The internet has transformed life, and is popular due to the many benefits it brings. It also has brought a whole new language because, lets face it, there are lots of new things on the web that are nothing like anything that has ever gone before. So new words are invented regularly or old words given new meanings, and that is fine for the geek who lives online, but I know many of my readers may not be so experienced with this new world, and some may be visiting a blog for the first time. This glossary seeks to define in simple language some of the more common of the new internet words.
Words used in the definitions that have their own entries elsewhere in the glossary are colored green. They are not intended as links but to help you navigate around the glossary by making you aware of further information. Links are colored blue.
As there is considerable (and increasing) overlap between the computer, mobile phone, and digital media worlds many words from the mobile phone and digital media world's are included.
As this diary is to do with art there are several terms of particular relevance to artists using computers. Some are described here like the term artists web sites, however terms specifically to do with the use of Painting and other graphics software are described on these other pages.
- Glossary of terms used in graphics and painting
- Software: Animation and 3-D
- Software: Painting and graphics
- Software: Publishing
- Software: Web Design
If you become aware of a word that is not on this
list please e-mail me using the email link in the sidebar. As I use
Macintosh computers I am not so familiar with much of the Windows
world. This list is intended to be as inclusive as possible and if any
Windows user cares to send me suggestions of Windows specific words to
define (or even better send me the definition) I would be very grateful.
If you bookmark this page you can always easily find the definitions you need for computer and internet words.
June / July 2007. Under construction. This glossary is a work in progress with definitions being added daily. I apologize if the definition you need is not here yet.
Glossary Of Blog, Internet, And Computer Terms F - K
- Favorites A list of book marked web pages that can easily be found and revisited.
- Feed A web feed is a data format for getting the latest postings from frquently updated sources such as new services or from any blog. The content provider (person making the blog) puts a feed link onto their site inviting someone to subscribe or to syndicate this. The end user has a program called a feed reader or a news reader which periodically checks for updated content from all the web sites the reader is subscribed to. The user is able to see a summary of the new content and then they can link to the originating site to read the remainder of the content. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a popular feed format. Popular news readers (also called aggregators) are Newsgator and NetNewsWire.
- Files A file is a discrete piece of data stored on the computer hard drive which a program or operating system can access and manipulate, although the actual software of the progam or operating system is itself a series of files on the hard drive. For most people the files that concern them are their documents and images they wish to store and use. A computer is like an electronic filing cabinet that is designed for the logical storage of files so they can be found again easily. In practice most people at least sometimes forget where they filed something and have difficulty finding specific documents from time to time. Modern operating systems therefore have search functions to find lost files on the disk.
- Finale Notepad Music composition software. It is limited compared to Finale's paid-for software, but as free software it is excellent. Recommended. Review here. Official web site here.
- FireFox Considered by many to be the most advanced web browser available today it has an ability to adapt to individual usage through a large range of plug-ins and other popular features such as tabbed browsing that offers useful management of the browsing experience. It is also considered to be more secure than the leading browser from MicroSoft. FireFox is the first browser to make serious inroads into Internet Explorer dominence of the browser market in many years.
- Firewire A cable technology for high speed transfer of data between electronic devices. Invented by Apple it is now also used in the PC world especially for downloading photos from cameras.
- Flash Memory A type of memory that uses a chip instead of rotating hard disks and its therefore resistant to physical shocks and so is popular for portable applications where damage from dropping is possible. In a digital camera it is the equivalent of film, recording and storing the images digitally. Flash memory was developed by Toshiba in the 1980's. Until recently flash memory was only available in small sizes usually less than 4 GB. A 32 GB version has just been announced and larger sizes are expected. Flash memory costs more than conventional hard drive memory which has limited its acceptance in many areas it would otherwise be suited to. Prices, however, are rapidly falling.
- Flat Screens A display device (monitor or television) that has a flat surface. Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) in recent years have been manufactured in flat screen versions, but the most common types of flat screens are those using LCD (in smaller sizes) and Plasma (in larger sizes). CRT screens are cheaper and generally deliver richer colors but the price and color gap has narrowed to the point where most consumers choose LCD or Plasma due to the convenience of size. Laptop computers weren't feasible until the adoption of flat screen technology, and drove the acceptance of flat screens in their early years.
