Jargon Buster (30.12.15)

INDEX (on 30th December 2015):


Add-on, Address, ADSL, AGP, Android, AutoCorrect & Avatar

Backups, Bandwidth, Biometric, Blog, Bluetooth, Bookmark and Broadband

CD-ROM, Chat room, Chipset, Click & Drag, Clicking, Clipboard, Clipping, Composite, Compression, Context Menu, Control+Alt+Delete, Cookies, Crash & Cursor.

DAB, Defragment, Desktop, Dialog box, Domain name, Double click, Double-layer, Download, Driver, Drop-down menu, DVD and DVI

Email, Encrypt, Ethernet & Extension

Favourites, Firewall, Firewire, Floppy Disk, Font, Forum & Freeze

GB, GHz, Graphics card & GRPS

Hacker, Hard Disk, Hotspots & HTML

I-beam, IDE, Icon, Insertion point, IP Address, ISO & ISP


LAN, Laser printer, LCD & Link

Mb, Mainboard/Motherboard, Megabits/Sec, Megapixel, Memory Card, Memory Key, Mobile broadband, Modem, Mouse & MP3

Network, Notification Area

OCR, Operating system

Parallel, Patch, PDF, Phishing, POP3, Processor and PS/2

RAM, Resolution, Ribbon, Right click, Rootkit & Router

SATA, Search Engine, Serial, Server, Shortcut, Shortcut Menu, Skype, Slider, Smartphone, Sound card, Spyware, Streamed & System Tray

Taskbar, Task Manager, Template, Toner, Toolbar & Touchpad/Trackpad and Trojan

Upload, URL & USB

Videoconferencing and virus

Wallpaper, WAN, Web browser, Web form, Web host, Webcam, Webmail, Wifi, Wizard & Worm

ZIP file

Found a piece of jargon not in the above list ?
Please send me a “Comment” and I will aim to include it, usually within 7 days.

3G – Short for third generation mobile telephone technology. Provides the ability to transfer both voice data (a telephone call) and non-voice data (eg downloading information, exchanging email and instant messaging) – with data rates up to 384kbps.

Add-on – An addition to your web browser to add extra features such as the ability to view animations using Adobe Flash.

Address – Every page on the internet has a unique address so your browser knows which file to display on screen from the millions on the internet. It’s essential that it’s typed exactly as it’s written and into the “Address Bar” (it’s easy to mistakenly type it into the Search Bar).

ADSL – The most common type of broadband used in homes and small business, it converts an ordinary telephone line into a broadband internet connection, capable of allowing voice calls to be made and received at the same time as using the internet.

AGP (Advanced Graphics Port) – A type of graphics card designed to take very fast graphics cards (replaced the use of slower PCI ports for video cards).

Android – An operating system which runs many current Smartphones or many tablet PCs (others are iPads and so run Apple’s IOS)

AutoCorrect – A feature of Microsoft Word that corrects common spelling errors as you type, such as teh or acommodate – but also corrects capitalisation of days of the week or months of the year, so that Monday and March will always start with a capital letter.

Avatar – An icon or graphic used to represent a person in an online environment

Backups – The process of making an exact copy of the data stored on your computer to another location (eg. DVD, an external hard drive, tape cartridge) to protect your data against loss as a result of hard drive failure, accidental deletion/overwriting, fire, flood or theft. Usually carried out daily or weekly.

Bandwidth – The maximum amount of data that can be transferred over a connection at any one time.

Biometric – The use of measurable physical characteristics for identification purposes, such as fingerprinting.

Blog – A frequently updated website that can act as an online diary.

Bluetooth – Type of short range wireless connection commonly used between PCs and mobile phones, smartphones or tablets.

Bookmark – A way of storing websites for later reference. Performs the same function as Favourites in Internet Explorer.

Broadband – A fast internet connection that allows permanent, fast, connection to the internet in return for a fixed monthly fee, usually on a contract of 12 months or more.

