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1. 7.

Similar to 5.1's true surround sound
with pairs of front and rear speakers
,a centre speaker and a subwoofer
7.1 also offers two extra rear speakers.
2. .GIF (GIF = Graphics Interchange Format)
A commonly used graphics file format popular for images displayed on websi
3. 10pt
Short for 10 point, a typographic measurement. The larger the number, the
bigger the text character will appear.
4. 16:9 format
The aspect ratio (width:height) of widescreen televisions and cinema scree
5. 286 processor
Early Intel chip used in desktop computers. It was followed by the 386 and
486, and then the Pentium series of processors.
6. 35mm
The width of the film used in many traditional cameras. Often used to desc
ribe the cameras that use this size of film.
7. 386 processor
Early Intel chip used in desktop computers. It was followed by the 486 and
then the Pentium series of processors.
8. 3D graphics card
An expansion card designed to handle the three-dimensional graphics seen i
n many of today's top games.
9. 3G
Shorthand reference for 'third generation mobile telephone network'. 3G ne
tworks support fast data transfer, making such things as sound and video transmi
ssion possible.
10. 486 processor
Early Intel chip used in desktop computers. It was followed by the Pentium
series of processors.
11. 5.1 digital decoder
Converts the surround sound soundtrack on a DVD movie into a signal that's
sent to an amplifier.
12. 56Kbps
The fastest standard for traditional modems. Modems convert electronic sig
nals from your computer into sound signals that can be transmitted over a phone
line. 56kbps means that a modem is capable of receiving up to 56,000 bits of com
puter data each second.
13. 5-pin DIN
Archaic PC keyboard connector. It has been superseded by PS/2 and USB conn
14. Access point
Wireless communication hub that allows users to connect to a Wi-Fi network

15. ActiveX
Technology for adding extra features to an application like a web browser.
ActiveX components are usually downloaded automatically, or with minimal user i
16. Add-in
Extra features available in most Microsoft applications, but usually requi
ring installation from the original CD-ROM. For example, Excel's AutoSave featur
e is an Add-in module, and is only installed upon request.
17. Address
In the context of the internet, an address is the information a web browse
r needs to locate a particular website. Microsoft's website address, for instanc
e, is www. microsoft. com.
18. ADSL
Stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. A technology that converts
an ordinary household telephone line into an extremely fast internet connection
-- around ten times faster than a regular 56K modem.
19. Advanced Photo System (APS)
A photographic film format capable of capturing three different picture si
zes. APS-based cameras also benefit from the simplicity of slot-in-and-go loadin
g of the film cartridges. Reprints can ordered from index prints, consisting of
thumbnail representations of photos, and supplied with all developed film.
20. AGP
Accelerated Graphics Port. A PC interface (either an expansion slot or bui
lt-in) used for super-fast 3D graphics facilities. Ideal for handling the 3D wor
lds depicted in many of today's top games.
21. Analogue
Signal whose value varies continuously over time. For example, when a pers
on speaks, the sound wave is an analogue signal, varying smoothly as they talk.
Analogue signal information differs from digital signals, which move sharply bet
ween fixed values. To help visualise this, consider the difference between an an
alogue watch face with sweeping hands and a digital watch display, which jumps f
rom one number to the next.
22. Animated GIF
Stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a popular file format for storing
graphic images, often for use on websites. An animated GIF is simply a string of
these images, creating the illusion of moving pictures when played back.
23. Annotation
A comment or mark added to an image or a document, much like sticking a Po
st-it note on an office memo to highlight a point of interest.
24. Anti-virus software
An application designed to protect PCs from malicious computer code.
25. Aperture
In a camera, this is an opening that controls the amount of light passing
through the lens.
26. API
Stands for application programming interface, a standard used by computer
programmers to allow operating systems and software applications to understand o
ne another.

27. Applet
Small utility program within Windows, like Calculator or ScanDisk.
28. Application
A computer software program that enables the user to perform specific task
s. For example, Microsoft Word is used for word processing, while Paint Shop Pro
is designed for image-editing requirements.
29. APS Advanced Photo System
A film format developed by Canon, Fuji, Kodak, Minolta and Nikon that uses
a small slot-in cartridge to store the unexposed, exposed and developed film. A
PS cameras can take panoramic ans well as regular photographs.
30. Artifical Intelligence (AI)
The science of simulating or duplicating intelligence using a computer. AI
is useful for situations where clear-cut decisions are not possible and for mim
icing the behaviour of humans or animals.
31. ASF
Advanced Streaming Format.A streaming file format from Microsoft.
32. Aspect ratio
A measure of the relative width and height of a display. Traditional telev
ision screens, for instance, have an aspect ratio of 4:3 (meaning four units wid
e by three units high), while modern widescreen sets have 16:9 proportions.
Stands for Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface, which is a con
trol technology for devices like CD-ROM and hard disk drives.
Stands for Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding, which is Sony's proprietary
audio file-compression system, similar to MP3 but with additional security feat
ures designed to prevent piracy of copyright material.
35. Attachment
A computer file, such as a word-processor document or spreadsheet, sent al
ong with an email message.
36. Audio Format
In the context of Windows' Sound Recorder program, the choice of storing r
CD, radio or telephone.
ecorded audio in one of three quality settings
37. Autocorrect
A feature in a word processor that automatically corrects common spelling
mistakes as they are typed.
38. Automatic document feeder (ADF)
A facility of most printers and some scanners, enabling documents to be au
tomatically fed through the print or scanner mechanism without user intervention
39. Autoplay
A Windows feature that allows CD-ROM/DVD discs to launch or play as soon t
hey're inserted into a drive.
40. AutoSum

A handy Excel feature that gives an at-a-glance total of a selection of fi

41. Autotrace
A feature of some image-editing programs that identifies outline shapes in
a bitmap graphics and attempts to trace them, resulting in editable vector path
42. Avatar
In computing context, a graphic or icon used to represent a person in an o
nline chat-room or game. Avatars can usually be customised and range from simple
images to complex three-dimensional shapes.
43. AVI
A type of video file used by windows and usuall played using Windows Media
44. Back up
The process of copying your important computer files and documents from yo
ur hard disk to removable media (such as Zip or CD-RW discs) or another computer
, to protect against loss of the originals.
45. Banding
Noticeable stripes appearing on a print-out
kjet printers.

usually only a problem with in

46. Bandwidth
In computing terms, a measure of the maximum amount of data that can be tr
ansferred over a connection at any one time. For example, if you connect to the
internet using a modem, then the bandwidth is likely to be up to 56Kbps (or 56,0
00 bits of data per second).
47. Beta
Version of a software application or system still in development. Companie
s make beta versions available to selected testers for evaluation, testing and f
48. Bi-directional
Refers to an ability for two-way communication. Most printer cables, for e
xample, are bi-directional, so the computer can send data to the printer and the
printer is able to respond with print-job progress information.
49. Binaries
Newsgroup postings of encoded files (photographs, sound files, video clips
and so on), rather than plain text. These are frowned upon except in certain gr
oups, such as those beginning 'alt. binaries. '.
50. Binary
A coding system used by computers and other digital devices to store data
as a series just two digits 0 and 1.
51. Bioemtrics
The use of measurable physical characteristics for idenitification purpose
s, such as fingerprinting.
52. BIOS
Basic Input Output System. Software built into all PCs, to control the bas
ic operation of devices such as the screen, hard disk and keyboard. When a PC is
switched on, the BIOS automatically kicks in, and looks for a drive (like the h
ard disk) from which the operating system proper can be launched.

53. Bit
A contraction of binary digit, which is the smallest unit of computer data
. A bit can hold one of two values
1 or 0. Consecutive bits combine together to
form larger units of information. There are eight bits in a 'byte'.
54. Bitmap (BMP)
A type of graphic image recorded as many tiny dots (or pixels). Scanned ph
otographs and similar images are often stored in this form. If you use an imageediting application to zoom in on a bitmap image, the pixels will gradually beco
me distinct. BMP image files tend to be quite large, so other types are more pop
55. Blanking plates
Plastic or metal plates on the back and front of a PC, fitted by manufactu
rers to cover unused expansion bays. Blanking plates can be easily removed when
new devices are fitted.
56. Blend
In image editing, the combining of one or more graphic layers.
57. Bluetooth
A technology that allows devices (computers, phones, printers, etc. ) to c
ommunicate with each other wirelessly.
58. Blu-Ray
A new format that will deliver high-definition on DVD-sized discs.Movies a
nd the first compatible players are expected by the end of 2005.
59. Body text
Text makes up the bulk of a story, article or chapter, rather than the hea
dings or footnotes.
60. Bookmark
A way of flagging favourite websites in your web browser for later referen
ce, much like marking a page in a book.
61. Boolean
Logical propositions, such as AND, OR and IF, often used to refine searche
s or filter computer data. Named after Boole, a 19th c. English mathematician.
62. Boot
The process a PC goes through after it is switched on
elf-test, loading Windows, and so on.

performing a quick s

63. Boot disk

A disk containing the operating system components essential for getting a
PC up and running. Usually, the boot disk is the computer's hard disk but in tim
es of strife, a suitably-prepared floppy disk can be used to kick-start a PC.
64. Boot sector
Area of a disk containing instructions enabling a computer to launch an op
erating system (such as Windows). These instructions are executed every time the
computer starts up.
65. Bps
Bits per second. Measure of computer data transmission speed. For example,
a 56Kbps modem can receive up to 56,000 bits of computer data per second.

66. Broadband
Refers to high-bandwidth internet connections, such as ADSL.
67. Browse
Using a web browser application to look at websites on the net.
68. Browser
The short name for a web browser
an application that lets you view pages o
n the internet. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator are the two most popula
r browsers.
69. Brush
Image-editing tools offer a selection of brushes for 'painting' on the scr
een. Some act like thick marker pens while others create an aerosol-like effect.
70. Bubblejet
Canon's trademarked name for its own inkjet printing technology.
71. Buffer
A small amount of memory used as a reservoir for data that's provided (usu
ally in spurts) from a source.
72. Burn-proof
Technology used by some CD-RW drives to ensure error-free and foolproof di
sc creation.
73. Bus
In computer terminology, a bus is the data path on the motherboard that de
vices use to communicate with the processor.
74. Bus mastering PCI
A technology which reduces the burden on the processor when transferring d
ata to and from the hard disk and other devices.
75. Byte
a unit of computer storage that can hold a single character. 1024 bytes ma
ke a kilobyte, or 1Kb.
76. C++
Programming language popular with professional computer software developer
s, and used to create many of today's top applications.
77. Cable
Shorthand for cable television and associated services.
78. Cache
A store for frequently-used data or files. Data can be accessed from a cac
he more quickly than from its original source. Internet Explorer uses a hard dis
k cache for web pages, while computer processors often have small amounts of ver
y speedy memory as a cache.
79. CAD
Stands for Computer-Aided Design, which are special software applications
that allow designers and architects to draw precise blueprints on screen, then m
odel them in 3D to see how the design will appear in real life.
80. Caller ID
A system which enables a telephone caller's number to be displayed before
the handset is picked up. Supported by most telecommunications companies and sys
tems these days.
81. Capture cards

A video card that slots into a spare PCI slot in your computer and has the
input and output sockets necessary for digitising video.
82. Capturing
The process of taking an ordinary analogue signal from a camcorder and con
verting it into digital information to be stored on a computer's hard disk.
83. CD changer
A device that can hold several CDs and switch between them as and when req
84. CD writer
A special type of CD-ROM drive, which allows you to create, or 'burn', you
r own CDs.
85. CD-R
Standard for compact disc recordable format, or blank CDs onto which infor
mation (such as data or music) can be recorded
but only once. Playable on most C
D-ROM drives (except some older ones) and CD players. You need a CD-R drive to r
ecord onto CD-R discs.
86. CD-ROM
A version of the CD, which can store a lot more than just music. This smal
l plastic disc can hold up to 650Mb of data.
87. CD-ROM drive
Used for installing software (on CD-ROM discs) and playing multimedia audi
o and video. Audio CDs can also be inserted.
88. CD-RW
Stands for compact disc rewritable format, or blank compact discs which ca
n be recorded on over and over again.
89. Celeron
Cheaper but slower version of the Intel Pentium processor, used in budget
90. Cell
A spreadsheet page uses rows and columns to divide a page into cells. Rows
and columns are identified with letters and numbers, so each cell has a unique
co-ordinate, such as D15.
91. Channels
In the context of monitors, images are made up of three colour 'channels',
one each to represent red, green and blue or RGB.
92. Charge-coupled device (CCD)
A light-sensitive component used in digital cameras and camcorders.
93. Chat rooms
Online venues for typed chat, rather like the premium-rate chat lines you
see advertised on late-night TV. Some even allow you to create cartoon-style cha
racters to represent yourself.
94. Checksum
Mathematical formula performed on some data to generate a result that will
be statistically unique for that data.
95. Chipset
Broadly speaking, any group of computer chips working together to perform
certain functions. For example, a graphics card will have a number of chips
chipset designed to handle all graphics output.
96. Chorus
An audio effect that 'fattens up' the sound of a single instrument, to sim
ulate several playing at once.
97. Chromakey effects
Sometimes known as blue-screening because subjects are filmed in front of
a blue screen before being 'extracted' from the video. The subject can then be p
laced on top of another scene, giving the appearance of being somewhere they're
not. Without Chromakey, Superman would never have flown.
98. Click
Pressing down once and releasing a mouse button, or other key.
99. Client
A geeky term for an additional piece of software that runs alongside your