- Flickr A popular photo sharing online community now owned by Yahoo. It combines an easy to use interface with vibrant social networking. The photography is often superb and the users generally friendly. I love getting Flicker slideshows being downloaded to my mobile phone (enter a subject and the photos follow). A highly recommended free service. Find it here and go browsing, but be careful, it can be addictive.
- Folders A means of sorting documents on a computer that enables placing related files together in a named folder. Much computer jargon is a carry over from filing terms for storing and retrieving paper files. The computer version is similar, although a computer folder can hold vastly more information.
- Forum An online discussion or question and answer web site in which users can pose questions or otherwise initiate a discussion, each question or topic regarded as a thread. Other users can then post comments or answer the questions using a posting interface. Forums can be on any subject but one of the most useful are the trouble shooting types of tech forums where computer users attempt to help each other solve their computing problems. C-Net Forums is one of the best for the PC world, and Apple Discussions the best for Macintosh and iPod users.
- Fractals A branch of art and geometry discovered accidentally in the 1970's by Benoit Mandelbrot. They had been theorized to exist abouty 50 years earlier but it was probably impossible to prove their existence before the computer
because the computational power required is thought to be beyond human
capability. They are irregular patterns that repeat with variation on
into infinity. Since their discovery it has been shown that fractal
patterns occur in nature. The irregular pattern of the way trees branch
is an example. Fractals have many practical applications in the
handling and compression of graphics in the computer world but most people are most familiar with fractals as art since software can make patterns of colors of great beauty. Fractal art, competitions, information, and file libraries with fractal software for Windows, Macintosh, DOS, and Unix can be found here at Fractalus Gallery.
- Friendster The largest social networking web site before MySpace. At it's peak in 2004 Google offered 30,000,000 dollars to buy the site and it is considered the biggest blunder in Silicon Valley history when the offer was rejected. MySpace
soon took its place for many although Friendster still has a
significant following worldwide, with the Philippines having the
largest portion of active users. Friendster home page is here.
- FTP File Transfer Protocal. A simple way to transfer files from computer to computer via the Internet. FTP was used long before the World Wide Web came into existence. It is commonly used by a web designer to transfer the files of a web site from the computer the site was designed on to the server of a hosting company so that the site can be seen by other Internet users. There are various FTP programs available that simplify this process and provide an easy to use interface.
- FUD Shorthand for Fear,
Uncertainty, and Doubt. Generally applied as a smearing attack on ideas
not approved of by the user (instead of using rational argument) it
brings no credit to the user, but is extremely common. It was
originally a marketing ploy whereby stories are planted to discredit
the opposition and is still used this way.
- Gamer Someone who spends a significant time playing games on games consoles or PC. They traditionally prefer role playing games and war games, often in internet competition with many players. They are often regarded by non-gamers as anti social, but they mostly seem very content with their lives.
- Games Electronic games that started with simple arcade video games in the 1970's and evolved into complex interactive games played on home games consoles such as PlayStation. Now days games can be played on a variety of devices with screens including mobile phones.
- Games Console A special kind of computer that is optimized for the playing of games. Games tend to be graphics intensive and this places large requirements on certain areas of processing data, while other processing needs of an office computer are not needed. Consequently games consoles are better than PC's at playing games, but cannot generally do a lot else. Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and the X-Box are examples of popular games consoles.
- GarageBand A music editing program developed by Apple that has become hugely popular because it enables beginning musicians and amatuers alike to develop surprisingly sophisticated pieces of music from a variety of sources imcluding per-recorded loops of music elements, recording directly from MIDI instruments, and composing notes directly into the program. It offers the podcaster and enthusiast the ability to edit and create music using affordable software that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars if buying the real professional equipment. Many professionals do in fact use GarageBand including Nine Inch Nails and Limp Bizket. Macintosh only. Wikipedia article here. Official web site here.
