Jamaica Magazine

Internet Glossary


anonymous FTP–Using the FTP function of the Internet anonymously by not logging in with an actual, secret login ID and password. Often permitted by large, host computers who are willing to share openly some of the files on their system to outside users who otherwise would not be able to log in.

Archie–An ancient Internet search tool, not used much since way back in the good old days of 1994. It’s an archive of filenames maintained at Internet FTP sites. Don’t pine its passing, you didn’t miss anything fun–the Web is much more fun.B

bandwidth–The transmission capacity of the lines that carry the Internet’s electronic traffic. Historically, it’s imposed severe limitations on the ability of the Internet to deliver all that we are demanding it deliver, but fiber-optic cables will ensure that bandwidth soon will be essentially limitless and free.

browser–Software that enables users to browse through the cyberspace of the World Wide Web. Netscape is the primary Internet browser today.C

client/server –Computer technology that separates computers and their users into two categories: clients or servers. When you want information from a computer on the Internet, you are a client. The computer that delivers the information is the server. A server both stores information and makes it available to any authorized client who requests the information. You may hear this one frequently, especially if someone says, “You can’t contact us today because our Web server is down.”D

dial-in–An Internet account that can connect any stand-alone PC directly to the Internet. The account is used by having a PC-based (most often, Windows-based) software application dial-in to an Internet service provider (ISP). The software connects with the ISP and establishes a TCP/IP link to the Internet that enables your software to access Internet information.

The PC that accesses a dial-in connection needs either a modem to connect via a regular phone line or a terminal adapter (TA) to connect via an ISDN phone line.E

e-mail–(Electronic mail) Messages transmitted over the Internet from user to user. E-mail can contain text, but also can carry with it files of any type as attachments.F

FAQs–(Frequently Asked Questions) Files that commonly are maintained at Internet sites to answer frequently asked questions so that experienced users don’t have to bear the annoying burden of hearing newbies repeatedly ask the same questions. It’s good netiquette to check for FAQs and read them. It’s extremely poor netiquette–and a good way to get flamed–to post questions that already are answered in the FAQ.

Finger–An Internet function that enables one user to query (finger) the location of another Internet user. Finger can be applied to any computer on the Internet, if set up properly. For example, the most famous finger site of all was a Coke machine at Carnegie-Mellon that students wired to the Internet so they could finger it and track such important information as how many bottles of which beverage remained and how long the bottom bottle in each stack had been in the machine–so they wouldn’t walk all the way to the machine and find it empty or purchase a warm soda. You won’t use this, but it was fun while it lasted.Most sites on which you could use Finger are shutting it down because it helps hackers crack a system.

firewall–A combination of hardware and software that protects a local area network (LAN) from Internet hackers. It separates the network into two or more parts and restricts outsiders to the area “outside” the firewall. Private or sensitive information is kept “inside” the firewall.

flames–Insulting, enraged Internet messages. The equivalent of schoolyard brawls in cyberspace. Unfortunately, a good schoolyard brawl would be preferable because at least then the only people who suffer are the dummies who fight. On the Internet, everyone suffers as resources are squandered on ridiculous, infantile behavior. As a representative of a business

organization, you won’t be using flames, of course.

FQDN–(Fully Qualified Domain Name) The “official” name assigned to a computer. Organizations register names, such as “ibm.com” or “utulsa.edu.” They then assign unique names to their computers, such as “watson5.ibm.com” or “hurricane.cs.utulsa.edu.”

FTP–(File Transfer Protocol) The basic Internet function that enables files to be transferred between computers. You can use it to download files from a remote, host computer, as well as to upload files from your computer to a remote, host computer.

(See Anonymous FTP).G

gateway–A host computer that connects networks that communicate in different languages. For example, a gateway connects a company’s local area network to the Internet.

GIF–(Graphics Interchange Format) A graphics file format that is commonly used on the Internet to provide graphics images in Web pages.

Gopher–A searching tool that was the primary tool for finding Internet resources before the World Wide Web became popular. Gopher now is buried under mountains of WWW pages–don’t bother learning how to use this directly. You sometimes will find a Web link that takes you to a Gopher site, but at that point, if you’re using Netscape, its usage will be obvious and actually will look a great deal like the Web.H

host–A computer that “hosts” outside computer users by providing files, services or sharing its resources.

