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An alphabetical listing of General terms and items.
An always-on high speed internet connection similar to ADSL but using cable TV technology instead of a phoneline.
A temporary storage area for frequently or recently used data, either in memory, on your hard disk or the internet. For example, if you go back to a webpage you have recently visited, your PC will usually be able to display it from the internet cache on your hard disk, so it won't need to download it from the internet again.
(Computer Aided Design) Software used to produce complex technical drawings by designers and engineers.
(Charge Coupled Device) The component of a scanner or digital camera which actually takes the pictures. The quality of image it is capable of is usually measured in Megapixels - the higher the number, the more detailed the image.
A CD drive that can create ("burn") CDs.
(Compact Disk-Read Only Memory) A misnomer, as strictly speaking it is not memory but storage. Identical to standard music CDs. Currently the most popular medium for releasing programs on, as it can hold literally hundreds of times as much information as a standard floppy disk, about 650 Megabytes in total. Once a CD-ROM has been created its contents cannot be changed. Now starting to be replaced by DVD.
(Compact Disk-ReWriter) A CD drive which can create CDs, either audio or data, using special rewriteable CDs which are also often called CD-RWs. A CD-RW drive can also create ordinary CDs, though not rewrite them.
A PC processor - Intel's budget chip, cheaper than the Pentium, but also less powerful.
A letter of the alphabet, number, space or punctuation mark is a character.
A website where you can meet and chat live (via the keyboard) with other internet users. Most such websites have multiple "rooms", each dedicated to a particular topic or theme.
A silicon wafer with millions of tiny circuits engraved on it - what computers are made of..
A temporary storage area in Windows. When you cut (Ctrl-X) or copy (Ctrl-C) highlighted text, documents or whatever in Windows they are sent to the clipboard; when you paste (Ctrl-V) they are copied from the clipboard to the cursor position. Sending something to the clipboard automatically overwrites its previous contents.
Data stored on a disk is spread across a number of clusters, small physical areas on the disk. How big they are depends on the way the disk is formatted - generally a few kilobytes each.
(Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor; pr. "see-moss") A special type of memory which retains its data when the PC is switched off, used to store settings for things like what type of hard disk you have, and how much memory. The settings are accessed via the BIOS.
(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Keystone black ) The standard four colours used by most printers - almost any colour can be created out of these. See also RGB.
(COmpressor/DECompressor) A small piece of computer code that tells the computer how to decode particular types of information, usually video files. If your video player won't play a particular format, you can usually download and install a codec which will tell it how from the internet.
Compatible pieces of equipment can work together; incompatible ones can't.
A way of making files smaller, either to fit into restricted storage space or to speed up transmission over the Internet. Popular compression standards include JPEG and GIF for pictures, MP3 for music files, MPEG for movies, and zip for just about everything else.
Nowadays usually refers to a dedicated gaming computer such as the Playstation or X-Box. Originally meant a terminal connected to a mainframe computer.
A small data file stored on your computer by a website, in theory to allow it to "remember" your preferences, but in practise mostly used to track which adverts you have seen. You can set most browsers to reject all cookies, or to ask your permission before storing them, but this can generate multiple error messages on some websites and is generally more hassle than it's worth - they are pretty harmless.
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(Characters Per Second) A measure of how quickly information, particularly text, is being transferred over a modem link or network. See also bps.
(Central Processing Unit) The nerve centre of the computer : everything flows through it. Often just called "the processor". The best known PC processors are Intel and AMD.
A crack is a small program intended to defeat software's copy protection, thus allowing unlicensed copies to be made - stealing it, in effect. Software that is distributed with its copy protection disabled or bypassed has been "cracked".
When a computer program or operating system stops working completely or almost completely it (or the computer) is said to have "crashed". When a computer crashes it usually needs to be rebooted before it can be used again. See also lockup.
A program that indexes pages on the World Wide Web for search engines.
(Cathode Ray Tube) The imaging technology used in most desktop monitors. Provides an excellent colour display, but is extremely bulky and is now being gradually supplanted by TFT.
(Cascading Style Sheets) A set of HTML commands used to control the style of web pages, much more complex than the <FONT> tag-set it is intended to replace, but also more powerful and particularly useful for retaining a uniform style across a large website. Generally only used by professional web designers.
Loosely speaking, the internet, and virtual places thereon.
Someone who buys up internet domain names in order to sell them on at a profit.
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