- GB GigaByte. Approximately a billion bytes depending on whether you are in marketing where it is precisely a billion bytes or in the real binary world in which case it is 1,073,741,824 bytes. This binary answer is actually correct but far more difficult to grasp than the round number. Unfortunately unscrupulous business people use it to describe a hard drive when selling it. It is 60 GB they proudly say because they conveniently use the rounded number. In fact the user gets home and discovers that it only holds about 55 GB of data. it is frustrating and unnecessary.
- Geek Used in a nice way it is someone who seems to know everything there is to know about computers. Geeks tend to spend every possdible waking minute glued to their computer. In a less nice way the word is used to denote someone who is glued to their computer every possible waking moment and thus learns to speak a foreign computer language and become remote from mere mortals. They are still handy when your PC is giving you troubles. Geeks are often also nerds.
- GIF Graphics Interchange Format. Developed in 1987 by CompuServe as a compression technique for images. It uses a maximum of 256 colors and reduces files by discarding colors. It is best suited to images with large areas of solid color with sharp edges. It compresses these far better than Jpeg, but for full color photos it can easily give a posterized appearance. Despite its limitations it remains popular among web designers. All the images on this web site are GIF images.
- GNU A free operating system under development since the 1980's and still incomplete. Most users use Linux as the host for GNU software. It was started by Richard Stallman, who had a philosophy that thought software should be free like it was back in the 1960's when programmers would examine and rework source code, and share the results freely. This was published as the GNU Manifesto in 1985. The GNU software of greatest interest to artist's is GIMP, the graphics editing program.
- Google The most popular search engine. Google returns lists of websites that it thinks best matches the words of your search question. It ranks the relevance of web sites by a number of factors including the use of your search term and the number of related sites that link to it (thereby proving it is considered a valuable resource). Google has become the largest advertising medium on the earth and the money that Google makes is becoming legendary.
- Google Earth A program for showing images of the earth's surface from satellite imagery and aerial photography. Resolution depends on many factors but is at worst able to resolve objects 15 meters in size, and at best (Las Vegas for example) can resolve objects as small as 10 cm (6 inches) At higher resolutions it can show people on the ground and what they are wearing. Some people express concerns about privacy, but most people welcome the ability to see their neighborhood from above. Highly recommended and can be downloaded from the Google site here.
- Graphical Interface See GUI
- Graphics The visual elements on a computer monitor that are not ordinary typed text. It includes all images including photos, paintings and drawings, and also any shapes and colors beyond just a background color. Graphical elements often include text where the text has special colors and shapes as in many headings, or in business logos. Before the introduction of the Graphical User Interface by Apple in the early days of the PC, computer displays consisted of only typed words and numbers.
- Graphics Card Also known as a video card it is a printed circuit that includes a special graphics microprocessor that is optimized for the floating point computing necessary for manipulating graphical images. It is built into some computers, and in others is an add on peripheral.
- GUI Pronounced "gooey" it is the Graphical User Interface. It is ther display you see on a computer monitor that enables you to interact with the computer and perform functions. The GUI combines text, images, colors and so on to give a pictorial representation of your work. Since this is most similar to actual documents printed on paper, or photographs and other images it is the best way for computer data to be presented to the user, so much so that most computer users find it difficult to imagine any alternative. They forget that before the Apple Macintosh computers used things like punched cards or punched tape to represent the results of computer work. Computer programmers would then interpret this information for the rest of us. Computer programming was a difficult thing to do and this prevented the average person from directly using a computer. The first GUI was on the Apple Lisa, but it was the Apple Macintosh that revolutionized computing by spreading the popularity of the GUI and now all laptop and desktop computers have a GUI.
- Hack originally pranks perpetrated by students at MIT, since the 1980's it has come to be used by the media to mean breaking into a computer for immoral purposes. Computer geeks prefer the term cracking for that activity and consider hacking a good activity for taking software apart to create new features or expose flaws and vulnerabilities in proprietry software.
