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Glossary of Terms
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Acceptable Use Policy - A set of rules describing which sorts of activities are permitted during the use of a network, server, web site, e-mail or newsgroup.

Account - Just like at a bank, computers used by more than one person use accounts to keep track of (and bill) who's doing what on their system. When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you're given an account name that allows you access.

Address - An address by which the Internet identifies you so that people can send you mail. It usually looks somthing like username@ispname.net, where username is your username, login name, or account number, and ispname is the Internet's name for the computer or Internet provider you use. Also See: E-mail

ADSL - (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) a communications protocol for connecting computers and other electronic devices to a network, such as the Internet. ADSL offers more bandwidth than current telephone modem connections. ADSL can operate over most existing telephone lines but is currently available in only a few areas and generally costs more.

Also See: DSL

Alt - Type of newsgroup that discusses alternative-type topics. The alt groups are not official newsgroups, but lots of people read them anyway. We particularly like alt.folklore.urban and alt.folklore.suburban.

America Online (AOL) - A public Internet provider. If you have an account on AOL, your Internet address is username@aol.com, where username is your account name.

AND (Advanced Digital Network) - Usually refers to a 56Kbps leased-line.

Anonymous FTP - A method of using the FTP program to log on to another computer to copy files, even though you don't have an account on the other computer. When you log on, you enter anonymous as the username and your address as the password, and you get access to publicly available files. Also See: FTP

Applet - A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from full-fledged Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers across a network. The current rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.

Also See: HTML , Java

Archive - A file that contains a group of files which have been compressed for efficient storage. You have to use an archive program to get the original files back out. Commonly used programs include compress, tar, cpio, and zip (on UNIX systems), PKZIP (on DOS systems) and WinZIP on Windows based systems. Also See: Zip, WinZip

ARPANET - A computer network started in 1969 (the original ancestor of the Internet) and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense; it was dismantled several years ago.

Article - A posting to a newsgroup. That is, a message someone sends to the newsgroup to be readable by everyone who reads the newsgroup.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) - This is the de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.

Auto Responder - This feature allows you to set up a document that is automatically emailed

to a user who requests information by emailing a selected email address. Commonly used for price lists, additional information, and FAQs.

Automatic Mailing List - A mailing list maintained by a computer program, usually one named LISTSERV or Majordomo. Also See: Mailing List, Spam


Backbone - A high-speed cable, telephone line, fiber cable or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. Also See: Network, T1, T3, Bandwidth

Bandwidth - The amount of electronic data that can be transferred through an electronic connection in a given amount of time. For modems connected by telephone to the Internet, the modem's "speed" represents the maximum possible bandwidth of the connection, such 56.6Kps (kilobits per second). Competent web site operators strive to keep the size of web page files low to conserve bandwidth and speed downloading. Also See: Network, T1, T3, Backbone

Batch - A collection of credit card transactions saved for submitting at one time, usually each day. Merchants who do not have real-time verification systems must submit their transactions manually through a POS terminal. Batch fees are charged to encourage a merchant to submit his or her transactions at one time, rather than throughout the day.

Baud - The number of symbols per second that a modem sends down a phone line. Baud is often incorrectly confused with bps (bits per second). A 14,400 bps modem transmits at 2,400 baud, because each of the modem symbols represents 6 bits. In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second).

Also See: Bit , Modem

BBS (Bulletin-Board System) - A system that lets people read each other's messages and post new ones. The Usenet system of newsgroups is in effect the world's largest distributed BBS.

BFN - Bye for now. An inanity adopted by the acronym lovers.

Binary File - A file that contains information which does not consist only of text. For example, a binary file might contain an archive, a picture, sounds, a spreadsheet, or a word-processing document (which includes formatting codes in addition to characters).

Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal) - A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII. Also See: ASCII , MIME,

Bit - The smallest unit of measure for computer data. Bits can be turned on or off and are used in various combinations to represent different kinds of information. Many bits form a byte. Bytes form words.

Bitmap - Lots of teeny, tiny, little dots put together to make a picture. Screens (and paper) are divided into thousands of little, tiny bits, each of which can be turned on or off. These little bits are combined to create graphical representations. GIF and JPG files are the most popular kinds of bitmap files on the Net.

BPS (Bits Per Second) - A measurement used to describe how fast data is transmitted. Usually used to describe modem speed (not quite the same as baud). A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second.

Bridge - Something that connects two networks so that they appear to be a single larger network.

Broadband Network - A network that can handle many separate signals at the same time. Broadband networks use different channels to transfer different forms of information, such as data, voice, and video. Your local cable company broadcasts TV, AM, FM, Data and Internet.

Browser - If you are reading this you are likely using a browser. It is a special program that interprets the data and translates it into the text and pictures you read and see over the Internet. Netscape Navigator (by Netscape) and Explorer (by Microsoft) are the best known.

BTW - By the way. E-mail and newsgroups foster their own silly acronyms.

Bulletin Board System - An electronic message system that enables you to read and post messages. Also See: BBS

Byte - A series of bits of a particular length, usually eight. Computer storage is usually measured in bytes.


Capture - The submission of a credit card transaction for processing and settlement. POS terminals and real-time processing software capture transactions to submit to merchant account providers or credit card processors.

Certificate Authority - An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.

See Also: Security Certificate , SSL, Secure Server, Encryption

CGI-Bin - The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored. The "bin" part of "cgi-bin" is a shorthand version of "binary", because once upon a time, most programs were refered to as "binaries". In real life, most programs found in cgi-bin directories are text files -- scripts that are executed by binaries located elsewhere on the same machine. Also See: CGI

CGI (Common Gateway Interface) - A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the "CGI program") talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard. Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an e-mail message, or turning the data into a database query. You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing "cgi-bin" in a URL, but not always. See Also: CGI-Bin

Chargeback - A fee charged by a merchant services provider against a merchant account for transactions that are successfully challenged by a credit card holder. After a charge is disputed and adjudicated in the cardholder's favor, the transaction total and chargeback fees are deducted

from the merchants account.

Chat - Used to talk live to other network users from any and all parts of the world. To do this, you use Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Also See: IRC

Client - A computer that uses the services of another computer (such as Usenet or Gopher or FTP or Archie or the World Wide Web). If your computer is a PC or Macintosh and you dial in to another system, your computer becomes a client of the system you dial in to.

Client/Server Model - A division of labor between computers. Computers that provide a service other computers can use are known as servers. Servers provide such services as FTP or Search Utilities (Search Engines) or connect a user to the World Wide Web. If you don't have these services on your very own machine, you can connect to these machines and use these services and thereby become a client.

Client - A computer that requests and receives data over a network, including the Internet. The most common types of client on the Internet are computers running browsers or email programs.

