Shortcuts in which a phrase is represented by its initials. For instance, MIME stands
for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions.
Your Internet address is like your phone number, it is how you are uniquely identified.
Once you are assigned your Internet address, you are connected to all other Internet
computers. For example, New Technology Associates Internet address is 126.96.36.199.
A large bulletin board system with more than one million users. America Online, also
called "AL," was the first of the "big three" BBSs (Prodigy, America
Online, CompuServe) to have more than just a mail connection to the Internet. AOL
introduced both a Gopher client and a Usenet news client in spring of 1994.
The use of the FTP program to connect to a host computer on the Internet, access its
public directories, and transfer files from the host to your computer. Anonymous FTP is
the most common way to search for and download files. Hundreds of host computers on the
Internet let anyone use anonymous FTP to look through directories for files they want. You
can download from our server at ftp://kinsman.epix.net
A computer software program that lets you type in a key word to search for things. You can
use Archie to search thousands of FTP databases all over the world for the file or files
that contain the information you are looking for.
The network run by the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that was
the original backbone of the Internet. The ARPAnet was supposed to be a research network
that also linked Defense Department affiliates. ARPA turned over the education-related
portion of the APRAnet to the US National Science Foundation, which made it part of their
Letters that are posted in newsgroups are often referred to as articles rather than
letters This is because in mailing lists you are usually answering one person - even
though everyone on the mailing list can read your letter. But in newsgroups you are often
writing comments to the whole group, much like a reporter writes an article for everyone
who subscribes to a magazine.
The process of establishing the identity of someone before permitting access to requested
information or mail. Generally, authentication involves the use of a password.
An acronym that stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It was
created so that there would be a standard language to transfer files between different
types of programs and computers. In practice, ASCII text is pain, unformatted text that
can be read by any computer's word processor. It's pronounced "ask-key."
Similar to virtual reality, but more interactive, with the participant being an active
part of, not just experiencing, the artificial environment, often being allowed to change
The speed at which modems transfer data. One baud is roughly equal to one bit per second.
It takes eight bits to make up one letter or character on your keyboard.
A measurement of data transmission speed. Baud rate is sometimes measured in bits per
second. Your modem may have a baud rate of 14.4 Kbs(Kilobytes). This translates to 14,400
bits per second(the capital K stands for thousand).
Refers to a number system that uses only a 1 or 0. It is this system which is used by
computers to transfer files.
The smallest unit of information that can be sent between computers. Computers store all
information in a binary system that consists of bits. A bit is 0 or 1, off or on. Eight
bits make a byte.
BITNET (Because It's Time Network)
A network of university computers that is separate from, but connected to, the Internet.
BITNET is slowly fading away as the mainframe computers on which most of BITNET runs are
decommissioned, but it is still a major force in academic computing. BITNET computers are
not on an active network, but instead have nonpersistent connections.
Markers that allow you to mark a Gopher menu or a World Wide Web page that you like so you
can return to that menu or page whenever you want. All of your bookmarks are kept in a
booklist that acts just like your own personal menu.
You do this when you start up your computer by turning on the power.
What your e-mail does when it cannot get to where you tried to send it. It wither bounces
back to you, or goes off into deep cyberspace, never to be found again.
Bulletin Board Systems (BBS)
Networks that your computer can dial into through your modem. You communicate with other
people by exchanging messages and files. You can also take pictures and information that
the bulletin board operator puts up for public use and download these to your own computer
for later viewing.
the number of bits needed to represent a letter (a, b, c) or number (1, 2, 3). A byte is
The Computer Emergency Response Team. It is a security force for the Internet that
maintains a clearinghouse for information about network security, including attempted - or
successful - break-ins to private computer systems.
A user interface for people whose Internet providers run on character-based UNIX systems.
The c shell is one of the oldest, most common, user interfaces still widely used, and it
shows. Unless you are a computer weenie, it is unlikely that you will like using the c
An online chat is a lot like talking to someone on the phone in real time, only you type
out your words on your computer rather than speak out loud.
CIX (Commercial Internet Exchange)
The first major industry group for companies who provide Internet access. Because CIX is
made up of competitors in a constantly changing market, it is a somewhat volatile group.
CIX also lobbies the US Government on Internet-related issues.
Means you point at something on the screen with your mouse pointer - a picture, icon, or
hypertext link - and press down on the mouse button.