- Hacker Some one who hacks into software, generally to increase functions ar otherwise modify things. hackers often expose flaws in software. Hackers prefer not to indulge their passion for technology for bad reasons and call those who do hacking-like things for gain or illegal purposes "crackers".
- Hard Drive A device for magnetically storing data on rotating hard disks. It stores all of the software including the operating system, the programs, and all documents and files. Hard drive capacity is expressed in GB and has rapidly risen over recent years. In the year 2000 a hard drive capacity of 10GB was common. Now capacities over 100 GB is standard and 500 GB becoming common.
- Hardware The physical devices made of plastic and metals which is the visible and obvious presence of the computer. In the absence of software it is little better than a paperweight incapable of any computing function. Likewise the software cannot perform its computing functions without hardware components like a hard drive for storage, keyboard for input, and monitor to display the computational results.
- History A special memory that records the web pages a browser has visited. It's most important use is apparent when a user clicks the "back" button which for most of us happens several times whenever web browsing. However it is also useful when seeking to return to a web page visited yesterday or some other point beyond the immediate last page visited.
- Hits A very misunderstood term that measures web site traffic, but not in the way most people assume. Each unique visitor to a web site generates several hits and so the number of hits is far larger than the actual numbers of visitors. Marketing and ego mean that the higher number that represents hits is quoted for web site traffic and the public is used to this, so quoting anything else only confuses people. This is how it works. Every request for a file on the https constitutes a hit. If a page has a text file plus a photo each is downloaded to your browser separately and so therefore each counts as a hit (one page view produces 2 hits). If a page has many photos it will produce lots of hits for every visit. The same occurs for every menu page that same visitor looks at. Since most of the less sophisticated statistics programs only record hits rather than the more difficult to count unique visits, most of these stats programs give highly inaccurate impressions of the number of people visiting the site. On the other hand, since hit numbers are higher than unique visitor counts, many, if not most, web site owners prefer the stats programs that emphasize the number of hits.
- Home Page The introductory or first page on a web site. Entering the domain name of a web site would normally bring up the home page because by convention the file name of the home page has the file name "index.html". Browsers by default load the index file first. The home page contains the introductory information for the site and has links or menu buttons to other pages on the site. Many social networking web sites
offer registered members a page to place their personal information.
This is often referred to as someone's "home page" even though it is
not the home page of the entire web site - although it does serve a similar function in that it introduces the person and may well contain links to other information about the person.
- Hosting Service A company that offers a place to upload your web site and make it accesible to the Internet for a monthly fee. Usually the user would get an online control panel that allows complete management of the site including e-mail addresses, spam filtering, HTML editing, and provides photo albums, bulletin boards and so on for you to add to your web site. Many ISP's offer free web hosting bundled as part of their over all service (so you do pay for it but as part of the package) These free hosting arrangements are rarely as good as the paid for hosting from a company whose main business is web hosting.
- HTML HyperText Mark-up Language. The coding language that determines how a web page appears. In HTML the text seen by the web user is surrounded by invisible tags that give the browser formatting instructions such as style, color, bold, italics, etc. It also defines parts of a page according to standard components such as the header, and the main body of the text, and so on. It uses hyperlinks to fetch image files and insert them at certain places on the page so that photos can be visible on the page. The tags that instruct the formatting are not visible on the formatted page but can be seen in the source code. By using a WYSIWYG editor it is possible to make a web site without using any HTML code directly (it is automatically generated by the editor) but learning basic HTML vastly increases the capability to build sophisticated sites, and the most experienced web designers often prefer to work on the code directly. HTML was invented by Tim Berners-Lee who also invented the World Wide Web as we know it.
- Hyperlinks Special HTML text that instructs a program to fetch a file. That could be an invisible part of a page formatting that enables an image to be visible on a web page (images are filed in a different location to the HTML text of a web page and are assembled in the browser). More obvious to a computer user is the Hyperlink that is visible on a web page that is usually a different color to the rest of the text, often has an underline, and when clicked on by the cursor takes the user to an external file or another web site altogether. It is thus a method of linking pages and files together.
