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Common Internet Terms


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ASP

Active Server Pages. A means of delivering dynamically-written web pages to web browsers on demand, according to a wide range of possible variables, such as user interaction from forms, the contents of a database, the type of browser used, etc.

Authoring Package

A type of layout or desktop-publishing package that permits the design of web pages without requiring knowledge of HTML. Examples include Microsoft FrontPage, HotMetal, HotDog, VisualStudio, etc.

Backbone

A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.

Bandwidth

How much data you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.

Baud Rate

In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second). Modems are usually classed as running at 33.6K or 56K – this relates to the speed of data transfer in bits-per-second.

Bit

(Binary DigIT) -- A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.

Bps

(Bits-Per-Second) -- A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second

Browser

A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources.

The best known browsers (often called ‘web browsers’) are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape. Both companies are currently shipping version 4 of their browsers and working on version 5. The choice of browser is largely personal, although many people stay with the browser supplied by their ISP (Internet Service Provider), unaware that they have a choice. Each browser varies slightly in the abilities it has, the way it displays web pages, and the range of additional programs (plugins) it can run. Both major browsers are free of charge and can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s web site, or obtained by using the CD’s on the front of Internet and PC magazine covers.

The Version-4 browsers require large amounts of RAM and disk space to run well.

CGI

(Common Gateway Interface) -- A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the "CGI program") talks to the web server. Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an e-mail message, or turning the data into a database query. You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing "cgi-bin" in a URL, but not always. CGI programs are usually written in Perl, Java, Visual Basic, or Visual C++.

Client

A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind of Client that works with Web Servers.

Client/Server

A computer network that uses servers to supply files on request and client machines and software to use them. The Web and the Internet are very large distributed Client/Server networks.

Cookie

The most common meaning of "Cookie" on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server. Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc. They are used by programs like JavaScript and Active Server Pages (ASP) to manage dynamic web interactions.

Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them.

Cyberspace

Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.

DNS

(Domain Name Service) A global distributed network of servers that look up the IP numbers of particular Internet addresses from their Domain Names. Every web address has to have a DNS server that knows where that address is, so that requests for web pages can be sent to the correct place.

Domain Name

The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine.

Eudora

A popular Internet email package produced by Qualcomm; Eudora Pro has a complex system of filtering mail which allows commercial users of email to send standardised replies, allocate email to different people and handle multiple addresses.

Email

A system of sending electronic messages between users. Office email networks include Microsoft Exchange and Lotus CC:Mail; these generally run within a certain site or organisation. Internet Email runs to a set of rules which can be understood by any package that follows them; well known Internet email packages include Microsoft Mail, Netscape Mail, Eudora and Pegasus.

Extranet

A network linking together a group of suppliers, user communities, etc, for the purposes of exchanging data using Internet tools (web browsers, servers, etc) in a structured way, such as online ordering systems. A sort of Intranet shared between many sites and organisations.

Fire Wall

A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes, or partially isolates an office network from the Internet.

FrontPage

A Microsoft web Authoring Package that is currently on Version 2000. Allows viewing of web site links and creation of web pages without having to know HTML.

FTP

(File Transfer Protocol) -- A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers. Web browsers are normally able to do FTP, but people often use a separate FTP tool such as WS_Ftp to do FTP transactions.

GIF

(Graphic Interchange Format) -- A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.

Gigabyte (or gb, or gig)

1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring.

HTML

(HyperText Markup Language) -- The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web browser, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.

HTML Editor

A package that allows high-speed HTML editing and composing for people who are familiar with HTML, as well as access to tools for advanced web programming languages such as ASP and JavaScript. Examples include Homesite and VisualInterDev.

HTTP

(HyperText Transport Protocol) -- The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).

Hypertext

Generally, any text that contains links to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.

Internet

Strictly speaking, any network that uses IP (Internet Protocol). In practise, The Internet is the global inter-network of servers, routers and user communities who share information and services using the same protocols, such as http, POP, FTP, IRC and many others.

Intranet

A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use. As the Internet has become more popular many of the tools used on the Internet are being used in private networks, for example, many companies have web servers that are available only to employees. Any restricted group of web pages (for example, using passwords) can also be regarded as an Intranet.

IP Number

(Internet Protocol Number) -- Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.

165.113.245.2

Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember. The DNS service converts the names into numbers.

IRC

(Internet Relay Chat) -- Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls.

ISDN

(Integrated Services Digital Network) -- Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is rapidly becoming available to much of the USA and in most markets it is priced very comparably to standard analog phone circuits. It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000 or 64,000 bits-per-second. ISDN is more expensive to use than normal phone services and can often be configured to do more than just handle an Internet connection.