Software that is split between a server, which performs most underlying processing, and a
client which mostly communicates with the user. the term "client/server" has
become widely used in the computer industry to describe database and information retrieval
systems in which the user runs a program from their personal computer that interacts with
a database program on a host computer. most of the major Internet services (such as mail,
Usenet news, and the World Wide Web) use the client/server model.
Software that interfaces with server programs. A client program often looks different on
each computer that runs it, taking on each computer's best features. Many different client
programs can interact with one server program.
CNIDR (Clearinghouse for Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval)
A government-funded group that supports Internet search software. CNIDR (pronounced
"snyder") collects these tools and, in a few cases, maintains them.
Where you tell the computer (usually on a UNIX system) what you want it to do, by entering
Commercial service access
The most popular commercial online services - America Online, CompuServe, Delphi, eWorld
and Prodigy - all have gateways into the Internet. Any of these services can be a good way
to start surfing the Net since they have simple icons that make it easy to get help when
you're online. You also have access to their other services as well, including e-mail, for
which they will provide the software.
Probably the best-known bulletin board system with over two million users. CompuServe was
one of the earliest large systems not directly connected to the Internet to offer Internet
mail access to its users. Recently, CompuServe has embraced the Internet by giving its
users access to features like Usenet news.
A computer language is a system that allows different types of computers to speak to each
other. Basically, computers translate English(or Spanish, or Arabic, or any other human
language) into numbers because every computer can understand numbers.
CoSN(Consortium for School Networking)
A nonprofit organization that organizes K-12 teachers, hardware and software vendors and
Internet providers. CoSN has taken an active role in educating teachers and parents about
the Internet and how it can be used for education.
Someone who - just for the challenge - tries to thwart computer security systems by
gaining access to the systems. Sometimes this activity exposes flaws in system security,
which may be beneficial, but may states have laws against accessing a computer without
permission that isn't your own.
The cursor in usually a blinking box or line on your computer screen. It indicates where
the next character you type in will be inserted.
Same as Datacops.
An online librarian who makes a living doing information research and retrieval. Because
of their experience, cyberians are considered to be really hot data surfers.
A sub category of science fiction, first launched in 1982 by William Gibson's novel,
That place where people and computers meet. Cyberspace is where you go when you go online.
It's the universe that exists inside computer networks. You can't see it, but it's there -
and you can visit it.
Information that has been formatted so that it can be understood by a computer. Data
can include text, numbers, program codes, graphic art, sound, or even video clips.
Think of these as electronic file cabinets containing data - or information - that is all
related to a single topic or can be put into a specific category. A hospital's database
might contain information on all the patients in that hospital, or a school's database
would contain information on all the students attending that school.
Any agency that protects data. Most often it refers to US Secret Service agents who are
also known as Cybercops.
Futuristic - some say fantasy - versions of a computer hacker. Delurking When you come out
of your shell and join the party.
Computers "talk" to other computers digitally. That is they store and process
information as a series of numbers. Anything - including words, pictures, and sounds - can
be "digitized" into the computer, then "undigitized" with a software
program - like a word processor - so you an read the words, hear the sounds, or see the
The hard disk on your computer is divided into directories. Each directory can contain
many different files. If you think of your computer's hard disk like a file cabinet, then
directories are drawers in that cabinet.
This is the part of the computer that transfers the information of your floppy disk into
the computer's memory, or transfers what is in the computer's memory onto your hard disk.
This of this like a tape recorder that can play what is on the tape or can record music or
words an put them on the tape. Disk drives come in two formats: a hard drive and a floppy
More than just text. Think of computer documents as magazine articles or newspaper
stories. There is the story, but there may also be pictures or maps or video clips to help
you better understand the text.
The name given to a host computer on the Internet. The host computer is connected directly
to the Internet.
Domain name system (DNS)
The method by which Internet addresses (such as "mit.edu") are converted into
computer-readable IP addresses (such as "188.8.131.52"). DNS is one of the most
flexible, powerful technical features of the Internet, letting computers appear and
disappear from the Internet without causing problems. DNS also makes sending messages much
easier, because all names do not have to be in a central repository.
What you say instead of "period," when you are talking about Internet addresses.
For example, "My Internet address is Zack at mynet dot com."
When you download you are receiving information to your computer from another computer,
usually through a modem.
A put down description of someone who is really out of it.
