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This glossary is not "exhaustive", and aims to explain in a simple way what the more common terms and abbreviations mean. If you want a more detailed technical explanation of these terms, please use one of the search engines to locate the term you are interested in. A selection of search engines can be found on our Web Sites Of Interest page.


Applet  A small Java program that is embedded in an HTML page, often this is used for special visual effects, online games etc.

ASCII  This is the standard used by computers to represent letters, numbers, punctuation, etc - American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
Bandwidth  The amount of data you can send or receive through a connection. Modems can move upto about 56000 bits per second.

Baud  The baud rate of a modem is the number of bits it sends or receives per second. The higher the number, the faster the modem.

BBS  Bulletin Board System - typically a private online community or group. Some BBS are on the Internet, some of them have to be dialed individually.

Bits  A digital signal that is either a zero or a one (off or on). This is the basic building block of digital communications (Internet, mobile phones etc)

bps  Bits Per Second, same as "baud" really.

Browser  The program that you are using now to view this page.

BTW  By The Way, shorthand used in e-mails and postings to newsgroups.

Byte  A group of Bits representing a character - usually 8 Bits = 1 Byte
CGI  Common Gateway Interface.

CGI script  A kind of "program" that runs on CGI. Examples might be a web counter, an online clock, a cookie reader etc.

Client  If you are reading this online, your PC is a client, we are its SERVER. A Client is a machine that requires information from a Server

COMM port  These are the serial ports on your computer, there is a good chance that your modem is connected to one of these.

Cookie  A “Cookie” on the Internet, is a piece of information sent by a Web Server to your client. The client should save this piece of information and if the server asks for it back in the future, it should send it back again.  A typical use of a cookie is to save your preferences so each time you go back to a favourite site, the cookie can tell the server what your preferences are - so you don't have to re-enter them again.

cps  Characters Per Second. A character may contain upto 10 bits (zeroes and ones). So a modem that can send at 33000 bits will probably be able to send 3300 characters. In practice this figure will be higher as compression is used and some bits may not be sent.

Cyberpunk  A cultural label encompassing many different attitudes. It can be used to apply to clothing and lifestyle too.

Cyberspace Cyberspace describes the whole range of resources available through computer system - such as the Internet.
DNS Domain Name Server. The Internet uses numerical addresses to operate but these are not very "human friendly". To solve the problem, each number (address) can be given a "proper name" For example http://www. is not as "friendly" as

Domain Name The unique name that identifies an Internet site. For example, the domain name that you are currently connected to, is
E-mail Electronic Mail  This is the term given to messages / letters sent over the Internet. Unlike a normal letter, E-mail can include audio, moving pictures and so on. It can also be delivered to a computer on the other side of the world in a couple of seconds!
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions, A list of question and answers that are often asked. If a site has one of these pages, it is considered a little rude to ask a question without first checking to see if it has already been answered for you in the FAQ.

Flame Usually applies to newsgroups. A flame is typically a negative comment from someone about another posters contribution.

Flame War This is the name given when two - or more - people have a heated on-line argument. Usually best to use e-mail instead to make your point.

FTP File Transfer Protocol. A method of allowing computers to transfer files. If you decide to build you own home page, you will probably end up using an FTP program to upload the pages to your home page.
GIF One of many picture format that are common on the Internet. GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format in case you were interested.

Gopher Basically the way material used to be made available over the internet before Hypertext became popular. Still in use on many servers.
Hit If someone says that their page has had "5 hits today", it means that it has been accessed 5 times. "5 Unique Hits" means that the person knew that 5 DIFFERENT people had accessed the site - rather than one person five times.

Home Page  A rather misused word - and we misuse it too. A home Page really means the "Main Page / top level page" in any given collection of pages. It is often used however to describe the entire site of an indivudal or business.

Host A computer on a network that provides service to other computers. If you are online now, one of our servers if your host. If you have other windows open, you may be connected to several hosts at once.

HTML Hyper Text Markup Language, the language used to create WWW pages. See Hypertext for more information.

HTTP Hyper Text Transport Protocol. The method by the World Wide Web provides hypertext links between web pages - sometimes thousands of miles apart.

Hypertext Generally, any text that contains links to other documents can be classed as hypertext.
IMHO In My Humble Opinion.  Shorthand often used in e-mails, SMS messages and newsgroup postings.

Internet  The vast collection of interconnected computers and other networks.

Intranet A private network inside a company.

IP Internet Protocol. The basic or underlying protocol used to connect networks over the Internet. The data is sent in bursts - or "packets".

IRC  Internet Relay Chat. A massive multi-user live chat system.

ISP Internet Service Provider, an online provider of Internet Services. Lineisp (us!) is a good example.

ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network. A digital telephone system often used by business but can also be used in the home.
Java  This is a network-oriented programming language, specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and  run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files.

Java Script Java Script is a programming language used to add features that make the web page more interactive.

JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group - Another graphic / picture format popular on the Internet.
KB Kilobyte, 1024 bytes, often wrongly thought to be 1000 bytes as well.
LAN  Local Area Network  A fairly contained computer network - as opposed to one that spans huge areas. An office network is usually a LAN, whereas the Internet is a WAN (Wide Area Network)

Login  The process of entering a computer system, often a password is needed too.
Mailing List A system that allows members of the list to send e-mails to one address, the message is then copied and sent to all other members.

MB Megabyte, technically 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes, often applied to the more rounded term of one million bytes as well.

Megabyte See above

MIME Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. This is the standard for attaching non-text files to normal text messages - Eg: Attaching a picture of yourself when sending a letter to Aunt Daisy.

Modem  MOdulator  DEModulator. Put simply, the device that connects your computer to the phone lines. Some modems are internal (inside the computer) and some are external with a few light on that flash when data is being sent or received.

MUD  Multi-user Dungeon or Dimension. A multi-user game environment - allows a high level of interaction with other players - even if around the World.

MPEG Motion Picture Experts Groups, a format for compressed digital video.
Netiquette The etiquette on the Internet.

Network Two or more computers connected together so that they can share resources are a network.

Newsgroup The name for discussion groups on the Internet.

NNTP Net News Transfer Protocol, a protocol used to transfer USENET News Groups from one Internet Site to another via Internet Protocol.

Node A single computer connected to a network.
Password A code used to gain access to a certain site or program.

Plug-in A piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for browsers to allow them to do new tricks

POP Point of Presence, the physical location of a particular switch or service.

POP3 Post Office Protocol, a mail protocol used to service dial-up connections to the Internet. Mail is held until the connection is made and the mail requested.

Posting  The act of sending a single message onto the system. Eg: posting a message into a newsgroup.

PPP Point to Point Protocol, an Internet protocol used via serial connections - eg by modem.

PSTN  Public Switched Telephone Network  The phone system, BT, Mercury, NTL
SERVER A computer that provides connection and service to client computers.

SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, the usual way of relaying electronic mail over the Internet.

Spam (or Spamming) An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list or newsgroup as if it was an advertising facility; by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't ask for it.
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.  A way of connecting machines over a network - typically the Internet.

Telnet The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host.
URL Uniform Resource Locator - or more simply, an address eg: fttp, http. "The URL of my home page is"
WAN Wide Area Network, a network typically spanning inter-city distances, sometimes global.

WEB  World Wide Web, a network of hypertext servers linked by the Internet, offering information, graphics, text, sound and video.

WINSOCK A Dynamic Link Library (DDL) program for Microsoft Windows that provides a simple program interface to TCP/IP services.

WWW World Wide Web, a network of hypertext servers linked by the Internet, offering information, graphics, text, sound and video.