Computer Country - Glossary

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This glossary is a partial collection of the various terms and subjects concerning the Internet.


Anonymous FTP

An Internet service provided to make files available to the general Internet community. Users can log into tens of thousands of anonymous FTP servers throughout the world using the login name "anonymous" and a password consisting of their E-mail address.



An indexed database of file names from all anonymous FTP archives on the Internet. Archie servers routinely contact public computers on the Internet, retrieve a list of their directories and files, and build indexes of servers and their contents.


ASCII File - American Standard Code for Information Interchange.


Also called a text file, a text-only file, or an ASCII text file. A document file in the universally recognized text format called ASCII. An ASCII file contains characters, spaces, punctuation, carriage returns, and sometimes tabs and an end-of-file marker; but it contains no formatting information. This generic format is useful for transferring unadorned but readable files between programs that could not otherwise understand each other's documents.


BBS - Bulletin Board Service


A computer system equipped with one or more modems that serves as an information and message-passing center for dial-up users.


BPS - Bits Per Second


A measure of the speed of a modem, network connection, or Internet connection. Bits per second is the most accurate way to measure the speed of a modem or network and is the accepted standard replacement to the often incorrectly called "baud" rate.



An abbreviation for "by the way" typically used in an E-mail message, mailing list posting, or Newsgroup posting.



A high-speed connection within a network that connects shorter, usually slower, circuits. Also used in reference to a system that acts as a "hub" for activity (although those are becoming much less prevalent now than they were 10 years ago). A common misconception regarding the Internet is that there is a single "backbone"; in reality there are several. Organizations maintaining backbones on the Internet include the National Science Foundation, Advanced Network Services, UUNet Technologies, and Performance Systems International.



This term refers to speed of a connection between two computers connected on a network. Concerning the Internet specifically, bandwidth is extremely variable and in no way a constant. The super-dynamic nature of the Internet causes and width fluctuations sometimes second-to-second. It is important to understand in this case that the Internet is not a single network, but rather a "network of networks" and therefore many disparate areas of the Internet may coincidentally experience bandwidth shortages while others experience no problems whatsoever.



A measure of data transmission speed. The term now most commonly refers to the data transmission speed of a modem.


Baud Rate

Commonly, a reference to the speed at which a modem can transmit data. Often incorrectly assumed to indicate the number of bits per second (bps) transmitted, baud rate actually measures the number of events, or signal changes, that occur in a second. Because one event can actually encode more than one bit in high-speed digital communications, baud rate and bits per second are not always synonymous, and the latter is the more accurate term to apply to modems. In general, the number associated with baud rate is 10 times the number of characters per second that are transmitted. A 33.6k baud modem theoretically could transmit 3.36 thousand characters per second.



Sometimes called a "hotlist," a Bookmark is a group of items from a menu that is added to a Bookmark List for easy access at a later point in time. Bookmarks prevent having to remember where favorite or interesting Internet resources are on the Internet. The Internet Explorer used the term Favorites.



The return of a piece of mail because of an error in its delivery.


Character-based Interface

A type of display format that enables the user to choose commands, start programs, and see lists of files and other options in a non-graphical environment. This kind of interface is usually associated with Telnet.



A computer system or process that requests a service of another computer system or process. A work station requesting the contents of a file from a file server is a client of the file server.


DNS - Domain Name System or Server


The method used to convert Internet names to their corresponding Internet Protocol (IP) numbers. The DNS consists of a hierarchical sequence of names, from the most specific to the most general (left to right), separated by periods. For example: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Formerly called ARPA, this government agency was formed in 1957 in response to the Russian launching of Sputnik. This government agency funded ARPAnet and later the DARPA Internet, the two networks that evolved into what is now referred to as the "Internet." The techniques made quick, reliable data transfer.


Display Area

The display area of a Web browser contains the current Web page that is displayed based on the link most recently selected. The display area displays HTML-formatted Web pages that often include in-line images stored in the GIF and JPEG graphic file formats.


Domain Name

A part of the Domain Name System naming hierarchy. A domain name consists of a sequence of names or other words separated by periods. Ex.


Dotted Quad

A set of four numbers connected with periods that make up an Internet address (e.g.,


E-mail Address

The domain-based address that is the English language equivalent of a user's IP number through which a user is defined.


Electronic Commerce

A term used to describe the emerging development of new systems designed to permit virtual commercial transactions directly over electronic networks such as the Internet, rather than through traditional business and communications channels.



Symbols that provide a way for a person to portray a "mood" in the very flat medium of computer E-mail and other text communications. More commonly known as "smiles." expresses happiness. J



Frequently Asked Questions. This is a set of questions that is posted on the Internet at Gopher sites, WWW sites, and within Newsgroups. These questions usually address popular topics and provide answers to those topics.



If you double-click on the text next to the icon, Gopher attempts to get that item for you. This is called a fetch. The item may be another menu, or a file that you can display, given the proper configuration of special companion software.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

The system for transferring files between computers on the Internet. This is the system most commonly used for downloading software, including the latest shareware releases of popular Internet applications like Internet Explorer, Mosaic, and Netscape. WS_FTP is a popular freeware program to facilitate FTP.



A command used in Telnet to find information about a person by viewing their plan file.



A means by which to isolate an internal network from the Internet. Often this may be implemented with an intermediate proxy server machine.



A piece of E-mail or a Usenet posting which is argumentative and indicates a strong opinion and/or criticism of something. It is common to precede a flame with an indication of pending fire (i.e., FLAME ON!).



Software that is distributed free of charge. Freeware is often made available on bulletin boards and through user groups. An independent program developer might offer a product as Freeware either for personal satisfaction or to assess its reception among interested users.



The term "router" is now used in place of the original definition of gateway. Currently a gateway is a communications device or program, which passes data between, networks having similar functions but dissimilar protocols.



A general-purpose online service that has a large number of support forums. GEnie offers a gateway to other services such as DOW Jones News Retrieval. GEnie also provides E-mail forums, weather reports, software downloading, limited access to the Internet, and other services.



A distributed information service that makes hierarchical collections of information available across the Internet. Gopher uses a simple protocol that allows a single Gopher client to access information from any accessible Gopher server on the entire Internet, providing the user with a single "gopherspace" of information. Shareware versions of the client and server are available.



The collection of all Gopher servers in the world.



Hypertext Markup Language

The code used to create a page of information seen by a WWW Web browser.



Hypertext Transfer Protocol
The protocol used to transfer HTML pages across the Internet.



A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers, and computer networks in particular. A hacker often breaks through computer security systems for personal satisfaction.



A term used to describe a match of a search term.



The term home is used when describing a starting point for Internet ' exploration. It refers to the first menu a user sees when a Gopher client is started or the first page a user sees when WWWeb browser is started.



A computer that allows users to communicate with other host computers on a network.



Hyperlinks are text and images that are used within a Web page as links to other Web pages and Internet resources. Clicking on one of these hyperlinks will load another Web page into the Web browser display area, or download the media type associated with the link. In some cases, a hyperlinked image, when clicked on, will load a larger version of the image. In other cases, clicking on different areas of a single image may return different results. The use of hyperlinked text and images allow you to progress or branch to other Web pages of interest in a non-linear manner.



A term coined by computer author Ted Nelson around 1965. Unlike sequential text (that found in a typical book or newspaper article), hypertext contains links to other text, sound, video, animation, and graphic images. Hypertext uses Hyperlinks.


ISDN - Integrated Systems Digital Network.


A type of direct connection to the Internet through a high speed telephone line. ISDN speeds range from 65kbps to 128kbps.


Internet News

A Program by Microsoft that displays newsgroups and news postings.


A list of almost 30,000 topics from hobbies to politics to computers. Newsgroups provide forums for exchanging ideas, information, and opinions. You can just read, download pictures text and sounds, or you can post your own questions, tips, or answers.


Internet Number

The dotted-quad address used to specify a certain computer system. Each computer on the Internet is assigned a unique IP number. A resolver is used to translate between host names and Internet addresses.


Internet Protocol (IP)

A system used to connect the various computers with the Internet. Every computer connected to the Internet has its own IP number. An IP number is actually four different numbers, all separated by periods, similar to: (our NS address).


IP numbers allow a packet or unit of data to be sent through several networks before it gets to its final destination.


Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Sometimes also referred to as an Internet "Access" Provider, an ISP is to the emerging Internet industry as local cable television providers are to home television access. ISPs are your "launch pad" or front door" to the Internet. [SP accounts are generally paid for on a monthly basis, but can also be purchased quarterly or annually (individual companies have very different policies).



The Internet Network Information Center based in Virginia. The lnterNIC is responsible for approving and granting Internet domain names to organizations. Domain name registration with InterNIC costs $100 for the first two years and $50.00 for each year thereafter.


LAN - Local Area Network


Any physical network technology that operates at high speed over short distances (up to a few thousand meters).



A folder or directory into which E-mail is downloaded or transferred when it is sent from a server to a client.



Milnet is the non-secure (unclassified traffic) segment of the U.S. Defense Data Network. Access to this network and associated government networks is controlled by mail-bridges which can be used to restrict access.



Short for Modulator/DEModulator, a communications device that enables a computer to transmit information over a standard telephone line.



A World Wide Web browser application available for the Windows, Macintosh, and Unix platforms. This was one of the first such programs.



A pun on "etiquette", proper behavior on the Internet especially in the use of E-mail. CAPITAL LETTERS represent shouting.



A type of server that is used to help locate the E-mail address of a person or organization using the Internet.



A popular World Wide Web browser application from Netscape Communications Corporation. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is easier to work with and is free.



A group of machines connected so they can transmit information to one another. There are two kinds of networks: local networks and remote networks.



See Internet News.



A short easy to remember name for a person who has a complicated Internet E-mail address. Nicknames are a feature found in many popular E-mail applications.



A computer that is attached to a network; also called a host.



A unit of data sent across a network.


Phone Books

The Internet Phone Books are a way to search for an individual usually at a university who might be using the Internet. They are similar to traditional phone books but with the convenience of on-line access.


Plan File

A plan file resides on a server and contains personal information about you that can be accessed by others on the Internet. What you put in your plan file is entirely your decision and can be any length. (See finger)


Point of Presence

A point of presence is a location which provides a collection of telecommunications equipment including multi-protocol routers, digital leased liens, or modems and telephone liens. The point of presence is then, in turn, connected to the Internet. Internet service providers contact the use of this equipment to individual users and corporations to allow them to connect to the Internet.


Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)

The Point-to-Point protocol provides a method for transmitting packets over modem connections to the Internet. It is similar to SLIP but is slightly faster and more stable.


Post Office Protocol (POP)

A UNIX program that resides on the server where your mail account is located. It sends and receives mail and may transfer mail between the server and your computer. There are different versions of POP, not all of which are compatible. POP3 is most popular now.



The rules that computers must follow to exchange information between each other.



A keyword search of a database that is generated by



A computer that is used to translate between host names and Internet addresses.



The results of a search that are displayed on the screen of a Web browser.


Robots, Wanderers, Crawlers, Spiders

Robots, Wanderers, Crawlers, and Spiders are mechanisms that search the Web at various time increments, often daily or weekly. They examine and index the contents of a Web page by searching the source code of the HTML document, then follow the links on that Web page to other pages, indexing the links found on those Web pages and repeating this entire procedure as they again follow the new links they've found to yet more Web pages, indexing data and following links at an exponential rate.


SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol)

Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) and Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) are two methods for connecting to the Internet over a modem. Internet Service Providers offer SLIP and PPP access at up to 28,800 bits per second.


SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the protocol on the Internet for transporting messages from one E-mail system to another. SMTP helps ensure that mail arrives at its destination, regardless of the distance or path it must travel. The SMTP protocol, although widely used, is gradually being replaced by the newer Post Office Protocol or POP. POP3 is usually the method of transfer that brings mail to you. SMTP sends it.


Search Engines

The tools used to perform searches of the World Wide Web and the many resource of the Internet. YAHOO, LYCOS, INFOSEEK, GOOGLE are three popular ones.



A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with other computers on a network. When a user of the Internet connects to a computer offering Gopher, FTP, World Wide Web, or e-mail services, the computer offering these services is in the role of a server.



Copyrighted software that is distributed free of charge on a trial basis and requires a small payment to cover costs and registration for documentation and program updates. Shareware should not be confused with Freeware, the only category of software on the market that can be used with no financial obligation to the author(s).


Shell Account

The most basic kind of Internet account offered by an ISP. A shell account does not require the use of TCP/IP and does not allow the use of any kind of graphical user interface to the Internet. Often accessed with TELNET.



The three or four line message at the bottom of a piece of E-mail or a newsgroup (Usenet) posting which identifies and provides pertinent information about the sender. Long signatures (over five lines) are discouraged.



The mass distribution of unsolicited E-mail messages or inappropriate Newsgroup postings. Spamming sometimes involves sending a single E-mail message to tens of thousands of recipients, both individuals and those subscribing to Newsgroups.



To add your name to a mailing list or Newsgroup.



To encapsulate a number of responses into one coherent, usable message. Often done on controlled mailing lists or active Newsgroups to help reduce bandwidth.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
A set of protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts used by the Internet to support services such as remote login (Telnet), file transfer (FTP) and mail (SMTP).



The Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection service. Telnet allows a user at one site to interact with a remote system as if the user's terminal were directly connected to it. Telnet is one method of using all of the services available through the Internet, including Gopher, FTP, E-mail, and the World Wide Web.


Terse Output

A user-defined search engine option that will decrease the amount of information provided per hit during a query.



A group of relies or replies to replies; a string of messages regarding the same idea or topic.


Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) - An Internet standard data transport protocol.



Tunneling is the term used to describe traversing Gopher menus, some of which connect you to menu items on other Gopher servers.



To remove your name from a mailing list or Newsgroup.


URL - Uniform Resource Locator


The technical name of a World Wide Web page address. URL addresses include both the address of the Web server and the specific directory structure that leads to an individual Web page on a Web server. For example:



A virtual collection of thousands of topically named Newsgroups, the computers which run the protocols, and the people who read and submit Usenet news. Not all Internet hosts subscribe to Usenet, and not all Usenet hosts are on the Internet. Some Internet Service Provides (ISP) charge more to provide Newsgroup services.


Verbose Output

The "full" output provided by a search engine per hit during a query that includes all information in all available fields.



Very Easy Rodent Oriented Index to Computer Architecture. A database query system providing access information resources held on most of the world's Gopher services. In addition to native Gopher data, Veronica includes references to many resources provided by other types of information servers.


Viewer Applications

Viewers are programs that allow you to view may of the graphics, pictures, movies, animations, and sound clips that can be downloaded from FTP sites, accessed via Newsreaders, or made available on Gopher servers and via Web pages.



A program which replicates itself on computer systems by incorporating itself into executable software. Some viruses are intended to cause irreparable damage.


WAIS - Wide Area Information System

A database retrieval system on the Internet that supports full-text searches, which are not supported by Veronica in Gopherspace. WAIS gives users the ability to search existing databases of articles, books, references, abstracts, and special information (such as Newsgroup archives and FTP site listings).


WAN - Wide-Area Network

A network spanning hundreds or thousands of miles.



Acronym for "with respect to" typically used in an E-mail message, mailing list posting, or Newsgroup posting.


Web Browser

Any of the collection of shareware and commercial applications available for the Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX platforms that enable an Internet user to browse through the information provided by the World Wide Web as hypertext linked documents. Most Web browsers allow a user to record the Web sites they have visited for access. Examles are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Firefox.



A whois database lists information about people and organizations. The whois command allows you to search this database. This command helps to determine if an individual or organization has a registered address or domain on the Internet. You should specify two things in a whois command:  the name of the server which has the database you want to search; and the user name, organization, or domain name of the organization for which you want to search.


The largest whois database is the InterNIC Registration Services Host ( maintained by the InterNIC Information Center. For MILNET information, specify as the name of the server. The name of the server is not required in the whois command.



An operator that represents all other sets of characters at a given location in a query term.


World Wide Web - (WWW or W3 or simply the Web)

A hypertext-based, distributed information system created by researchers at the Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Switzerland. Users may create, edit, or browse hypertext documents. The most popular Web browsers for the Web are Netscape and NCSA Mosaic.



A computer program which replicates itself. The Internet worm put in place by Robert Morris, Jr. was perhaps the most famous. The worm successfully (and accidentally) duplicated itself on systems across the Internet.



There are many phone books and X.500 servers on the Internet, each containing information on different groups of users. Pone books are used primarily by universities and other institutions, while X.500 servers are used primarily by businesses. The services appear on Gopher servers letting you access information on the Internet via menus.