Co-Location - With normal web hosting accounts, you are leasing space from a server owned by the web hosting company. With co-location, you actually own the server but still connect to the Internet using the same backbone. You are purchasing fast, more reliable connectivity and superior maintenance abilities that a web hosting company can provide. Also See: Dedicated Server

Cold Fusion - A visual tool and application server. ColdFusion gives you a fast way to build and deploy scalable solutions that integrate browser, server, and database technologies.

Com - When these letters appear in the last part of an address (www.yourcompany.com) it indicates that the host computer is run by a company rather than by a university or governmental agency.

Commerce Server - Is web server software that runs some of the main functions of an online storefront such as product display, online ordering, inventory management. Works in conjunction with online payment systems to process payments. Also See: SSL, Encryption

Compression Program - Software used to squeeze files together so that they take up less room and are easier to transfer from one location to another. Popular compression programs include ZIP and Stuffit. The opposite of compression is expansion. Also See: Archive, Zip

CompuServe - An on-line information provider that gives you some Internet access. It provides lots of forums, which are similar to newsgroups, including many that provide excellent technical support for a wide range of PC and Mac software. If your CompuServe account number is 7123,456, your Internet address is 7123.456@compuserve.com (notice the period in the account number).

Cookie - The most common meaning of "Cookie" on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server. Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browser's settings, the Browser may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a short time or a long time.

Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc. When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular user's requests.

Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their "expire time" has not been reached. Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them. Also See: Browser , Server

Country Code - The last part of a geographic address, which indicates which country the host computer is in. An address that ends in .ca is Canadian, for example, and one that ends in .us is in the United States. For Example: www.yourcompany.ca

Credit Card Processors - ( Third Party Processors) - Merchant service providers that handle the details of processing credit card transactions between merchants, issuing banks, and merchant account providers. Web site operators must first establish their own merchant account before contracting for credit card processing services.

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


Daemon - A mysterious little program that runs while you're not looking and takes care of things you would rather not know about.

Database - A file or file system containing organized information and, most commonly, a filing and retrieval system for storing information. Most database software also includes tools for data analysis. Examples of database software include Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL.

Debit Card - Is a cash substitute for consumers. They look like credit cards, but don't provide credit. Amounts for purchases are debited immediately from the user's bank balance.

Dedicated Server - With normal hosting accounts, you are given a certain amount of disk space on a server with many other web pages on it as well. For a higher price, a web hosting company offers you an entire server completely for your own needs - this generally makes your site run much faster and allows you to be in charge of how your server will operate.

Also See: Co-Location

Digest - A compilation of the messages that have been posted to a mailing list over the past few days. Many people find it more convenient to receive one big message than a bunch of individual ones.

Digital Cash - Otherwise known as electronic cash or e-cash, this is a new currency for the real world and the Internet. E-cash is just a series of numbers, but those digits mean real cash to issuing banks. E-cash is more like real cash than a credit card because it's completely transferable and reusable. Also See: Smart Cards, Digital Signature, Digital Wallet, Digital Coins, Digital Certificate, SSL

Digital Signature - Just as a paper document is authenticated by a signature, an electronic message can be authenticated by a digital signature. Digital signatures are another way to assure the recipient of an electronic message that the message is coming from the right party.

Digital Wallet - Software that stays resident on the hard drive of an online shopper. When they are ready to make a purchase, the "wallet" pops open to reveal payment options. Some "wallets" hold credit cards with encrypted information. Other "wallets" hold digital coins. a consumer account set up to allow e-commerce transactions through a particular credit card processing system. Before the consumer can make a purchase, he or she must first establish an account

with the credit card processor, who provides an ID and password. These can then be used to make purchases at any web site that supports that transaction system. Also See: Digital Cash, Smart Cards, Digital Signature, Digital Coins, Digital Certificate, SSL

Digital Certificates - Are digital Ids used to present credentials online. Digital certificates are issued by companies which act as "trusted third parties." In a SET transaction, the buyer, the merchant and banks for these parties all have digital certificates. Also See: SSL, Encryption, Also See: Digital Cash, Smart Cards, Digital Signature, Digital Wallet, Digital Coins, SSL

Digital Coins - Can be downloaded to a user's hard drive from an account at a bank. When the shopper wants to pay, a "wallet" pops open on their screen. "Coins" are transferred from the shopper's computer to the online merchant's server. The merchant deposits the "coins" in their bank. Also See: Digital Cash, Smart Cards, Digital Signature, Digital Wallet, Digital Certificate, SSL

Directory - A structure, sort of like a file folder (and called a folder in the Macintosh world). A special kind of file used to organize other files. Directories are lists of other files and can contain other directories (known as subdirectories) that contain still more files. UNIX, DOS, and Windows systems all use directory structures. The more stuff you have, the more you need directories in which to organize it. Directories enable you to organize files hierarchically.

Discount Rate - A percentage fee paid to the merchant account provider or ISO for handling an electronic transaction. Most web merchants pay between two and 10 percent of their revenue from online credit card or electronic check orders.

DNS Registration - The web host provider will perform the appropriate registration procedures

with InterNic in order to setup your domain. This is important as errors in your InterNic application can delay processing. You will be responsible for all InterNic fees.

DNS Parking - The web host provider will provide DNS service for a domain without having

to have a web site for that domain. Useful for holding a domain that a customer is not yet using.

Domain Name Server - (Name Server or abbreviated as DNS) - A computer on the Internet that translates between Internet domain names, such as amstone.net and Internet numerical addresses, such as

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

glossary.amstone.net, and webdesign.amstone.net can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more than one machine.Usually, all of the machines on a given Network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names (amstone.net in the examples above). It is also possible for a Domain Name to exist but not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or business can have an Internet e-mail address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed Domain Name. Also See: IP Number

Download - To bring software from a remote computer "down" to your computer.

DSL - (Digital Subscriber Line) -- A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber's premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.A commonly discussed configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: "Asymmetric" Digital Subscriber Line.

Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both directions. In theory ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second. DSL is now a popular alternative to Leased Lines and ISDN, being faster than ISDN and less costly than traditional Leased Lines. See Also: bit , bps , ISDN , Leased Line

Dumb Terminal - A screen and a keyboard and not much else. It sort of resembles a PC without the computer. Dumb terminals connect to other computers and use their data and their computing.

Dynamic Routing - A method of addressing information on the Internet (not just mail messages, but all information) so that if one route is blocked or broken, the information can take an alternative route. Pretty darned clever. The U.S. Department of Defense built this method into the design of the Internet for the benefit of the military, to resist enemy attack. It's also useful when

nonmilitary networks are attacked by errant backhoes.


E-Mail - Electronic mail (also called e-mail or just mail) messages sent by way of the Internet to a particular person.

E-Commerce - The processing of economic transactions, such as buying and selling, through electronic communication. E-commerce often refers to transactions occurring on the Internet, such as credit card purchases at web sites.