web browser, allowing you to use services like newsgroups and internet chat.
100. Clipart
A library of drawings or photographs that you can use in presentations, re
ports or in desktop-publishing documents. You must check whether there are copyr
ight restrictions if you are intend using the pictures commercially.
101. Clock speed
Term used to describe the speed of a computer processor, measured in megah
ertz or, increasingly, gigahertz
700MHz or 1GHz (1,000MHz) for example.
102. Clone
In image-editing software, a tool that allows you to copy one part of an i
mage and use it as a brush.
103. CMOS
Stands for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, and pronounced cee-mos
s. This is a special computer chip that looks after system set-up information, l
ike date and time and so forth.
104. CMY
Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow
the three colours found in a colour
inkjet printer cartridge. Sometimes you may see CMYK where K stands for black (
if they used B this might be mistaken for Blue).
105. Coaxial
Cable that has one channel that carries the signal,which is surrounded (af
ter a layer of insulation) by another concentric channel.
106. Code
In computing terminology, short for program code
meaning instructions that
are intended to be executed by a computer.
107. Colour depth
The range of colours with which an image can be displayed. Usually measure
d in 'bits', 1-bit colour gives two colours (usually black and white), 2-bit giv
es four colours, and so on. A 24-bit colour setting will allow up to 16. 7 milli
ons distinct shades to be displayed.
108. Colour picker
All painting programs have one, it's the electronic equivalent of a paint
palette so you can choose which colour you want to use.
109. COM port
Short for communications port, a PC can have up to four of these
COM1 to C
OM4. It is through these ports that devices can talk to the rest of your PC. Any
thing fitted to a serial port will be allocated one of these, as will a modem.
110. Combination keystroke
Literally where you have to hold down more than one key at once to access
a particular function. Holding down the Alt and Tab keys, for example, lets you
cycle through any programs you're running.
111. Command prompt
Also known as DOS prompt. The Windows environment lets you point and click
to navigate your way around the computer. However, the predecessor to Windows,
DOS (disk operating system) requires typed in commands to control the PC and the
se are entered at the command prompt.
112. CompactFlash
Matchbook-size memory cards with no moving parts. These slot into various
devices to store data. Popular with digital cameras and handheld computers.
113. Composite
A type of video signal in which the red, green and blue signals are mixed
114. Composite video
A type of video signal used by some camcorders, video recorders and TVs in
which the red, green and blue signals are mixed together. The aerial connection
on a TV set uses composite video.
115. Compression
To reduce the size of a file by encoding the data. This is useful for stor
ing files which would otherwise take up lots of disk space, such as picture and
video files. Compression also reduces transfer times, meaning files can be sent

over the net, or to another disk, more quickly.

116. Configure
To tweak the functions of software or hardware to the particular settings
you require. For example, Windows can be configured so that it displays a partic
ular colour background, or so that it uses a larger typeface
117. Context menus
The context-sensitive menus that pop up when you right-click on something
in Windows. What you see on the menu varies according to the task that you're en
gaged in and the program you're using.
118. Control Panel
A collection of icons that allow you to configure the basic functions of W
indows and your PC. Within the Control Panel there are icons to define display a
ttributes, keyboard settings, passwords
and a host of other options.
119. Cookies
Text files generated by websites you visit and stored on your computer's h
ard disk. Cookies contain preferences and other information about your use of th
e sites, and are not harmful.
120. Copy and paste
Just like it sounds: selecting part of an image or document in order to pl
ace it elsewhere.
121. Coverage
In the context of mobile phones, the areas where you'll be able to get a s
ignal. The phone networks tend to quote coverage in terms of population, not act
ual land area. A network may claim to cover 98 percent of the population, but wi
th most of these people located in cities, vast tracts of the country are signal
-free zones.
122. CPU
An abbreviation for central processing unit, or processor
the heart of a c
omputer. The CPU does most of the hard work and the faster it is, the better the
PC is likely to be.
123. Crash
This is what happens when a software application or operation goes wrong,
often freezing the computer. Sometimes, the only way to recover from a crash is
to switch the PC off and start again and this in turn may cause you to lose docu
ments or data you were working on.
124. CRT Cathode Ray Tube
The glass tube-based technology used to produce an image in most TV sets a
nd computer monitors.
125. Cursor
A flashing shape on the screen showing where the next character you type i
n will appear. When entering text in a word processor, the cursor is normally a
flashing vertical bar. Sometimes, the word cursor is used to describe the on-scr
een mouse pointer.
126. Cut
Just like it sounds: this function will delete selected information, such
as cells in a spreadsheet or a paragraph in a text document.
127. Data rate
The speed at which digital information is transferred from one device to a
nother, and can range from a few kilobits to many hundreds of megabytes per seco
nd. Traditional modems, for example, offer download data rates of up to 56Kbps.
128. Data table
In the context of a spreadsheet, a table of figures used to create a chart
129. Database
Any collection of information, usually (but not always) used to refer to i
nformation stored on a computer. Database software applications usually include
powerful search and data-filtering facilities.
130. Daughterboard
A small card containing support circuitry for a larger expansion card, plu
gged into a socket on the main card or connected via a cable.

131. DDR (Double Data Rate memory)

A type of memory that's twice as fast as ordinary memory. DDR memory is of
ten used in graphics cards can now be found in PCs too.
132. Decoder
A home cinema component that converts the surround sound soundtrack on a D
VD movie into a signal that's sent to an amplifier. Decoders and amplifiers are
often combined into a single unit
133. Decryption
The process of making encrypted data readable again.
134. DECT
Stands for Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telephone, a technology used by som
e cordless telephones to maintain clear call quality over long distances.
135. Default
A standard software or hardware setting. Most programs, including the Wind
ows operating system itself, ask you to make a series of selections in order to
perform a task. Sometimes the computer will already have made some selections
ese are called the defaults. You can change the defaults to fit your own prefere
nce, or accept them as they are supplied.
136. Defragment (or 'defrag')
To reorganise the data stored on a hard disk so that it can be accessed as
quickly as possible by the computer. A fragmented disk can adversely affect sys
tem performance.
137. Degauss
To remove the magnetism from a device, usually a monitor. Most monitors de
gauss automatically but some have a button.
138. Desktop
What you see when you first start up a Windows-based computer. The Desktop
will display your Taskbar and a selection of icons such as My Computer and Recy
cle Bin.
139. DHTML Dynamic HTML
This is an extended version of the language used to describe web pages, wh
ich allows a page to change instantly when certain things happen, for instance t
he mouse moving over a specified area.
140. Dialogue box
A small window that pops up to display or request information. In Windows,
Menu options that end with an ' ' always open a dialogue box.
141. Dial-up Networking
A component of Windows that allows PCs to connect to the internet using a
modem and a telephone line.
142. Diamondtron
Tube technology introduced by Mitsubishi in 1993. It uses the same princip
le as Trinitron aperture grille technology but with three electron guns at the b
ack of the monitor rather than one.
143. Digital
Unlike the smooth signal of analogue, digital information consists of disc
rete parts. An analogy would be a car's gearbox. A vehicle can be in first or se
cond gear, but not first-and-a-half. Computers only recognise digital informatio
n, so must convert analogue signals. A soundcard, for example, converts the soun
d of a recording into a series of numbers the PC can process.
144. Digital camera
A camera that stores images in computer memory rather than on light-sensit
ive film.
145. Digital signature
A piece of encrypted data that can be used to verify the identity of someo
ne who sent the message to which it is attached.
146. Digital stabiliser
A method of removing small video camera shakes, such as the normal shaking
of the operator's hand, by adjusting the picture by a compensating amount. Poor
ly implemented, it can cause a sudden jerk when you start an intended camera mov

147. Digital zoom

Optical zoom is the normal camera method of magnifying a scene by changing
the distance between the different elements of the lens. Digital zoom allows ev
en greater magnification by expanding each of the dots, but at some cost to qual
148. Digitising
Changing an analogue signal, such as an audio/video recording, into digita
l data on a computer.
149. DIMM
Dual Inline Memory Module. A slot-in card used to expand the memory of a d
esktop PC.
150. Directory
An old name for what we now call folders. These provide a way of organisin
g files and documents on disk, by grouping related items together.
151. DirectX
Windows feature that ensures that all programs work with all the different
types of hardware available.
152. Disk spanning
Copying data from one disk to several smaller ones, automatically. This al
lows, for example, a large file to be copied from a hard disk to several floppy
153. Dithering
Process of creating colour shades by adjusting the value of adjacent pixel
s to give the appearance of more colours than a device, usually a monitor or dis
play panel, is actually capable of displaying.
154. DivX
A video compression standard that allows high quality video to be stored i
n small files. Freeview
155. DLP
A new technology used for projecting images from a monitor onto a large sc
reen for presentations.
156. DLP projector
Produces a display by reflecting light off microscopic mirrors.
157. Docking cradle/station
A receptacle for a portable device, like a palmtop computer or a digital c
amera, and connected to a PC. Through this, the linked machines can exchange doc
uments and data.
158. Dolby digital
A standard for high-quality digital audio used for video stored in digital
format, especially on DVDs.
159. Dolby Pro Logic
A way of encoding audio information, developed by Dolby Labs.
160. Dolby Surround Sound
A system which literally surrounds the listener with sound, usually employ
ing several speakers positioned around a room and controlled by a special decode
r. Surround sound is used in feature films and many TV shows.
161. Domain name
The name used to identify a site on the internet, such as computeractive.
co. uk or microsoft. com
162. DOS
Stands for Disk Operating System. The standard PC operating system before
the dawn of Windows. DOS manages how files are stored on your PC. It is controll
ed through typed commands.
163. Dot matrix printer
Prints by hammering small 'needles' through a typewriter-style ribbon. Thi
s type of printer is noisy and only really used where continuous-sheet paper or
multi-part forms are required.
164. Dot pitch
The distance between the dots which make up the image on a monitor.
165. Dots per inch (dpi)

The way the resolution of printed and scanned images is measured. Both typ
es of picture are made up of dots. The more dots there are per inch, the smaller
they are and the better the picture looks.
166. Double-click
To click twice quickly in succession on a mouse button. If you double-clic
k on an application icon, Windows will then attempt to launch the application.
167. Download
Process of transferring files onto your PC directly from another computer.
You might, for instance, download pictures and files from the internet.
168. Drag
In Windows, the action of clicking on something with the left mouse button
, keeping the button pressed and moving (dragging) the object.
169. Drag and drop
A feature of operating systems, including Windows, which allows you to eas
ily move and manipulate on-screen objects and files. For example, if you want to
delete a file from the Windows Desktop, you move the pointer to the file's icon
, click once to highlight it, then press and hold down the left-hand button. The
item can now be dragged and dropped into the Recycle Bin.
170. Drag out
Click and hold down the left mouse button as you move the mouse.
171. Drive bay
A blanked-off space at the front of a desktop PC originally designed for a
dditional floppy disk drives. Now drive bays accommodate all manner of periphera
172. Driver
Software needed to allow Windows (and other operating systems) to communic
ate with a peripheral. While Windows has many built-in drivers, often hardware-s
pecific versions will be provided on CD-ROM with a new device.
173. Drop-down menu
A list of options displayed beneath a menu bar when you select a menu opti
on, or when you click on a down-pointing arrow in a dialogue box.
174. Dropper tool
In image-editing, this is a feature used to set the foreground or backgrou
nd colour of the current drawing tool by simply clicking on part of an image.
175. DSL
Electronics that apply special effects to digital audio to improve its sou
nd or to make it sound like it's in a certain environment,such as a concert hall
176. DSP
Digital Signal Processor. Electronics that apply special effects to digita
l audio to improve its overall sound or to make it sound like it's in a certain
environment, such as a church or concert hall.
177. DSTN
A type of flat-panel display used primarily on budget notebook PCs. They a
re of lower quality than TFT screens.
178. DTP (desktop publishing)
The design, layout and printing of documents, books and magazines using sp
ecial software, such as Microsoft Publisher.
179. DTS
Digital Theatre Systems. A digital movie soundtrack format used in cinemas
and on some DVD movies.
180. DTS Neo:6
A digital movie soundtrack format used in cinemas and on some DVD movies.
181. Dual band
A mobile phone that can work at two radio frequencies. Vodafone and Cellne
t use the 900MHz band, as do most networks around the world. Orange and One2One
use 1,800MHz. Only a few other countries use 1,800MHz. Dual-band phones can use
either frequency, increasing the number of countries they can be used in.
182. Dual-layer DVD
A DVD that holds twice as much data as an ordinary DVD by adding an extra

183. DV
Digital video. A DV camera stores images on digital medium.
184. DVC
Digital Video Cassette, the latest video standard used in digital camcorde
rs only.
185. DVD
A type of disc able to store huge amounts of digital data, including fulllength movies, with excellent-quality sound and pictures.
186. DVD RW
A rewritable version of the DVD-R format whose discs are compatible with m
ost DVD players and DVD-ROM drives
187. DVD+R
One of the emerging recordable DVD standards. It uses DVD+RW disks that ar
e designed to have data recorded on to them time and time again. Movies recorded
on to DVD+RW disks are fully compatible with DVD players
188. DVD+RW
A rewritable version of the DVD+R format.
189. DVD-R
Standard for Digital Versatile Disc-Recordable format, or blank DVDs onto
which information (such as data or music) can be recorded
but only once. Playabl
e on most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. You need a DVD-R drive to record onto
DVD-R discs.
190. DVD-RAM
One of a number of competing standards for recordable DVD.DVD-RAM is reall
y only of use in DVDRAM drives fitted in computers and some set-top DVD recorder
191. DVD-ROM drive
These drives will play both CD-ROM and DVD discs. Huge amounts of data can
be stored on one DVD disc, which looks just like a CD, including full-length mo
vies, with excellent-quality sound and pictures.
192. DVD-RW
A rewritable version of the DVD-R format.
193. DVI (Digital Video Interface)
A video connection used on some TFT monitors and graphics cards that provi
des a purely digital connection between a PC and monitor. This gives a higher qu
ality image than using a standard VGA connection.
194. EAX (Short for 'environmental audio')
a standard developed by Creative Labs for more authentic and immersive sou
nd reproduction in games.
195. Ecommerce
A term used to describe financial transactions over the internet.
196. ECP (enhanced capabilities port)
A type of high-speed printer port which offers improved performance.
197. EIDE
This is an interface for connecting hard disks and CD-ROM drives inside yo
ur PC.
198. EISA
An enhanced version of the ISA expansion slot, offering faster data transf
er speeds for suitable expansion cards.
199. Electronic Programme Guide
Displays TV schedules on-screen,and lets you point and click at the ones y
ou would like to record.
200. ELSPA
The European Leisure Software Publishers Association a software copyright
protection agency and one of the main anti-piracy bodies.
201. Email
Short for electronic mail, a system of sending notes and memos between com
puters via internet.
202. EMS