- IBM The world's largest computer company and the oldest of all computer company's. Founded in 1888 as the Tabulating Machine Company. It was incorporated in 1911 with a name change to Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) it became a fortune 500 company in 1924, the year it adopted its current name. The new name, International Business Machines, reflected its multinational role. IBM has 350,000 employees in 170 countries. It holds more patents than any other American technology company and has 8 laboratories across the globe. IBM employees have won 3 nobel prizes, 4 Turing Awards, 5 National Medal's of Science, and 5 National Medal's of Technology. It is a leader of mainframe computing and dominates the list of the worlds greatest supercomputers. It is a major manufacturer of semiconducters. It continually evolves. In recent years it has notably sold off its PC division to Lenovo and has entered a joint venture with Ricoh for its Printing Systems division. The PC was turned into the computer we know today due to the innovations of Apple and Bill Gates as much as anything else, but the huge size of IBM means that the first IBM PC's are often credited as being the first PC's of all. Many would beg to differ. They were, however hugely important in establishing what was to become the standard architecture of the modern PC and their marketing and multinational nature boosted the popularity and reach of the PC from hobbyist beginings to a business necessity.
- ICANN Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is a non-profit organisation set up in 1998 to replace direct US government control over the Internet. It regulates the assigning of Internet addresses and manages top level domains. The connections with the American government are historic as computer networks were developed as a direct result of US policy and is essentially an American invention. There are pressures to Internationalize the body but the alternatives tend to be motivated by competing national or regional political agendas and so far there is no consensus for change. So long as the Internet as it operates tends to be profitable for most economies world wide the status quo is unlikely to greatly change. Besides, despite being headquatered in California, only 4 of the 15 member governing body of ICANN are American, and ICANN regularly meets in International centers. As I write this ICANN is meeting in Puerto Rico and are discussing how to implement alphabet characters other than the Roman alphabet, and have confirmed that there will be various new international TLD's introduced next year including ".asia".
- Icon A small computer image that represents a function or links to a program, a command, or a web page. Icons are useful as although a word might perform the same task, it takes time for the eyes to read a word whereas the mind is able to interpret an image almost instantly. It is also more easily able to distinguish between multiple images as opposed to multiple words. Icons, therefore rather than just being decorative (as most people assume) are an essential part of the computing experience.
- IM Popular shorthand for instant messaging.
- Images A graphical representation of something. Basically all photos, paintings, drawings and illustrative designs are images and text is not. However, it gets more complicated sometimes with text. A logo for a company, for example may be an image if it is large and colorful and has a "designed" look. It is also possible to make an image with text on it and that can be as simple as a pale colored square with writing that is made in PhotoShop and saved as a Jpeg. Spammers use these kinds of "images" to get past spam filters because while computer programs can easily read text and understand what it means, most computer programs cannot really make sense of images, it takes the human brain to do that. Web sites that are all pictures and lack text rarely do well in search engines for this reason.
- IMHO Text shorthand for the words "In my humble opinion". It has been my observation that the opnions are not so often humble.
- iMovie Popular and easy to use video editing program for Macintosh computers.
- iTunes Popular music software introduced by Apple to manage music for your iPod. It can also connect to the iTunes Store for online music purchases. It is easy to use, and does a good job of managing music and other audio files. It also supports video.
- Inbox The page where your unread e-mails can be found in your e-mail program.
- Inspiration The best mind mapping software for artist's to use. Its sales pitch is off-putting because it markets toward the education sector, particularly children so it is easy to get the impression this is not serious software for adults. In fact because of the varied needs of education the software is more flexible than other mind mapping software and is ideally suited to the creative mind of any age. It is the perfect program for sorting out creative ideas in all fields from web design to writing a novel. Official web site here.
- Instant Messaging A form of real-time text based communication on the Internet. It is the computer world version of SMS messaging on phones but has a much earlier origin. It started in the 1970's as IRC (Internet Relay Chat). So long as 2 users were connected to their network one could type, and the other would see the letters appear on their own screen (or get deleted) as they were being typed. It was a very useful means of communication that could relpace the expensive long distance telephone connections of the day. Today it has evolved so that users have a sophisticated interface, and words or setences are seen by the recipient only when the sender chooses to send. Users are able to set a status of being online or away and it can be a fun as well as useful method of communication.