CD-ROM – Commonly used for audio discs, but now widely used for loading programs and storing data. Commonly used ones are CD-R and CD+R (most devices use both but you may want to check). Re-writeables ones are CD-RW or CD+RW (the above precaution also applies !)

Chat room – Allow groups of people to type messages to each other in real time.

Chipset – All microprocessors that work together with your PC’s main processor chip to provide various functions.

Click and drag – The action of clicking and holding down the left mouse button, often to move a file or item from one place to another.

Clicking – The action of clicking on the left hand mouse button to select a menu.

Clipboard – A section of computer memory which allows you to remove or copy text from one file and paste it into another.

Clipping – When parts of an audio signal cut out at high volume.

Composite – A type of video signal in which the red, green and blue signals are mixed together.

Compression – The process of reducing a file’s size by encoding the data. The most common type of compressed file is ZIP.

Context menu – A pop up menu displayed when you click the right mouse button, giving commonly used commands.

Control+Alt+Delete – These 3 keys when pressed together will allow you to log onto the computer at the beginning, or bring up the Task Manager if Windows is already running.

Cookies – Text files generated by websites you visit and stored on your hard disk.

Crash – A term used to describe the situation when you cannot use a program or even the entire computer because it isn’t responding to any commands at all – but you can still press Control+Alt+Delete to bring up the “Task Manager”.

Cursor – A flashing shape on screen used to select items such a menu or to move the insertion point.

DAB – Digital Audio Broadcasting. Radio transmitted by a digital, rather than analogue signal.

Defragment – To reorganise the data stored on a hard disk so that it can be accessed as quickly as possible by the computer. A fragmented disk can adversely affect system performance.

Desktop – The background area in Microsoft Windows where common icons are automatically stored and where you can place your own icons for commonly used programs and files. In Vista and Windows 7, it’s also widely used for various tools such as a calendar or clock (see “widgets” for more information).

Dialog box – A window which displays when Windows or a software program wants to ask you a question such as “Do you want to overwrite this file ?” followed by a few options (often Yes, No and Cancel). Before you can continue using the program, you must answer the question.

Domain name -The name used to identify a site on the internet such as pcgp.biz or microsoft.co.uk

Double click – The action of clicking the left mouse button twice in quick succession, usually used to select an item in a list (eg. to open a file).

Double layer – A DVD that holds twice as much data as an ordinary disk – up to 8.5Gb

Download – To obtain a file from a website, usually by clicking on an icon or link.

Driver – Software that allows Microsoft Windows to communicate with a device such as your scanner or modem.

Drop down menu – A list of options that appear when you click a menu or button.

DVD – Used widely in recent years for movies and also for loading programs. Some people also use them for data backups. There are a number of different types so when buying it’s important to understand the differences to avoid disappointment – see DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-R and DVD+R for an explanation.

DVI – A video connection that provides a purely digital connection. There a few different types of connection, so be sure to choose the correct one for your device.

Email – The system of sending messages electronically via an network or internet connection. The item arrives in the recipient’s inbox and remains there until they choose to log on to view or download it.

Encrypt – To scramble data so it can only be read by someone using a key or code.

Ethernet – A type of wired network most commonly used in business networks, but now commonly used to connect modems or routers to computers.

Extension – The 3 or 4 character at the end of a filename which tells Windows what type of file it is – eg. PDF tells Windows to open the file in Adobe Reader (or your own PDF reader) and MP3 tells Windows to open your music player. Always at the end of the filename and either 3 or 4 characters, preceded by a dot – eg. DOC, PDF, JPG, XLS.

Favourites – A way of storing websites for later reference. Performs the same function as Bookmarks in Mozilla Firefox.

Firewall –  A system that prevents unauthorised access to a PC over the internet

Firewire –  less common alternative to USB as it is used for connecting high-speed devices such as disk drives and movie cameras.

Floppy disks – Rarely used at present as not built into most PCs, but can still used by some computer users for loading utilities or transferring small files.