HTML–(Hypertext Markup Language) The basic language that is used to build hypertext documents on the World Wide Web. It is used in basic, plain ASCII-text documents, but when those documents are interpreted (called rendering) by a Web browser such as Netscape, the document can display formatted text, color, a variety of fonts, graphic images, special effects, hypertext jumps to other Internet locations and information forms.

HTTP–(Hypertext Transfer Protocol) The protocol (rules) computers use to transfer hypertext documents.

hypertext–Text in a document that contains a hidden link to other text. You can click a mouse on a hypertext word and it will take you to the text designated in the link. Hypertext is used in Windows help programs and CD encyclopedias to jump to related references elsewhere within the same document. The wonderful thing about hypertext, however, is its ability to link–using http over the World Wide Web–to any Web document in the world, yet still require only a single mouse click to jump clear around the world.I

IP–(Internet Protocol) The rules that provide basic Internet functions. (See TCP/IP).

IP Number–An Internet address that is a unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, sometimes called a “dotted

quad.” (For example: Every Internet computer has an IP number and most computers also have one or more

Domain Names that are plain language substitutes for the dotted quad.

IRC–(Internet Relay Chat) Currently an Internet tool with a limited use that lets users join a “chat” channel and exchange

typed, text messages. Few people have used IRC, but it is going to create a revolution in communication when the Internet can

provide the bandwidth to carry full-color, live-action video and audio. Once that occurs, the IRC will provide full

video-conferencing. Even today, while limited for all practical purposes only to text, the IRC can be a valuable business

conferencing tool, already providing adequate voice communication.

ISDN–(Integrated Services Digital Network) A set of communications standards that enable a single phone line or optical

cable to carry voice, digital network services and video. ISDN is intended to eventually replace our standard telephone system.

ISOC— (Internet Society) Based in Herndon, Virginia, the Internet Society promotes the Internet and coordinates standards.

You can visit their Web site to learn more or to become a member.



JPEG–(Joint Photographic Experts Group) The name of the committee that designed the photographic image-compression

standard. JPEG is optimized for compressing full-color or gray-scale photographic-type, digital images. It doesn’t work well on

drawn images such as line drawings, and it does not handle black-and-white images or video images.



kbps–(kilobits per second) A speed rating for computer modems that measures (in units of 1,024 bits) the maximum number of

bits the device can transfer in one second under ideal conditions.

kBps–(kilobytes per second). Remember, one byte is eight bits.



leased line–A leased phone line that provides a full-time, dedicated, direct connection to the Internet.

listserv–An Internet application that automatically “serves” mailing lists by sending electronic newsletters to a stored database

of Internet user addresses. Users can handle their own subscribe/unsubscribe actions without requiring anyone at the server

location to personally handle the transaction.



mailing list–An e-mail based discussion group. Sending one e-mail message to the mailing list’s list server sends mail to all

other members of the group. Users join a mailing list by subscribing. Subscribers to a mailing list receive messages from all other

members. Users have to unsubscribe from a mailing list to stop receiving messages forwarded from the group’s members.

MIME–(Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) A set of Internet functions that extends normal e-mail capabilities and enables

computer files to be attached to e-mail. Files sent by MIME arrive at their destination as exact copies of the original so that you

can send fully-formatted word processing files, spreadsheets, graphics images and software applications to other users via

simple e-mail.

modem–An electronic device that lets computer communicate electronically. The name is derived from

“modulator-demodulator” because of their function in processing data over analog phone lines. These days, some people have

begun to confuse them with Terminal Adapters.



Net — Short for Internet.

Newbie — You!

Newsgroups — Also called usenets, they are groups that often have nothing to do with news. Newsgroups are ongoing discussion groups

among people on the Internet who share a mutual interest.



Online — Having access to the Internet. You are online right now. Often people will say they are online meaning they have access

to the Internet and have an e-mail address, but may not necessarily be connected to the Internet at that moment.



POP–(Post Office Protocol) An Internet protocol that enables a single user to read e-mail from a mail server.

PoP–(Point of Presence) A site that has an array of telecommunications equipment: modems, digital, leased lines and Internet

routers. An Internet access provider may operate several regional PoPs to provide Internet connections within local phone

service areas. An alternative is for access providers to employ virtual PoPs (virtual Points of Presence) in conjunction with third

party provider.

protocols–Computer rules that provide uniform specifications so that computer hardware and operating systems can

communicate. It’s similar to the way that mail, in countries around the world, is addressed in the same basic format so that

postal workers know where to find the recipient’s address, the sender’s return address and the postage stamp. Regardless of

the underlying language, the basic “protocols” remain the same.



