Glossary Of Blog, Internet, And Computer Terms L - Q
By Tony Johansen - Director East Sydney Academy of Art
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.
Under construction. June/July 2007. These glossary and software pages are a work in progress. Please understand that definitions are being added daily but will take time to finish.
Glossary Of Blog, Internet, And Computer Terms L - Q
- Laptop A portable computer that can literally be used placed in the lap (or at least used to be - modern high capacity batyteries tend to get too hot for placement in the lap). Also known as notebooks due to their folding shape that rersembles a book. Although laptops were once poor cousins of the mighty desktop computer they, these days, will often have specifications and processing power comparable to a desk top. Their advantage is their portability, disadvantage is high cost compared to an equivalent desktop and battery problems. Laptops are the fastest growing part of the computer sector and are predicted to become more common than the desktop.
- LAN Local Area Network. A computer network restricted in geographic range. It is larger than a PAN but covers any area from an office or home to groups of offices or groups of buildings. Computers and peripherals are connected by either ethernet cable or WiFi. Uses can be as simple as a familywishing to share an internet connection to a corporation or educational campus providing a wide range of services including Internet, mail, chat, printer sharing, and access to central data bases.
- LCD Liquid Crystal Display. First theorized in 1904, first applied practically by Marconi in 1936, and first demonstrated as a modern disply in 1968 liquid crystal displays consist of layers of crystals in liquid that change polarity when excited by an electric current. They can arranged as colored or monochromatic pixels and thereby produce an image that usually requires a back light to be easily visible. The first LCD's displayed simple characters such as time on a watch. Today LCD's are used for large television displays and compete with Plasma technology. LCD screens tend to use only small amounts of power so are well suited to portable devices such as laptops and mobile phones. As the back light uses more power than the pixels do, most portable devices reduce the back light automatically unless the device is continually used.
- LED Light Emitting Diode. The ability of a semiconductor to emit light was noted in the 19th century at Marconi labs and was independently re-discovered in the 1920's, however little importance was placed on it and the patent for the first LED was awarded to Bob Biard and Gary Pitman in 1961. Modern LED's were first developed in 1993 and they have become common in electronics. The latest generation LED's are powerful enough to be used for car lights, flashlights and household lighting. Although still under development they hold the promise of a huge leap in the efficiency of electric lighting generally.
- Leo Laporte Everyone's favorite tech guy who has made a career out of helping people with their computer problems. He hosts both his podcasts (notably TWiT), his radio show (The Tech Guy), and his television show (The Lab) he also is known for getting the latest gadgets to play with, for writing books, and for wearing the loudest shirts on television. As you would expect for a tech guy, he studied Chinese History at Yale. He is particularly popular in Australia and Canada. And, Leo, I hate the word netcast!
- LimeWire A peer2peer downloading program that is open source and therefore difficult for the record companies to shut down. It is Java based and so available for all platforms. Like all these programs it is easy to find malware and pornography amongst more useful offerings so use with caution.
- Links The common name for hyperlinks. A hyperlink is a piece of text (and sometimes an image or icon) that is usually a different color to the rest of ther text or has an underline that when clicked with the cursor takes the web surfer to another page or resource either within the open web site, or at another external web site.
- Links Page A page of web sites with links to them. Web sites provide links pages for 2 main reasons: (1) to provide further information on a subject or otherwise share favored web site addresses, (2) to conduct exchanges of links with other web sites. Links into a site can increase a site's rankings in the search engines, so friendly sites will often offer each other reciprocal links for the mutual benefit of the sites.
- Linux An open source operating system created by Linus Torvalds and released in 1991. Linux tends to be well liked by the tech community but is not seen by the general public as being as user friendly as proprietary operating systems. Consequently Linux has become common for servers and other applications set up by technically proficient people, but it has failed to attract a significant share of the consumer operating system market.
- LiveJournal A combined blogging and social networking site started in 1999 by Brad Fitzpatrick and now owned by Six-Apart. Friendster and MySpace essentially based much of their methodolgy on that pioneered by LiveJournal. LiveJournal has a particularly strong sense of community that sees users being vociferous in the defence of "their" site. Users describe LiveJournal as being addictive. While other sites have grown popular then disappeared, LiveJournal continues to thrive. It currently has 13 million users, a quarter in the US, and world wide communities. The Russian community is particularly strong and makes LiveJournal the largest supplier of blogging services in Russia.
- Load It is the time taken for data to download to a program for use or viewing.
- Log On On web pages or on a computer where the user has a registered account, entering a user name and password allows the user to view data not otherwise viewable. The user is thus logged on. In some cases logging on may involve the automatic supply of log on information.