ISP

(Internet Service Provider) -- An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money. ISP’s come in 2 main types – standard ISP’s who charge a fixed monthly fee and allow unlimited access and Online Service Providers (OSP’s) who have a variable pricing model based on access time and offer additional online services unconnected to the Internet. Examples of OSP’s include Compuserve, AOL and MSN and ISP’s include Demon, PowerNet, Easynet, UUNet, etc. Most ISP’s now offer Dial-up access as well as ISDN, Leased Line and other services.

Java

Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to any computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks, which can slow pages down.

JavaScript

A programming language for the web that allows the use of dynamic content display in web pages, for example, when a user moves a mouse over a certain point on a web page, or when forms are filled in. JavaScript works on both leading web browsers and is therefore popular with programmers. Despite the name, it is not closely related to Java – this was marketing hype by Netscape, who created it.

JPEG

(Joint Photographic Experts Group) -- JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.

Keywords

The words or phrases used in a Web Page that will be noticed and indexed by Search Engines, and guide people to your web site when they type in those words or phrases at the Search Engine. A great deal of thought and time is spent on trying to make a web site stand out on the Search Engine response page with the clever use of combinations of keywords and Meta-Tags.

Kilobyte (or k, or kb)

A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes

LAN (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

Leased-line

Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7 -days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line and this type of Internet connection is also used to run a web server.

Megabyte (or Mb, or Meg)

A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.

Meta-Tags

Elements in a Web Page that allow Keywords or phrases to be hidden in the page and ignore by Browsers, but noticed and indexed by Search Engines.

Microsoft

The world’s largest software producer and the company that created DOS and Windows. Based in Seattle, Washington, USA and headed by Bill Gates.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

The Microsoft web browser, currently on version 4, and fiercely competing with Netscape. Explorer is somewhat different from Netscape, offering the use of VBScript (a version of Visual Basic - works closely with ASP)and Active-X (a sort of slimline Java Applet method). These features mean that Explorer is often used on Intranets where the Intranet manager can determine which browser will be used and can then deliver ASP applications from an NT server.

Modem

(MOdulator, DEModulator) -- A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.

Netscape

The leading web-rival to Microsoft. Founded and headed by Marc Andreeson. Offers Netscape Communicator 4.0 as it’s current main browser and many server products. Led the field in commercial web browsing and servers for some years, but now closely rivalled by Microsoft Explorer and server products.

Newsgroup

The name for discussion groups on USENET, also known as News. There are many thousands of newsgroups, such as alt.gardening.flowers or rec.arts.books.tolkien and millions of people participate in them. Some newsgroups are local or based on a particular organisation, others are national or global. Many are awash with Spam and can be almost unusable as a result. The search tool Dejanews (http://www.dejanews.com) is an easy way to get to know the service.

Plug-in

A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins. Plug-ins enhance the functionality of the main package.

POP

(1) Point of Presence. A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines.

(2) Post Office Protocol. The major Internet protocol by which e-mail software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell account you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail.

Router

A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.

Search Engine

A web site that accumulates details of the contents of Web Pages in an index and then allows the searching of that index by Internet users with Keywords, phrases and other methods. Well known examples like AltaVista, Yahoo and HotBot are among the most heavily visited sites on the Internet and attract large amounts of on-site advertising revenue, which is how they are financed.

Server

A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g.Our mail server is down today, that’s why e-mail isn’t getting out. A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.

SMTP

(Simple Mail Transport Protocol) -- The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.

Spam (or Spamming)

An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn’t ask for it. The term probably comes from a famous Monty Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over. Email spam can be dealt with to some extent by using ‘Spaminator’ tools and filters.

SSL

(Secure Sockets Layer) -- A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. One of a number of competing Encryption Methods for secure data transfer across the web.

TCP/IP

(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) -- This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system.

UNIX

A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). Unix is one of the longest-established operating systems for powerful computers and is widely used in many different flavours for Internet servers, often in conjunction with Apache.

URL

(Uniform Resource Locator) -- The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW).

The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a WWW browser program, such as Netscape, or Internet Explorer.

USENET

See Newsgroup.

Web

See World Wide Web

Web Page

An HTML document, of any length, usually part of a web site.

Web Site

A collection of interlinked web pages on a particular theme, usually under one Domain Name belonging to one organisation or subject. Called a ‘Web’ in FrontPage.

WWW

(World Wide Web) -- Two meanings - First, loosely used: the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be requested from, and delivered to, web browsers.