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Glossary of IT Terms

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ASCII is the acronym for the `American Standard Code for Information Interchange` and is pronounced as `Ask-ee`.

ASCII is a code which is used to represent English characters and numbers on most computers, making the transfer of data from one computer to another easier.

Text files which are stored in this format are often called ASCII files.

As implied, this is the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes video, text, audio, and graphics. A presentation using both video and audio could be said to be a multimedia presentation.


Bit map relates to graphics images. In computer memory bitmaps are represented as columns and rows of dots whose value is stored in one or more bits of data. For example, in simple monochrome images one bit is enough to represent one dot, whereas images containing more colours and shades will require more than one bit for each dot. Using more bits enables the use of a wider range of colours and shades.

The density of dots is called the resolution and this determines the sharpness of the image. Resolution is often expressed in dots per inch (dpi) or by the number of rows and columns - 800 x 600, 1024 x 768 and so on.

Two or more computers connected together make a network but this can equally be many computers which are linked to form a network. The purpose of networks is to enable file and information sharing between multiple systems.

Browser is short for Web browser which is a software application that is used to find and display Web pages.

The most popular types are graphical browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, which can display graphics, text and multimedia information including sound and video.

The Operating System or OS is the software which communicates with computer hardware on a basic level and without which no software programs can be run. The OS serves as a user interface allocating memory, processing tasks and accessing disks and peripherals.

Cookies are messages initially sent from a Web Server computer to your browser.

Cookies allow communication between Web Servers and your home computer by sending messages to one another, usually providing customised Web pages according to your preferences or interests.

When you fill in an on line form the data you send is often stored as cookies which identify you on your next visit.

Support software (or hardware module) allowing the use of additional features or services to larger systems.
CSV PDF / .pdf

CSV is the acronym for Comma Separated Values and is a type of file format.

Common examples of applications that present data in CSV format are spreadsheets and databases.

PDF is the acronym for Portable Document Format. These are files which are created using Adobe Acrobat. This popular format is widely used for online manuals and e-books. On screen, PDF files retain the look of a printed book and can be read and displayed by a number of other programs including Internet Explorer.
Any information created by a user, such as documents, pictures or sound recordings. These are windows which literally pop up when you click on a link or other option like a special function key. Often advertisements, they can be dismissed in the usual way by clicking on the X at the top right hand corner of the window or by right clicking the relevant tab on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen.
Databases are programs that organise and store a wide variety of searchable data - a good example of which is the LANDshapes archive. This term is used to describe any standard, Latin alphabet based keyboard. The term `QWERTY keyboard` comes from the first six letters on the keyboard spelling out the word QWERTY.
Documents are any file produced by an application. Rich text format is a standard which was formalised for specifying document formats. rtf files use special commands which indicate formatting information such as margins, fonts and layout. HTML is a good example of a formatting language.
Any of these terms refers to the first part of a URL, to the first / where the domain of the server (or host) computer is listed. The list is usually given in reverse order - name first then domain. The domain name tells you who made the page public by publishing it. When your browser searches for a URL it consults a table of IP addresses on the domain name server/s that your computer is networked to consult.

This is a program which searches through documents for keywords and returns a list of those found containing the correct word or words. Search engines work by sending out a program known as a `spider` which fetches as many documents matching the query as possible. These are then read by another program known as an `indexer` which creates an index based on the words found in each document.

A website directory which indexes as many websites as it can and allows you to search its database for sites on particular subjects. Because of the immense size and rate of growth of the world wide web, no-one has a complete directory of all sites which exist.

Examples of popular search engines are Google and Ask Jeeves.

DOS is the acronym for Disk Operating System and is often termed as MsDOS, Microsoft Disk Operating System. DOS can, however, refer to any operating system. DOS was originally created for IBM and successive versions have become more sophisticated. Although newer operating systems tend not to rely on it to the same extent as some of the older systems they can still execute DOS-based programs. It is generally believed that DOS will eventually become obsolete. Also known as a file server, this is a computer which is found at the centre of most networks and which provides files and numerous services to other computers.
The transfer of files or information from a network, such as the internet, onto your computer. This is an acronym for Standard Generalised Markup Language which is a system for tagging and organising elements of a document. SGML is a large, complex system which, as yet, is not widely used on most home computers. It is, however, widely used for managing large documents which are subject to frequent revision and may need to be printed in a variety of formats.
EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files contain bitmapped representations of graphics. EPS is the graphics file format used by the PostScript language.

A spider is a program that crawls across the web (hence its name) and fetches and feeds web pages to search engines. Spiders are also known as webcrawlers.

Some of the larger, more popular, search engines like Google have many spiders operating in parallel. As most web pages contain links to other pages this means that a spider can start searching from almost anywhere. When it sees a link it goes to that page and feeds it back to the search engine.

An extension, or file extension, is the part of the file name that is preceded by a dot. For example .exe files are program files whilst .wma is an audio file and .gif & .jpeg are picture files. The extension is an identifier that is used to tell Windows what kind of file it is. TIFF or .tif is the acronym for Tagged Image File Format and is a widely supported file format used to store bitmap images on home computers. TIFF graphics can be of any resolution, black and white, colour or grey scale.
All computer information is stored as files, from documents that you create yourself to program files, which can number in the hundreds depending on the amount of information stored within program. The transfer of files or information from a user’s (home) computer to the internet or a network.
FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a way of transferring files, such as web pages, either to or from an internet server. URL is the acronym for Uniform Resource Locator and is the unique web address of a web document, page or site.
GIF or Graphics Interchange Format is a widely used type of compressed graphics file. Gifs work best with pictures containing up to 16 colours. This is a very large collection of public newsgroups, found on the internet, which allows users to post messages discussing various topics.
HTML is the acronym for HyperText Markup Language. HTML defines the layout and structure of a web document by using various tags and is the authoring language which is used to create documents over the internet. Computer viruses are small programs or scripts which have varying negative affects on your computer. The most common way of getting a computer virus is by opening an email with an infected attachment. The damage that can be done by viruses is wide and varied, ranging from having your files erased to having all your computer memory consumed.
An IP Address is the way that your computer identifies itself to the rest of the Web. A computer’s IP Address is unique to that computer so as to avoid duplicates. IP format is given as a 32 bit alpha-numeric address which is written as four numbers, separated by periods. Each number can be anything between zero and 255 an example of which being the following, fictitious IP Address A WAV file is a relatively basic computer sound recording. These files tend to be large and are often compressed (reducing the quality slightly) into MP3s for internet use.
JPEG / .jpg WMA & WMV Files
This file format is particularly good for photographs and is a standard type of compressed graphics file which is widely used on the Web. JPEG is an acronym for Joint Picture (Experts) Group. These are Windows Media Audio, and Windows Media Video files respectively.
A word searched for i.e. over the internet or from a database such as the LANDshapes archive. Keywords relate to the information searched for and are often found in the file or document title, for example if I wanted to search the LANDshapes archive for tithe maps but had no more specific requirements then my keywords would simply be `Tithe maps`. XML is the acronym for Extensible Markup Language and is commonly used in web applications although many other programs can use XML documents too. Fundamentally, XML enables you to build up a database of information without having the actual database, for example it can describe items which can be accessed when a web page loads.
A link is a URL (web address) that is embedded within another document or web page. Usually links are highlighted and/or underlined and often change colour when you scroll your cursor over them and once you’ve clicked on them. Links take you to other web pages, sometimes opening the page in a new window.

A ZIP file or .zip file is a file that has been compressed in order to take up less space.

To use a .zip file it has to be `unzipped` first. This can be done with any one of a range of programs designed for the task, many of which can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet.