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Glossary of Internet and computing terms

The Internet and the computer world in general is full of acronyms, confusing lingo, and technical gobbledeegook. Here is a quick list of some of the terms explained in plain English. If you know of any other terms that you would like to see here, please feel free to contact us.

AJAX, Bits, Blog, CGI, ColdFusion, CPU, Database, Domain Name and IP Address, FTP, GUI, Hard Drive, HTML, HTTP, Instant Messenger, Intranet, Internet, Java, JavaScript, ODBC, Operating System, Perl, Podcast, RAM, RSS, Search Engine, Social Networking, SQL, Streaming, URL, W3C, Web Browser, Wi-Fi, WWW, , XHTML, XML


AJAX, (asynchronous Javascript and XML), is a method for creating dynamic web applications that can retrieve data from the web server on the fly.

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Bits, Bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and terabytes

A bit is the smallest amount of data a computer can handle; it may have a value of either zero or one. A byte is made (most commonly) made up of eight bytes, a kilobyte (kb) is made up of 1,024 bytes, and a megabyte is made of of a 1,024 kilobytes.

A gigabyte has two meanings; 1,000,000,000 (109) bytes, commonly used in hard drive marketing literature or 1,048,576 (220 ) bytes which is actually how computers compute space. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why when you purchase a 500 gigabyte hard drive and format it, you do get less space that is listed on the drive.

On a computer, one byte is equivalent to one character such as the letter T. You could store a full length novel (150,000 words) in one megabyte of space.

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Originally, blogs (a combination of web and log) were usually online diaries, but have since evolved greatly. Most current blogs are topical - focusing on a specific topic (for example, politics, photography, music, art etc). Business blogs are a popular way for businesses to promote themselves online.

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Every time you submit a form or do a search on the Internet, CGI (Common Gateway Interface) is used to safely transfer your information so that a CGI program can do its job. A CGI program can be written in just about any computer language such as C, Perl, or Cold Fusion.

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Owned by Adobe, ColdFusion is a powerful web development tool that is ideal for creating and maintaining web sites. This robust scripting language and application server is an excellent candidate for integrating your database to the Internet.

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Central Processing Unit, the brain of the computer, sometimes referred to as the processor is what actually executes (runs) programs and the operating system of the computer.

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A database is an efficient and flexible method of storing and retrieving information in computers. The following is an example of what a database can do.

If the information of a telephone book was stored in a database, you could search for anyone named John Smith, list people with phone numbers ending with 1234 (if you were bored), or find everyone who lives on Elm Street. You could also search for all Tom Jones who live on Maple Avenue. Try doing that with just a phonebook!

On the Internet, the easier and faster it is for a customer to find what they want, the more likely they will buy your products or services. A Darner media designed database will allow your customers to find the right information fast.

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Domain Name and IP Address

Each site on the Internet has a numberical address like, it's IP address. A domain name (such as is associated to this number to make finding web sites easier. It's like associating a name to a phone number and dialing the name to call someone.

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FTP stands for File Transter Protocol. As its name suggests, FTP is used to transfer files between computers over the Internet usually, from a local computer to a web server.

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The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is what you see on the screen of your computer or other electronic devices, usually consisting of icons, menus and windows.

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Hard drive

More accurately, the hard disk drive is often mistakenly used to identify the computer's case. The hard drive is a device that stores data even when the computer is off, typically come in two physical sizes; 3.5" used in most computers and 2.5" which are commonly called laptop drives or mobile drives.

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HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. This language is simply a set of instructions that your web browser reads to display text, links, images, and animations.

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HTTP (HyperText Transter Protocol) is a set of rules for sending and retrieving information (such as web pages and images) over the Internet. This protocol is indicated in the web address (URL) as in

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Instant Messenger

Instant Messengers are applications used to connect two (or more) people to communicate by text, audio or video, and share files in real time.

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An Intranet is essentially a private Internet - usually set up by an organization to help distribute information to it's staff.

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Originaly created by the US Department of Defence, the Internet has evolved from what was once called ARPNet (Advanced Research Projects Network) into a vast network of computers that spans all across the globe. The world wide web, e-mail, and FTP are all parts of the Internet.

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Java is a set of technologies created by Sun Microsystems. One of these technologies is a programing language called Java. The strength behind Java is once a program is written, it can run on any type of computer that has a Java Virtual Machine (another Java technology).


JavaScript a programing language developed by Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems. This language is designed specifically for the web and enhances HTML web pages by adding interactive features. If you've ever seen a button on a web page change color when you move your mouse over it, that's JavaScript at work.

Even though JavaScript and Java have similar names, these languages have little in common.

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ODBC is an acronym for Open DataBase Connectivity. ODBC is simply a standard way of accessing information from databases (or other storage formats) made by different manufactures.

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Operating System

An Operating System (commonly shortened to OS) is the software that runs on computers that handles the minutiae of operating the computer's hardware, manages system resources, and providing basic services for the applications that run the computer. Microsoft Windows Vista, Apple's OS X Leopard, and Ubuntu are examples of operating systems, whereas Microsoft's Word, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's iTunes are programs.

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Perl (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language) is a scripting language written by Larry Wall. Because Perl is simple (for programmers anyway) and free, it is one of the most popular languages used on the Internet.

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A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

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An acronym of Random Access Memory, which is the solid start memory that your computer uses to store the operating system and programs running. The contents of RAM are lost when the computer is turned off.

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Another acronym, it means Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a file format that can be used to publish blogs, podcasts, news, and other frequently-updated content. Using an RSS reader allows the user to monitor all of those from one simple location rather than having to open each web page individually.

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Search Engine

A search engine is a tool that allows you to find information on the Internet. Typically, you would type in some keywords and click a search button to look for information. Google, Yahoo, and Dogpile are examples of search engines on the Internet.

Social Networking

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SQL, pronounced sequel (or S-Q-L), is Structured Query Language. This language has a powerful set of instructions used to manipulate or access information from a database. Variations include MySQL, MSSQL, and PostgresSQL.

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Streaming is a method of sending audio and/or video over the Internet. You can have a commerical video showing your products, play a clip of your latest hit music, or have an narrator read a section of your new book. The possibilities are endless!

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A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is an Internet address that tells the web browser (or other application) what to do, for example; tells it to open the darner media web site.

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the primary organization that oversees the standards for the web including CSS, HTML, XHTML, and XML.

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Web Browser

A web browser is a program which enables a user to view text, garphics, videos, and other information located on a Web page at a website on the World Wide Web or locally.

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World Wide Web, or as it more commonly called, "the web", or "the net", or sometimes, "the Interwebs" (hopefully facetiously).

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Wi-fi is a technology that allows Internet access to devices like laptops, PDAs and game consoles without having to be connected by cables.

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Although Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) is the successor to HTML, it came from a separate W3C project. It is easiest to think of XHTML as a crossing of HTML and XML.

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Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a specification for creating a custom markup language that is typically designed to hold structured data in a human-readable format.

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