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router–A network device that enables the network to reroute messages it receives that are intended for other networks. The

network with the router receives the message and sends it on its way exactly as received. In normal operations, they do not

store any of the messages that they pass through.



shell account–A software application that lets you use someone else’s Internet connection. It’s not the same as having your

own, direct Internet connection, but pretty close. Instead, you connect to a host computer and use the Internet through the host

computer’s connection.

signature file–An ASCII text file, maintained within e-mail programs, that contains a few lines of text for your signature. The

programs automatically attach the file to your messages so you don’t have to repeatedly type a closing.

SLIP/PPP–(Serial Line Internet Protocol/Point-to-Point Protocol) The basic rules that enable PCS to connect, usually by

dial-up modem, directly to other computers that provide Internet services.

SMTP–(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The basic programming language behind the Internet’s e-mail functions.

spam–Anything that nobody wants. Applies primarily to commercial messages posted across a large number of Internet

Newsgroups, especially when the ad contains nothing of specific interest to the posted Newsgroup.



T1–An Internet backbone line that carries up to 1.536 million bits per second (1.536Mbps).

T3–An Internet line that carries up to 45 million bits per second (45Mbps).

TA–See “Terminal Adapter.”

TCP/IP–(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) The basic programming foundation that carries computer messages

around the globe via the Internet. Co-created by Vinton G. Cerf, former president of the Internet Society, and Robert E. Kahn.

Telnet–An Internet protocol that let you connect your PC as a remote workstation to a host computer anywhere in the world

and to use that computer as if you were logged on locally. You often have the ability to use all of the software and capability on

the host computer, even if it’s a huge mainframe.

Terminal Adapter–An electronic device that interfaces a PC with an Internet host computer via an ISDN phone line. Often

called “ISDN modems.” However, because they are digital, TAs are not modems at all. (See modem definition.)


UNIX–The computer operating system that was used to write most of the programs and protocols that built the Internet. The need for Unix is rapidly waning and mainstream users will never need to use a Unix command-line prompt. The name was created by the programmers who wrote the operating system because they realized that while they were developing the operating system they essentially had become eunuchs.

URL–(Uniform Resource Locator) A critical term. It’s your main access channel to Internet sites. Equivalent to having the phone number of a place you want to call. You constantly will use URLs with your Internet software applications to

Usenet–Another name for Internet Newsgroups. A distributed bulletin board system running on news servers, Unix hosts, on-line services and bulletin board systems. Collectively, all the users who post and read articles to newsgroups. The Usenet is international in scope and is the largest decentralized information utility. The Usenet includes government agencies, universities, high schools, organizations of all sizes as well as millions of stand-alone PCS. Some estimates we found say that there were 15,000 public newsgroups in 1996, collecting more than 100 megabytes of data daily. But no one really knows.V

Veronica–Archie’s companion–not really, because Veronica actually helps you find information on Gopher menus and within

the text of Gopher documents. It’s an acronym for “Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives.”

You probably never will use it, because Web searches are faster and more extensive.W

WAIS–(Wide Area Information Servers) A distributed information retrieval system that is sponsored by Apple Computer, Thinking Machines and Dow Jones, Inc.. Users can locate documents using keyword searches that return a list of documents, ranked according to the frequency of occurrence of the search criteria.

Web Page — A collection of information on the World Wide Web, addressed by a single URL.

Web Site — A collection of Web Pages, housed on a single computer and addressed by similar URLs.

WinVN–The most widely used stand-alone Windows-based Internet Usenet newsgroup reader application. A powerfulprogram with many useful functions. Now that Netscape includes built-in newsgroup functions, however, the use of WinVN iswaning except for users with advanced Newsgroup needs. In many ways, Netscape is a better newsgroup reader formainstream users.

WinWAIS–(Windows Wide Area Information Servers)

World Wide Web–(WWW) (W3) (the Web) An Internet client-server distributed information and retrieval system basedupon the hypertext transfer protocol (http) that transfers hypertext documents across a varied array of computer systems. TheWeb was created by the CERN High-Energy Physics Laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland in 1991. CERN boosted the Web

into international prominence on the Internet.


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If you tilt your head to the left to look at this term, you will see that someone is smiling at you.


Sources: Yahoo, Lycos.

About the author

Staff Writer