E-Mail Auto Responder - See Auto Responder

E-Mail Aliasing - See Mail Forwarding

E-Mail POP Account - An email account so that other may send and receive email over the

Internet with you. This differs from Email forwarding in that this is an actual email address on your hoster's mail server.

E-Mail Forwarding - See: Mail Forwarding

EDC - (Electronic Data Capture) - The use of a POS terminal for validating and submitting credit card transactions to a merchant account provider or other credit card processor. In online credit card processing, software takes the place of the POS terminal.

Edu - When these letters appear in the last part of an address (for example, in info@mit.edu ), itindicates that the host computer is run by an educational institution, probably a college or university.

Electronic Wallet - Rather than supplying your credit card number every time you want to make an online purchase, electronic wallets allow you to store your credit card information in an

encrypted form and access it from your hard drive when you buy something. Also See: Digital Cash

Electronic Data Interchange - (EDI) - EDI is the transfer of electronic messages from one company to another using a network. Companies use EDI to facilitate business-to-business transactions like purchase orders, purchase confirmations, invoices, and payments.

Encryption - Encryption is a way to secure electronic data transactions by transforming the readable message into an unreadable message. In this way you can guarantee that only the

intended reader can decipher the message.

Ethernet - A cable that connects pieces of a local area network in a particular pattern. Developed by Xerox, it is sometimes called IEEE 802.3, which refers to the standard that defines it. A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.

Eudora - A mail-handling program that runs on the Macintosh and under Windows. Originally a shareware program, it is now sold by Qualcomm.

Euro - The common currency shared by most of the members of the European Union (Britain, Greece and Denmark are not participating). Introduced in January 1999, the Euro will eventually replace national currencies, such as the German Mark, French Franc, and Italian Lira.

Explorer See: Microsoft Explorer, Browser

Extranet - An extranet is the part of a corporate intranet that allows companies to communicate with the intranets of their customers and suppliers, facilitating electronic transactions.


Factoring - The purchase of debts owed, or "accounts receivable," in exchange for immediate payment at a discount. In e-commerce, the term is often applied to ISOs that offer to process credit card transactions through their own merchant account, rather than through an account established by the merchant, in exchange for a percentage of the transaction or other fee.

Factoring of credit card debt is illegal.

FAQ - Frequently asked questions. This regularly posted Usenet article answers questions that come up regularly in a newsgroup. Before you ask a question in a newsgroup, make sure that you have read its FAQ because it may well contain the answer. People get annoyed if you ask questions that are answered in the newsgroup's FAQ, because they probably have already answered the question 150 times. FAQs are posted regularly, usually once a week or once a month. To read all the regularly posted FAQs for all newsgroups, read the newsgroup news.answers. To read an entire book of frequently asked questions about the Internet, get Margy's Internet FAQs (IDG Books Worldwide, 1995).

FAX Modem - Modems (fax-data modems) that enable you to send and receive faxes in addition to ordinary computer-type data. Fax is short for facsimile or exact copy, and fax technology uses ordinary phone lines to send copies of printed material from place to place. If you stick fax technology on your computer, what you send may never touch paper. It can go from your computer to theirs or to their fax machine if they don't have a computer.

FDDI - (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)- A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3). See Also: Bandwidth , Ethernet , T-1 , T-3

Finger - An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.

Fire Wall - A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes. Also See: Network , LAN, Security

Flame - Originally, flame meant to carry forth in a passionate manner in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude. Also See: Flame War, Flame Mail

Flame Mail - Nasty E-mail or discussion mail received when someone feels they have been slighted by you.

Flame War - When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks against the debators, rather than discussion of their positions. A heated exchange. See Also: Flame, Flame Mail

Front-End - The user interface that appears on a web page, which allows a visitor to the site to interact with dynamic features, including databases, shopping-cart programs, and online purchase processing software.

Frontpage See MS Frontpage

FTP - (File Transfer Protocol) - A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers. Windows FTP and Fetch are FTP examples of FTP software.


Gateway A computer that connects one network with another when the two networks use different protocols. The UUNETcomputer connects the UUCP network with the Internet, for example, providing a way for mail messages to move between the two networks. Also an older name for what's now called a router

GIF (Graphic Interchange File) A file type that contains a graphic, photo or other image. GIFs are commonly found on the Web, along with another graphic file format. the JPEG. GIFs tend to take less memory and bandwidth than JPEGs, and can contain animation. JPEGs offer greater image clarity, especially for photo images. Also See: JPEG

Gigabyte 1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring. Also See: Byte , Megabyte

Global Kill File A file that tells your Usenet newsreader which articles you always want to skip. This file applies to all the newsgroups to which you subscribe.

Gopher A system that lets you find information by using menus (lots of menus) To use Gopher, you usually teinet to a Gopher server and begin browsing the menus.

gov When these letters appear in the last part of an address (cu.nih.gov, for example), it indicates that the host computer is run by some part of a government body, probably the U.S. federal government, rather than by a company or university. Most gov sites are in the United States.


Hardware The actual, physical computer and all its wires and friends, such as the printer, the disk drive, and the modem. Pretty useless without software. Also See: Software

Hit As used in reference to the World Wide Web, "hit" means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 "hits" would occur at the server; 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics. "Hits" are often used as a very rough measure of load on a server, e.g. "Our server has been getting 300,000 hits per month." Because each "hit" can represent anything from a request for a tiny document (or even a request for a missing document) all the way to a request that requires some significant extra processing (such as a complex search request), the

actual load on a machine from 1 hit is almost impossible to define.

Holdback A portion of the revenue from a merchant's credit card transactions, held in reserve by the merchant account provider to cover possible disputed charges, chargeback fees, and other expenses. After a predetermined time, holdbacks are turned over to the merchant. Note: MAPs

almost never pay interest on holdbacks.

Home Page (or Homepage) Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. "Check out so-and-so's new Home Page." Another sloppier use of the term refers to practically any web page as a "homepage," e.g. "That web site has 65 homepages and none of them are interesting."

Also See: Browser , Web

Host A computer connected to the Internet that serves your web pages, e-mail, database,

e-commerce soloution. It may also allow FTP, Also See: FTP

HTML Hypertext markup language, used in writing pages for the World Wide Web. It lets the text include codes that define fonts, layout, embedded graphics, and hypertext links. Don't worry: You don't have to know anything about it to use the World Wide Web.

HTTP Hypertext transfer protocol, which is the way World Wide Web pages are transferred over the Net.

Hhypertext A system of writing and displaying text that enables the text to be linked in multiple ways, to be available at several levels of detail, and to contain links to related documents. Hypermedia can also contain pictures, sounds, video - you name it. The World Wide Web uses hypertext.


ICMP Internet control message protocol, an exceedingly uninteresting low-level protocol that Internet computers use. Used by ping.

Icon A little picture intended to represent something bigger, such as a program or a choice of action or object.

IMO (IMHO) In my opinion; in my humble opinion.