Enhanced Messaging Service. A development of SMS (Short Messaging Service)

that allows simple pictures and ring tones to be sent between mobile phones.
203. Emulate
An program that is used to make a computer act like another computer. For
example, there are programs that can enable a PC to emulate a video arcade game.
204. Encoder
In the context of digital music, a piece of software that converts audio C
Ds to MP3 or some other digital format.
205. Encryption
The science of scrambling data
be it text, audio, or video
so that it can
only be read by the authorised sender and recipient. Encryption can also be used
to embed identifying markings in data, so that it can't be undetectably falsifi
206. Enhanced parallel port (EPP)
A modern version of the parallel (or printer) port, which is the 25-pin co
nnector at the rear of your PC where the printer normally plugs in. If your PC w
as bought in the couple of years or so, it should have an EPP port. This can be
important as scanners that plug into the parallel port do require the enhanced v
207. EPOC32
The operating system designed by Psion for its later handheld computers, l
ike the Series 5mx.
208. Equalisers
Similar to the tone controls on your hi-fi, although software implementati
ons are usually a lot more comprehensive.
209. Ergonomics
A term used to describe efficiency and health for people whilst in their w
orking environment.
210. Ethernet
A type of computer network developed by Xerox in the 1970s, allowing a num
ber of PCs to be linked together and communicate with one another.
211. Events
An action in Windows, such as opening a document, emptying the Recycle Bin
, or shutting down your PC.
212. EVR (Electronic Version of Return)
The Inland Revenue's computer program that duplicates the paper-based tax
return for PAYE taxpayers. It's available free of charge from your tax office an
d allows you to complete your return on screen.
213. Executable files
These are launchable programs, which have the file extension. EXE. Clickin
it may be an application, an anima
g on an executable file will start it running
ted greeting card or a game, for example. Avoid launching. EXE email attachments
, as these may carry computer viruses.
214. Expansion card
Card that can be fitted in an expansion slot within your PC to enhance its
capabilities in some way for instance to improve its video or graphics performa
215. Expansion slot
A socket on a computer's motherboard designed to accommodate expansion car
216. Expert system
A computer program designed to perform the same function as (and so replac
e) a human expert on a particular subject.
217. Explorer
A program supplied with Windows that's used to browse files on your PC. Ex
plorer can be used an alternative to the Windows Desktop.
218. Extension
The three-letter code at the end of a filename that indicates the type or
format of the file. For example,. BMP is a bitmap,. EXE is an executable program
file. These enable Windows to recognise what type of file it's dealing with.

219. Extract
The process of expanding compressed files so they can be opened.
220. Fader
A vertical or horizontal sliding control used to alter the level of sound
or other setting.
221. Fades, wipes and dissolves
Methods of moving from one scene to another, without a sudden 'jump' cut.
Fades let the picture fade in and out from black or white. Wipes are like a curt
ain moving up, down or across to reveal the picture. And dissolves fade one pict
ure into another.
222. FAQ
Stands for frequently asked questions, usually a text file containing usef
ul information about an application or website.
223. FAT File Allocation Table
A system used by Windows to organise files stored on a hard disk. Windows
95 used a system called FAT16, Windows 98 and Me use FAT32 that allows, among ot
her things, long filenames.
224. Favorites/Bookmarks
Your personal address book of places on the internet that you visit period
ically. Bookmark a site and it will be stored in your Favorites/Bookmarks list f
or future visits.
225. Feathering
A term used to describe a print-out of a text or picture which is marred b
y blurred or irregular edges.
226. Field
In a database, a field is an individual container that can hold a particul
ar type of information. For example, if you have a contacts list of your custome
rs, each entry is called a record and the various parts of each record are calle
d fields.
227. File extension
or letters after the dot
in a file's name
The file extension is the suffix
. Examples include .doc (for a word document) and .xls (Excel) and .txt (Notepad
). This is how Windows knows which application to use to open a particular file.
228. File Manager
Part of the Windows 3. 1 operating system, since replaced in later version
s of Windows by Explorer. File Manager displays lists of all of the files you ha
ve stored on your PC's hard disk.
229. Fill
The interior area of a vector shape, which may be given a colour, gradient
, pattern, texture or a bitmap image.
230. Filter
In image-editing, applies a transformation to either improve image quality
or produce special effect on all or part of an image. There is a filter for eve
ry need from sharpening out-of-focus pictures to wrapping them round spheres.
231. Financial manager
A program to help you manage your money.
232. Firewall
A system that prevents unauthorised access to a computer over a network, s
uch as the internet. Firewalls can be either hardware or software businesses ten
d to use the former; home users the latter.
233. FireWire
A super-fast data link between your PC and devices such as digital camcord
ers. Also known as IEEE1394.
234. Firmware
Basic software permanently stored on a device (such as a graphics card) th
at controls it's basic operation. Firmware can be upgraded using a process known
as 'flashing'.
235. Flash
An application used to create high-quality animations on websites.
236. Flash memory

A special type of memory that maintains its contents even when the host ma
chine, like a palmtop computer, is switched off.
237. Flatbed
A type of image scanner that resembles a small photocopier. Place a docume
nt face down on the glass scanning bed and the scan-head is moved across it, bui
lding up a digital image as it goes.
238. Flat-panel display
Slim monitors, similar to the liquid-crystal displays (LCD) found in noteb
ook computers, designed for use with desktop PCs.
239. Floppy disk
A small, rigid square of plastic used to store data. Inside the case is a
circular magnetic disk (the floppy bit). The most common type of floppy disk is
the 1. 44Mb 3. 5in version used by almost all PCs.
240. FM
Stands for frequency modulation, a method of generating sounds from simple
wave forms.
241. FM synthesis
An old form of sound generation by soundcards. Still used by games, but do
esn't sound as good as newer wavetable synthesis.
242. Folder
Files on PC's hard disk are arranged within a system of folders, which gro
up related items together, helping you find the item you need. Folders have name
s to describe what's in them, for example: My Documents.
243. Font
A set of letters, numbers and other symbols in a particular style. Popular
Windows fonts are Arial and Times New Roman.
244. Font size
This is the measurement typographers use to describe the size of text. Thu
s, 72pt text is bigger than 34pt text. The text you are reading now is set in 8.
245. Footer
A special area at the bottom of a word-processor document: type something
in here and it will appear at the base of every page.
246. Footprint
The desk area occupied by a peripheral, like a printer or scanner.
247. Force feedback
A term used to describe joysticks that can wiggle of their own accord, giv
ing tactile feedback in games.
248. Form
A document formatted in a certain way for entering data, much like the pap
er version. Forms are typically used by databases.
249. Format
The process of preparing a floppy disk for use with a particular computer
and operating system.
250. Formula bar
In spreadsheets, this is located at the top of the screen, above the grid
of rows and columns. If a selected cell contains a formula, it will be visible i
n the formula bar. Otherwise any contents in a cell will be displayed in the for
mula bar. You can, for example, type text directly into a selected cell, or into
the result will be the same.
the formula bar
251. Formulas
Formulas tell spreadsheets how to act on data stored in cells. For example
, '=SUM(B13+B16)' tells the program to add the contents of cells B13 and B16 tog
252. Fragmentation
When there's not enough contiguous room to save a file in one physical loc
ation on your hard disk, the file will be spread over several smaller locations.
This fragmentation is an inevitable consequence of constantly saving and deleti
ng files especially if space is scarce. Eventually your hard disk will need to b
e tidied up, or defragmented.

253. Frame rate

The number of images, or frames, shown each second that make up a moving i
mage. The higher the rate, the smoother the moving image. Games and movies in pa
rticular benefit from high frame rates.
254. Frame size
The size or resolution of each individual frame of video, usually set on c
apture and dependent on whether you require full screen or a small video window
on your monitor.
255. Frames (web animations)
Animated GIFs contain multiple images (otherwise they wouldn't move) which
are held in frames, just like those you would see in a movie reel.
256. Frames (web pages)
In the context of web pages, these are used to segment content. One frame
might contain a menu of the website while the other displays the information tha
t you're interested in. The frame borders might be visible but are often hidden.
257. Freeware
Software, often downloadable from the internet, which is then free for you
to keep and use.
258. FTP
Stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is a way of transferring files ov
er the internet, particularly when maintaining websites.
259. Full duplex
The ability of a device (like a modem or sound card) to send and receive d
ata simultaneously.
260. Gameport
The D-shaped socket found on most sound cards. This is used to connect gam
e controllers and also doubles as a MIDI interface
261. Gamma correction
Correcting the overall brightness of an image to take into account differe
nces between the way a PC reads an image and the human eye.
262. Gb (Gigabyte)
usually for hard disks. 1Gb is equal to
A measurement of storage capacity
1,024Mb (megabytes).
263. Gbits/s
Gigabits per second. A measure of data transfer rate equal to 1024Mbits/s
or 1,048,576Kbits/s
264. General protection fault
A fault that occurs when an application incorrectly accesses computer memo
ry, causing the program to crash.
265. Generational loss
The loss in quality and detail that occurs every time you copy an analogue
signal from source to another. Digital-to-digital copying does not involve any
generational loss, unless it's through an analogue medium such as a video-captur
e card.
266. Geometry controls
Features to adjust the shape and size of the image displayed on a computer
267. GHz (gigahertz)
A thousand megahertz a measure of how fast the processor in your PC works.
268. GM (General MIDI)
A standard governing the set of sampled sounds used by all MIDI devices. A
GM file created on one device will sound at least similar on another (the instr
ument samples may vary in quality but not in type).
269. GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)
A mobile phone standard that provides an 'always on' connection with speed
s up to 150Kbit/s (existing GSM phones manage 9. 6Kbit/s).
270. GPS (Global Positioning System)
Network of satellites orbiting the earth, and used to pinpoint an exact po
sition on the planet. Used in modern in-car navigation systems and handheld GPS

271. Gradient
The gradual change from one colour to another, as if created by an airbrus
h. Also known as a 'fountain fill'.
272. Graphic equaliser
A device for correcting undesirable noise output from audio equipment.
273. Graphics card
The part of a PC that displays the image you see on your computer's monito
r. Some are more advanced than others, featuring connections for video recorders
or other similar devices.
274. Graphics processor
A dedicated chip on a graphics card designed to controls the images displa
yed on a monitor.
275. Graphics tablet
An alternative to the mouse: you move a stylus over a small board just as
you would a pen on a piece of paper. Ideal for applications where fine detail is
276. GS
An extension to General Midi, offering more control over the way samples a
re played.
277. GSM (Global System for Mobile communications)
The digital mobile phone system used in the UK and many other countries.
278. Hackers
People who break into other people's computers and networks, often in an a
ttempt to steal sensitive information.
279. Hacking
The slang term used to describe illegal access of computer systems by unau
thorised users.
280. Halftoning
In laser printing particularly, the simulation of a continuous-tone image
(shaded drawing or photograph) with a series of dots.
281. Handheld computer
A small computer, about the size of a spectacles case. Handhelds usually h
ave both a screen and keyboard in a folding case. The Psion Revo is an example o
f a modern handheld computer.
282. Handles
In the context of software, small blocks that appear at the sides and corn
ers of a selected object in certain applications. Dragging a handle with the mou
se usually resizes the object.
283. Hard disk
A high-capacity disk drive fitted in almost all PCs and used to store both
applications and the documents and files they create. Hard disks are so-called
because they use rigid magnetic disks to store data. Hard disk storage capacity
is measured in gigabytes.
284. Hardware
hardware and software. Softwa
Your computer set-up is split into two parts
re covers the programs that run on your machine, while hardware describes the ph
ysical components, like the monitor and keyboard.
285. HDCP
High-bandwidth Digital Content Provider. A method of protecting copyrighte
d digital entertainment content.
286. HD-DVD
A new format offering high-definition video on DVD-sized discs. Rival to B
287. HDMI
High Definition Multimedia Interface. A specification that combines audio
and video into one digital interfaces for use with DVDs,digital TVs and so on.
288. HDTV
High Definition Television.High-resolution, widescreen digital TV that req
uires both an HDTV broadcast and television
289. Header

A title that can be inserted at the top of the page, usually in a word-pro
cessor document.
290. Heatsink
a block of machined metal, usually aluminium, used to dissipate heat from
a hot component, such as a processor.
291. Heuristic
A technique for assessing the probability of a file containing a computer
virus. Useful for discovering previously unknown strains.
292. Hi8 (also Hi-8)
A good-quality, high-band video standard used by camcorders (a high-band v
ersion of Video 8).
293. High-band
Enhanced videotape formats, such as S-VHS, S-VHS-C and Hi8, which offer im
proved picture quality.
294. High-definition
Also known as high-def or HD for short,a high-definition picture has a sup
erior resolution to that of normal TV or video,and therefore shows more detail.
295. Homepage
The first or main page of a website, usually containing links to more deta
iled sections or content.
296. Host
The PC that you set up as the 'base' or central PC in your home network. I
t is usually attached to the printer.
297. Host drive
When DriveSpace creates a compressed drive, it keeps part of it uncompress
the host drive. It's usually a very small part of the disk, but it contains i
mportant files that allows your newly compressed drive to work properly.
298. HSCSD
High Speed Circuit Switched Data. An enhanced version of the GSM digital m
obile phone network that can transfer data at speeds up to 28. 8Kbits/s.
299. HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language)
The language used to create pages for a website. HTML code is written as t
ext that is converted to a web page by a web browser.
300. Hyperlink
A clickable link on a web page or in a document that takes you to elsewher
e, like to another website or a later page.
301. Hyperthreading
Technology developed by Intel that enables one of its newest Pentium 4 pro
cessors to behave as two processors for certain tasks, speeding up performance.
302. Icon
A small image used by Windows to identify a file or application.
303. IDE
Stands for integrated device electronics, which is a standard interface fo
r connecting devices such as hard disks and CD-ROM drives to a PC.
304. Image-editing application
Software used to manipulate digital images, either created from scratch or
obtained via a scanner or digital camera.
305. Import filter
A software feature that allows you read a file created using one applicati
on into a different one.
306. Infection
Describes the way a virus transfers itself from one computer to another
307. Infrared
An interface that allows you to transmit data via infrared light waves,all
owing data to be transferred cordlessly between devices.
308. Infrared port
An interface that allows you to transmit data via infrared light waves, al
lowing data to be transferred cordlessly between devices with infrared ports. Mo
st PDAs and notebook computers feature infrared ports, but few desktop PCs are s
o lucky
limiting the usefulness as a connection method.

