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Active-X: Since most web pages are static documents with little interactivity, Microsoft created a programming language, called ActiveX, to remedy this situation. ActiveX "controls" promise to make the web-surfing experience comparable to that of highly produced CD-ROMS, where you can listen to music, watch animation and video clips, and interact with the program. 

Address: The location of an Internet resource. An email address may take the form of A web address looks something like

Add-in: A mini program which runs in conjunction with a web browser or other application that enhances the functionality of that program. In order for the add-in to run, the main application must be running as well.

Anonymous FTP: An anonymous FTP site allows Internet users to log in and download files from the computer without having a private userid and password. To login, you typically enter anonymous as the userid and your email address as the password.

Applet: A program that can be downloaded over a network and launched on the user's computer (see Java).

Anchor: Either the starting point or destination of a hyperlink. The letters at the top of this page are all anchors - clicking one takes you to another part of this page.

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A set of 128 alphanumeric and special control characters. ASCII files are also known as plain text files.

Archie: The system used in searching FTP sites for files.

AU: (.au) - a common audio file format for UNIX systems.

AVI: Audio/Video Interleaved - a common video file format (.avi). Video quality can be very good at smaller resolutions, but files tend to be rather large.


Bandwidth: A measurement of the volume of information that can be transmitted over a network at a given time. Think of a network as a water pipe - the higher the bandwidth (the larger the diameter of the pipe), the more data (water) can pass over the network (through the pipe).

Binary: The system by which combinations of 0s and 1s are used to represent any type of data stored on a computer.

Bitmap File: A common image format (.bmp) defined by a rectangular pattern of pixels.

BPS: Bits Per Second - a measurement of the volume of data that a modem is capable of transmitting. Typical modem speeds today are  150 M bps (bits per second). ISDN offers transfer rates of 144K bps.

Bookmark: A pointer to a particular Web site. Within browsers, you can bookmark interesting pages so you can return to them easily.

Browser: A program run on a client computer for viewing World Wide Web pages. Examples include Netscape, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mosaic.


Cache: A region of memory where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access.

CGI: Common Gateway Interface - the specification for how an HTTP server should communicate with server gateway applications.

Client: A program (like a Web browser) that connects to and requests information from a server.

Cookies: The collective name for files stored on your hard drive by your Web browser that hold information about your browsing habits, like what sites you have visited, which newsgroups you have read, etc. Many view 'cookies' as an invasion of privacy.

Client-Server Protocol: A communication protocol between networked computers in which the services of one computer (the server) are requested by the other (the client).

Compressed: Data files available for download from the Internet are typically compacted in order to save server space and reduce transfer times. Typical file extensions for compressed files include zip (DOS/Windows) and tar (UNIX).


Dial-up Connection: A connection to the Internet via phone and modem. Connection types include PPP and SLIP.

Direct Connection: A connection made directly to the Internet - much faster than a dial-up connection.

Discussion Group: A particular section within the USENET system typically, though not always, dedicated to a particular subject of interest. Also known as a newsgroup.

Domain: The Internet is divided into smaller sets known as domains, including .com (business), .gov (government), .edu (educational) and others.

Domain Name: Allows you to reference Internet sites without knowing the true numerical address.

DSL: DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines. xDSL refers to different variations of DSL, such as ADSL, HDSL, and RADSL.

Download: The process of copying data file(s) from a remote computer to a local computer. The opposite action is upload where a local file is copied to a server.


E-mail: Electronic mail.

Emoticon: A combination of characters that form a facial expression. For example, if you turn your head sideways, the characters :) make a smiley face, and the characters 8) make a four-eyed smiley. 

Eudora: A popular freeware and commercial email management program.

Exchange: Microsoft's integrated fax and email program designed for Windows 95.


FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions - a collection of common questions and answers on a particular subject.

Firewall: a security system to protect a networked server or computer from intentional or accidental damage or unauthorized access; implemented by either hardware (a dedicated gateway machine) or software (defensive coding).

Flame: An insulting message exchanged via email or within newsgroups. A series of flames are known as flame wars.

FreeWare: Software that is available for download and unlimited use without charge. Compare to shareware.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol - a set of rules for exchanging files between computers via the Internet.


Gateway: Computer hardware and software that allow users to connect from one network to another.

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format - a common image format. Most images seen on web pages are GIF files.

Gopher: A system allowing users to search for files via menus or directory structures. Uses plain English names and is text based only.


Helper Application: A program allowing you to view multimedia files that your web browser cannot handle internally, such as images, audio and video files. The file must be downloaded before it will be displayed/played. Plug-ins allow you to actually view the file over the Internet without downloading first.

Home Page: The first page of a Web Site. Also, the Web site that automatically loads each time you launch your browser.

Host: The name of a specific machine within a larger domain.