- Intel The world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors. California based Intel started in 1968. it was the inventor of the x86 chip which is the dominant processor type today and have been at the cutting edge of microprocessor technology since the beginning, starting by inventing the microprocessor itself in 1971. Gordon Moore, a co-founder formulated Moore's Law in 1965 which states that the number of transistors on a circuit doubles every 2 years. He has often expressed surprise that his own company has managed to match or exceed that continuously until the present day.
- Interface The method for connecting units that are not directly connectable. Thus a human requires a graphic interface to connect to what is being done by the processor in a computer. Thus the computer and human are able to "face" each other in a meaningful way.
- Internet The network that enables computers to communicate with each other and transfer data at a remote distance. This occurs wirelessly, via wires and fibre-optic cable. It had its origin in the 1960's as a US government supported research and military program. The first network was called ARPANET and various other networks came into existence until the invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working at CERN in Switzerland in 1992. The internet has a backbone of high capacity national networks that local Internet service providers hook into. The Internet Protocal (IP) gives all computers an address which enables data to be sent to the appropriate location. Without the Internet computers are just glorified adding machines and typewriters. With the Internet they are the greatest advance in human behavior since the development of civilization.
- Internet Explorer An Internet browser introduced by Microsoft in 1995 and gaining popularity until it was used by 90% of web surfers in the early 2000's. In recent years it has failed to keep up with modern browser developments and has security problems that has caused it to lose share to FireFox, and more recently Safari.
- IP Internet Protocal. It is the protocal that allows data to be transmitted across the Internet as discrete "packets" and can be delivered to the correct location. Every computer has an IP address in the form of numbers and other characters that identifies each unique location. Web sites are located on computers called servers and can either share a single IP address with other web sites on that server (the server itself then identifies which of its various web sites is the one to deliver data to) or have a dedicted IP address unique only to that site. The Internet Protocal currently used is called IPv4 and allows for up to 4 billion addresses. Because we are now running out of possible addresses (4 billion is epected to be reached in 2012 or just before) a new standard called IPv6 is being introduced that is more complex. The average computer user, however, will never notice the difference.
- iPhone Released just a few days ago it is a phone, an iPod, and a web browser all in one. Time will tell if it becomes as popular as the iPod, but the media hype has been huge. Like the iPod it seems to marry innovation with a revolutionary simplified interface.
- iPod An Mp3 player that has become the most successful music device in history. Critics complain that other mp3 players have more features, but the reason it has sold 100,000,000 is because it is easier to use than other players and has an easy to use software called iTunes. I love mine for its ability to play books and podcasts as well as store all my photographs as well as play my music beautifully.
- Jimmy Wales The founder of Wikipedia which was developed with huge contibution of his employee Larry Sanger, Jimmy Wales was the one with the vision of an online encyclopedia that aimed to gather in one place the sum of all human knowledge.
- JPEG An image compression format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group who were first formed in 1986, but the standard was not finalised until 1994. It is the most common method for compressing photographs on the Internet. It is better suited to full color images than to line drawings and so certain kinds of images are better compressed in GIF.
- KB KiloBytes Approximately a thousand bytes, it is more precisely 1024 bytes.
- Keyboard A computer
input device based on the keyboard of typewriters but with double the
number of keys due to the expanded number of functions of a computer compared to typewriters. The standard QWERTY keyboard is roughly similar across computer platforms but there are minor differences that reflect minor differences in the way certain functions are performed. Keyboards for desktops are attached via a USB cable or can be wireless. Laptop
keyboards are usually smaller than standard keyboards, and have less
keys. They are also physically part of the body of the device.
- KeyNote presentation software for the Macintosh. Generally regarded as comparable to PowerPoint, it does, however, offer more interesting graphic presentations and is very flexible.