309. Ink cartridge

A plastic container holding ink, inserted into an inkjet printer. Some car
tridges may incorporate the nozzles that will put the ink on the page but they a
re often just refills that slot into a reusable head.
310. Inkjet printer
Type of printer which squirts tiny dots of ink onto the page to form text
and images. Almost all inkjet printers print in colour as well as black and whit
311. Instant messenging
Real-time text-based communication over a network (usually the internet),
using a program such as AOL Instant Messenger.
312. Integrity check
A type of virus check comparing previously-stored information about a file
to later versions, noting any suspect modifications.
313. Interface
In the context of software, the 'look and feel' of a program, such as its
buttons, menus and windows. In hardware terms, it usually refers to a physical c
onnection, like a parallel printer interface.
314. Internet
An global network that links millions of computers, using phone and cable
links. Users connect to server computers, which act rather like a local phone ex
change. A modem connects your PC to the server from home, allowing you to become
part of the internet.
315. Internet Explorer
a program that allows you to 'browse' web pag
Microsoft's internet browser
es, manage your favourite web sites, and so on.
316. Internet Protocol (IP) address
An identifying number of a computer attached to a network. A computer's IP
address is similar to a phone number in function. Every computer must have a un
ique IP address
either a permanent address or one that is dynamically assigned t
o them each time they connect to the net. IP addresses are written as four sets
of numbers separated by full stops; for example, 204. 171. 64. 2.
317. Internet service provider (ISP)
A company which provides you with an internet connection, either for fixed
monthly fee or for the cost of local call charges. Examples of popular ISPs inc
lude BT Internet, AOL and Freeserve.
318. Interpolation
When scanner software increases the resolution of a scanned image by mathe
matically guessing extra details.
319. Intranet
Has the look and feel of an internet website, and can be explored with a b
rowser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Unlike the web, access i
s limited to pages on a company's internal network.
320. IRC (or Internet Relay Chat)
A vast, largely un-regulated global network allowing users to type message
s in real time much like a real conversation. Divided into separate rooms, or 'c
321. IrDA Infrared Data Association
A standard that allows two devices to communicate with each other via thei
r infrared ports. IrDA-compatible ports are often found on notebook computers.
322. IRQ
Stands for interrupt request, which are settings that determine the memory
addresses and processor usage for PC add-in cards and devices. You shouldn't ch
ange these unless you really know what you're doing.
323. ISA
Stands for Industry Standard Architecture, which is an old type of expansi
on slot inside a PC.
324. ISDN
Stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, which is a digital telepho
ne connection providing high-speed data transfer, for such things as internet ac

cess. Popular in particular with businesses needing to transfer large amounts of

data regularly and reliably.
325. Java
A special language used to create advanced effects on websites, such as an
imated sequences and interactive buttons and menus.
326. Jaz drive
A high-capacity storage device made by Iomega. Capable of storing 2Gb of d
ata on removable cartridges.
327. Jitter
Read errors caused by the timing electronics inside a CD player or CD-ROM
328. Joystick
A stick-like device that lets you control actions in games.
329. JPEG (or JPG)
A common format for image files. JPEG images are compressed and the small
file size makes them ideal for web pages.
330. Jumpers
Little metal pins, found on expansion cards and motherboards, which allow
you to change settings manually.
331. Justified
Text which lines up with both page margins or both edges of a column.
332. K6
Old processor from Intel's rival, AMD. In terms of performance, the K6 is
roughly equivalent to a Pentium II processor.
333. Kb (kilobyte)
Measure of capacity of a storage device. Equal to 1,024 bytes.
334. Kb/s
Short for kilobytes per second, which is a measure of data transfer speed.
335. Kbit/s
Short for kilobits per second, which is a measure of data transfer or mode
m speed. A kilobit is 1,000 individual bits of computer data, and most computer
modems download information at up to 56Kbps.
336. Kerning
Certain pairs of letters, such as 'A' and 'V', appear too widely spaced at
large sizes and need to be squeezed together to look balanced. This is known as
kerning and is used regularly in desktop-publishing applications. Can be perfor
med either manually or automatically by software.
337. Keyword
A word of particular importance on a web page that can be used by search e
ngines to identify it.
338. KHz (KiloHertz)
For digital audio, this refers to the number of samples per second a piece
of music is recorded at. Audio CDs use 48KHz samples -- 48,000 samples per seco
339. Knowledge base
A structured store of electronic information. Like an interactive encyclop
aedia but designed to help with decision-making and problem-solving in a special
ised field, not as general reference source.
340. LAN Local Area Network
Describes two or more computers connected, either physically or wirelessly
, with the ability to share resources, such as printers.
341. Laser printer
A type of printer that produces high-quality text and graphics using a las
er beam. The beam builds up characters and images as tiny dots on a rotating dru
m. The drum then attracts ink powder (toner) to these dots. This is then transfe
rred and heat-fused to paper.
342. Launch
To start up a program, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, by clicking on its
icon or selecting it from the Windows Start menu.
343. Layers

In image-editing, the equivalent of multiple sheets of glass heaped on top

of the drawing canvas. You can draw onto any layer, then change the order, hide
them and so on.
344. LCD (liquid-crystal display)
Technology used to create low-power, slim display panels. Used in everythi
ng from digital watches to flat-screen monitors.
345. LED
Light Emitting Diode. A low-power electronic device that emits light when
an electric current is passed through it.
346. Legend
A translation of the symbols or colours used in a chart.
347. Lens flare
A special effect which produces a circular flare of light.
348. Li-ion
Short for lithium-ion, which is a sophisticated type of rechargeable batte
ry used in many portable computers and mobile phones. Li-ion cells offer good we
ight:life ratio and, unlike earlier battery technologies, do not suffer from the
so-called 'memory' effects- allowing them to be recharged in haphazard fashion
without detriment.
349. Link (or hyperlink)
An object on a web page that, when clicked, takes you to another web page.
Both text and graphics can be links.
350. Linux
An operating system that runs on a variety of computers (including PCs) an
d can be freely modified and distributed by its users. It was developed by Linus
351. Lithium polymer
An expensive type of battery that, for the time being, you'll only see on
the most expensive portable devices. Polymer cells can be moulded into unusual s
hapes, making them suitable for all manner of applications.
352. Low-band
A standard videotape format, such as VHS, VHS-C or Video 8.
353. LPT1 (abbreviation for line printer)
Nowadays more commonly called a parallel port, this a connector at the bac
k of a PC originally developed to connect a printer to the computer. All sorts o
f devices, like Zip drives and scanners, now make use of this port. A second par
allel port will be called LPT2.
354. LS-120
An advanced but little-used version of a standard floppy disk drive, capab
le of storing 120Mb of data on a single disk.
355. Lumen
A way of measuring brightness.
356. Macros
In the context of software, an automated series of commands or operations
that can be run at anytime. For example, if you always carry out a series of ope
rations on your text to put it into a certain typeface and size, then you can se
t up a macro to perform this function. In photography, a macro mode allows for c
lose-up shots without distortion.
357. Magic wand
In image-editing, a feature that automatically selects an area of similar
colour or tone.
358. Magnetic shielding
Material that shields loudspeaker magnets, preventing them from interferin
g with nearby PC or TV screens.
359. Mail server
The computers at your ISP that handle email coming into your account as we
ll as all the email you send out.
360. Mailbox (or inbox)
The folder in your email application that stores your incoming messages.
361. Mailing list

A service provided by special interest groups that sends regular email upd
ates to its (usually free) subscribers.
362. Mail-merge
A useful tool included in most word-processing applications that allows yo
u to create multiple documents based on data from another source, usually a data
base program. Mail merge is particularly useful and time-saving when you want to
send the same letter to a group of people whose addresses are kept in your data
363. Malware
A generic term for software designed to perform harmful or surreptitious a
364. Masks
In image-editing, a feature that allows certain parts of an image to be bl
ocked off. Masked sections are immune to any changes you might make to the entir
e image.
365. Master pages
In desktop publishing software, anything such as headers, logos or guides
placed on a master page will appear on every page in the publication.
366. Mb (megabyte)
A measurement of storage capacity, usually for computer memory. 1Mb is equ
al to 1,024Kb (kilobytes).
367. Mb/s
Short for Megabytes per second, which is a measure of data transfer speed.
368. Mbit/s (megabits per second)
A measure of data-transfer speed. A megabit is one million bits.
369. MBR
Master Boot Record. Part of a hard disk read by a computer as soon as it i
s switched on. The MBR contains information about which hard disk to boot from.
370. Megapixel
one megapixel
A measure of the level of detail recorded by digital cameras
means an image made from one million tiny dots (pixels).
371. Membrane keyboards
A type of keyboard that has a plastic membrane grid under the keys. Membra
ne keyboards tend to have a soft, quiet action.
372. Memory (or RAM)
Random Access Memory is the computer's temporary storage area, measured in
megabytes (Mb). Anything written to memory will be lost when the power is switc
hed off. Windows 95 needs at least 16Mb to work properly, and double that again
to work smoothly. For Windows 98 and beyond, consider 64Mb as a realistic minimu
373. Memory cards
Small cards that can store many megabytes (Mb) of computer data or documen
ts. Often used as a removable storage medium in digital cameras and palmtop comp
374. Memory stick
A type of proprietary memory card designed by Sony. Used to provide slot i
n, removable storage, for devices such as digital cameras.
375. Message board
An internet-based equivalent of an actual message board, where people can
post and reply to messages 'posted' by other people.
376. MFD (multifunction device)
A machine that combines any or all of the functions of a copier, fax, prin
ter and scanner.
377. MHz (Megahertz)
A measure of how fast the processor in your PC works 800MHz Pentium III, f
or example. As a rule of thumb, the higher the number the faster a PC will be.
378. Mic in
Sound cards have different sockets at the back so you know what plugs in w
here. The mic in socket is for the microphone.
379. Microswitched keyboard

A type of keyboard where each key has its own tiny switch
these being the
microswitches. The switch sits underneath its key. The action that this gives th
e keyboard is often described as clicky .
380. MIDI
Stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, which is a standard for c
ontrolling electronic musical instruments by computer. One MIDI instrument can b
e used to control and communicate with another, so that music created on one can
be edited on another.
381. Midrange
Sound frequencies in the middle of the audio spectrum.
382. MIME
Stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, which is a standard for
sending files and other data that is not plain text in mail messages over the in
383. MiniDisc
Looks like a small floppy disk, but can record up to 74 minutes of digital
sound using compression. Used in personal stereos and in-car entertainment syst
384. MiniDV
The Digital Video (DV) tape format for digital camcorders.
385. Mirror site
A duplicate of a website, usually in a different location, intended to sha
re the load in times of heavy use. Shareware download sites use mirror sites for
this very purpose.
386. MMC
MultiMedia Card. A postage stamp-size solid-state memory card used by some
digital cameras and MP3 players. See also SD card.
387. MMS
Multimedia Messaging. Sending and receiving pictures to and from a mobile
388. MMX
Stands for Multimedia Extensions, a special set of multimedia enhancements
built into some early Pentium processors and designed to improve the performanc
e of multimedia applications and games.
389. Modem
A device that enables two computers to communicate with each other over a
telephone line. A modem is usually needed to connect to the internet.
390. Moderator
User who controls who can speak in a moderated chat room.
391. Modulation
Way of varying aspect of a sound, such as vibrato or tremolo.
392. Moir (Moire)
These are interference patterns that may be visible when a monitor display
s certain images or patterns. Moir is a nuisance that can generally be resolved b
y changing the background colour.
393. Motherboard
The main circuit board inside any PC into which every other component conn
ects to and communicates through.
394. Mouse pointer
Also known as the pointer, this is what you see on screen when you move yo
ur mouse. It usually looks like an arrow.
395. MP3
A standard for compressing digital audio. The sound quality of an MP3 file
is close to that CD audio but requires only a fraction of the storage space.
396. MPEG
Stands for Motion Picture Experts Group, and describes a method of compres
sing digital video. MPEG-1 compression gives VHS-quality vide, while MPEG-2 comp
ression gives high-quality video with CD-quality sound. MPEG-2 compression is us
ed for DVD movies.
397. MS DOS

See DOS.
398. MTU
Stands for maximum transmission unit, which is the largest collection of d
ata bits that a computer network can transmit.
399. Multimedia
Implies that either hardware (such as your PC) or software is capable of h
andling both video and sound.
400. My Computer
Usually you will find an icon labelled 'My Computer' in the top-left corne
r of your Windows desktop. Double-click on this and a Window will appear, contai
ning icons for any disk drives you have connected to your PC, as well as any pri
nters you have installed.
401. Name
In spreadsheets, an easy-to remember identifier for a cell or range.
402. Nanobot
Notional microscopic machines, built using 'nanotechnology'.
403. Net
Short for internet, which is a global network of computers you can hook up
to through an ordinary phone line.
404. NetMeeting
A software program developed by Microsoft and available free of charge. Al
lows you to talk and share data with other computer users over the internet; eit
her audio only or, if you've a camera, visually.
405. Network
A way of connecting several computers and printers so that they can share
406. Network Adapter
A socket for connecting a PC to an office network or some broadband intern
et connections.
407. Network interface card
Each PC on a network needs a network interface card, into which the networ
k cable is plugged. Most can transfer data at 10Mbits per second (10 million bit
s per second) but 100Mbit cards are becoming more common.
408. Newsgroups
Discussion areas on the internet, where you can post a message and read re
plies from other people, like an office noticeboard.
409. NiCad
Heavy, cheap and basic type of rechargeable battery, which suffers badly f
that is, the problem of a battery not recharging properly if
rom 'memory effect'
you attempt to charge it up before it is fully exhausted.
410. NiMH
Stands for nickel-metal hydride, which is an older type of notebook batter
y. They last longer if you let them run flat before recharging, which can be inc
411. Notebook
A portable computer, usually around the size of an A4 notebook. Also refer
red to as laptop.
412. NTFS
NT File System. A more secure and reliable file system used by Windows NT
and XP.
413. OCR
An abbreviation of optical character recognition, the process by which pri
nted text is scanned and converted into a computer-editable electronic document.
414. OEM
Short for original equipment manufacturer, which refers to components sold
to manufacturers purely for incorporation in complete systems. Often, OEM parts
are similar to those sold retail, but may be cheaper or sold with different sof
415. Office suite
A bundle of useful programs sold in one package. Lotus SmartSuite and Micr

osoft Office are prime examples.