A large, non-profit organization concerned with Internet-related privacy and access
issues. The EFF educates and lobbies extensively in Washington, DC and often teaches local
law enforcement agencies how computer technology is and i not like other things with which
they are familiar. The EFF is one of the strongest supporters of personal freedoms on the
Electronic mail, which just means that it is sent by the computer rather than through your
local post office. It doesn't even need a postage stamp, and it gets there a lot faster
than "snail mail."
The process of scrambling a message so that it is virtually impossible for someone to read
without the key. Encryption maintains privacy when sending messages and verifies the
sender's identity. The Internet uses many different kinds of encryption, and none of them
are compatible with each other.
ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
A clearinghouse of general information for teachers, funded by the US Department of
Education. ERIC sponsorsAskERIC, and Internet site with lots of online teaching resources
for K-12 teachers.
A keyboard command that allows you to exit a computer system in case that system crashes
or gets into a loop.
Frequently Asked Questions. They're the best place to start when you're curious about a
subject. The names for these files usually end with .faq.
A real incompetent at something at something, as in "I'm a real feeb when it comes to
Fiber optic cable
A type of high-speed cable that is much smaller than the old, copper-wire cables used for
telephone lines. These cables can carry much more information at much faster speeds. Most
long distance phone traffic is already carried on digital form, through high volume fiber
Think of a file like a folder on your computer that can hold documents, programs,
pictures, or other types of computer data.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
A part of a software program that allows you to get files - which might be documents or
software programs - from other computers, or to send files to other computers. See FTP.
Used by software programs to send information to a particular place so you don't have to
do it by hand. Filters work just like coin sorters work: You feed any coin into the
opening and the machine directs the nickels to one slot, dimes to another, pennies to
another, and so on.
A UNIX command used as an Internet service that tells you information about a user on
another computer, such as hen the user last logged on. Not all computers run finger
Stomping on someone is cyberspace for saying something you consider wrong or just plain
stupid, without being reasonable. It's kind of like slamming the door when you're mad.
A flexible plastic covered disk (usually 3.5 or 5.25 inches in size) that is inserted into
a computer's floppy disk drive and used to transfer or store information. These are also
A disk drive that reads and writes from floppy disks. You stick a floppy disk into this
drive. Usually drive A:.
In online services, a forum is a special place for discussing a certain subject.
A bulletin board system that is connected to the Internet and is free of charge. Usually
these are sponsored by community groups to give people free access to computing and
Software that you use and give to your friends without paying for it - and it's OK to do
The Internet's File Transfer Protocol program. FTP is one of the older standards on the
Internet, and most FTP client software is fairly unfriendly and difficult to use. On the
other hand, FTP is an efficient way to transfer files between systems and to distribute
information on request to Internet users. Get Jim's favorite FTP program here. You'll love it!
FYIs (For Your Information files)
A subset of Internet RFC files, give information to Internet beginners. FYIs are often
much simpler to read and cover less technical information than other RFCs.
A computer system that acts as a translator between different types of computers to allow
them to interact in cyberspace.
Computers that allow you access to the Internet.
People who are really excited by computers and are proud of it.
Refers to words that are usually only used in reference to computers and being on the
Graphic Interchange Format, a format developed by CompuServe for use in storing
photo-quality graphic images. It's now commonly used everywhere online.
A billion bytes. A gigabyte looks like 1,000,000,000 bytes.
A menu based service that lets you easily find information on the Internet. Gopher
presents all information as either a directory of a file, and most Gopher servers let you
search for information as well. More than 1,000 Gopher servers are available on the
Internet, and Gopher client programs exist for almost every computer.
This is a computer on the Internet that is set up to service the information requests
issued by the Gopher program. Gopher programs - also called search engines - help you find
information you are looking for in cyberspace.
Another word for cyberspace. Specifically, Gopherspace is anywhere on the Internet that a
Gopher program can go to.
A program that allows you to search for documents and sites with pictures in them.
Places in cyberspace that have pictures or links to other places, pictures, and movies.
The World Wide Web is one of the best places to find graphical sites.
Images and pictures.
Slang for someone who may have a degree in computer science, but who has gained most of
his or her computer expertise though trial and error, learning to navigate in cyberspace
in places not usually taught about in computer classes.
What two modems trying to connect first do to agree on how to transfer data.
What happens when a modem fails to hang up or a computer fails to respond to mouse clicks
Refers to printing out a paper copy of a computer document on a printer.
This is a magnetic disk that stores information and is permanently installed in your
computer. Hard disks can hold much more information than floppy disk. They are also
sometimes called fixed disks.