Font – A particular style of displaying letters, numbers and other symbols. Common fonts are Arial and Times New Roman whereas a common fancy font is Monotype Corsiva. Arial is popular because it is clear even at small sizes being Sans Serif (without the “tail”), whereas Times New Roman is still considered traditional by many being a Serif font (with the “tail”).

Forum – An online venue for chatting or gaining support, especially from people with similar interests or life experiences (eg. cancer support groups).

Freeze – A term used to describe the situation when you cannot even use the keyboard or mouse, forcing you to press the power button (sometimes for a few minutes) in order to power down the computer – then re-start it a few minutes later. It often indicates a problem with the mainboard.

GB (Gigabytes) – A common way of measuring memory (RAM) inside modern computers and the size of hard drives and the files stored on it – for example most people’s documents, picture and music collection is at least 1GB.

GHz (Gigahertz) – A measure of PC processor speed.

Graphics card -The part of a PC which controls the screen’s image. In Windows, a driver it used for it to work. Two common types are PCI or AGP, they are usually built into the computer’s circuitry, but some desktop computers allow you to add a separate one for better performance (especially for gaming).

GRPS – Allows fast connection to mobile internet and gives you the ability to view web pages and download games, sounds and pictures.

Hacker – People who break into other people’s PCs and networks, often in an attempt to steal sensitive information.

Hard Disk (often called “The C drive”) – The drive inside your computer for the storage and running of Microsft Windows and software programs and often used for data storage. Currently sizes range from 500GB but can be as large as 2 Terrabytes. Data stored on the drive is safe when the computer is turned off.

HotspotsPublic wireless networks located in airports, hotels, conference centres and other public areas. When you’re within its range, you can connect wirelessly to the internet via your laptop or smartphone. If not “secure” ensure you have adequate security on your device BEFORE connecting.

HTML (HyperText Markup Langauge)The language used to create websites, it dictates all aspects of the way the page displays including fonts and colours.

I-Beam – A marker on the screen (usually in the shape of an I) which shows where the text you next type will appear.

Icon – A small picture displayed on screen to identify an application or file. To open it, you simply click on the icon using your mouse
(see “Mouse”).

IDE – An interface used to connect older hard drives and optical drives (eg. CD drives) inside a computer. Hard drives available as 3.5″ drives for desktop computers and 2.5″ drives for laptops.

Insertion point – A marker on the screen (usually in the shape of an I) which shows where the text you next type will appear.

IP Address – A number used to identify a PC on a network, either a corporate one or a PC connected to the internet (which is a WAN – Wide Area Network).

ISO – The light sensitivity setting of a camera or film. The higher it is, the less exposure time is needed for each shot.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) – The company which gives you access to the internet such as BT, Sky or Talk Talk.

Javascript – A website programming language, it should be kept up to date.

LAN (Local Area Network) – A group of computers connected to a server or modem/router via cable or wireless. Often connected to each other for sharing of files on each PC.  Widely used in offices, but now many homes have a type of LAN to share printers and files.

Laser printer – Uses toner and light to print images and text onto paper (similar to that of a photocopier). The key advantage they offer is the high volume of prints they can handle, along with low running costs.

LCD – Technology used to create low-power, slim display panels. Used in flat-screen monitors and TVs.

Link – If you click on one of these you’ll jump electronically from the web page or email you’re on to the address the link points to. Typically they appear as blue text and change from an arrow to a pointing hand when you hover the cursor over it.

Be wary of clicking on any links you find in a received email, unless you already know and trust the recipient, as other links can lead to your visiting a fake website.

MB (Megabyte) – A common way of measuring memory (RAM) inside your computer. It is also used for measuring file sizes in Windows – for example many music files are 5MB in size.

Mainboard / Motherboard – The main circuit board which controls all aspects of your computer as all components plug into the board – your drives, the memory chips and your keyboard, mouse, etc.
The term motherboard used to be used – before the PC (Political correctness) brigade changed the name!