Interhead Two heads joined together to provide e-plundering solutions for todays dynamic high seas pirate market.

Internet Society An organization dedicated to supporting the growth and evolution of the Internet. You can contact them at www.isoc.org

Internet Explorer Microsoft's Web browser. Also See: Netscape

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) A system that enables bored undergraduates and, occasionally, other Internet folks to talk to each other in real time (rather than after a delay, as with e-mail messages).

Internet You still don't know what it is, and you're way back here in the glossary! Yikes - we must have done a terrible job of explaining this stuff. It's an interconnected bunch of computer networks, including networks in all parts of the world.

Internet Protocol See IP.

Interrupt Character A key or combination of keys you can press to stop whatever is happening on your computer. You might find that you have started something and don't want to wait for it to finish. Common interrupt characters are Ctrl-C and Ctrl-D. Telnet's usual interrupt character is Ctrl-].

Intranet A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use. As the Internet has become more popular many of the tools used on the Internet are being used in private networks, for example, many companies have web servers that are available only to employees.

Note that an Intranet may not actually be an internet -- it may simply be a network.

See Also: Internet , Network

IP Internet Protocol A scheme that enables information to be routed from one network to another as necessary (you had to ask). Don't worry: You don't have to know about it. IP Number

(Internet Protocol Number) -- Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g. Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember. Also See: Domain Name , Internet , TCP/IP

IPP (Internet Presence Provider) - No dial-up connections sold - just hosting. IPPs usually specialize in providing Web site hosting, hosting of on-line databases, catalogues and e-commerce soloutions etc.

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

ISO 9000 A set of standards for electrical and electronic products, formulated by the International Standards Organization. Product quality standards in most nations either meet or exceed ISO9000 standards.

ISO (Independent Service Organization) A firm or organization which offers to process online credit card transactions, usually in exchange for transaction fees or a percentage of sales. Merchants must generally establish a merchant account before contracting for ISO services, although some ISOs claim not to require separate merchant accounts. Also See: Factoring

ISP (Internet Service Provider) An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually dial-up or cable and charge for the service. Also See: Internet, IPP

Issuing Bank The bank that maintains the consumer's credit card account and which must pay out to the merchant's account in a credit card purchase. The issuing back then bills the customer for the debt.

Issuing Bank Issues the credit to a credit card holder. When sale authorization is requested, the merchant's bank requests the funds to be transferred from the credit card company, which in turn receives the funds from the issuing bank.


Java Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks. We can expect to see a huge variety of features added to the Web using Java, since you can write a Java program to do almost anything a regular computer program can do, and then include that Java program in a Web page. Also See: Applet

Java Script Is an object-based programming language that allows for the embedding of Java objects directly in an HTML page. Netscape 2.0 and all their subsequent browsers can interpret Java script.

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

Jughead A program that helps you find information in Gopher by searching Gopher directories for the information you specify; sort of like Veronica.


Kermit A file-transfer protocol developed at Columbia University and available for a variety of computers, from PCs to mainframes.

Kill File A file that tells your newsreader which newsgroup articles you always want to skip.

Kilobyte A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 bytes. See Also: Byte , Bit


LAN (Local Area Network) A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building. See Also: Ethernet, Intranet

Leased Line Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7 -days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

See Also: T-1 , T-3, DSL, ADSL

Link A connection. Two computers can be linked together. Also can refer to a pointer to a file that exists in another place. Rather than have a copy of a particular file reside in many places, for example, some file systems (the ones in UNIX, for example) enable a filename to point to another file. Finally, a link can refer to a hypertext link in a Web page that connects one page to another.

List Server A program that automatically manages mailing lists. Also See: LISTSERV.

Listserv® The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv" is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.

Also See: BITNET , E-mail , Maillist

lnterNIC The Internet Network Information Center, a repository of information about the Internet. It is divided into two parts: Directory Services, run by AT&T in New Jersey, and Registration Services, run by Network Solutions in Virginia. It is funded partially by the National Science Foundation and partially by fees that are charged to register Internet domains.

Log Files See: Statistics Package, Traffic Logs, Web Trends

Login Noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password). Verb: The act of entering into a computer system, e.g. Login to the WELL and then go to the GBN conference. Also See: Password

Lynx A World Wide Web client program that works with plain old terminals, which means that it's generally available on shell provider accounts.


MacTCP TCP/IP for the Macintosh. Not very interesting except that you can't put your Mac on the Internet without it.

Mail Pieces of paper stuffed in envelopes with stamps on the outside. This old-fashioned type of mail is known among Internauts as snail-mail, casting aspersions on your local letter carrier. Other types of mail include voice mail, which you probably already know and hate, and e-mail (or electronic mail), which is a powerful service the Internet provides.

Mail Server A computer on the Internet that provides mail services. A mail server usually sends mail out for you (using a system called SMTP) and may also enable you to download your mail to a PC or Mac by using a protocol called POP.

Mail Order/Telephone Order Discount Rate (MOTO) The discount rate charged by the merchant account provider for credit card transaction where no actual credit card was available to the merchant. MOTO rates are generally higher than swipe discount rates to account for the increased chance of fraud or non-payment.

Mail Forwarding You can get a distinct POP mail account (it does not have the same extension address as your Internet Service Provider) where you can have mail sent to in your web site's name. You then can simply direct any email address where you would like your mail forwarded to. Example: If you ran www. yourcompany.com, you would want feedback to be sent to an email account entitled: feedback@yourname.com. You could have all mail forwarded from that email address to your normal ISP address.

Mailing List A special kind of e-mail address that remails any incoming mail to a list of subscribers to the mailing list. Each mailing list has a specific topic, so you subscribe to the ones of interest.

Mainframe A large computer usually sold complete with all its peripherals and often a closed architecture (meaning not friendly to other vendors' products). Often refers to large IBM machines.

Majordomo Like LISTSERV, a program that handles mailing lists.

Megabyte A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes. Also See: Byte , Bit , Kilobyte

Merchant Bank A bank that holds the merchant account. After a consumer buys a product using a credit card, the merchant bank places funds into a merchant account in exchange for the right to collect on the debt owed by a consumer. Also See: Merchant Account Provider.

Merchant Account A bank account established by a merchant to receive the proceeds of credit card purchases. By establishing a merchant account, the merchant bank agrees to pay the merchant for valid credit card purchases in exchange for the right to collect on the debt owed by the consumer.

Merchant Bank When a credit card authorization is processed, the first stop is the bank where the online store has a merchant account. This bank is the merchant's bank.

Merchant Services Provider A bank, ISO, or other firm that provides services for processing financial transactions, usually credit card sales. Many MSPs provide merchant accounts, while others require their clients to establish merchant accounts on their own. Some MSPs claim that they do not require merchant accounts; this may indicate factoring, which is illegal in many areas.

Merchant Account Provider (MAP) A bank or other institution that hosts merchant accounts and processes online credit card transactions. The term is also often used broadly to include any credit card processing service, including ISOs.