A disk drive that reads and writes from hard disks.
Phrases at the start of a message that tell you what the message is about. They are like
headlines in a newspaper that tell you what a particular new story is about.
Means that a word or phrase is marked so that it stands out. The word might be in italics
or bolded. On the Web highlighted words and phrases are hyperlinks that can take you to
A computer that is connected directly to the Internet. Like a restaurant host who invites
you into a restaurant and often seats you, a host computer acts as your gateway onto the
The same as a bookmark.
The connection address used in hypertext documents to jump from one element to another.
Hypertext with pictures and sounds, as well as words. Your computer screen might display
images with sound or animated cartoons instead of test - all with pointers leading you to
other locations where you'll find even more images, sounds, and text!
Specially formatted text used in World Wide Web documents. When you click on or choose
this text, you will jump to the Web page that the hypertext is linked to. That new page
will very likely have a hyperlink to take you back to your starting point. you can travel
all over the Web this way, always able to jump back to where you began. Hypertext lets you
organize the information you read into different formats.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
The formatting language World Wide Web servers use. HTML documents are text files with
A program that works with telnet to let you easily browse through library catalogs.
Hytelnet has a database of all known public library catalogs and information about how to
navigate them when you are connected to the catalogs.
This is a small image on the computer screen that executes a program or function within a
larger program when you point and click on it with your mouse pointer. icons are pictures
that represent the program or type of function in the software.
Cybertalk shorthand for identity.
The use of pseudo-anonymity or false accounts to pretend to be another person on the
Internet. It's not a nice thing to do.
Most FTP directories have this special file. the Index file is a list of what information
is contained in each file on that particular computer. Think of an Index file like the
index at the back of a book, telling you where in the book to go to find out about a
particular subject or to find out the definition of a particular word.
Means setting up a software program so that it runs on your computer.
This is a program that often comes with software to set it up on your computer. Sometimes
it is called a setup program.
This describes the two-way dialogue between computer programs and you. In other words,
when you do something on your computer, the computer responds and then returns control
back to you. Interactive computer games are games in which you can affect the outcome or
These are astronauts who are exploring the new frontiers of cyberspace rather than outer
In the beginning, there was the ARPANET, a wide area experimental network that liked
universities and government research labs together. Over time, other groups formed their
own networks. The collection of all of these different networks linked together became
what we call the Internet.
Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
The group that oversees Internet technical issues. IAB oversees the IETF and the IRTF and
acts as a liaison with other non technical Internet bodies.
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
The group that oversees the technical standards on which the Internet is based. The
all-volunteer IETF is heaven for computer geeks. The technical decisions the IETF makes
affect how the Internet functions, how fast it operates, and how well it will endure in
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
A program that enables many people to talk at the same time by simply typing. Using IRC is
similar to being in a conversation with many people at once at a party.
Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)
The IAB's research arm, the IRTF looks at issues that will affect the Internet in the
future, such as what happens after lots of growth, and how emerging technologies will
affect Internet traffic.
Internet Society (ISOC)
A voluntary group that acts as a focal point for building the Internet. ISOC has been
particularly active in bringing non-US users onto the Internet and in coordinating other
Internet Talk Radio
A broadcast station that uses the Internet as its medium. Internet Talk Radio experiments
with how the Internet might be used in the future for real-time data transfer and what
kind of entertainment and information people on the Internet want.
A government-funded group that tells users how to get on the Internet and what to do after
they are there. The InterNIC has a wealth of online information, and answers phone calls,
FAXes, and postal mail. It is also a good resource for other people who support Internet
Internet Protocol (IP)
The standard that computers use to transmit information over the Internet. IP defines how
the information will look as it travels between computers, not what the computer will do
with it. IP also defines how Internet addresses work.
Internet Server Application Programmer Interface.
In data encryption, a key is generally a sequence of characters used to encode and decode
Pen pals that you communicate with though the computer. Since you use a keyboard to type
your e-mail letters, pen pals in cyberspace are called key pals.
Most documents contain specific or "key" words that tell you a bit about what
the document is about. For example, the words baseball, pitcher, and World Series would
tell you that the document is about World Series baseball pitchers.
Jim Kinsman. Who you should think about when computers come to mind.
This is really the same as a SLIP/PPP account except that you are using a high speed,
direct line instead of a regular phone line to go online. it's much faster, but also much
more expensive. But the speed of traveling the Internet - which can be five to ten times
faster with leased-line access than with a regular modem - may make this worthwhile if you
have a lot of surfing to do.