- Log Out A link that takes a registered user away from a password protected page or site in such a way that further access to that page is only possible by logging on again. This prevents unauthorized access to data and accounts.
- Lol Text shorthand for the words "Laughing out loud" or "Lots of laughs"
- Mac A common abbreviation of the brand name Macintosh, a computer made by Apple.
- Macintosh Introduced in 1984 the Macintosh was the first personal computer with a modern graphical user interface (GUI) and a mouse. It may well have had limitations compared to today's computers, but it caused a sensation at the time and its innovations quickly spread to every other computer on the market. During the 1990's without Steve Jobs at the helm the Macintosh lost its edge and market share plummeted. Jobs first move following his return to Apple in 1997 was to start development of new Macintosh computers that marked the beginning of the resurgence of Apple. Today's Macintosh computers have regained their place at the cutting edge of personal computing combining a modern aesthetic with user friendly software. This has transformed the computer from a business machine to an object of desire, and integrates the personal computer into the center of a cultural life that many see as the growth area of computing and related lifestyle digital devices.
- Mailbox The folder where your unread e-mails are kept in your e-mail program.
- Mainframe The style of most computers until the advent of the micro-computer in 1976 by Apple, IBM
and others. Mainframes were large cabinets that stood tall as a man
and, despite their great size actually had less computing power than
today's desktops. Input and output was often by such methods as punched cards or tape and were generally operated by highly trained programmers
and technicians. The common television and film image from the 1960's
of cabinets with spinning reel to reel tape is similar to the actual
mainframes of the day. The computer itself was normally housed in a special clean room and operated from a dumb terminal
some distance away. They tended to be found in specialized environments
such as universities, research facilities, defence establishments and
advanced factories. Mainframes were too large, expensive, and difficult
to use for use by the general public. They did, however inspire
enthusiasts such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who were leaders of the micro-computer revolution.
- Mandelbrot See Benoit Mandelbrot or Fractals.
- MB MegaBytes - approximately a million bytes, a thousand kilobytes. More precisely 1,048,576 bytes.
- MDI Short for Multi Document Interface
- Memory Stick A flash based solid state memory device developed by Sony for digital cameras and other portable devices such as mobile phones. The term is sometimes used for any USB flash memory device also called thumb drives.
- Menu A list of pages on a website with hyperlinks, often in the form of buttons, that enables navigation through the site.
- Micro-computer The small computers that became popular in the mid to late 1970's (examples the Apple II, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, TRS 80) that were primarily designed to be used by an individual and was physically small and cheap enough for individuals to buy. Previously computers had been mainly main frame types that would fill an entire room and be used by teams of people. These early cmicrocomputers developed into the standardized form represented by the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh. Since the 1980's the term Personal Computer has completely replaced the older term micro-computer and now the older term is normally only used for these earliest models.
- MicroSoft Software company founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The company grew by making operating systems (MS-DOS in the early years) and partnering with hardware manufacturers to preinstall on their computers. Their competitor, Apple prefered to make hardware and software in a closed system. The Microsoft model proved more successful and following the hugely successful Windows 95 market share rapidly climbed to more than 90%. The latest operating system from Microsoft is called Vista.
- MILnet An early predecessor of the Internet it developed in conjunction with ARPAnet, with ARPAnet designed for sharing information among scientists and MILnet carrying military traffic, especially intelligence information.
- Mind Map A multi colored diagram that shows the relationship between ideas and puts a series of ideas into a logical order. A mind map helps the creative mind develop complex ideas easily and aids visualization and problem solving. Diagramatic concept maps have been used for centuries but the current mind maps as found in various programs such as NovaMind and Inspiration were first developed by Tony Buzan.
- Mobile Phone A phone that communicates via radio frequencies between the device and regularly spaced base stations. These networks of base stations are called cellular networks hence the common alternate name for mobile phones used in the US and some other countries - cell phones. An exception are those mobile phones used in remote areas that use satellite communication. The first true mobile phone was demonstrated in 1973 but high cost and huge battery size limited their common use until the 1990's. Today the mobile phone is more common than landlines in many countries. The introduction of the iPhone in June 2007 appears to have revolutionised the mobile phone market.
- Moblog A type of blog in which content is mde on a mobile phone (photos and text) and then uploaded directly to the blog from the phone by either PXT messaging or e-mail. It means that experiences can be uploaded and on the net within seconds and minutes. This web site is partially a moblog.