Message A piece of e-mail or a posting to a newsgroup.

Micropayment Very small charges, perhaps even less than a penny, processed through e-commerce systems. Until this time, E-commerce has been largely limited to purchases of $10.00 or more. With micropayment, however, e-commerce merchants can sell products for far lower prices, such as small fees for downloading documents or charges per click for online

advertising. Micropayment systems are still largely experimental and not widely available.

Microsoft Explorer Microsoft's popular version of web browser. Also See: Browser

Microsoft Frontpage See MS Frontpage

Microsoft Network (MSN) A commercial online service run by Microsoft and usable only if you have Windows 95. If your MSN username is BillGates, your Internet e-mail address is billgates@msn.com.

mil When these letters appear in the last part of an address (wsmr-simte120@army.mil, for example), it indicates that the host computer is run by some part of the U.S. military rather than by a company or university.

MIME Multipurpose Internet mail extension used to send anything other than straight text through e-mail. Eudora and Pegasus and other hip e-mail programs support MIME.

Mirror An FTP server that provides copies of the same files as another server. Some FTP servers are so popular that other servers have been set up to mirror them and spread the FTP load on to more than one site.

Modem A gizmo that lets your computer talk on the phone. A modem can be internal (a board that lives inside your computer) or external (a box that connects to your computer's serial port). Either way, you need a phone wire to connect the modem to your phone jack.

Moderated Mailing List A mailing list run by a moderator.

Moderator Someone who looks first at the messages posted to a mailing list or newsgroup before releasing them to the public. The moderator can nix messages that are stupid (in his opinion, of course), redundant, or inappropriate for the list or newsgroup (wildly off the topic or offensive, for example). Yes, this is censorship, but the Internet is getting so big and crowded that nonmoderated discussions can generate an amazing number of uninteresting messages.

Monthly Minimum The minimum amount (in dollars or other currency) in fees and percentages charged by a merchant services provider in a given month. If account activity does not generate the monthly minimum, the account holder must make up the difference.

Mosaic The web browser that started it all. Allows you to view and rear information on the World Wide Web. Comes in Windows, Mac, and UNIX flavors. Mosaic has lost most of its fans to Netscape and Microsoft. Also See: Microsoft Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Browser.

Motif A graphical user interface for UNIX computers, sort of like Windows for the PC. Claimed to be ugly. Also See: Xwindows.

MS Frontpage A widely used website creation tool which allows users to manage their web site as well as incorporate special pre-created coding. However, the hosting service must have FrontPage 98/2000 extensions installed in order for you to get the full benefit of using FrontPage 98/2000. For more information go to http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage

MSN See Microsoft Network.


Name Server See domain name server.

Net Nanny A program that censors your Internet account. Used by parents who want to control what their kids see on the Net. Also See: SurfWatch

Netiquette The etiquette on the Internet. See Also: Internet

Netizen Derived from the term citizen, referring to a citizen of the Internet, or someone who uses networked resources. The term connotes civic responsibility and participation.

Also See: Internet

Netscape The first company to scare Microsoft. Netscape's world-class World Wide Web browser has taken the planet by storm. Netscape A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape (tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Netscape has grown in features rapidly and is widely recognized as the best and most popular web browser. Netscape corporation also produces web server software. Netscape provided major improvements in speed and interface over other browsers, and has also engendered debate by creating new elements for the HTML language used by Web pages -- but the Netscape extensions to HTML are not universally supported. The main author of Netscape, Mark Andreessen, was hired away from the NCSA by Jim Clark, and they founded a company called Mosaic Communications and soon changed the name to Netscape Communications Corporation. See Also: Browser , Explorer, Mosaic , Server , WWW

Network Don't get us started. Lots of things are called networks, but for our purposes we're talking about lots of computers that are connected together. Those in the same or nearby buildings are called local area networks, those that are farther away are called wide area networks, and when you interconnect a large number of networks all over the world, you get the Internet! Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet.

See Also: Internet , Intranet

News Server A computer on the Internet that not only gets Usenet newsgroups but also lets you read them. Programs such as Free Agent, Trumpet, and Cello use a news server to get the articles for the newsgroups you request.

Newsgroup Kill File A file that tells your newsreader which articles you always want to skip. This file applies to only a specific newsgroup Also See: Global Kill File

Newsgroup A distributed bulletin-board system about a particular topic. The Usenet news (also known as Net news) system distributes thousands of newsgroups to all parts of the Internet.

Newsreader A program that lets you read the messages in Usenet newsgroups and respond if you are absolutely sure that you have something new and interesting to say.

NIC - Network Information Center. The address of the one for the U.S. part of the Internet is networksolutions.net. An NIC is responsible for coordinating a set of networks so that the names, network numbers, and other technical details are consistent from one network to another.

NIS Formerly known as the Yellow Pages, before some trademark lawyer in the United Kingdom complained. The NIS is a facility used on some TCP/IP networks to administer a group of computers (usually UNIX workstations and PCs) as through they were one big computer. For Internet purposes, who cares? Well, NIS sorts incoming e-mail on some UNIX systems and can

cause peculiar-looking mail addresses.

NNTP Server (Network News Transport Protocol) The protocol used by client and server software to carry USENET postings back and forth over a TCP/IP network. If you are using any of the more common software such as Netscape, Nuntius, Internet Explorer, etc. to participate in newsgroups then you are benefiting from an NNTP connection. Also See: Newsgroup , TCP/IP , USENET, News Server

Node A computer on the Internet, also called a host. Computers that provide a service, such as FTP sites or places that run Gopher, are also called servers.

NSFNET The National Science Foundation's former network, a part of the Internet devoted to research and education and funded by government money. It has gone away, replaced by pieces of commercial networks. ANS, which formerly ran the NSFNET, now belongs to America Online.

NT Server A type of server platform that runs Microsoft NT server. Also See: Windows NT


Open Book Repository A collection of on-line text, including the text of books, journals, and other reference materials, maintained by the Online Book Initiative at www.obi.std.com.


Packet A chunk of information sent over a network or the Internet. Each packet contains the address it's going to, the address of who sent it, and some other information.

Packet Driver A small program used on DOS and Windows PCs to connect network software to a particular kind of network card. Similar to NDIS or ODI driver.

Packet Switching The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks, each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Page A document, or hunk of information, available by way of the World Wide Web. To make information available on the World Wide Web, you organize it into one or more pages. Each page can contain text, graphics files, sound files - you name it. Don't worry: You don't have to create WWW pages - you can just read them.

Password A secret code used to keep things private. Your account on the system that connects you to the Internet is no doubt protected by a password. Be sure to pick a code that is not obvious, preferably combining numbers and letters so as to thwart any untoward activity.

Password File The file in which all the passwords for a system are stored. Most systems are smart enough to keep passwords encoded so that even if someone gains access to this file, it isn't of much value.