Addresses that are inserted into hypertext documents that let you jump to another document
A program that automatically sends and receives e-mail to and from a particular group of
Listserver mailing list
Like a subscription to an online magazine. When you join up, you can get information on
whatever subject you've chosen; and you get updates regularly. These are designed for many
people to use who share similar interests and want to exchange messages with each other.
Listserver mailing lists are maintained by an automated postmaster, or Listserv program.
Usually you do not participate in writing the information that is sent out to all the
Local area network (LAN)
A network of computers that are all in the same place, such as an office or building. LANs
have become much more common in the past few years as more companies have realized the
importance of communication. Some LANs are attached to the Internet, giving each person on
the LAN access to Internet resources.
What you do when you leave the remote computer. You usually log off by typing or clicking
bye, exit, goodbye or quit.
Means to connect to a remote computer system. (Log in means the same thing as log on.).
A computer loop is what happens when you get in a series of repeating commands, so you end
up running around in endless circles. This usually causes your computer to crash or
freeze, meaning that you have to restart your computer to get it running again.
Means hanging around in the background and watching without getting involved. Most of us
are lurkers when we first enter a new neighborhood on the Internet.
A character-based client program for the World Wide Web. Although lynx is not as flashy as
other Web clients, such as Mosaic, it works well for the millions of Internet users who
have only character-based access.
Messages sent over the Internet using the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP). Internet
mail is by far the most popular and most used feature of the Internet. most of the
estimated 20 million people on the Internet (if there are even that many) have only mail
A list of users who receive copies of mail messages. When a user sends a message to the
mailing list, all users in the list receive a copy. Some mailing lists reach thousands of
These are large computers - sometimes taking up a whole room! - that are usually found in
big companies and colleges, and that are used by many people. Mainframes are expensive and
often need special air-conditioned rooms. While many mainframes are still being used they
are rapidly being replaced by smaller computers even by personal computers like yours.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
The standard for enclosing binary files in Internet mail. MIME lets you specify the type
of attachment you are making to your Internet mail.. Many nonmail programs, such as the
World Wide Web, also use MIME so that client programs can more easily read files.
A duplicate of an FTP site. mirrors help reduce longhaul Internet traffic by letting
people download files from hosts that are closer to them. Usually, mirror sites are
updated every night, so that they have the same contents as the main site.
Stands for "modulator-demodulator." It's a device that allows your computer to
link up with other computers over telephone lines.
A graphical client program for the World Wide Web. To use Mosaic, you must have a direct
(SLIP or PPP) connection to the Internet. Even though only a small minority of users today
have a direct Internet connection, Mosaic has contributed a great deal to the Internet's
recent surge in popularity.
A mouse is a hand-held device used to move the cursor (the blinking line or arrow that
tells you where you are) around the computer screen. A mouse has one, two or three buttons
that are used to execute commands. Other devices have balls on them to move the cursor,
and some newer ones have pads that trace the movement of your finger to move the cursor.
Multiple User Dimensional game. MUDs are role-playing games that exist on the Internet for
entertainment purposes. MUDs are mostly text-based virtual worlds which many players
(participants) may explore, change, or add on to the game at the same time. In most cases,
the MUD is actually a game with scores, player attributes, levels, etc., but some MUDs
have more social goals in mind. MUDs are usually based on different science-fiction genres
such as fantasy, space, or even cyberpunk.
Short for Internet.
The proper way to behave when you're surfing the Internet, such as respecting the rights
and opinions of others, and treating others the way you want to be treated.
A group of computers joined by data-carrying links. A network may be as small as two or
three personal computers tied together by telephone lines in the same building, or it may
be a vast complex of computers spread across the world, whose data links include telephone
lines, satellite relays, fiber optic cables, or radio links.
What we all are sometime or another when we're just starting to learn our way around in
Newsreader software programs
Usually come with your Internet service package and allow you to read the news available
Online gatherings in which you can discuss almost any subject you can imagine - from how
to house-train your pet to what the latest UFO rumor is. There are currently over 10,000
active newsgroups. (See Usenet).
New Technology Associates
Northeastern Pennsylvania's source for all your computer needs. All engineers on staff
have been certified by Microsoft® to assure you of their expertise on the Windows®
family of software.