Megabits/Sec – Megabits per second. A measure of the data transfer speed.

Megapixel – A way of measuring the camera resolution (quality). The higher resolution cameras/webcams will take better pictures, although the resulting photos will take up more space on the camera and your hard drive.

Memory card – A small rigid card to allow you to store extra files on your camera or smartphone. With the right card reader, its files can be transferred to and from your computer without a cable.

Memory key – Small USB file storage device – widely available in sizes from 4gb to 32gb.

Mobile Broadband – Uses a small plug-in device (often referred to as a dongle) to allow your laptop to access the internet wherever you are and send and receive texts using your laptop keyboard. Available as Pay As You Go or with a monthly contract, with prices starting at just £5 (Orange).

Modem – Used for dial up internet, fax lines or for direct connection to an organisation such a bank (often business banks). Can be an internal or external (USB or Serial).

Mouse – The device used in Windows to to move the cursor around your screen, usually consisting of 2 mouse buttons and often a central scroll wheel for quickly moving up and down large documents. Older mouse used a PS2 connection and were mechanical with a ball …. most used nowadays plug into any USB port and are optical with a red light underneath.

MP3 – The most common type of music file which compresses the track to about 5MB or so to allow lots of music files to be stored in your “MP3 Player”.

Network Area – A way of connecting several devices so they can share data.

Notification Area – An area on the bottom right of the screen used to display the time and the status of your network, internet connection and sound.

OCR – Optical character recognition. Software which can convert text stored stored in a scanned image file into words which can be edited in a word processor.

Operating System – The software which controls the actions of the different parts of your computer. Computers usually run Windows. Apple Macs use the Macintosh operating system. Linux is a less commonly used operating system.

Parallel – Used for connecting some older printers, very rarely used today.

Patch – Software that fixes problems with an existing software application.

PDF (Portable Document Format). A commonly used file format for sending files by email and also for storage of documents. Its benefits are the fact that a PDF stores the document formatting within the file so the recipient only needs to have Adobe Reader (or similar) on their PC to see the file exactly as you do. Almost every computers has Adobe Reader pre-installed or the user can download it free of charge from http://www.adobe.com.

Phishing – Internet fraud that tries to trick you into revealing personal details, often by pretending to be someone else like an authority eg. a bank or financial institution, and directing you to a website which looks genuine – but isn’t.

For this reason, never follow links in an email when you weren’t expecting one, especially from an unknown source. If unsure, type in their web address YOURSELF (eg. http://www.firstdirect.com)!

POP3 – A type of email system which usually downloads your email to your PC, removing it from the server. All email you send remains on the PC you were using to send it.

Processor – The chip that is the brain of your PC.

PS/2 – Less commonly used connector for keyboards and mice. Coloured connectors are used for each as each must go into the correct socket.

RAM (Random Access Memory). The temporary memory used by Windows from the moment Windows loads until you shut down. All files are stored here until you save them on the hard disk – or re-save them after editing.

Resolution – The amount of detail shown in an image, whether on screen or printed. On monitors, the most common resolution is 1024 x 768 and in printing, the most common printed resolution is 300 x 300.

Ribbon – A tabbed strip of control icons that replaced the menu bar in most MS Office programs when they released Office 2007.

Right click – The button used to display a pop-up shortcut/context menu (see Shortcut menu)

Rootkit – Software that may hide malicious programs that bypass anti-virus protection.

Router – Often now combined with your broadband modem, this device allows more than one PC or devices to connect to the internet at the same time.

SATA (Serial ATA) – An interface for connecting most hard drives and optical drives (eg. DVD drive) to a PC. For hard drives, available as 3.5″ versions for desktop PCs and 2.5″ ones for laptops and netbooks.

Search engine – A way of searching the internet for information. The most commonly used one is Google – others are Bing, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.

Serial – Used for connecting some older devices such as modems and PDA cradles.