PIN (Personal Identification Number) An alphanumeric or numeric code used to verify the identity of an individual attempting to use a credit card, debit card, or other account

Ping A program that checks to see whether you can communicate with another computer on the Internet. It sends a short message to which the other computer automatically responds. If you can't "ping" another computer, you probably can't talk to it any other way either.

PKZIP A file-compression program that runs on PCs. PKZIP creates a ZIP file that contains compressed versions of one or more files. To restore them to their former size and shape, you use PKUNZIP. PK, by the way, stands for Phil Katz, who wrote the program. PKZIP and PKUNZIP are shareware programs available from many FTP sites. If you use the programs, you are

honor-bound to send Mr. Katz a donation (the program will tell you the address). If you use a Windows computer, you will probably prefer WinZip, which has nice Windows-y menus and buttons. You can get it via FTP from ftp.winzip.com in the /winzip directory.

Plug-In A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins. The idea behind plug-in's is that a small piece of software is loaded into memory by the larger program, adding a new feature, and that users need only install the few plug-ins that they need, out of a much larger pool of possibilities. Plug-ins are usually created by people other than the publishers of the software the plug-in works with.

POP (Post Office Protocol) A system by which a mail server on the Internet lets you pick up your mail and download it to your PC or Mac.

POP Account See E-Mail POP Account

Port Number On a networked computer, an identifying number assigned to each program that is chatting on the Internet. The program that handles incoming telnet sessions uses port 23, for example, and the program that handles some other service has another number. You hardly ever have to know these numbers - the Internet programs work this stuff out among themselves.

Portal Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a "Portal site" has a catalog of web sites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main "point of entry" (hence "portal") to the Web.

POS Terminal (Point of Sale) An electronic device used for verifying and processing credit card transactions. If the credit card is present, the merchant can swipe the card through the terminal. Also See: Swipe Discount Rate and MOTO Discount Rate.

Posting A single message entered into a network communications system. Eg a single message posted to a newsgroup or message board. Also See: Newsgroup

Posting An article in a Usenet newsgroup.

PPP (Point-To-Point Protocol) A scheme for connecting two computers over a phone line (or a network link that acts like a phone line). Like SLIP, only better.

Prodigy A large on-line system run by IBM and Sears. If you have a Prodigy account, your Internet address is username@prodigy.com.

Protocol A system two computers agree on. When you use a file-transfer protocol, for example, the two computers involved (the sender and the receiver) agree on a set of signals that mean "go ahead," "got it," "didn't get it, please resend," and "all done." The Internet involves tons of different protocols for the many different types of computers on the Net that interact.

Pseudoterminal A fake terminal. On most systems, telnet uses a pseudoterminal to log you in and run your commands.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) The regular old-fashioned telephone system.

Public-Service Provider A time-sharing or SLIP service that enables you to use the Internet on a paying (by the month or hour) basis.

Public Key Encryption A method of encrypting electronic data. Developed to account for weaknesses in symmetric encryption, public key encryption does not require the transmission of decoding keys themselves.



RCP (Remote copy Protocol) A UNIX command that lets you copy files from one computer to another. Like FTP, only different.

Real Audio The provider offers RealServer streams, which allow you to broadcast audio and video from your web site. Visitors to your site can view the audio and video with a simple browser plug-in. For more information refer to Progressive Networks at http://www.real.com.

Real-Time Processing The verification and processing of credit card transactions immediately following purchase. Real-time verification on the Web usually takes less than thirty seconds. Real time verification is especially important for web sites that sell products and services that consumers expect immediately, such as memberships to the site or software downloads.

Recurring Fees Regular, usually monthly, charges for maintaining a merchant account. Recurring fees include the discount rate, transaction fees, statement fee, and monthly minimum.

Redundant Internet Connections This web hosting company has at least two backbone connections to the Internet. In case one goes down for any reason, the other backbone connection should ensure Internet connectivity.

Regular Expression Not what one would usually think of as regular. For UNIX hackers and those who love to encode the ordinary into arithmetic representation. Many kinds of conditional searches (meaning, under these conditions, "do this") can be represented by using mathematical expressions. If you haven't studied much math or logic, forget about it.

Reserve Account See Holdback.

RFC (Request For Comments) The name of the result and the process for creating a standard on the Internet. New standards are proposed and published on line, as a Request For Comments. The Internet Engineering Task Force is a consensus-building body that facilitates discussion, and eventually a new standard is established, but the reference number/name for the standard retains the acronym RFC, e.g. the official standard for e-mail is RFC 822.

Robot A software application that automatically finds and retrieves information from the Web. Also called a "spider" or "crawler."

Router No, not a power tool used for finish work on fine cabinetry (that's pronounced "rowter"). This system, pronounced "rooter" in most countries, connects two or more networks, including networks that use different types of cables and different communication speeds. The networks all have to use IP (the Internet Protocol), though. If they don't, you need a gateway.

RSA Encryption Is based on a public key system which means that every user has 2 digital keys - one to encrypt information, and the other to decrypt. Authentication of both sender and recipient is provided with this method.

RTFM Read the F----- manual. A suggestion made by people who feel that you have wasted their time asking a question you could have found the answer to another way. A well-known and much-used FTP site named rtfm.mit.edu contains FAQs for all Usenet newsgroups, by the way. Read the, uh, friendly FAQ.

S-Mime Encryption Protects the privacy of email. If the sender and receiver both have email clients that support the S-Mime protocol, they can communicate with email that is secure.


Scaleability Is the ability to grow incrementally. If an online commerce system is scaleable, it can grow in capacity as the demand requires.

Search Engine Software used to find stuff, particularly on the World Wide Web. Visit - www.yahoo.com, www.hotbot.com, www.infoseek.com, www.google.com.

Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) This is a newly developed standard for making secure credit card transactions on the Internet. Security is achieved by allowing merchants to verify a

buyer's identity through a digital signature. Furthermore, customers will be able to avoid giving out their credit card numbers to merchants by submitting their information directly to the credit card issuer for verification and billing.

Security In the computer world, a means to allow access to only those who should have it. security includes the use of passwords to protect your account. Also See Hacking, Encryption

Security Certificate A piece of information (often stored as a text file) that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection. Security Certificates contain information about who it belongs to, who it was issued by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid dates, and an encrypted "fingerprint" that can be used to verify the contents of the certificate.

In order for an SSL connection to be created both sides must have a valid Security Certificate.

Also See: Certificate Authority , SSL, Encryption, Hacker

Serial Line A connection between computers using the serial protocol.

Serial Protocol The simplest way to send data over a wire - one bit at a time.

Serial Port The place on your computer where you can plug in a serial line.

Server A computer that provides a service to other computers on a network or across the Internet.