Hot Java: A Web browser developed by Sun Microsystems that takes full advantage of applets written in the Java programming language.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language - a collection of tags typically used in the development of Web pages.

HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol - a set of instructions for communication between a server and a World Wide Web client.

Hyperlink: A connection between two anchors. Clicking on one anchor will take you to the linked anchor. Can be within the same document/page or two totally different documents.

Hypertext: A document that contains links to other documents, commonly seen in Web pages and help files.


Information Superhighway/Infobahn: The terms were coined to describe a possible upgrade to the existing Internet through the use of fiber optic and/or coaxial cable to allow for high speed data transmission. This highway does not exist - the Internet of today is not an information superhighway.

IRC: Internet Relay Chat - the system allowing Internet users to conduct online text based communication with one or more other users.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network - a system of all digital, high bandwidth telephone lines allowing for the simultaneous delivery of audio, video and data. Data travels at 128K bps.

ISP: Internet Service Provider - the company which provides you with a connection to the Internet via either a Dial-up Connection or a Direct Connection.

IP Address: Internet Protocol Address - every computer on the Internet has a unique identifying number, like

Internet: The worldwide network of computers communicating via an agreed upon set of Internet protocol. 


Java: A programming language, similar to C++, created by Sun Microsystems for developing applets that are capable of running on any computer regardless of the operating system.

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group - a common image format. Most of the images you see embedded into Web pages are GIFs, but sometimes, especially in art or photographic Web sites, you can click on the image to bring up a higher resolution (larger) JPEG version of the same image.


Killfile: Found within newsreaders, a list of undesirable authors or threads to filter out.

Knowbot: A system for finding Internet user's email addresses via their first and last names. Due to the rapid growth in the volume of email users, this system is not perfect.


LAN: Local Area Network - a network of computers confined within a small area, such as an office building.

Link: Another name for a hyperlink.

Listserv: An electronic mailing list typically used by a broad range of discussion groups. When you subscribe to a listserv, you will receive periodic email messages about the topic you have requested.

Lurking: The act of reading through maillists and newsgroups without posting any messages. Considered good netiquette to get the feel of the topic before adding your own two cents.

Lynx: A popular text (non-graphical) World Wide Web Browser.


Mailing List: A list of email addresses to which messages are sent. You can subscribe to a mailing lists typically by sending an email to the contact address with the following in the body of the message: the word subscribe, the name of the list, and your email address.

Microsoft:  The world's largest operating system and application software development company. Products include Windows 95, the MS Office Suite, the MS Internet Explorer, and far too many others to list here.

MIDI: Musical Instrument Digital Interface - a high quality audio file format.

MIME: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a protocol for allowing email messages to contain various types of media (text, audio, video, images, etc.).

Mirror Site: An Internet site setup as an alternate to a busy site; contains copies of all the files stored at the primary location.

Mosaic: One of the first graphical World Wide Web browsers developed at NCSA.

MPEG: Motion Picture Experts Group - a video file format offering excellent quality in a relatively small file. Video files found on the Internet are frequently stored in the MPEG format. Full length movies (like Top Gun) are available on CD and are stored in the MPEG format.

Multimedia: A combination of media types on a single document, including: text, graphics, animation, audio and video.


Nameserver: A computer running a program that converts domain names into appropriate IP addresses and vice versa.

Netiquette:  Short for Internet etiquette.

Newbie: A new Internet user. 

Newsgroup: A particular section within the USENET system typically, though not always, dedicated to a particular subject of interest. Also known as discussion groups.

Newsreader: A program designed for organizing the threads received from a mailing list or newsgroup.

NCSA: National Center for Supercomputing Applications - an organization headquartered at the University of Illinois. Researchers here created the Mosaic and HTTPD server programs.

Network: A system of connected computers exchanging information with each other. A LAN is a relatively smaller form of a network in comparison to the Internet, a world wide network of computers.


Online: When you connect to the Internet, you are online.

Online Service: Services such as America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy and the Microsoft Network which provide content to subscribers and usually connections to the Internet, though sometimes limited. For instance, online services just recently added Web browsing ability. If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, the fees these services charge add up rapidly.


Packet: A chunk of data. The TCP/IP protocol breaks large data files into smaller "packets" for transmission. When the data reaches its destination, the protocol makes sure that all packets have arrived without error.

Page: An HTML document, or Web site.

PING: Ping - a program for determining if another computer is presently connected to the Internet.

Pixel: Short for picture element - the smallest unit of resolution on a monitor. Commonly used as a unit of measurement.

Plug-In: A small application which extends the built in capabilities of your Web browser. Examples include Macromedia's Shockwave, providing animation, and RealAudio, offering streamed sound files over the Internet. Compared to helpers, the multimedia files do not need to be downloaded before shown or played.