NII (National Information Infrastructure)
A broad proposal for the US government to set up standards and governing bodies for
digital data transmission. The NII is still under debate. Corporate lobbyists may affect
NII's final content more than citizens will, because of the significant impact NII will
have on how private networks can operate.
Stands for Network News Transfer Protocol. These are local servers which distribute Usenet
newsgroups throughout the globe.
National Science Foundation. They fund the NSFNet, a high-speed network that once formed
the backbone of the Internet in the United States. Communication networks have supplanted
most of NSFnet's usefulness.
See New Technology Associates
Means you're not connected to another computer system.
That terrible moment in time when you realize you've just made a BIG mistake - like
erasing all the files in the wrong sub directory.
Means you are connected to another computer system.
A group of bytes sent from one Internet host to another. Packets have variable lengths and
can contain any kind of information.
A password is a secret name that you and only you know. After you enter your name you are
asked to enter your secret name, that way no one can get onto a network and pretend to be
This means clipping sections from one file and putting them into another.
PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail)
An encryption standard commonly used to secure Internet mail. PEM lets only the desired
recipient read your messages. It also lets you authenticate your mail, which means that
the person who receives it can be assured that you were the person who sent the mail.
An extra device, like a modem or printer, that you can attach to your computer.
A program that can trace the route a message takes through the Internet from your computer
to another computer.
Post Office Protocol. POP is a system that allows Internet mail servers to act just like a
real post office. POPs look at the mail that arrives and routes it toward its final
Point of presence (POP)
A place that you dial into to get Internet access. Many Internet service companies have
POPs in many cities. Usually, all of the POPs for one service provider are connected to a
single set of computers.
The plug in the back of your computer where you can attach a modem, a printer, a mouse, or
other peripherals. Port also refers to a number that identifies a particular Internet
service (for instance, Port 6667 usually means an IRC server). Most common Internet
features - such as Gopher - have "standard port numbers" (for example, 70 for
Gopher) that client software uses if you do not specify a different port number. The only
time you need to know about ports is when a server requires that you use a nonstandard
port number to communicate.
Point-to-Point Protocol. A fast, reliable method for connecting computers on the Internet
over serial lines, such as telephone wire. PPP has become more popular than SLIP in the
past few years, and many Internet service providers offer PPP connections. Using PPP or
SLIP, your personal computer becomes directly connected to the Internet.
When the computer asks you to do something and waits for you to respond. For example, if
you see login: or log on: the computer is waiting for you to type in your user name.
A set of rules for computers to talk to one another over a network.
Means that no one owns something, such as some software programs available on the Net.
When something is public domain, it is free to anyone who wants to get and use it.
Files, often found on FTP sites, that explain what is in an FTP directory or that provide
other useful information. You also get readme files with computer software, often
explaining things you need to know that are not in the printed instruction manual.
RFCs (Requests for Comments)
Documents that define the Internet's technical aspects. Originally, these documents were
used to get input from other technical users of the Internet before standards were
defined. Many RFCs today still serve that purpose; other RFCs are simply statements of
A hardware device that connects two networks, allowing only certain traffic to pass. The
Internet uses routers at almost every intersection, both to limit traffic going to smaller
networks and to help choose the most efficient way to get packets to their destination.
Some routers cost less than $2000, while others cost well over $25,000.
Refers to actual time. In terms of the Internet, it means that you can get an instant
response to whatever you do. Think of how you speak on the phone versus how you send a
paper letter through snail mail; when you're on the phone you get instant responses - in
real time - from the person on the other end to whatever you say. When you send a letter
through snail mail, you have to wait for it to get picked up by the postal carrier, taken
to the post office, and delivered before you can get a response.
A computer connected to your computer via telephone lines (or via other network
This just means that there exists an index that can be searched. Think of it as the card
files in your local library. You can search through them to see if there are books in the
library on the subject you are interested in.
Programs that are designed to go out onto the Internet and search for the information you
requested. Think of them as librarians who give you a list of possible books to read to
find out what you want to know, then go help you find the books.
Documents contain specific words in them that tell you a bit about the subject they are
discussing. For example, if you use the search words baseball, pitcher, and World Series,
you would find documents that have those words in them. Chances are that a document that
has all three of those words would be about World Series baseball pitchers.
A computer that provides a particular service over the Internet, such as e-mail, chat or
FTP. Think of a server like a receptionist in an office; the receptionist knows where to
direct all the calls that come in.