416. Offline
Working with internet software, like an email program, without being conne
cted to the internet, potentially running up telephone charges.
417. Ogg Vorbis
A free alternative to the MP3 standard.
418. On demand
A virus checker in the form of a program which you run whenever you want t
o check something.
419. On-access
A virus checker that runs continuously in the background and checks files
each time you access them.
420. Onboard
Already fitted to your PC as part of the main circuitry on the motherboard
. So 'onboard AGP graphics', would mean the PC with built-in AGP graphics facili
ties. The alternative is a separate expansions card which is attached to the mot
herboard via a special port.
421. Online
Being connected to the internet.
422. Online
The time you spend connected to or via the internet.
423. Online instructions
A read-me text file that will be installed on your computer during the ins
tallation of software, or will be present on the CD-ROM for future reference. Th
ink of it as an electronic manual.
424. Online Service
A company that provides its own online content that's accessible only to f
ee-paying members, as well as access to the internet proper. AOL is an online se
425. OpenGL
A programming standard used for work such as 3D modelling. Setting a game
to use OpenGL can greatly improve the quality of the graphics.
426. Operating system
A crucial piece of software which is so important that it loads automatica
lly when you switch on a computer. Windows 98, 2000 and XP are operating systems
, as is Mac OSX, Linux, and Palm OS5 (for the Palm handheld computer) Operating
systems govern the way the hardware and software components in a computer work t
427. Optical resolution
The true resolution a scanner can 'see' as it passes across a document. Re
solution is measured in dots per inch (dpi), so a 300dpi scan will pick up 300 l
ines of information for each inch of the scanned page.
428. OSR2
This was a little-advertised version of Windows 95 distributed with new PC
s and never made available to the general public as an upgrade. In many senses i
t was a test bed for new features that are now standard in later versions of Win
dows, such as USB.
429. Overclocked processor
A processor that has had its operating speed improperly increased.
430. P11D
The form used by an employer to tell the Inland Revenue about taxable bene
fits (such as company cars or accommodation) provided to employees earning more
than 8,500 a year or to directors. The employee should receive a copy in July eac
h year.
431. P60
A certificate, issued annually by employers, that shows an individual's to
tal pay, income tax and National Insurance contributions.
432. P9D
The form used by an employer to tell the Inland Revenue about taxable bene
fits (such as company cars or accommodation) provided to employees earning less

than 8,500 a year. The employee should receive a copy in July each year.
433. Packet
Information sent over the internet or other computer networks is split up
into packets of data. Each of these includes the destination IP address, so they
can travel separately and be rebuilt into the complete message on arrival.
434. Packet Writing
A technique (provided through software) that allows CD-Rs and CD-RWs to be
treated as floppy disks, with drag-and-drop file management.
435. Page printer
General term for printers that, like laser printers or inkjets, process a
whole page at a time.
436. Page Wizard
A simple series of on-screen forms to generate a page layout based on your
preferences. For example, Microsoft Publisher can automatically create a birthd
ay card based on your answers to some simple questions.
437. PAL
Stands for Phase Alternating Line, which is the broadcast TV standard used
in the UK and in much of Europe.
438. Palette
In an image-editing program such as Paint Shop Pro, a palette will allow a
user to select a range of tools or colours to use for drawing or photo-retouchi
ng work.
439. Palmtop
A PDA or small computer about the size of a pocket calculator. Usually wit
hout a keyboard and with a touch-sensitive screen, it will use text recognition
for data entry. Most palmtops are supplied with contact management, diary and me
mo software, while many can access the internet and download email using a mobil
e phone. Third parties may supply on-screen maps, electronic books and the like.
440. Paper support
Plastic trays which provide support for paper feeding into a printer, and
for catching printed sheets.
441. Parallel cable
Usually used to connect a PC to a printer, but can also be used to link tw
o PCs together. Parallel cables allow data to be swapped between computers at a
higher speed than serial cables.
442. Parallel port
A single socket on the back of a PC typically used for connecting a printe
r or a low-cost scanner.
443. Parasitic virus
Computer virus that spreads by attaching itself to another file, usually a
444. Parity error
Some types of computer memory have a built-in 'parity checking' system to
warn of memory errors that otherwise might not be noticed. If a problem is detec
ted, a parity error warning is produced. If this is repeated frequently, the mem
ory module is probably faulty.
445. Partition
A large hard disk can be divided into two or more partitions or 'virtual'
drives. Once partitioned, each section is treated by Windows as though it were a
completely separate, smaller hard disk.
446. Patch (midi music)
In the context of music recording, one of a selection of 128 different ins
trumental sounds that MIDI can use.
447. Patch (software)
A software file or collection of files that fixes problems with an existin
g software application by making minor changes to the program.
448. Path (drawing software)
in drawing software, vector lines, curves and outline shapes. A path is in
visible until given a stroke or fill.
449. Path (file management)

In file management, the names of the drive, folder and subfolders that ind
icate exactly where on a disk a file is stored, like 'C:WindowsMapsMyFile. xls'.
This example means that the file MyFile. xls is located in the folder called Ma
ps, which is inside the folder called Windows on your hard disk.
450. PAYE
Pay As You Earn. The normal system of paying tax if you work for somebody
else. Your employer deducts tax from your pay before you receive it.
451. Payload
Activity initiated by a virus, such as displaying a message or deleting fi
452. PC Card
A credit card-size device for adding anything from a modem to a hard drive
to a notebook PC. Requires a PC Card slot (standard on almost all notebooks).
453. PCI
Peripheral Component Interconnect. A high-performance expansion slot for d
esktop PCs, allowing simple installation of PCI components like sound cards and
454. PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
A palmtop computer about the size of a pocket calculator. Usually without
a keyboard and with a touch-sensitive screen, it will use text recognition for d
ata entry. Most PDAs are supplied with contact management, diary and memo softwa
re, while many can access the internet and download email using a mobile phone o
r normal phone line.
455. PDF
Portable Document Format. A file format developed by Adobe that allows for
matted pages of text and graphics to be viewed and printed correctly on a variet
y of machines, without the original author having to worry about the recipients.
PDF pages created with Adobe Acrobat need to be read with the free Acrobat Read
er application.
456. Peer-to-peer
A network connecting two or more computers without a central file server.
457. Pentium 4
The latest and fastest member of Intel's Pentium line of processors.
458. Pentium II
it has now been
An improved version of Intel's original Pentium processor
superseded by the Pentium III and discontinued.
459. Pentium III
Until recently the fastest member of the Intel Pentium family of processor
s. It still continues in parallel with the newer Pentium 4.
460. Pentium MMX
A now-obsolete enhanced version of Intel's standard Pentium processor. The
MMX part stands loosely for MultiMedia eXtensions, as the chip is optimised to
handle all sorts of multimedia-intensive tasks such as playing videos and music.
461. Personal data
Any information referring to identifiable individuals; usually (but not al
ways) used to refer to computerised information. Most businesses and organisatio
ns storing personal data must register with the Data Protection Commissioner.
462. Phonebook
A mobile phone memory used to record the owner's personal numbers, so they
can be recalled and dialled easily rather than tapped out each time.
463. Phono
A term often used to describe standard stereo (red and white) audio connec
464. Photo cartridge
Specialist cartridge of inks designed for printing photographic images. Th
ere are often six colours of ink compared to the four used in a normal inkjet pr
465. Piano Roll Editor
An on-screen representation of music recording or playback, where a vertic
al keyboard shows the notes, and the horizontal axis shows elapsed time
this is

similar to the punched paper song rolls used in Pianola machines.

466. Piezo
A system for inkjet printing, developed by Epson. The print head contains
tiny crystals which change shape when an electric current is passed through them
, forcing the ink onto the page.
467. PIM
Personal Information Manager. A software application that helps you to org
anise all your personal data by managing your diary, contact list and messages.
468. Pincushion
This setting controls curvature of left- and right-hand sides of a monitor
's display.
469. Pins
In thermal printers, these heat up and press against heat-sensitive paper
to form images and text. In dot-matrix printers, they strike an inked ribbon aga
inst the paper to make their mark.
470. Pitch bending
A technique much used by guitarists, who change the pitch of a note up or
down by pulling the strings across the fretboard.
471. Pitch wheel
A small rotating control found on most Midi keyboards that generates pitch
-bend information.
472. PivotTable
A built-in Excel macro, or mini program, which summarises large amounts of
473. Pixel
Short for picture element, which is the smallest part of an image displaye
d on a monitor or captured by a scanner or digital camera.
474. Pixelation
Many digital images are made up of tiny dots. So tiny that to the naked ey
e they cannot be seen. However, if an image is enlarged or 'blown up' the indivi
dual become visible. This process is known as pixellation.
475. Plasma
A display where each pixel is illuminated by a tiny bit of plasma or charg
ed gas.
476. Platform games
These involve jumping and running across 'platforms', fighting foes and co
llecting sundry objects.
477. Playlist
A list of audio tracks (usually MP3s) queued for playback, not unlike a st
ack of records on an old record player.
478. Plug and play
A standard for Windows PCs that allows peripherals to be connected and use
d in a matter of moments. In theory, Windows will automatically detect the new d
evice and install any needed drivers from its own database.
479. Plug-in
A small program that adds extra features such as streaming video to your w
eb browser or to other applications, and is loaded only when it's needed to disp
lay information
480. Pocket PC
A generic term for any handheld computer that uses the Microsoft Pocket PC
operating system.
481. Point size (or pt size)
The measurement that typographers use to describe the size of text. One po
int is approximately 1/72nd of an inch. Accordingly, 72pt text is twice as big a
s 36pt text.
482. POP3
Post Office Protocol 3. A protocol for remotely accessing and retrieving e
mail from an ISP. Most email applications and ISPs use POP3
483. Pop-up menu
A menu that can be displayed on the screen at any time by pressing the app

ropriate key, usually displayed over material already on the screen. Once you ha
ve made a choice from the menu, it disappears and the original screen is restore
484. Port
A socket, which is located at the back of the computer's base, where you p
lug in items like the printer and keyboard.
485. Port scanning
using a computer to search for weak spots in other computers connected to
the internet, usually for unlawful purposes.
486. Portal
A website that offers a variety of services, such as news, weather reports
, stock information, email and so on. The information on offer may be personalis
ed for your interests if you have registered with the portal. Most search sites
are also portals.
487. Posting
To send a message to a newsgroup.
488. PostScript
A printer description language, including outline font technology, develop
ed by Adobe. It enables typefaces to be displayed on screen exactly as they will
print, and allows them to print to best effect on different resolution devices.
489. Power Management
Power-saving features on a PC, printer or monitor, designed to turn off or
put on standby any part of the system that is not needed.
490. Preferences
The part of a program that lets you alter various settings and remembers y
our changes so it looks and behaves how you want it to.
491. Pre-payment
No-contract phone services where there is no commitment and no monthly ren
tal charge. Instead users buy calls in advance using pre-paid call vouchers. Pre
-payment mobiles start from around 30.
492. Preview
In graphics and drawing programs, a mode that allows you to see your artwo
rk in colour with fills and strokes. Some programs offer more than one preview q
uality mode.
493. Preview pane
Part of a window in an email application that lets you read a message with
out having to first double-click it to open it. This has the disadvantage that s
ome malicious emails can contain HTML which will run automatically in the previe
w pane, potentially importing a virus to your system.
494. Preview scan
A quick 'rough draft' of subject to be scanned at a low resolution. This a
llows you to pick out which areas of the image you want to scan in greater detai
495. Print head
The part of the printer that actually prints onto the paper. In the case o
f an inkjet printer, this is the part that squirts ink, in strips, onto the page
. In a dot-matrix printer it's the part that hammers a row of pins through the i
nk ribbon
496. Printer carriage
The internal printer mechanism which moves back and forth and to which the
cartridge attaches.
497. Processor
The chip that is the 'brain' of the computer. The faster the processor, th
e better a computer will perform.
498. Program
Software or applications. Programs tell your computer, and its accessories
(the hardware) what to do and how to do it. Examples are Excel, Word, and compu
ter games.
499. Program Change
A MIDI message that selects one of the 128 different instrumental sounds t

hat Midi is able to use.