- Modem A device that converts digital signals into analog signals for transmission using telephone lines or whatever other method of providing access to the Internet you have. It is also able to convert incoming analog signals into the digital signal your computer requires. The name is a shortened version of its full name. It is a modulator/demodulator.
- Monitor A display device similar to a television screen upon which the graphical user interface appears and via which the compuuter user is able to open programs, manipulate data, write words, and make images, and otherwise get work done.
- Moore's Law In 1965 Gordon Moore (later co-founder of Intel) observed that since the introduction of the integrated circuit that the number of transistors on a square inch of printed circuit doubled every couple of years. This has been reinterpreted by many people over the years into a definitive law and people have gradually whittled the time frame down to 18 months and some people even say one year. Gordon Moore has often expressed surprise with the seriousnous that other people took his original projections, and the fact that it has actually accurately predicted the real rate of development of computing power over several decades.
- Mosaic Often said to be the first web browser, it was actually not the first, but it was the most important of the early browsers. It was easy to install by non-programmers and opened up the internet to the general public. It was able to display images set in text which made web sites attractive for consumers and businesses. It was developed in 1992 and ceased development in 1997 after Netscape (1994) and others that followed became the browser of choice for most people.
- Mouse A computer input device that moves a cursor on a display. it is able to point, select, drag, and other basic actions that enble to operate programs and do work in a more efficient manner than is possible by other means. The mouse was invented at Stanford in 1963 and was first used in a commercial computer in 1981 (the Xerox Star) but it wasn't until its adoption on the Apple Macintosh in 1984 that it became popular and from the Macintosh it spread to every other dektop computer on the market.
- Mozilla Originally it was a nickname for the Netscape browser said to be a combination of Mosaic (the original popular browser) and Godzilla. Netscape was seen at the time as the Mosaic killer. Mozilla became the name for the suite of open source applications supported by Netscape and eventually a new organization called the Mozilla Foundation. Firefox was the eventual result of this.
- MP3 Player Any device for playing audio files that are encoded in the MPEG format and related digital formats. Most people visualize an MP3 player as being a physical device like the iPod but the files are digital and the player itself is actually software. This software can be located on an independent device like the iPod for easy portability of music and other digital files but it can just as easily be a software program running on a computer, or built into a mobile phone. I love the iPod because it carries not just hundreds of albums of music, but my entire photo albums, books, podcasts, videos, games and more and yet can fit into my pocket and give me excellent sound quality.
- MySpace A social networking web site that is a phenomenal success with around 4 million new accounts
every month. Some 600,000 bands have a site on My space where they can
promote their work, and interact directly with fans, and in many cases
grow a new fan base. It is a kind of DIY promotional tool for talented
people who would struggle otherwise. It is also just a great place to
find out what is happening everywhere. It has a refreshing air of
inclusiveness and welcoming that is very appealing. It has become the
third most visited site on the Internet. MySpace is a great place for
an artist. MySpace home page is here.
- Nerd A nerd is a geek on steroids. Geeks are merely experts on computers whereas a nerd cannot spend enough time living with computers. It is rumored that they might take a break to eat or sleep occaisionally.
- Netscape A series of web browser suites starting in in 1994 under the name Mosaic Netscape until the makers of NCSA Mosaic successfully sued and the name was changed to Netscape Navigator. Netscape introduced innovative plug-ins and a built in WYSIWYG HTML editor and quickly become the most popular browser. Netscape funded the Mozilla Foundation and announced that the browser would be free and future development would be open source. During the browser war with Internet Explorer Microsoft gained ascendency by bundling its browser with nearly every computer sold and Netscape usage plummeted. Development delays lead to Netscape falling behind technically and eventually AOL purchased Netscape. The low point came when the development team was laid off in 2003 and AOL closed its Netscape division and outsourced development. meanwhile Mozilla was producing Firefox which would finally start to realistically challenge the Internet Explorer dominance. Since then Netscape has been reinvigorated and is now based on Firefox, has its own debvelopment team back and in June 2007 released Netscape Navigator 9 as a beta version.
- Nettiquette Ettiquette of what constituters polite behaviour when
communicating on the Internet. The word has fallen out of favor lately.
There are several possible reasons for this. Firstly the generally
accepted codes of practice addressed by nettiquette were developed in
the 1980's and 1990's when computer networks were dominated by
enthusiasts whose view of the way the world should operate is often
different to the broader spectrum of computer users today. Secondly
netytiquette is often policed in an arrogant manner by people who are
often more interested in what are often seen as unimportant things such
as whether or not forum posting should be made at the bottom or top of
a page while ignoring basic human values such as unreasonable anger,
personal attacks, and arrogance. Thirdly those who hide behind screen
names find it easy to be rude and thoughtless as they usually do not
have to face personal responsibility for their actions. Sadly the
internet often brings out the worst in human nature. When new codes of
nettiquette were proposed recently to address bad behaviour it was
criticized by people who thought it restricted their freedom.
