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TECH GLOSSARY

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Addon – Addons are custom software modifications. Users optionally install addons to improve the power of their Web browsers or office software. One example is a custom eBay toolbar for your Firefox browser. Most addons are free, and can be found and downloaded online. Be cautious, however; some addons are bad, and can work as extensions of malware, stealing your info and slowing down your computer. Be wary of addons or tool bars that come bundled free with other programs.

Application (app) – A self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose; an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.

Backup – To copy files to a second medium (a disk or tape) as a precaution in case the first medium fails. You should backup your computer and cellphone every few weeks to make sure that you’re prepared in case something happens to them.

Bandwidth – Bandwidth can mean one of two things.

  • The amount of bandwidth used in a particular amount of time.  For example, if you used 20 GB of bandwidth this month, this means that you downloaded (and uploaded) 20 GB worth of data for the month.
  • The speed of a connection.  For example, a Cable connection might be sold as a “up to 50Mbps connection”.  This means the available downstream bandwidth available at any given time is up to 50 MB. Connections are always sold as “up to”, because the available bandwidth can vary, and is influenced by several factors such as distance, overhead, link quality and other bandwidth on the link that is already in use.

Blog – A blog ('web log') is a modern online writer's column.  Anyone can start a blog as they are free to have, and they publish blog posts on any topic.

Bookmark – A bookmark (aka "favourite") is a marker that you can place in your web browser which directs you back to the resource or page you need to return to later.

Browse – Exploring a page on the internet and seeing where the links take you. It’s a bit like window shopping. When you browse, you have to guess which words and links on the page pertain to your interests. Browsing is the opposite of searching an exact term.

Browser – A program that lets you view web pages, graphics, and most online content. The most popular browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

Buffering – In streaming audio or video from the Internet, buffering refers to downloading a certain amount of data before starting to play the music or movie. If a network is fast enough to keep up with playback, buffering is not necessary.

Cache – A special high-speed storage mechanism. It can be either a reserved section of main memory or an independent high-speed storage device.

Cloud Computing – Cloud is actually a metaphor for storing and managing one’s data remotely, with redundancy in mind. Cloud services can be Public, Private or a combination of the two. In enterprise environments, Cloud services may be used to share resources for multiple users. For individuals, it can mean storing and sharing music, pictures and movies across multiple devices, and be very useful for backup and recovery purposes.

Cookie - Basically, a cookie is information stored by your web browser gathered from sites you’ve visited. This can be info such as items in your shopping cart, how often you visit that site, and in some cases other sites you go to afterwards. An identical search by two different users may show up drastically different results depending on their search history and the cookies they have. Cookies can also be used to store saved passwords, credit card and address info (if you choose that option).

Database – A collection of data arranged for ease and speed of search and retrieval.

Domain name – The part of an internet address to the right of the final dot used to identify the type of organization using the server, such as .gov or .com.

Download – To copy data (usually an entire file) from an external source, to a local device. The term is often used to describe the process of copying a file from an online service to one's own computer.

DSL – An abbreviation of Digital Subscriber Line; a family of technologies that are used to transmit digital data over telephone lines.

Email – Electronic mail. Email is usually handled by a webmail service (ex. Gmail), or an installed software package (ex. Microsoft Outlook). Email has been around since the 1970s, and is still most popular method of communication for businesses today.

Ethernet – The term “Ethernet” can refer to two things:

  • A group of technologies that allows for computers to be interconnected in order to transmit data from one to the other. There are thousands of Ethernets all over the world, and they are relatively safe as access to the network is rather limited.
  • A type of cable you use to connect your modem to your computer.

FAQ – An abbreviation of Frequently Asked Questions. A list of questions and answers relating to a particular subject, especially one giving basic information for users of a website.

Firewall – A security system usually made up of hardware and software used to block hackers, viruses, and other malicious threats to your computer.

FQDN – An abbreviation of Fully Qualified Domain Name. They consist of a host and domain name, including top-level domain. For example, www.execulink.ca is a fully qualified domain name. www is the host, execulink is the second-level domain, and.com is the top level domain.

FTTH – An abbreviation of Fibre to the Home; any broadband network architecture using optical fiber to provide all or part of the local loop used for last mile telecommunications.

Hacker – There are many different kinds of hackers. Hacking just means “breaking the rules”, which can sometimes lead to technological advancements, as a hacker may find a more efficient way of doing something that then becomes standard. Hackers are looked at in two different ways: good and bad. White hat hackers (or ethical hackers) often try to find exploits and workarounds to improve security and productivity, while black hats often try to use the same exploits for malicious purposes.

Hardware – Computer hardware refers to objects that you can actually touch, like disks, disk drives, display screens, keyboards, printers, boards, and chips.

Hashtag – A word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#), most prevalently used on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Hashtags are a way of organizing posts for search engines, and this enables others to discover relevant posts.

Homepage – The main page of a website. Typically, the homepage serves as an index or table of contents to other documents stored at the site. This is our homepage!