Server – A computer on a network, such as the internet, which contains drives and connected printers which other computers can access.

Shortcut – A file that acts as a link to something else, such as a particular file or a disk drive.

Shortcut menu – A pop up menu displayed when you click the right mouse button, giving commonly used commands.

Skype – A service which allows you to make voice calls to other numbers (FREE if they’re also using Skype). With a webcam, it allows allows you to make video calls in the same way.

Slider – A section of screen which allows you to change a setting (eg. zoom level) by clicking and dragging a slider switch (see “click and drag”)

Smartphone – A modern phone with computer functions such as web browsing and email.

Sound card – An expansion card which is often built into the computer to provide sound, music and sometimes recording capacities.

Spyware – An unwanted program that you didn’t intentionally install, it can come with software downloaded from the internet, often with free software. Protection can be provided by using anti-spyware software which is up to date and by avoiding clicking on pop-ups on websites which invite you to install software it thinks you need.

Streamed – Music or video that is played on a computer whilst it is still being downloaded (usually a movie from the internet)

System Tray – An area on the bottom right of the screen used to display the time and the status of your network, internet connection and sound.

Taskbar – The bar that runs along the bottom of the screen in Windows, usually displaying all the programs you have actively running at the time.

Task Manager – The dialog box which allows you to switch between running programs and even abort a program which has “crashed”. It can also be used to see how busy your computer is at the time and sometimes also to Log Off or Shut Down the computer.

Template – A document used as the basic of creating other similar documents as it contains the basic layout and formatting information. A commonly used one in Microsoft Word is called DOT or DOTX.

Toner – Fine power used by photocopiers and laser printers inside a plastic cartridge. Available in 4 colours – Black, Cyan (blue), Yellow and Majenta (red/pink).

Toolbar – A strip of icons (see “Icons”) used to provide easy access to common function such as saving or printing your document.

Touchpad / Trackpad – Used mainly on laptops operated with your finger to move the cursor around the screen.

Trojan – A malicious program that’s disguised as a different, harmless program.

Upload – The process of transferring information to another computer, often for publishing on the internet as a web page.

URL – Uniform resource locator. The unique address of a web page – typed into the address bar, usually starting with www.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) – Used for connecting a range of peripherals including external drives, cameras, PDAs, printers, scanners and keyboards. Very old computers may only support 1.1, most use the faster 2 …. and new PCs will have at least 1 USB 3 port which is fastest.

Videoconferencing – A means of having a conference (or chat) at a distance, by viewing each other on video monitors.

Virus -A destructive program that is hidden in other files or programs that can disable your PC or wipe your hard drive once activated. They are often transferred over the internet, but protection can be gained by keeping your anti-virus software up to date, using anti-malware software and being cautious in your web surfing.

Wallpaper – A pattern or colour used as the desktop background (See “Desktop”).

WAN (Wide Area Network) – A group of computers which aren’t directly connected to each other, often they are in different offices or locations.

Web browser – A program used for viewing web pages. The most common ones are Internet Explorer and Firefox, but some users prefer Chrome or Opera.

Web form – A form on a website page, often used to send an electronic message, or apply for a service.

Web host – A company that provides web space for personal or professional use.

Webcam – A small camera that attaches to your desktop computer (or is built into laptops and tablets). It can record either still or moving images and with the right software (such as Skype) it can be used for video-conferencing – or for security observation over the internet (often setup as CCTV).

 Webmail – Accesding your email account using a website to log on when required – and then log off when finished. The alternative is using a mail client on a specific PC, tablet or smartphone.

 Wifi – Short for wireless networking. Can be secure (eg. with your own network in the home) or unsecured (the type often made available in cafes).

Wizard – A step by step process that helps you choose settings
(eg. Photo Printing Wizard used by Windows XP).

Worm – A program that transmits and copies itself over a computer network such as the internet. Not all worms are harmful, but many are.

ZIP files – The most common form of compressed file as it can be opened with all versions of Windows.

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