500. Programming Language
The computer instructions that are used to build computer programs. There
are many programming languages, with names like C++ and BASIC, and each is desig
ned for a specific purpose.
501. Progressive scan
Provides a more film-like image display for viewing DVDs on a television.
502. PS Receiver
A small (usually handheld) device with a screen that's capable of receivin
g GPS satellite location information.
503. PS/2
A set of standards for such things as mouse and keyboard interfaces, origi
nally used by IBM.
504. PS/2 port
A small, round 6-pin connector, for plugging a keyboard and/or mouse into
a computer.
505. Pt
Point size. The measurement that typographers use to describe the size of
text. One point is approximately 1/72nd of an inch. Accordingly, 72pt text is tw
ice as big as 36pt text.
506. PVR
Personal video recorders store recorded TV shows on hard disk,rather than
tape or DVD.Most can be set to automatically record a whole series.
507. Quantising
A way found in MIDI sequencers, including those on your PC, to force badly
timed notes to the nearest 'correct' value, and so keep your recording in perfe
ct time.
508. Quicktime
A video file format invented by Apple, and used on both PCs and Macs.
509. QWERTY keyboard
The standard English keyboard layout, so called because the first six lett
ers on the top row of the keyboard are QWERTY. Similarly, French keyboards can b
e referred to as AZERTY while some other languages, including German, use a QWER
TZ keyboard layout.
510. Radio button
A method of selecting an option in an application dialogue box. Only one b
utton in the control group can be selected: if you change your selection, your f
irst choice is automatically deselected.
511. Rage Pro
A type of 3D graphics card made by ATI. It was excellent when first launch
ed but is now almost obsolete. You are most likely to find it or derivatives in
corporate machines or notebooks which are unlikely to be used for gaming.
512. RAM
Random Access Memory. The computer's working area, used for data storage w
hile the PC is switched on. Its capacity is measured in megabytes (Mb): the more
memory your PC has, the more things it can process simultaneously and the faste
r it will seem. Note that any information in RAM will be lost when the power is
switched off.
513. Rambus
A design of memory claimed to offer very high performance, albeit at a hig
h price. Developed by Rambus Inc and licensed to RAM manufacturers, it is found
in Pentium III and Pentium 4 systems.
514. Range
In a spreadsheet, a defined block of cells. Rather than performing calcula
tions on each cell individually, you can apply a formula to the whole range.
515. RCTC
Rewriteable Consumer Time Code. Used on camcorders and video recorders to
keep track of recording length.
516. RDRAM
Rambus DRAM. A design of memory claimed to offer very high performance, al

beit at a high price. Developed by Rambus Inc and licensed to RAM manufacturers,
it is found in Pentium III and Pentium 4 systems.
517. RDS
Radio Data System. A feature of many radios, especially in cars, which can
interpret coded data included with the radio signal to display the name of the
radio station and interrupt other programmes with local traffic reports.
518. Readme file
A file created during an application installation that contains useful inf
ormation. Readme files are usually found in the same Program Files folder as the
519. Real time
Something that takes place on a computer at the same speed as it would in
real life. In real-time games
perhaps a flight simulator a minute or an hour of
game time is the same as in the outside world. In real time graphics processing,
the onscreen image or video is rendered as you watch, rather than relying on a
pre-recorded picture.
520. RealPlayer
The software required to play RealAudio and RealVideo files streamed over
the internet. A basic version is available as a free download while a more sophi
sticated version can be bought online.
521. Reboot
To restart a computer. Normally, this is by using the 'Restart' option on
the Windows Start menu. However, it may be necessary to press Control-Alt-Delete
or even to use the Reset button if one is fitted to the PC.
522. Record
A single entry in a database, comprising a related group of individual 'fi
elds'. Each entry in an address book, for example, is a record.
523. Recycle Bin
Where all files deleted in Windows are sent. Shown as a rubbish bin icon o
n the Desktop, it must be emptied if you want to get rid of deleted files for go
524. Red-eye
A photographic effect where a flash reflects from the back of the subject'
s retinas, giving their eyes a red glow. The effect can be reduced with a flash
that pulses before the photo is taken, making the iris contract and reducing the
525. Refresh rate
Measured in Hertz (Hz) the number of times per second that the image on yo
ur monitor is redrawn. Slight changes in the image each time it is updated combi
ne to give the illusion of movement. For a steady image, the higher the refresh
rate, the less flicker you will see. A refresh rate over 85Hz is generally accep
ted as being flicker-free.
526. Registry
A database integrated into Windows which stores information on all hardwar
e and software installed on your PC. This includes user preferences, settings an
d licence information.
527. Removable storage device
Disk drives that use high-capacity disks which can be removed and stored r
emotely. Typical examples include the Iomega Zip and Jaz products.
528. Reservoir
In an inkjet printer, the part that actually holds the ink. In many inkjet
s, the reservoir is combined with the print head itself to create a single dispo
sable unit, while others have replaceable reservoirs.
529. Resolution
The amount of detail shown in an image, whether on screen or printed. For
a monitor, it is the number of pixels it can display (typically 1024 x 768 pixel
s for a 17in monitor). For printers and scanners, resolution is measured in dots
per inch (dpi); the number of drops of ink or toner that can be printed in a sq
uare inch.
530. Reverberation

A sound effect which adds the sound of a real environment, such as a room,
hall, or cathedral, to create an illusion of depth in the music.
531. RGB image
A colour picture created as on a monitor, by combining a value for red, gr
een and blue channels to determine the colour of each individual pixel.
532. Right-click
Most actions in Windows are performed by clicking the left mouse button. H
owever, since the arrival of Windows 95, many programs
and Windows itself
make u
se of the right mouse button click to display a pop-up menu with special functio
533. RIMM
Rambus Inline Memory Module. A 'stick' of RDRAM, used in Pentium III and P
entium 4 systems with suitable motherboards.
534. Ring Modulation
An audio effect that produces metallic or clanging sounds. The most famous
example is the voices of the Daleks.
535. Rip
To digitally extract the music data from a CD-ROM or audio CD. Ripping a t
rack from an audio CD is the first stage of compressing it as an MP3 file.
536. Ripper
Software that can be used to automatically convert CD audio and. WAV files
into compressed MP3 or WMA format for later playback, either through your PC or
from a portable digital music player.
537. RISC processor
Reduced Instruction Set Computer processors are designed using a very limi
ted number of simple instructions. They can combine these instructions at high s
peed to perform much more complex calculations.
538. RJ-11 (Registered Jack-11)
The type of small plug and socket used by modems to connect to a telephone
socket. A converter plug is needed before an RJ-11 cable can be plugged into a
standard UK telephone socket (RJ-11 is a US standard).
539. RMS
Root Mean Squared. A way of measuring the power output of speakers. Becaus
e the calculation gives values similar to normal use, it is the most honest way
of quoting speaker power output and the best way of comparing different models.
540. Roaming
Using your mobile phone abroad. You must ask your mobile phone provider to
enable roaming, and your operator must have a roaming agreement with the foreig
n operator. Your phone must be able to use the network technology in the foreign
country: in Europe, this will be GSM900 or GSM1800, while GSM coverage in the U
SA is GSM1900.
541. ROM
Read Only Memory. Any memory that can be read but not written to. A PC's B
IOS uses ROM to store basic system information and instructions which cannot be
542. Router
A device which is used to connect more than one computer together and/or t
o the internet as an alternative to a modem. It's so-called because it determine
s which way data is sent.
543. RSA
An internet encryption and authentication system that uses an algorithm de
veloped in 1977 by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman. The RSA algorith
m is the most commonly used encryption and authentication algorithm and is inclu
ded as part of the Web browser from Netscape and Microsoft. It's also part of Lo
tus Notes, Intuit's Quicken, and many other products.
544. RTC
Real-time clock. The battery-powered clock inside every PC which keeps tra
ck of time while the system is switched off.
545. RTF
Rich Text Format. A common file format used to transfer files between diff

erent word-processing programs. It preserves most of the formatting of a documen

546. S/PDIF
Sony/Philips Digital InterFace. A standard for transferring digital audio
information between devices. S/PDIF sockets can be both optical and electrical,
and found on such things as sound cards and DVD players.
547. SACD
Super Audio CD. A highresolution audio CD format.
548. Sample
A recording of instruments or sounds. Samples can be used with a sequencer
to make music, or downloaded to a wavetable soundcard so it can reproduce those
sounds, combining them and playing them back at different pitches to make music
549. Satellite speaker
Compact, usually cube-shaped speaker designed to reproduce midrange and hi
gh audio frequencies. Satellite speakers should be used in conjunction with a su
550. Scale
To change the dimensions of a picture, keeping it in proportion to its ori
ginal size.
551. ScanDisk
A disk-checking utility incorporated in Windows that can detect and repair
minor problems with your disk drives.
552. Scanner
A device which uses a light sensor to convert a drawing, photograph or doc
ument into data which can then be interpreted by software on your PC. A flatbed
scanner has a flat sheet of glass on which the image or document is placed. The
scan head moves below the glass, while with a handheld scanner you move the scan
ner over the image.
553. SCART
A standardised 21-pin connector for two-way traffic of video and audio sig
nals. It is used across Europe to connect TVs, video recorders and other domesti
c audiovisual equipment.
554. Scenario
In spreadsheets, a named set of input values you can substitute in a works
555. Screen grab
Also screen shot. An image of what was displayed on screen at a particular
moment. A screen is captured to the clipboard in Windows by pressing the Print
Screen key. You can then copy it to a graphic file or simply print it off.
556. Screen resolution
The number of pixels that are displayed on the screen, making up the image
. The more pixels, the higher the resolution and the sharper the picture.
557. Screen shot
Also screen grab. An image of what was displayed on screen at a particular
moment. A screen is captured to the clipboard in Windows by pressing the Print
Screen key. You can then copy it to a graphic file or simply print it off.
558. Screensaver
A program that runs on a computer after a short period of inactivity and d
isplays a moving image on screen. Originally intended to prevent damage to monit
ors caused by displaying the same image for long periods, many screensavers now
incorporate passwords to protect your work from prying eyes.
559. Script
A short program that's stored on a web server to control part of a website
. For example, a script could check that a date you've entered is valid, or move
words across the screen.
560. Scroll
filenames, fonts
is too long
When a document, an image or a list of items
to display in a window you can scroll up or down by clicking on the window's scr
oll bar (also called the vertical scroll bar).

561. Scroll bar

The section of a window
normally grey with a slider control
you must use t
o scroll around when the window's contents are too large to display at once.
562. SCSI
Small Computer System Interface (pronounced 'skuzzy'). An extremely fast c
onnection between such things as disk drives and scanners, and a PC. Up to seven
devices can be daisy-chained together and connected to a normal SCSI controller
563. SD card
Secure Digital card. A secure variant of the postage stamp-size solid-stat
e MMC memory card used by some MP3 players.
564. SDRAM
Synchronous Dynamic RAM. The type of memory to be found in most modern PCs
. It is significantly cheaper than its biggest rival, RDRAM.
565. Search engine
A site on the net that indexes the names and addresses of other sites. It
enables you to search for sites containing certain keywords, or sometimes even t
o ask a question in normal language.
566. Search query
The text given to a search engine which forms your search on the world wid
e web. It can be one or several keywords, use special codes, or even be a natura
l question.
567. Security certificate
A piece of data sent from one computer to another designed to prove the au
thenticity or security of information on the internet.
568. Selection tool
In graphics and page layout programs, the icon for this often looks like t
he dotted outline of a square. This tool allows you to select items by drawing a
square or rectangular shape around them. Once selected, you can manipulate them
all at once.
569. Sequencer
A device or program that lets you copy samples, repeat them, edit them and
play around with their order. The software sequencers supplied with many sound
cards are almost like word processors for sounds, with facilities like drag-anddrop copying easily allowing sequences of musical notes to be recorded and playe
d back.
570. Sequential capture
A camera setting which will automatically take a series of photographs at
set intervals. It is particularly useful for action shots or for time-lapse phot
571. Serial cable
A cable which connects to a serial or COM port. Such leads can connect per
ipherals to the computer or can be used to link one computer to another.
572. Serial port
A socket on the back of a PC used to connect serial devices, also known as
a COM port. Often used on a PC to connect an external modem, some digital camer
as and PDAs or, formerly, to plug in a mouse.
573. Server
A computer on a network (such as the internet) that stores shared informat
ion. Servers can also manage shared resources, such as printers.
574. Set-top box
A device that enables a TV set to receive digital TV broadcasts.
575. Shareware
Programs that you can try out free before deciding whether to buy them or
not. Usually much cheaper than conventional software, shareware programs are usu
ally written by individuals and distributed not through shops but via the intern
et. Most shareware is first supplied as a trial version, which may work fully fo
r a set number of days or may have some features disabled.
576. Sheet-feeder
A part of most printers and some scanners. It holds a number of sheets of

paper and feeds them into the mechanism automatically, one by one.
577. Shockwave
Technology developed by Macromedia that allows web pages to contain intera
ctive multimedia. Typical uses include animations and games.
578. Shortcut
A file that acts as a link to something else, such as a program file or di
sk drive. Double-clicking a shortcut is the same as double-clicking the original
file, so they can be placed on the Desktop as a quick way to start programs.
579. Sim
Simulation. Used when referring to the simulation game genre.
580. SIM
Subscriber Identity Module. The smart card used by all digital mobile phon
es. The SIM card carries the user's identity and phone number for accessing the
network. It also is used for storing the user's personal phonebook and text mess
581. SIMM
Single In-line Memory Module. A 'stick' of RAM, used in 486 and Pentium-ba
sed machines. Virtually all modern PCs use DIMMs, Dual In-line Memory Modules.
582. Simulations
Games that simulate real life, with the most popular being flight simulato
583. Single pass
A single-pass scanner captures the image in one movement of the scanhead o
ver the picture. Multi-pass scanners must make one pass for each colour channel
to be scanned.
584. Site
Short for website. A linked group of one or more web pages, normally deali
ng with a particular subject or by a single author. Each page or site has its ow
n distinctive URL (universal resource locator) or 'address'. This is usually pre
fixed by the letters www, standing for world wide web.
585. Skin
a different, purely cosmetic appearance for an application.
586. Slider bar
A control which allows you to change a setting by clicking and 'dragging'
a slider.
587. SLR
Single Lens Reflex. A type of camera in which the same lens is used for vi
ewing subjects in the viewfinder and for taking pictures. Compact cameras use a
separate lens for each.
588. SmartCard
a credit card with an embedded microchip for storing personal identificati
on data.
589. SmartMedia
A form of solid-state storage used by some digital cameras and MP3 players
. Data files, normally photos or music, are stored on small removable cards. The
se are about the same size as CompactFlash cards, but physically more flexible,
being less than 1mm thick.
590. Smartphone
Generic term for a combined handheld computer and mobile phone
591. SMS
Short Messaging Service. More commonly called text messaging.
592. SMTP
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A standard for sending email messages. SMTP
is nowlargely reserved for sending messages rather than receiving them.
593. Smudging
In graphics applications, the Smudge tool helps to smooth out any joins be
tween image areas. It is particularly useful where part of your picture has been
cloned but you can see where you've painted over a scratch because sometimes cl
oning isn't subtle enough.
594. Socket 7