- Network A system for the interconnection of computers and peripheral devices. The Internet is a global interconnection of computers. A LAN is a interconnection of computers and devices within an area resticted to as little as an office or home up to a group of buildings, say at a factory or a university. The connections can be wireless (especially on smaller distances) or cables and wires. Networks enable individual computers to access data and services that lay beyond the ability of personal computers to acquire for themselves, or offer efficiencies of scale, or save money by allowing several computers to share devices such as a printer. Above all, networks enable communication between the participants in the network.
- Newbie A beginner, someone who has yet to learn the ropes and is often confused by the computer
world. Some newbies get frightened off by all the frustrations, but
those who persevere learn how to best use this brave new world. There
are many forums that help newbies to figure out their computer problems because by and large most people in the computer world are helpful and remember when they too were just starting to figure it all out. In the Mac world the best forum for resolving newbie computer difficulties is Apple discussions. You will need to register to ask your questions.
- News Reader An aggregator of feeds from syndicated web sites. The user of the aggregator subscribes to a weblog or other site offering a subscribe link. Many of these are news services hence the name news reader, but they are often general interest sites. Headings and a limited summary is offered within the program and if the user wishes to read more a link takes them to the original source.
- Notebook A small laptop computer no bigger than a book that can easily fit in a briefcase. Confusingly many people apply the term to all laptops.
- OLED Organic Light Emitting Diode. A development from Kodak laboratories it is a refinement of ordinary LED's which are made from semiconductors. OLEDs are carbon based and in theory have a lot of advantages. At the moment high cost prevents widespread adoption except in mobile phones and digital cameras where the lower power consumption is too important to ignore. OLEDs are highly likely to gradually displace both LCD and plasma screens in the long run.
- Online Connected to the Internet and able to access web pages and other online services.
- Online Store A commercial web site in which items are described, usually with at least one image, prices displayed and with a link to a page where the items can be paid for with acredit card or other form of money transfer. If the item is software it may usually be available for immediate download, and if the item is a physical object dispatch to your address will then occur.
- Open Source A system of software making in which the orginal code for programs is made available to the user who is free to modify the code and distribute the modified version. The open source community is very active and believes their software has certain advantages, especially in regard to securityy issues because, essentially, many minds can be brought to any given problem. Some open source software can be superb and can be very popular. The Firefox browser is a good example. Some other open source software can be less user friendly to use and is more suited to computer geeks than the average user.
- Opera A Norwegian web browser and Internet suite that seeks to integrate browsing, e-mail, news aggregator, chat, widgets, and bitTorrents together. Opera has a vibrant community of supporters but widespread adoption of the browser was hindered for many years by the fact that it needed to be purchased while its competitors were free. Now it has the problem that Firefox is so popular.
- Operating System A special kind of program that manages all other programs and provides a functional framework within which the computer can do useful work. An application program cannot operate independantly of the operating system, but the operating system does not require an application program in order to function. On the other hand, while the computer can be on and perhaps display some wallpaper, not much can be done without the individual application programs to perform tasks. Windows is the most popular operating system, followed by Mac OS X, then Linux.
- OS X The operating system made by Apple and installed on computers made by Apple. It is characterized by cat names for the various versions, the current one being Tiger, and Leopard being due within weeks. The OS has a generally attractive and user friendly interface. The most notable characteristic, however is the general freedom from virus attacks, so much so that whenever a proof of concept virus is announced it makes international headlines. After 7 years there is still less than a dozen viruses that could potentailly infect OS X, and none that have successfully propagated to any major extent in the wild.
- Outlook An e-mail and news program bundled with Windows and so very common in the PC world. Microsoft makes a similar but separate program for Mac OS X called Entourage.
- Page Ranking The order in which any given web page is displayed in search engine results. This is calulated according to various criteria including relevance to the search question, and if many web sites link to a particular web page then this popularity increases page rankings. Web masters spend a lot of time optimizing their web sites to maximise their page ranking.
- PAN Personal Area Network. A wireless technology for
interconnecting devices within an individuals immediate working space
(usually less than 10 metres.) It is a smaller version of a LAN. A
common way of establishing a PAN is the use of Bluetooth to synchronize
mobile phones with a computer or laptop.