The program a host computer runs to communicate with users running client programs. Server
programs establish a standard for communication , and all client programs must follow that
standard to work properly. Many different client programs can interact with one server
An organization, such as America Online, or Interramp, that provides access to the
This means installing a software program on your computer.
This is like freeware and it doesn't cost you anything to get and try it out. But if you
like it and want to use it, then the author of the program asks for a small licensing fee.
A program that lets a user interact with an operating system. programs like the MS-DOS
command line and Microsoft Windows are shells to the MS-DOS operating system. Under UNIX,
popular shells include the c shell and the Bourne shell.
Shell account access
An Internet gateway, this is the simplest way to go online. It's almost like logging on to
a local computer bulletin board system. You can send e-mail messages and download files.
Most shell accounts have very little or no graphics, and often they require you to learn
UNIX commands to operate them. Shell accounts usually aren't very pretty, but they are
This refers to the physical location of a computer. The word is sometimes used to refer to
where a computer is located in cyberspace as well. For instance, when you go to MyNet's
site, you are going (either through the Internet, or by physically by walking or taking a
bus) to the place where the MyNet computer exists.
Serial Line Interface Protocol. A fast simple method for connecting computers on the
Internet over serial lines, such as telephone wire. PPP has become more popular than SLIP
in the past few years, although many Internet service providers offer SLIP connections as
well as PPP connections. Using PPP or SLIP, your personal computer becomes directly
connected to the Internet.
SLIP/PPP dial up access
SLIP (Serial Line Interface Protocol) and PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) are a step up from
a shell account. Here you are connected directly to the Internet through a service
provider which has a computer gateway into the Internet and will let you use it for a
price. There are national providers that give you the basic Internet services through
their own software. There a also national and local providers that give you a software
package or let you use your own.
When you're face-to-face, you can smile, frown, or make a multitude of facial expressions
to enhance your words. You can also sound happy, sad, angry, or just plain bored. In
e-mail your words have to carry your thoughts by themselves, so folks invented smileys to
punctuate their phrases. They are also call "emoticons" (short for
"emotion" and "icon"). There are two types of basic smileys: those
with words and those with pictures.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. SMTP is the language Internet mail servers (or postmasters)
use to talk to one another and to exchange e-mail letters.
The paper mail that comes through a slot in your front door or is deposited in a box
mounted outside your house or apartment.
These are the instructions that tell the computer how to do what you want it to do.
Sending Particularly Annoying Messages. Spamming is sending an article everywhere on the
Internet. Instead of sending an article to specific groups that might be interested in it,
you send it to anyone and everyone. This in not nice. Don't clutter up the Internet with
STD (Standards file)
A type of RFC file that has been anointed by the IETF as an official Internet standard.
STDs are the same as the RFC files; they simply have this additional designation.
This is a mainframe-sized computer that operates much faster than a normal desktop or
laptop computer, and is used for special science and military projects.
Traveling through cyberspace via your computer is often called surfing.
The system administrator, who is the person who runs a computer site. Often used to mean
the same thing as sysop, or system operator.
The SYStem OPerator, someone who runs a computer system or bulletin board.
An acronym for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. These are a bunch of
communication rules developed by the University of California for the Department of
Defense that allow communication between all the different computers on the Internet. The
Internet standard for identifying the kind of information in packets.
The network terminal protocol that allows you to log on to any other computer on the
network anywhere in the world. At Telnet sites, you can only access the information that
the site allows you to, unless you already have an account; often university networks work
this way, allowing you to access their library information but not much else. As a guest
user, from the time you log on to a Telnet site until you finish the session, every
character you type is sent directly to the other system just as if you were actually
sitting there at that other computer terminal. And all for the price of a local phone
This is a setting on Telnet computers that allows your computer to translate what the
remote Telnet computer is saying. You choose the terminal emulation setting from the menu
provided from the Telnet site you are logged on to.
Simply means words. Text is a good example of geek speak.
Discussions within a newsgroup - or mailing list - on a certain topic. Threads are
identified by the message header. If you have subscribed to a newsgroup about pets, you
may only want to read and reply to the articles about cats. A chain of postings on a
Like the Trojan Horse in Greek mythology, Trojan programs are tiny little programs hidden
inside larger regular programs. Like the Trojan warriors, these tiny programs are often
hidden there to do nasty things to your computer, like erasing files.
This is a filter in an e-mail program that you use to catch letters from someone you don't
want to hear from, or to trash junk e-mail.