Connector on your PC's motherboard for Pentium processors or equivalent no

n-Intel chips.
595. Software
Any program or group of programs which tells hardware how it should perfor
m, including operating systems such as Windows, word processors, DTP application
s and games.
596. Solid state
A device, such as an MP3 player or memory card, which has no internal movi
ng parts.
597. Sound Blaster
Sound card made by Creative Labs. The Sound Blaster was one of the first d
e facto PC audio standards, and many cards emulate it so they can be used with t
he hundreds of games that support it.
598. Sound card
An expansion card that lets a PC create sounds
game sound effects, music,
and so on. Almost all PCs have a sound card as standard but more powerful sound
cards can be bought and fitted.
599. Spam
Junk email sent to large groups of people offering such things as money-sp
inning ideas, holidays, and so on. Named after the Monty Python Spam song.
600. Speech recognition
Analysing the spoken word via special software so that a PC can recognise
it and translate spoken commands into computer actions.
601. Spooling
Temporarily transferring data to the hard disk or to some other temporary
storage place, before passing it on to its final destination. Most often seen in
printing, where the PC spools data to the hard disk to finalise it before passi
ng it to the printer.
602. Spreadsheet
A software application for creating sheets of calculations, set out in row
s and columns. They may be used for accounting, budgeting, and any other sort of
financial or mathematical calculation. Better spreadsheet programs also have gr
aphical abilities, allowing charts and graphs to be plotted. Leading programs in
clude Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.
603. Spyware
Software installed (usually surreptitiously) as part of another applicatio
n installation specifically to monitor and report back on a computer's use.
604. Staff editor
Also known as the Score or Notation editor, this displays notes using the
traditional 'dots on wires' familiar to classically trained musicians.
605. Start button
The button on the far left of the Taskbar in Windows. Click on it to acces
s all the programs installed on your computer, as well as printers, and the Cont
rol Panel. Paradoxically, you should also click it to shut down your PC.
606. Start page
The page that appears when you first start your web browsing program. Also
known as the home page, it is user-selectable.
607. Storyboard
A series of sketches that symbolise specific scenes from a film or video p
roject, used to help map out ideas in advance.
608. Strategy game
A genre of game involving multiple characters or elements, with multiple g
oals, such as a war game where you must win battles using troops, tanks and airc
609. Streamed
When data flows to your PC as needed. Broadcasts over the internet are oft
en streamed so that you don't have to download a whole file before you start lis
tening or watching. However, you cannot generally download streamed files to you
r hard disk to watch or listen to them later.
610. Streaming

When data flows to your PC as needed.

611. Stroke
In graphics programs, the visible attributes applied to a path, such as we
ight (thickness), colour, style and so on.
612. Stylus
A plastic pointer styled like a pen, used for operating palmtop computers
(PDAs) with touch-sensitive screens.
613. Sub-head
Smaller than a headline, but larger than ordinary text, sub-heads break up
long stretches of text and help readers navigate round more easily.
614. Subwoofer
A special type of speaker designed to reproduce deep bass sounds only. Eve
n on a stereo system, only one subwoofer is required because human ears cannot d
etect the direction of bass frequencies.
615. Surfing
Popular metaphor used for describing someone exploring the world wide web.
616. Surround sound
A system which literally surrounds the listener with sound, usually employ
ing several speakers positioned around the room controlled by a special decoder.
Surround sound is used in all feature films and many TV shows.
617. S-VHS
Super-VHS. A good-quality high-band video standard used by camcorders.
618. S-VHS-C
Super-VHS-C. A good-quality high-band video standard used by camcorders, b
ut using a smaller cassette than standard S-VHS.
619. S-Video
A higher-quality video connection that carries brightness and colour infor
mation separately. Usually found on high-end camcorders and on some graphics and
TV tuner cards.
620. Swapfile
An area of hard disk space that your PC can use as 'virtual' memory, or RA
M. This allows you to have more programs open at once but will be slower than ha
ving an equivalent amount of real RAM.
621. Synchro recording
Also known as CD synchronisation. Automatically starts and stops a tape or
disc when recording a CD.
622. System date
This is the date used by the DOS and Windows operating systems. Programs t
hat need to know the date should ask DOS or Windows for the system date, not loo
k directly at the clock.
623. System disk
This is a disk that contains all the programs you need to get your PC work
ing, with enough system files to make it boot up and allow you access to the dis
k drives
624. System files
The files that run when the computer starts up, usually containing essenti
al instructions to make installed hardware and software to run properly. The aut
oexec. bat and config. sys files are system files.
625. System software
Controls the hardware and manages the applications on your PC.
626. System Tools menu
This folder can be found by clicking the Windows Start button, then lookin
g within Programs/Accessories. In it you will find a number of utilities which a
re useful for maintaining and troubleshooting your copy of Windows.
627. System Tray
Found on the far right of your taskbar, the system tray displays icons sho
wing which programs are always running in Windows, such as an anti-virus program
628. Tab
Dialogue boxes often combine settings for different associated functions.

Each 'page' of settings is separated by a tab, as though it were sheets of paper

filed away and separated by tabbed dividers.
629. Tab stops
Preset points along a line of text, where the cursor will stop when the ta
b key is pressed.
630. Tablet PC
A type of notebook PC with a touchsensitive screen that can be written on,
like a writing pad.
631. Tag
Part of the syntax of HTML, the language used to define web pages, tags as
sign attributes
such as colour and position
to each of the elements of a web pag
632. Talktime
The maximum lifespan of a mobile phone battery when used for calling conti
nuously, or the number of minutes included in your monthly fee to your mobile se
rvice provider.
633. Tape drive
A high capacity storage device based on magnetic tape used for making back
634. Tariff
Each mobile phone network offers a choice of price plans or 'tariffs'. Som
e tariffs have low monthly charges, but relatively high call charges. Other tari
ffs have higher monthly charges but lower caller charges.
635. Taskbar
The bar that runs along the bottom of the screen in versions of Windows fr
om 95 onwards. It includes the Start button and System Tray, and contains icons
for programs that are running.
636. TCP/IP
Transmission control protocol/internet protocol. The protocol used to tran
sfer data and information from one internet-connected computer to another.
637. Template
A web page design, document or a spreadsheet that contains all the require
d formatting for a particular style or type of document. This 'master' can then
be used over and over and again, merely filling in the newly changed information
or text each time.
638. Tempo
The speed of music, measured in beats per minute (bpm).
639. Text and picture boxes
Empty frames designed to hold either words or pictures. They are used in m
any page layout and graphics programs, and some word processors, to exactly posi
tion text or graphic elements on a page.
640. Text box
In desktop publishing, a piece of text set apart from the main story on a
page just like this jargon buster box.
641. Text messaging
Most mobile phones can send and text messages of up to 160 characters to o
ther mobile phones, generally regardless of network or model of phone.
642. Text tool
Often represented by the letter T and an arrow in image-editing and drawin
g programs, this tool allows you to add text to the picture or image you are wor
king on.
643. TFT (or thin-film transistor)
Technology used to create thin, flat colour screens for such things as com
puter monitors and digital cameras. TFT displays are very high quality and will
display clear and bright images using thousands or millions of colours.
644. Thin Ethernet
Also called 10Base2, this networking technology uses cable which looks a l
ot like a thin TV aerial cable and ends in 'BNC' plugs similar to those used by
TV aerials.
645. Thumbnail

A small (usually postage stamp-size) image used to give a quick preview of

a much larger image.
646. TIFF
Tagged Image File Format. A standard file format used to store graphic ima
ges. It can handle monochrome, grey-scale, 8-bit or 24-bit colour images. TIFF i
mages can be compressed without any loss of detail.
647. Time code
Digital signal, part of a video recording, which indicates elapsed time in
hours, minutes, seconds, and frames.
648. Time signature
The number of beats in every bar, and the musical length of each beat
classic time signature for pop music is 4/4 time, or four beats to the bar.
649. Timeshift record
Technology that allows you to 'pause'a live broadcast.
650. Timing out
Your browser sets a time limit on how long it will try to download a web p
age before determining that it cannot access the appropriate server. If web acce
ss is very slow, you are likely to be 'timed out'.
651. Toner
The dust-like powdered ink used by laser printers and copiers. Most types
of toner are carcinogenic.
652. Toolbar
A strip of icons that runs across the top of most Windows applications. Us
ed to provide quick access to certain important features, such as saving and pri
653. Toolbox
The software equivalent of a mechanic's toolkit. An program's toolbox shou
ld contain everything necessary to complete the task in hand. In an image-editin
g application, the toolbox will have a selection of drawing, colouring and editi
ng tools.
654. Top-level domain
The suffix after the final '. ' in a website (or 'domain') name. The most
common top level domain is '. com' for 'commercial'. Other examples include '. c
o. uk' for a UK company and '. org' for a non-profit organisation.
655. Touchpad
A small, touch-sensitive pad, usually a couple of inches square, which act
s as an alternative to a mouse on some notebook/palmtop computers. It works by s
ensing fingertip pressure.
656. Tower
A computer system unit which stands upright (as opposed to a 'desktop' ver
sion which lays flat). Although bulky, they give plenty of room for future expan
657. Trackball
A popular alternative to mice, trackballs are pointing devices with a flat
base and an upwards-facing ball. You roll the ball around 360 degrees with your
fingers or thumb in order to position the cursor.
658. Trackpad
A small, touch-sensitive pad, usually a couple of inches square, which act
s as an alternative to a mouse on some notebook/palmtop computers. It works by s
ensing fingertip pressure.
659. Trackpoint
An alternative to a mouse on some notebook PCs, this is a small rubberised
'nipple', usually in the centre of the keyboard. Wiggle it like a joystick and
the mouse pointer moves on screen. Although they take some getting used to, trac
kpoints can be more predictable than trackpads in situations like train journeys
, where movement can cause ghost cursor placements.
660. Traffic
the amount of information being carried by a communication device (usually
the internet) at any one time
661. Transceiver

A combined radio transmitter and receiver.

662. Transitions
In video editing, methods of smoothly cutting from one video clip to anoth
er, such as fading between them.
663. Transparency adapter
Flatbed scanners can be fitted with an adapter so that you can scan in sli
des and negatives. Because of lower resolution, image quality is rarely as good
as from a dedicated transparency scanner.
664. Transport bar
A set of graphic buttons that mimic the stop, start, play, fast forward, r
ewind, and record buttons that you see on any audio cassette recorder.
665. Trapezoid
Setting controlling the width of the top and bottom edges of a monitor's d
666. Trigger event
Event that causes a virus to activate itself and unleash its payload. This
can be a particular date
Friday 13, April Fool's Day, Michelangelo's birthday
r perhaps a counter, incremented each time the computer boots, reaching a certai
n value.
667. Trinitron
A CRT monitor technology developed by Sony in 1968. It uses very fine stri
ps of wire (an aperture grille) to deflect the electron beam and ensure colours
are displayed correctly. A similar, competing technology is Diamondtron. These m
onitors are most efficient at producing sharp images, and are ideal for graphic
intensive work.
668. Trojan Horse
A malicious computer program that's disguised as a different, harmless pro
gram. For example, a trojan horse may be disguised as a game but it's actually a
program that steals your internet username and password. Trojan Horses don't co
py themselves and so are not viruses or worms.
669. TrueType
An outline font technology developed jointly by Microsoft and Apple. It en
ables typefaces to be displayed on screen exactly as they will print, and allows
them to print to best effect on different resolution devices.
670. Tuner presets
In a radio tuner, a number of memories that can store your favourite stati
on settings.
671. TV out
a socket found on a hraphics card that can be used to make a connection to
a TV set's aerial-in socket.
672. TV tuner
An expansion card, which, when fitted into a PC, receives TV signals and a
llows a TV picture to be displayed on your PC's screen.
673. TWAIN
Technology Without an Interesting Name. TWAIN is a standard way for scanne
rs and some other devices to talk to your PC. In theory, all TWAIN-compliant ima
ge-editing applications, including Paint Shop Pro and PhotoShop, should be able
to directly access the image data produced by any TWAIN-compliant scanner or dig
ital camera.
674. Tweeter
A loudspeaker designed to reproduce high audio frequencies.
675. Type 1 Postscript
An outline font technology developed by Adobe. It enables typefaces to be
displayed on screen exactly as they will print, and allows them to print to best
effect on different resolution devices.
676. Type II PC Card
The most common type of credit card-size expansion card used to add periph
erals such as modems to a notebook PC. Fits into a Type II PC Card slot, which i
s standard on all notebooks.
677. Typeface