- PC Short for personal computer as as such employed for all desktop, laptop, and any other mobile device with a full operating system installed. It has another meaning that is also common - because Macintosh is the only computer that runs OS X, the term PC is used to describe any personal computer that is not a Macintosh, while a Macintosh is called a "Mac". Thus the popular ads on television in which the players describe themselves as "I am a PC" and the other as "I am a Mac". The ads are very funny and can be seen here: American version ... UK version .
- Personal Computer A small computer designed for use by an indivdual. Early computers were very large and used by teams of people. When small computers came along, especially in the mid 1970's they were refered to as being micro-computers because they were small and used micro-processors. The term personal computer originated with the IBM microcomputer called an IBM/PC This computer became the standard form for subsequent small computers running MS-DOS, and eventually Windows. the term personal computer is sometimes also loosely used for all microcomputers including Macintosh computers.
- Phishing A method of fraudulently obtaining personal information from individuals, particularly their financial details. The victim usually recieves what purports to be a legitimate site, or mail that appears to be from a legitimate business asking for records to be updated. The harvested information can be used by criminal elements to access funds and make unauthorized purchases.
- Ping Short for Packet Internet Groper. It is a Unix command that tests a link or connection by sending an ICMP echo request to a remote location and then reports whether an echo was recieved and how long it took. It is a quick way of determining if a connection is working.
- Ping Of Death A type of Denial of Service attack.
- Pixels The smallest part of a digital image or character. it is essentially short for picture element. Pixels are arranged in a grid pattern on a screen or other display device. Each pixel has a given color and brightness level and the sum of all the pixels together make up the image. The smaller and more densely packed the pixels, the higher the resolution of the image.
- Platform The operating system of a computer. The software which the programs need to sit on top of in order to function.
- Plug-ins Applets (baby programs) that add functionality to a program but cannot operate independently of that program. When installed the plug-in's functions are normally added to the menu items of the program plugged into. As examples are the many third party filters available that can be plugged into PhotoShop.
- Post An article in a blog. Posts usually are dated, have a category to which they belong, allow comments and trackbacks. They usually have a single subject and are often like journal entries. The term can also be used as a verb - to post an article on a blog.
- PowerPoint A program from Microsoft that is part of the Office suite of programs
including Word, Outlook, and so on. PowerPoint is a program that allows
the presentation of slide images to present information. It is commonly
used in business for advertising and marketing presentations and in
education for lectures. It can be an effective program for an artist to
present artwork to the public.
- Processor The brain of the computer. It is commonly called the chip, the CPU, or the micro-processor and is designed to manipulate data according to the instructions in the program being used.
- Program A set of instructions that enables the computer to perform some task. A program forms the structure in which the computer reacts to input from the user. Programs range from very complex and sophisticated applications able to perform a wide range of processes such as PhotoShop, to quite simple baby programs called applets which simply add a small number of extra functions to another program but cannot operate independently.
- Programmer An expert computer engineer who writes the source code for programs that run on a computer. Programmers often prefer to be called hackers, perhaps because the image of a programmer is somewhat boring in the public mind.
- Publish The action of publishing information whether by engaging a printing company, or by posing an article onto a blog. It is the action of making data publicly available.
- Publishing The presentation of information in a publicly accessible manner. Most people still can't get past the old way of thinking that publishing is just the making of books and selling them. The Internet has changed all that and any and all data made public on the web in any form (web site pages, blogs, comments on other people's blogs etc) is publishing. This is important to understand because there are specific laws relating to publishing and what constitutes defamation, breach of copyright and so on. Most people do not realize they are publishing material whenever it goes into the public domain.
- Punched Cards One of the most important innovations that enabled modern computing to develop. They were originally invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard as a means of mechanising patterned silk cloth in the early 1800's. These cards eventually evolved into the punched cards and plates for pianola type automatic piano's and in the 1880's Herman Hollerith (the founder of IBM) developed a version of the cards for use with his tabulating machines. They were first used for the 1890 American census. Hollerith found that the cards were more profitable than the machines since he could sell a machine only once, but the customer kept coming back for more cards. He therefore put valuable resources into developing the cards so they carried more information and the cards are a significant part of the success of IBM. From the first experimental computing machines in the 1920's to the first true computers in the 1940's and on to the 1960's the punched card was the prefered means of inputing or receiving data to or from a computer. Special key machines enabled the holes to be punched to produce the desired result and then the card or cards fed into the computer. Today the punched card is largely obsolete, although some crude punched card voting machines are still used in parts of the USA.
- QWERTY The layout of the standard keyboard for computers and typewriters. It is named after the order of the first six letters on the keys from the top left hand corner.