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ADSL, PDF, WWW and other computer ABC's
Ever sit in a room with a group of people, and the conversation comes around to computers, cell phones, or digital cameras? Suddenly the technical terminology is flying fast and loose, and you have no idea what anyone is talking about? Well, those days are over. This column will give you a very basic glossary of some commonly used acronyms and terms (arranged alphabetically) – and then point you to some useful websites where you can look up all the rest.
What does it mean?
ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. This technology allows high speed internet access over ordinary telephones lines linked to a digital telephone exchange. The upload speed (when you send something over the internet from your own computer) is usually slower than the download speed (taking something off the internet to your own computer), hence the word asymmetric..
A blog is a journal or diary that is kept online and open to other readers. Writing a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Quite a few websites are devoted to blogging, and offer software that makes it easy for people with little or no technical background to set up and maintain a blog. Check out sites like Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) if you are interested in setting up one of your own.
More and more people are throwing out their floppy disks and saving their data on compact disks (CDs). Burning a CD is the term used for copying your information onto a CD, using a special CD drive can both read and write on CDs.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
You will find FAQs on many websites. These pages contain the most frequently asked questions about a particular subject, and, of course, the answers to those questions.
Digital pictures can be saved in many different formats, but the two most common formats are GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) and JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). The name of the picture will have the suffix .gif or .jpg (just like a Word document has the suffix .doc to indicate that it is a document). GIFs are usually used for images that are more graphic in nature and JPGs are a better format for photographs.
HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language)
A computer language used to write web pages.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
When you write a web address, chances are you start it with http:// This tells your internet server that you want to access files across the internet. You may have also come across another ‘protocol' called FTP (File Transfer Protocol) which allows you to retrieve files from or send files to another internet site.
Messaging programs are enormously popular. You have probably heard of some of them, like ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger. Outlook Express also comes with Windows Messenger, and Yahoo has a similar service. These programs have a small popup window with a “buddy list” which enables users to identify when their friends or family are also online. You can send messages in real time to these buddies, open a chat room for a more free-flowing dialogue, or leave a message for off-line friends which they will receive the minute they sign on.
ISP (Internet Service Provider)
The company that provides your Internet access.
PDF (Portable Document Format)
A PDF file is highly portable as its name indicates. It can be read by both Macintosh and Windows computers. It can show any combination of text, graphics and images. Whatever program was used to create the original document, all you need to read a PDF file is an installed version of the (free) Adobe Acrobat Reader.
If Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, download it from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html or (if you are currently connected to the internet) click the Acrobat Reader image to the left of this paragraph.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
An internet address, like http://www.jpost.com (for the Jerusalem Post).
Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)
A popular term for a wireless internet connection.
World Wide Web (or simply Web for short) is a term frequently used to refer to the Internet.
Where can I look it up?
Naturally, there are many more technical terms, and probably more being created as you read this article. So here are some internet sites where you can look up these strange acronyms – and even ordinary everyday words.
Dictionary.com is an old-fashioned dictionary that also contains all the tech terms you are looking for.
In addition to a computer dictionary, you will find here an English Dictionary, a Medical Dictionary, a thesaurus and more.
More than just a dictionary, here you can find simple definitions and delve more deeply into technological areas.