HTML – An abbreviation of Hypertext Markup Language is the programmatic language that web pages are based on. HTML commands your web browser to display text and graphics in orderly fashion. HTML uses commands called 'HTML tags' that look like the following:

  • <a href="www.about.com"></a>
  • <body></body>
  • <title></title>

HTTP – A technical acronym that means 'Hypertext Transfer Protocol'; the protocol to exchange or transfer hypertext, used to deliver data across the World Wide Web. When a web page has this prefix, your links, text, and pictures should work in your web browser.

HTTPS– An abbreviation of  'Hypertext Transfer Protocol SECURED'.  This means that the web page has a special layer of encryption added to hide your personal information and passwords.  Whenever you log into your online bank or your web email account, you should see https at the front of the page address.

Hyperlink – An element in an electronic document that links to another place in the same document or to a different document or webpage. Typically, you click on the hyperlink, which can be attached to a word or picture, to follow the link.

Hypertext – A software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method.

Inbox – an electronic folder in which e-mails received by an individual are held.

IP Address – Your computer's 'Internet Protocol' address is a four-part or eight-part electronic serial number. An IP address often looks something like '202.3.104.55'. Every computer, cell phone, and device that accesses the Internet is assigned at least one IP address for communication and tracking purposes. Just as you can’t send a letter without knowing someone’s address, web content can’t be delivered without an IP address present at both ends of the connection.

ISP – An abbreviation of Internet Service Provider; any company that can connect you directly to the Internet.

Malware – Malware is the broad term to describe any malicious software designed by hackers. Malware includes viruses, trojans, ratware, keyloggers, zombie programs, and any other software that seeks to vandalize your computer, steal your private information, or take remote control of your computer ('zombie' your computer).

Modem – A modem (modulator-demodulator) is a device that enables a computer to transmit data over telephone or cable lines, by converting the digital signal sent, to a series of 1s and 0s that your computer can understand and build into the information you need.

Operating System (OS) – The basic software that manages a computer (for example, Windows 10, OS X, Unix, iOS).

Peripheral – Any equipment that is connected externally to a computer. For example, printers, scanners and modems are peripherals.

Phishing – The impersonation of reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online. When you get an email or a pop-up asking for your credit card information in order to “save your account” or “take part in a survey”, etc, this is likely a phishing attempt.

Plugins – Plugins are a special kind of web browser addon. Plugins are essentially required addons, if you wish to view very specialized web pages.  Examples include Adobe Flash or Shockwave player, Microsoft Silverlight player, and Adobe Acrobat pdf reader. Plugins are important to keep up to date for security reasons.

RAM – An abbreviation of Random Access Memory; the main memory used while the PC is working. RAM is temporary, so programs you are currently running release the RAM in use when you close them.

ROM – An abbreviation of Read Only Memory. ROM is information needed by the PC and cannot be changed.

Router – A router is a device whose software and hardware is customized to move data between computer networks. They are responsible for making sure traffic between computers gets where it needs to go.

Search Engine – Search engines are online programs that search documents for specified keywords and return a list of matching documents. Some of the most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Server – A computer or device on a network that manages network resources.

Social Media – Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Common forms of social media include blogs, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat are all examples of popular social media sites and apps.

Software – Computer instructions or data. Anything that can be stored electronically is software.

Spam – 'Unwanted/unsolicited email'.  Spam email can be comprised of high-volume advertising, hackers attempting to lure you into divulging your passwords, or other sources. Its goal can also vary, from phishing attempts to being the delivery method of a viral attack.

Streaming – Streaming or media streaming is a technique for transferring data so that it can be processed as a steady and continuous stream. Netflix is one popular example of a video streaming website.

Upload – To transmit data from a computer to a mainframe, network, or website. For example, if you use a personal computer to log on to a network and you want to send files across the network, you must upload the files from your PC to that network. Uploading is basically the opposite of downloading – uploading is for sharing your files on the internet, whereas downloading is for copying other people’s files for personal use.

URL – An abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator (URL), it is the global address of websites and other resources on the World Wide Web. For example, www.execulink.ca is the URL for Execulink Telecom’s website.

USB - An abbreviation of Universal Serial Bus; a standardized connection for attaching devices to computers and other devices.

USB Flash Drive – A small, external device for storing data; it connects through the USB socket.

VDSL – An abbreviation of Very-High-Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line. It is similar to standard DSL, but takes advantage of higher frequencies and newer equipment.

Virus – A piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and is capable of copying itself. They typically have a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.

VoIP – An abbreviation of Voice over IP (VoIP); a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications (like your phone) and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.

VPN – An abbreviation of Virtual Private Network. Companies, organizations, and third party routers use VPNs to communicate confidentially over a public network and to send voice, video or data. A properly setup VPN will create an encrypted tunnel over an otherwise public connection, using a key for authentication.

Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is the name of a popular wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections.

Windows - An operating system used by the majority of PCs.