers in current use include Opera, Konqueror, Mozilla(freeware), Lynx, Galleon and a host of others.

BSD --- an advanced operating system that originated at U. Cal, Berkley ("Berkley Systems Distribution"). Currently, development is continued by 3 groups of 'user communities' - FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. Taken as a whole, *BSD is one of the major branches of UNIX system development.


CDR Compact Disk, Recordable.  An optical diskette, purchased in an empty condition and burned as a CD-ROM (read-only memory) for permanent storage of data.  All recent models of computers and CD players will play audio CD's, and this allows users to create audio CD's from CDR's.  see also "CDRW".

Central Processing Unit - Alternatively, the main processor chip.  This chip performs millions of calculations per second to allow your computer to perform miracles.  Really, the intricacies of the process are quite a specialized field.  Suffice it to say your computer needs one --- and usually, it a needs a faster one, right?  The frequency of operation gives some indication of the number of calculations per seconds that the CPU can make.  The server this dictionary is on is running at either 266 or 350MHz; this is a rather old chip.  Fortunately, this server doesn't have to run Windows (or any GUI whatsoever,) so that's not a concern.  As of January, 2003, Dell was boasting a box with an Intel chip running at about 3060 MHz (3.06GHz).  We reckon that might run Windows95 fast enough to suit even us :-)  see also "AMD", "Intel", "Moore's Law", etc.

Client - a program (software unit) that communicates with services on a server, most generally from a remote location.  Popular E-mail clients include Outlook Express and Eudora. Popular Web Browser clients include Internet Explorer, Netscape and Opera. A popular Instant Messaging client is AOL's Instant Messenger.... & c., & c., & c.,

CPU --- see "Central Processing Unit."

Cracker, (cracking) - a person or program that attempts to defeat or bypass security measures in software (or hardware).  There are some legitimate uses for "crackers" --- indeed, most web administrators should know about these techniques, in order to defend against them.  Computer security professionals make their living by attempting to crack into working systems --- this is known as a "security audit." Mandatory contrast/see also "Hacker/Hacking."


Dump --- a UNIX backup utility; also, (vulgar) to distribute unwanted or "stupid" email.  see "Spam".



Firewall - a program that monitors incoming information on Internet "Sockets" (ports) on a local machine in hopes of ensuring security of the system. Many popular antivirus programs now include firewalling software. A popular firewall program is ZoneAlarm from ZoneLabs.



Hacker, (hacking) - this is a term that has, rather unfortunately, been used interchangeably with "Cracker/cracking" to the annoyance of many a "computer geek."   "Hacking" generally refers to making hardware and software work --- so, "hackers" are software developers, computer programmers, webmasters, etc.  We would respectfully ask that the general public use the term "crackers" or "badguyz" (and there are several others) to refer to malicious Internet/computer users and persons engaging in fraudulent activities.  There is not room in this document for a complete discussion on this issue --- we recommend you check out the jargon file instead.

HTML - HyperText Markup Language: A programming language that produces "web pages" (text and images, etc.) when viewed with a "web browser."

HTTP --- HyperText Transfer Protocol: This is the 'language' that WWW servers and your web browser use to transfer text and images from the "World Wide Web" to your computer via the Internet.


Intel --- An industry leader in computer electronic components. Intel created the first microprocessor, and remains on the cutting edge of this type of technology. Intel was founded in 1968 by researchers from Fairchild Semiconductor, a division of the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation, including Dr. Gordon Moore, who is famous for "Moore's Law," a prediction of the continued growth in processing power available from the microchip.

Internet --- the collective term for thousands upon thousands of "Local Area Networks" that are connected to each other by wire or fiber optic cables owned by communications companies or by radio, and use various protocols to communicate with each other.   Strictly speaking, this is NOT the "World Wide Web," although the WWW and its protocol, http, is a part of the "Internet Suite" of protocols, and WWW traffic makes up the majority percentage of all Internet traffic.  Technically, the Internet is a giant and public WAN.

Internet Explorer - see "Web Browser." also see here.



KDE --- A combined Window Manager and Desktop Environment for Unix/Linux.   "KDE Desktop Environment," etc.

Konqueror --- The KDE flagship browser.  see "KDE"  "Browser."


LAN --- see "Local Area Network."

Local Area Network --- a group of computers, in the same general physical area, connected together via wire in order to communicate, share data, or share services available on a "server." This definition is becoming dated as "wireless" networking becomes popular.


Moore's Law --- The observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented. Moore predicted that this trend would continue for the foreseeable future. In subsequent years, the pace slowed down a bit, but data density has doubled approximately every 18 months, and this is the current definition of Moore's Law, which Moore himself has blessed. Most experts, including Moore himself, expect Moore's Law to hold for at least another two decades.


Netscape --- see "Web Browser." also see


Opera --- see "Web Browser." also see


Processor, Processor Chip --- see "Central Processing Unit."




Server --- a computer that runs "services" for other computers. Any computer can act as a server with the proper hardware, software, and resources.

Services --- a euphemism, in poor taste, for "X Window System."

SMTP --- Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The 'language' that your E-mail Server uses to talk to other mail servers.


Telnet --- This is an internet protocol that opens a command "shell" on a remote machine, i.e. it is for controlling computers over a network from a terminal in another location. Uses port 23, and information is not encrypted, so it is falling out of favor in today's "hostile" Internet.



VMS --- An advanced operating system, originally designed by DEC (now owned by Hewlett-Packard), that operates on the VAX and Alpha architectures. Support for the Itanium platform has been announced.


WAN --- Wide Area Network. The opposite of Local Area Network; Wide Area Networks are seperated geographically. Technically, the Internet itself is a gigantic, worldwide WAN which is owned by various individuals and corporate or governmental entities.

World Wide Web --- The incredibly huge collection of HTML documents existing on servers connected to the Internet. These documents use hyperlinks to connect to other documents, other servers, or to programs on either the local computer or the server, creating a big tangle of information that has become known as the "World Wide Web." See HTML, hyperlinks. Note: The "World Wide Web" and the "Internet" and not synonymous. The World Wide Web is part of the Internet, but the Internet is much more than the World Wide Web.

WWW --- see "World Wide Web."


X --- see X Window System.

X Window System ---

X Windows --- a euphemism, in poor taste, for "X Window System."