Server-Side Occurring on the server side of a client-server system. For example, on the World Wide Web, ASPand CGI scripts are server-side applications because they run on the Web server. In contrast, JavaScript scripts are client-side because they are executed by your browser (the client). Java applets can be either server-side or client-side depending on which computer (the server or the client) executes them.

Service Provider An organization that provides access to the Internet. Your service provider might be a commercial on-line service such as America Online or CompuServe, your local cable company or sometimes your school or workplace.

SET See: Secure Electronic Transactions (SET)

Shareware Computer programs that are easily available for you to try with the understanding that if you decide to keep the program you will pay for it and send the requested amount to the shareware provider specified in the program. In this honor system, a great deal of good stuff is available, and voluntary compliance makes it viable.

Shell Account Rather than transferring all your HTML files to your PC when editing your

web site, you can use a shell account to edit, rename, and delete your HTML files on the server itself. Shell accounts are usually utilized by knowledgeable computer individuals so if you are a novice you probably do not need this feature.

Shopping Cart A piece of software that operates on an online storefront. The "shopping cart" keeps track of all the items that a buyer wants to purchase, allowing the shopper to pay for the whole order at once.

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) A software scheme for connecting a computer to the Internet over a serial line. For example, if you can run SLIP on your personal computer and you call up an Internet provider that does SLIP, your computer is on the Internet, it's not just a terminal - it's right on it. You can telnet and FTP to other computers; when you get files, they arrive back on your PC, not on the Internet provider's computer.

Smart Card Smart cards look like credit cards but act very differently. With the use of an internal computer memory chip, a smart card can be used to store a large amount of information

with a maximum amount of security, including everything from medical records to digital cash. To access or alter the information on a smart card, you have to use a smart card reader.

Also See: Digital Cash, Digital Signature, Digital Wallet

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service) A new standard for very high-speed data transfer.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The optimistically named method by which Internet mail is delivered from one computer to another.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) A set of standards for communication with devices connected to a TCP/IP network. Examples of these devices include routers, hubs, and switches. A device is said to be "SNMP compatible" if it can be monitored and/or controlled using SNMP messages. SNMP messages are known as "PDU's" - Protocol Data Units.

Devices that are SNMP compatible contain SNMP "agent" software to receive, send, and act upon SNMP messages. Software for managing devices via SNMP are available for every kind of commonly used computer and are often bundled along with the device they are designed to manage. Some SNMP software is designed to handle a wide variety of devices. See Also: Network , Router

Socket A logical "port" a program uses to connect to another program running on another computer on the Internet. You might have an FTP program using sockets for its FTP session, for example, while Eudora connects by way of another socket to get your mail.

Software Computer programs that make computers usable as something other than a paperweight. Also See: Hardware

Spam (or Spamming) An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't ask for it. The term probably comes from a famous Monty Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over. The term may also have come from someone's low opinion of the food product with the same name, which is generally perceived as a generic content-free waste of resources. (Spam is a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat product.) E.g. Mary spammed 50 USENET groups by posting the same message to each. Also See: Maillist , USENET

SQL (Structured Query Language) A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application will have its own version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. SSL used mostly (but not exclusively) in communications between web browsers and web servers. URL's that begin with

"https" indicate that an SSL connection will be used. SSL provides 3 important things: Privacy, Authentication, and Message Integrity. In an SSL connection each side of the connection must have a Security Certificate, which each side's software sends to the other. Each side then encrypts what it sends using information from both its own and the other side's Certificate, ensuring that only the intended recipient can de-crypt it, and that the other side can be sure the data came from the place it claims to have come from, and that the message has not been tampered with. See Also: Browser , Server , Security Certificate , URL

Statistics Package A full-blown statistics package takes your traffic log information and

displays it an easy-to-ready format. This makes the information much easier to digest. Popular statistical packages include WebTrends and LiveStats, among many others. Also See: Log Files, Traffic Logs, Web Trends

String A bunch of characters strung together, such as "Internet For Marsmedia." Strings are composed of any characters available in the character set being used, typically all letters, digits, and punctuation.

Substring A piece of a string; see also string.

SurfWatch A program that censors your Internet account. Used by parents who want to control what their kids see on the Net. Also See: Net Nanny

Swipe Discount Rate The discount rate charged by a merchant account provider for transactions where a credit card is available for inspection by the merchant. Swipe rates are generally lower than MOTO rates since the merchant can match signatures and other checks on fraud or misuse.

Sysop (System Operator) Anyone responsible for the physical operations of a computer system or network resource. A System Administrator decides how often backups and maintenance should be performed and the System Operator performs those tasks.


T-1 A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet. Also See: Bandwidth , Bit , Byte , Ethernet , T-3

T-3 A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video.

Also See: Bandwidth , Bit , Byte , Ethernet , T-1

TCP/IP The system that networks use to communicate with each other on the Internet. It stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, if you care.

Telnet A program that lets you log in to other computers on the Net.

Terabyte 1000 gigabytes. See Also: Byte , Kilobyte

Terminal Emulator See Terminal.

Terminal Program See Terminal.

Terminal Server A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.

Also See: LAN , Modem , Host , Node , PPP , SLIP

Terminal In the olden days, a terminal was a thing that consisted of a screen, a key-board, and a cable that connected it to a computer. These days not many people (not many people we know) use terminals, because personal computers are so cheap. Why have a brainless screen and keyboard when you can have your own computer on your desk? Of course, there are still many times when you want to connect to a big computer somewhere. If you have a personal computer,

you can run a program that makes it pretend to be a brainless screen and keyboard - the program is called a terminal emulator, terminal program, or communications program.

Text file A file that contains only textual characters, with no special formatting characters, graphical information, sound clips, video, or what-have-you. Most computers other than some IBM mainframes store their text by using a system of codes named ASCII, so this type of file is also known as an ASCII text file

Third Party Sometimes you buy your computer from one place and your operating software from somewhere else, but you find that you still need other hardware or software pieces to make it all work. The people from whom you buy those other pieces are known as third-party vendors.

Thread An article posted to a Usenet newsgroup, together with all the follow-up articles, the follow-ups to follow-ups, and so on. Organizing articles into threads makes it easier to choose which articles in a newsgroup you want to read.

Threaded Newsreader A newsreader that enables you to choose articles by thread.

TIA The Internet Adaptor, nifty software that makes your regular dial-up account look like a SLIP or PPP account..

Traffic Logs Traffic logs provide you with statistical information about who visited your site, what pages they accessed, and where they came from right before your site. This refers simply to the raw data which is stored on the server. Also See: Web Trends, Statistics Package

Transaction Fee A charge for each credit card transaction, collected by the merchant account provider or ISO. Transaction fees usually fall between $0.30 and $1.50

Trumpet A moderately cool newsreader program that runs on computers which run Windows. We like Free Agent better. Trumpet is only slightly related (in that it was written by the same guy) to Trumpet WinSock, a separate program that provides TCP/IP connections for Windows PCs.