PKZIP: A widely available shareware utility allowing users to compress and decompress data files. Helps reduce storage space and transfer times.

POP: Post Office Protocol - a method of storing and returning email.

Post: To send a message to a mailing list or newsgroup.

PPP: Point-to-Point Protocol - a protocol for converting a dial-up connection to a point-to-point connection over the Internet. Frequently used for accessing the World Wide Web over phone lines. Considered more stable than a SLIP connection.

PGP: Pretty Good Privacy - an encryption scheme which uses the "public key" approach - messages are encrypted using the publicly available key, but can only be deciphered by the intended recipient via the private key.

Protocol: An agreed upon set of rules by which computers exchange information.

Provider: An Internet Service Provider, or ISP.


Queue: A list of email messages that will be distributed next time you log onto the Internet.

QuickTime: A common video file format created by Apple Computer. Video files found on the Internet are often stored in the QuickTime format - they require a special viewer program for playback.


Register: With shareware, when you contact the vendor and pay for the product, you are registering. In return, you will receive either a password to turn off the nag notices or a copy of the full commercial version.

Robot: A program that automatically searches the World Wide Web for files.


Search Engine: A tool for searching information on the Internet by topic. Popular engines include InfoSeek, Google and Web Crawler.

Server: One half of the client-server protocol, runs on a networked computer and responds to requests submitted by the client. Your World Wide Web brower is a client of a World Wide Web server.

Shareware: Software that is available on a free limited trial basis. Sometimes this is a fully featured product, other times it lacks some of the features of the commerical version. If you find the product useful, you are expected to register the software, for which in return you will receive the full featured commercial version.

Signature: A personal tag automatically appended to an email message. May be short, such as the author's name, or quite long, such as a favorite quote.

SGML: Standard General Markup Language - a standard for markup languages. HTML is one version of HTML.

Site: A single or collection of related Web pages.

SLIP: Serial Line Internet Protocol - a protocol allowing you to use a dial-up connection as an Internet connection. Similar to a PPP connection, though far less stable.

SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - a protocol dictating how email messages are exchanged over the Internet.

Snail Mail: Plain old paper mail. United States Post Office. 

SPAM:  Sending multiple, sometimes thousands, of unwelcome messages to a newsgroup or mailing list to promote a commercial product or Web site.

Subscribe: To become of a member of. One can subscribe to a mailing list, a newsgroup, an online service or an Internet Service.


T1: A category of leased telephone line service, allowing transfer rates of 1.5 Mbps (megabytes per second) over the Internet. Too expensive for home users (around $2000 per month), but commonly found in business environments.

TAR: Tape ARchive - a compression format commonly used in the transfer and storage of files residing on UNIX computers.

TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - this protocol is the foundation of the Internet, an agreed upon set of rules directing computers on how to exchange information with each other. Other Internet protocols, such as FTP, Gopher and HTTP sit on top of TCP/IP.

Telnet: A protocol for logging onto remote computers from anywhere on the Internet.

Thread: An ongoing message based conversation on a single subject.

TIFF: Tag Image File Format - a popular graphic image file format.

Trolling: Deliberately posting false information in order to elicit responses from people who really want to help. 


UNIX: A powerful operating system used on the backbone machines of the Internet. World Wide Web servers frequently run on UNIX.

Upload: To copy a file from a local computer connected to the Internet to a remote computer. Opposite is download.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator - the method by which Internet sites are addressed. An example would be "", the address of the this home page.

USENET: Short for User's Network. The collection of the thousands of bulletin boards residing on the Internet. Each bulletin board contains discussion groups, or newsgroups, dedicated to a myriad of topics. Messages are posted and responded to by readers either as public or private emails.


Veronica: The system used in searching Gopher menus for topics. Also Archie's girlfriend.

Visit: Synonymous with viewing a World Wide Web site.


WAIS: Wide Area Information Servers - a system of searchable text databases.

WAN: Wide Area Network - a system of connected computers spanning a large geographical area.

WAV: Waveform Audio (.wav) - a common audio file format for DOS/Windows computers.

WINSOCK: Winsock - a Micorsoft Windows DLL file that provides the interface to TCP/IP services, essentially allowing Windows to use Web browsers, FTP programs, and others.

WWW: World Wide Web, or simply Web. A subset of the Internet which uses a combination of text, graphics, audio and video (multimedia) to provide information on most every subject imaginable.


X-Pixelmap: An uncompressed color image file format (.xpm).

X-Bitmap: An uncompressed black and white image file format (.xbm).


Yahoo: A Web directory and search engine. The largest on the Internet today and crucial to your site.


ZIP: A compressed file format (.zip). Many files available on the Internet are compressed or zipped in order to reduce storage space and transfer times. To uncompress the file, you need a utility like PKZip (DOS) or WinZip (Windows).

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