Sometimes called fonts, thousands of different typefaces are available, ea

ch with its own individual letter shapes and characteristics.
678. Undo
A command in most programs which reverses your last action. The undo comma
nd can really get you out of trouble if you have made a catastrophic error.
679. Uninstall
The process of removing unwanted applications from your PC. You might want
to do this to free up hard disk space, or simply because you no longer use the
program. Most programs have their own uninstall routine, or you can use Windows'
uninstall command from Control Panel.
680. Uninstaller
A utility that removes Windows programs properly by deleting not just the
main program and its folders, but also the smaller ancillary files that are scat
tered round the hard disk. It should also remove any entries that have been made
in your PC's Registry and system files.
681. Uninstalling
Process of removing programs from your computer.
682. Universal Serial Bus (USB)
A standard which allows quick and easy connection of external peripherals
such as scanners and printers to your PC. It supports plug and play, and devices
can be added or removed with your PC switched on.
683. Unix
A robust, very stable operating system often used by businesses on powerfu
l workstations and large computers, especially when it is important that applica
tions do not crash. The free Linux operating system is a derivative of Unix.
684. Unmetered access
Access to the internet for a flat monthly fee, with no additional telephon
e call charges.
685. Upgrade
To improve the performance or specification of your computer by adding mor
e memory, a larger hard disk or making another improvement. Software can also up
graded, usually by updating it to the latest version.
686. Uploading
The process of transferring information to another computer, often for pub
lishing on the internet as a web page. The process normally involves using the F
ile Transfer Protocol, or FTP.
687. UPS
Uninterruptible Power Supply. An device that sits between a computer and i
ts main supply to provide a (usually brief) emergency power supply in the event
of a power cut.
688. URL
Uniform Resource Locator. The unique address of a web page you visit, enab
ling it to be found from any other computer connected to the internet.
689. USB 2
Faster but backwardly-compatible successor to USB that's used by such thin
gs as MP3 players and external disk drives.
690. USB hub
A small external or built-in device with several USB ports. It connects to
your PC and serves as a relay station, allowing you to add multiple devices. Ex
ternal USB hubs can usually be placed on a desk for easy access to USB ports.
691. Usenet
Short for users' network, a collection of public groups of messages
oups which is accessible to a wide variety of computer systems worldwide, both o
n and off the internet. The act of writing a message that appears on Usenet is c
alled posting. Newsgroups belong to hierarchies, usually divided by geography an
d interest. For example, news://uk. rec. cycling is a UK-based newsgroup about r
ecreational cycling.
692. User interface
This is the face of a computer program
what it looks like to the person si
tting in front of the monitor, and how it is used. Windows and the Apple Macinto

sh have a Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is easier to use than a purely te
xt-based interface like MS-DOS.
693. Utility
A program that performs specific tasks on your PC, such as optimising memo
ry use or compressing disk space.
694. V. 90
The official International Telecommunications Union (ITU) modem standard c
apable of receiving data at 56Kbps.
695. Vector
Vector graphics are described (eg 'a line from x to y') rather than being
made up of a finite number of dots. Because they are rendered as smooth lines, t
hey can be enlarged to any scale without a loss of quality, unlike bitmapped ima
ges which will become jaggy when blown up.
696. Velocity
MIDI notes have an initial volume related to how fast the note was played.
A higher velocity will be louder, and a lower one quieter.
697. VGA
Video Graphics Array. A very basic standard for graphics output, specifyin
g that the monitor and graphics card should be able to display 16 different colo
urs at a resolution of 640x480 pixels.
698. VHS C
A compact video cassette standard used in camcorders. It offers lower pict
ure quality than S-VHS-C and is more common in low-band camcorders.
699. Video CD
A compact disc format that contains low-quality video on a par with VNHS t
700. Video memory
Memory installed on your PC's graphics card and used to generate the on-sc
reen image. The more memory on the card, the higher the possible graphics resolu
tion and the more colours that can be displayed. 16Mb should be considered the m
inimum standard today, with 32Mb or even 64Mb common in high-end gaming systems.
701. Video phone
A phone which includes a camera and screen to combine your conversation wi
th moving video images of the person you're talking to.
702. Video8
A lower-quality version of the Hi-8 video standard used in low-band camcor
703. Videobites
Clips of film that you can view on the Web.
704. Video-capture card
An expansion card for PCs that allows them to record full-motion video seq
uences to disk from TV receivers, camcorders and other video recording equipment
705. Video-conferencing
Linking two or more PCs to capture and display video and audio in real tim
e so distant people can see as well as talk to each other.
706. Virtual memory
A reserved area of hard disk space that your PC can use as 'virtual' memor
y, or RAM, whenever it is running short of the genuine article. Also called a sw
apfile, this allows you to have more programs open at once but will be slower th
an having an equivalent amount of real RAM.
707. Virtual reality
An artificial environment created using a computer. Virtual realities are
usually 'explored' using such things as 3D goggles to give the impression that t
he user is 'inside' the virtual world.
708. Virus
A malicious computer program designed to cause at best annoyance and at wo
rst, damage to computer data. Viruses usually spread from computer to computer b
y 'infecting' files that are passed between them, or by automatically sending an
email to everyone in your address book. They are often hidden in innocuous-look

ing files or email attachments, and may lie dormant waiting for a trigger date o
r event before they launch.
709. Virus checker
A software program specifically designed to scan files, such as those on a
floppy desk or received via email, for viruses that may damage your PC. Most vi
rus scanners will warn you of viruses as well as attempting to remove or at leas
t neutralise them. Beware that for full effectiveness you must update your virus
checker frequently.
710. VOB
A file format that is used on DVDs.
711. Voice recognition
Software which can recognise spoken words. It may be able to interpret the
se as commands which it can obey (voice control), or turn them into text to save
you typing (voice recognition).
712. Voicemail
An answerphone service which records callers' messages when you're unavail
able. This may be in the office or provided by your mobile phone network.
713. Voodoo
3D graphics processors designed by the company 3Dfx, which are commonly us
ed on graphics cards designed to speed up 3D games. Different models of Voodoo c
ard have been sold, from the original Voodoo up to the Voodoo 6500, which used f
our independent graphics chips.
714. Walkthrough
In 3D graphical environments, a function that enables the user to take a v
irtual journey through the streets of their city or location.
715. Wallpaper
A pattern or image used as the background to your Windows desktop. It help
s to personalise your PC or to promote a corporate identity but serves no other
practical purpose.
716. WAP
Wireless Application Protocol. A specification for transmitting data, part
icularly to mobile phones and handheld computers. It allows you to access inform
ation services and some specially-formatted websites easily from the screen of a
mobile device.
717. Watermark
A technique that allows you to print text and graphics as a background, 'b
ehind' what you're actually typing. It is especially useful for marking a docume
nt as Draft or Confidential, or for personalising stationery. So named because t
he process mimics the watermarks seen on banknotes or writing paper.
718. Watts
A measure of power, most commonly used to quantify electrical output. It i
s often quoted for computer power supplies or amplifiers.
719. WAV file
Also known as a Wave file and saved with a. WAV extension. An audio file,
used for recording music and other sounds to disk. Because they are uncompressed
, WAV files can be very large. The file format was developed by Microsoft and IB
720. Wavetable synthesis
A technique for synthesising sound by playing back digital recordings of a
ctual sounds and combining them to recreate the original. The wavetable itself i
s where the recordings are held.
721. Web
Also known as the world wide web or WWW. The web is a collection of online
documents housed on server computers around the world, and forms the most visib
le and easily accessible part of the internet. These are accessed via a web brow
ser. Web pages typically feature text, graphics and photographs, and often video
and audio clips. Each page or site has its own distinctive URL or 'address'. Th
is is usually prefixed by the letters www, standing for world wide web.
722. Web browser
A software program developed for navigating the internet, particularly the

world wide web. The two most common browsers are Internet Explorer and Netscape
723. Web pages
The online documents stored on internet servers. They link text and images
, and often video or audio clips into a coherent whole. Each one can be accessed
by typing in its address.
724. Web space
An area of disk space on an internet server. This may be on your own machi
ne or rented from an Internet Service Provider. This space can then be used to s
tore web pages for display on the internet.
725. Web-authoring program
A piece of software designed to make it easier to create a web page or sit
e. Often with sophisticated functions built in, such programs create the HTML co
de automatically and allow you to concentrate on the design of the site. Example
s include Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia DreamWeaver.
726. Webcam
A video camera designed to connect to your PC. It can be used to record vi
deo clips which you can send by email, or to transmit images directly over the i
nternet for video-conferencing.
727. Webring
A loose collective of websites run by enthusiasts that focus on a particul
ar subject and link to each other.
728. Website
A linked group of one or more web pages, normally dealing with a particula
r subject or by a single author. Each page or site has its own distinctive URL o
r 'address'. This is usually prefixed by the letters www, standing for world wid
e web.
729. Wi-Fi
A catchier name for the 802.11a, b or g standard used for wireless network
ing devices.
730. Wildcard
A character that can be subsituted for one or more characters in a web sea
rch, much like the blank tile in Scrabble.
731. Windows
The operating system found on virtually all modern PCs. It allows you to c
ontrol your computer and to run programs that let you perform particular tasks.
732. Windows 2000
A version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, released in 2000 and
aimed at business users. It is more reliable than other versions, but has poorer
support for games playing. It superseded Windows NT.
733. Windows 3. 1
An old version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, released in 1992
. In a similar way to the Apple Macintosh, it allowed you to control your comput
er using graphics rather than text commands.
734. Windows 95
An old version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, released in 1995
. It superseded Windows 3. 1 and introduced a completely new look.
735. Windows 98
A version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, released in 1998. It
superseded Windows 95, fixed a number of problems and made some changes to how t
he PC worked. It has now largely been replaced in new PCs by Windows Me.
736. Windows CE
A version of the Windows operating system developed specially for use on p
almtop computers and personal digital assistants. It takes up much less storage
space and memory than normal Windows, but has many fewer capabilities. Now repla
ced by Pocket PC.
737. Windows Explorer
The graphic interface to the Windows filing system. Using images to repres
ent files and folders, it lets you manage documents by moving them between folde
rs and deleting, copying or renaming them.

738. Windows Me
(Windows Millennium Edition). A version of the Microsoft Windows operating
system released in 2000. It superseded Windows 98, fixing a number of problems.
739. Windows NT
A version of the Microsoft Windows operating system intended for business
740. Wizard
An automated online 'assistant' designed to guide you, step-by-step, throu
gh a potentially complex process such as faxing, creating a template or changing
software options.
741. WMA
Windows Media Audio. A compressed digital music format developed by Micros
oft and played back through the latest versions of Windows Media Player. It allo
ws secure encoding of music tracks but is less widely used than MP3.
742. WMV
Windows Media Video. A Microsoft file format for video.
743. Woofer
Type of loudspeaker designed to reproduce low audio frequencies, though no
t the very deepest bass tones. These may be played back through a sub-woofer.
744. Word
Microsoft Word is the sophisticated word-processing software included as p
art of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works Suite. It is the most widely-used wo
rd processor in the world.
745. Word processor
A software application for preparing largely text-based documents, from ba
sic letters to company newsletters and reports. Most word processors go far beyo
nd simple typing, allowing you to add pictures and text effects, link to other d
ocuments, and check your spelling and grammar automatically. Common word process
ors include Microsoft Word and Lotus Word Pro.
746. WordArt
A feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to apply a whole range of spec
ial effects to text.
747. WordPad
A basic word-processing program included with Windows. It has few sophisti
cated features but can be used for simple documents without problems. To find it
, click on Start/Accessories/WordPad.
748. Workbook
A spreadsheet file. In spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-23, each workbook by default contains several different worksheets or pages of da
ta. It is possible to link the figures on one sheet to those on another, allowin
g very complex calculations.
749. Workgroup
A team of people who work together on a task. All of the members of the te
am use computers connected to a network, which allows them to share files, sched
ule meetings and send emails between their PCs.
750. Worksheet
A single page of data within a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel or Lotu
s 1-2-3. Worksheets can be combined into a workbook, allowing each sheet to acce
ss, and make calculations using, the figures on another worksheet.
751. Worm
A program that transmits and copies itself over a computer network, such a
s the internet. Not all worms are harmful but many are. Worms are often mislabel
led as viruses -- worms cannot attach themselves (or 'infect') other files, viru
ses can.
752. WPA/WEP
Systems that protect data over wireless networks.
What You See Is What You Get. Used in word processors, desktop publishing
packages, web-authoring software and the like to signify that the on-screen imag
e of your page is the same as the printed output or published web pages. Non-WYS

IWYG programs generally force you to use control codes which only take effect on
printing: you cannot see the results on screen as you work.
754. x2
A technology developed by 3Com (formerly US Robotics) allowing modems to r
eceive at up to 56Kbps. It rivalled K56flex, developed by a consortium including
Rockwell. Both technologies have now been incorporated in the V. 90 standard.
755. X-axis
The bottom edge of a chart or graph. It is normally used to plot dates or
timescales. The left-hand edge is the Y-axis and may be used to show numbers or
756. XG
An extension to the General MIDI standard. Developed by Yamaha, it offers
more voices and effects, allowing samples to be played with great expression.
757. XML
eXtensible Markup Language. A way of tagging documents for display on diff
erent types of machine across the internet. It is more flexible than HTML, the m
ost common standard, because it allows developers to define their own specialise
d tags or formatting codes.
758. Y axis
The left-hand edge of a chart or graph. It is normally used to plot number
s or amounts. The bottom edge is the X-axis and may be used to show dates or tim
759. Y2K
Shorthand for Year 2000 and, by extension, for the Year 2000 computer prob
lem, better known as the millennium bug. This anticipated problems when computer
s' clocks rolled over from 1999 to 2000: as many programs use only the last two
digits to recognise the year, it was feared that they would reset to 1900. Some
PC BIOSes would also cause problems by resting to 1980. However, the issue did n
ot cause as many problems as had been feared.
760. Zip drive
A high-capacity disk drive designed by Iomega capable of storing 100 or 25
0Mb of information on sturdy pocket-sized disks. These can be used for back-up,
as extra storage or to transfer files between machines or users. Zip drives can
be built into your PC or connected externally, using a USB, parallel or SCSI lin
761. ZIP file
A file or files that have been compressed using a program like PKZip or Wi
nZip to save disk space or to make them quicker to email. Bitmap image files com
press particularly well.
762. Zipping
Compressing a file using a program such as PKZip or WinZip to reduce the s
pace it takes up. Unzipping is the process of decompressing the file to its orig
inal form.
763. Zone
In OCR software, a scanned area which is designated as containing a partic
ular type of information, either image or text. Examples include a picture capti
on or a column of text.
764. Zoom
In image-editing, the tool, normally shown as a magnifying glass, which le
ts you enlarge an area of the picture so you can see finer detail and work on it
more easily.
765. Z-wave
An emerging wireless standard.
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