Turnkey Application (also, Turn-Key) computer software which requires little or no modification when inserted into a web site. In e-commerce, many merchant account providers and ISOs offer turnkey applications for processing credit card orders online.


UDP (User Datagram Protocol) -- One of the protocols for data transfer that is part of the TCP/IP suite of protocols. UDP is a "stateless" protocol in that UDP makes no provision for acknowledgement of packets received. Also See: TCP/IP

UNIX An operating system everyone hates. No, an operating system everyone ought to love. No, it's both! It's an operating system that can be confusing to use, but it sure is powerful. Internet users are likely to run into UNIX if they use a shell provider as their Internet provider or when they telnet to UNIX computers.

Upload To put your stuff on somebody else's computer.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) Your address on the Internet, ie www.yourcomapny.com.

Usenet A system of thousands of distributed bulletin boards called newsgroups. You read the messages by using a program called a newsreader

UUCP An elderly and creaky (but cheap) mail system still used by many UNIX systems. UUCP stands for UNIX-to-UNIX-copy. UUCP uses mail addresses that contain exclamation points rather than periods between the parts (and they are in reverse order), a method known as bang path addressing. Whenever possible, use regular Internet addresses instead.

Uuencode/Uudecode Programs that encode files to make them suitable for sending as e-mail. Because e-mail messages must be text, not binary information, uuencode can disguise nontext files as text so that you can include them in a mail message. When the message is received, the recipient can run uudecode to turn it back into the original file. Pretty clever.


V.32 The code word for a nice, fast modem (one that talks at a speed of 9600 bits per second).

V.34 The code word for modems that talk at 28,800 bps.

VAX/VMS Digital Equipment's major computer line over the past 15 years was the VAX; its proprietary operating system is known as VMS. (Vaxen are now passe, replaced by DEC's new Alpha line.)

Version Creep A problem that occurs when lots of people add features to programs that people are already using. Unless care is taken to keep programs compatible, sooner or later the program you're using doesn't talk to its "new and improved cousin" until you get the latest and greatest version that should make everybody happy 'til they add more features again.

Virus Software that infects other software and causes damage to the system on which the infected software is run. You should download software only from reputable servers. Safe software is everyone's business. Viral infection can be deadly. Don't let it happen to you. Anti-Virus Software includes Norton AntiVirus and McCaffee

VPN (Virtual Private Network) -- Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is "virtually" private.A typical example would be a company network where there are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet the two offices mereg their networks into one network, but encrypt traffic that uses the Internet link. See Also: Internet, Network

VT100 The part number of a terminal made about 15 years ago by the Digital Equipment Corporation. Why do you care? Because many computers on the Internet expect to talk to VT-100-type terminals, and many communications programs can pretend to be (emulate) VT-100 terminals. The VT102 was a cheaper version that for most purposes acted exactly the same.

VT320 - Later version of VT100


WAIS Wide Area Information Servers (pronounced "ways," not "wace"), a system which lets you search for documents that contain the information you're looking for. It's not super easy to use, but it gets there.

WAN (Wide Area Network) Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus. See Also: Internet , internet , LAN , Network

Web Host A company that will host your web page. Often web hosts or IPPs (Internet Presence Providers) will take on more complicated web hosting projects for business such as on-line catalogues, on-line databases and e-commerce applications that require server side programming.

Besides hosting services, this company may also offer clients design services to create their online presence. Web design can range from simple HTML work, to online storefront setups, to full-blown database applications. Be sure to check with each individual company on the extent of their design capabilities.

Web Page The basic building block of the World Wide Web. Information displayed on a Web page can include highly sophisticated graphics, audio and video, the locus of contemporary creativity Web pages are linked together to form the World Wide Web.

Web Trends Web Trends Log analysis software. Also See: Log Files

Web The World Wide Web. "The Web" is a term of endearment used by those intimate with the World Wide Web.

Web Server An Internet host computer that stores web pages and responds to requests to see them. Web servers talk to web browsers by using a language named HTTP.

Web Site A location on the World Wide Web. It means the same as a Web page or Web server, depending on whom you ask.

Whois A command on some systems that tells you the actual name of someone, based on the person's username. You can use whois by way of the World Wide Web. Also See: Finger

Windows 95 An instance of an operating system for the PC that includes a graphical user interface. Quietly introduced in the summer of 1995, it includes built-in support for TCP/IP, the lnternet's networking scheme.

Windows NT Server operating Microsoft Windows NT. Also See NT Server

Windows An operating system for the PC that includes a graphical user interface; also a religion.

WinSock WinSock (short for Windows Sockets) is a standard way for Windows programs to work with TCP/IP. You use it if you connect your Windows PC directly to the Internet, either with a permanent connection or with a modem by using SLIP or PPP.

WinWAIS A Windows-based program that lets you use WAIS to search for information about the Internet.

WinZip A Windows-based program for zipping and unzipping ZIP files in addition to other standard types of archive files. WinZip is shareware, so you can get it from the Net from http://www.winzip.com.

Workstation Although this term gets bandied about in a bunch of different contexts, we generally mean high-powered microcomputers with big screens, somewhat overkill for the average PC user. We mean such things as SPARC stations and other typically single-user but very powerful machines, generally running UNIX.

World Wide Web (WWW) After e-mail the most popular part of the Internet.


X.25 A protocol that defines packet switching. You shouldn't care. The thing that TCP/IP is much better than.

X.75 The way you splice together X.25 networks, which shouldn't interest you either.

X modem A file-transfer protocol developed ages ago (1981?) by Ward Christiansen to check for errors as files are transferred. It has since been superseded by Ymodem and Zmodem, but many programs (especially Windows Terminal) still use it.

X terminal A terminal that uses the X graphical user interface. This interface enables you to open lots of windows on your screen and do all kinds of things at the same time. Popular in the UNIX world.

X wais A version of WAIS that runs on UNIX under X Windows. If you use a UNIX workstation and Motif, try running xwais.

X Windows A graphical user interface for UNIX computers, sort of like Windows for the PC.

Also See: Motif


Yahoo An index or search engine for the World Wide Web, at http://www.yahoo.com

Ymodem A file-transfer protocol that's faster than Xmodem but not as powerful (nor as complicated) as Zmodem.


ZIP File A file that has been created by using WinZip, PKZIP, or a compatible program. It contains one or more files that have been compressed and glommed together to save space. To get at the files in a ZIP file, you usually need WinZip, PKUNZIP, or a compatible program. Sometimes you may get a self-extracting file, which is a ZIP file that contains the unzipping program right in it. Just run the file (type the name of the file at the command line), and it unzips itself.

Zmodem A fast file-transfer protocol defined by Chuck Forsberg, used by many programs. With Zmodem, you can transfer several files with one command, and the names of the files are sent along with them. Some communications programs (such as ProComm) can detect when a Zmodem transfer has begun and automatically begin receiving the files. Nifty.

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