A computer language that was developed by AT&T and is used on many educational
computers. UNIX is the most common operating system for servers and hosts on the Internet.
Almost any computer can be an Internet host, but computers running UNIX are historically
the most common Internet hosts.
When you upload you are sending information from your computer to another computer,
usually through a modem.
Universal Resource Locators. Addresses for the location of any type of Internet resource,
whether it is a single file on an FTP site, and entire Gopher server, or an image on the
Web. URLs do all of this without you having to know the exact address of where you are, or
even how you got there! Note that URLs are case sensitive, which means that uppercase
letters are considered different form the lowercase letters; Library, with a capital
"l," is not the same as library with a small "l." So be careful when
typing in URL addresses.
A widely used Internet service that organizes people's comments by topic. These topics,
called newsgroups, have their own structure, with people commenting on previous comments
and starting new discussions. Usenet is the second most popular Internet feature, after
That's the name you use to log on to a network. Usually someone has given you permission
to log onto the network and has recorded your user name in the network's databank. That
way other users can check to find out when you are actively using the network.
These are special little programs to help you keep your computer running the way you want
it to. Think of these programs like the tools in your toolbox; you may not use those tools
all the time, but when something needs fixing in a hurry, you sure are glad to have them!
UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX Copy)
A common communication method for computers that are connected to the Internet only part
of the time. UUCP is a very old standard that allows mail messages, Usenet news, and file,
to be transferred among computers. UUCP has become less popular in recent years, although
many bulletin board systems use it to pass mail.
A program that converts binary format into text format, which can be sent over the
Internet. Once the text format reaches it's destination, UUDECODE
converts it back to binary format.
A service that searches for files on Gopher servers. You use a Gopher client to access a
Veronica server, then send Veronica a search request. Veronica servers give you answers in
a variety of ways, such as by listing only directories that match your request.
Any group or gathering that exists in cyberspace. It might be a BBS, a hacking group, a
network, or even a zaibatsu.
Virtual Reality (VR)
A world that exists only in cyberspace. Modern day virtual reality uses helmets, gloves,
and body suits connected to computers that allow you to experience computer-created
sensation. Once online you can walk around three-dimensional objects, move things, and
communicate with other users through your keyboard. A goal of some VR researchers is to
generate a completely alternate reality. The possibilities of VR-generated environments
are as limitless as the imagination.
Being a virtual tourist simply means visiting places in cyberspace without having to
physically go there. You go there online and in your imagination.
Wide-Area Information Search is another program for zeroing in on information hidden
inside Gopherspace. You give WAIS a search word and it scans the Net looking for places
where your search word is mentioned. When you start a WAIS, the program will give you a
list of which databases you can search. You can select one or more databases for your
search. WAIS will then give you a menu of documents, each ranked according to which
document best fits your criteria. A "score" of 1,000 is given to the document
that contains the most occurrences of your search word. A document with a score of 500
would contain only half as many occurrences. Another definition: A method for searching
databases over the Internet. WAIS was once trumpeted as the next big thing on the
Internet, but has not lived up to the promise. Free versions of WAIS servers and clients
are hard to use, and few sites run easier-to-use commercial versions. Many Gopher and
World Wide Web sites use WAIS to search just within those sites.
These are programs that let you navigate throughout the World Wide Web and see graphics
and text on you computer screen. They also allow you to make hypertext leaps to other Web
sites. The first Web browser was called Mosaic. There are many other Web browser software
programs, and when you sign up to get onto the Net, the company you sign up with usually
sends you a Web browser software program to get started.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
A network of computers spread out over a large distance. Some of the connections in a WAN
are typically through telephone lines or over satellites. WANs are also often networks of
networks, linking local area networks (LANs) into a large single network.
Like the joker in a deck of playing cards, a wildcard is used in a computer search.
Usually a wildcard is represented by and *. For instance go* means that the search will
find every word that starts with go and ends with anything, such as go, going, got, golf,
etc. You have to be careful using wildcards in searches or you'll end up finding a lot of
things you weren't looking for. You usually use a wildcard if you don't have the subject
of your search narrowed down yet.
World Wide Web
An Internet service that lets users retrieve hypertext and graphics from various sites.
Often called just "the Web," the World Wide Web has become one of the most
popular Internet services in the past two years. In fact, many Internet information
providers publish using only the Web.
A Japanese term used by the cyberspace writer, William Gibson. It refers to a large,
mega-corporation that owns many other smaller corporations and businesses.
Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.