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An alphabetical listing of General terms and items.

P2P   Dico Tools
A type of network where computers are connected together directly, rather than via a server, allowing them to access each other's hard disk etc.

Palmtop   Dico Tools
A small computer which fits into the palm of your hand. They run similar software to conventional PCs, but (unlike notebook PCs) are more limited in what they can do than desktop PCs, because of the constraints of miniaturisation. See PDA.

Parallel Port   Dico Tools
A special socket for plugging a printer into a computer. The computer usually refers to the parallel port as LPT1.

Patch   Dico Tools
A program which makes updates to computer software, usually to fix bugs which had not been detected when the software went on sale. The best place to look for a patch is on the software manufacturer's website.

PC   Dico Tools
(Personal Computer) Originally just short for "personal computer", PC is now an industry standard, partly evolved in the marketplace, partly agreed by a committee of the major players in the computer industry.

PC 2005   Dico Tools
An agreed standard for new PCs, set each year by a committee of the major players in the computer industry.

PCI   Dico Tools
(Peripheral Component Interconnect) A standard for PC expansion cards, currently the most popular. A "PCI slot" is a socket on the motherboard for such cards.

PCI Express   Dico Tools
A special type of PCI slot for the latest graphics cards, now replacing AGP in new computers.

PCMCIA   Dico Tools
(Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) A type of PC expansion card, the size of an ordinary credit card, mainly intended for use with notebooks.

PDA   Dico Tools
(Personal Digital Assistant) A small handheld computer used for taking notes on the move, keeping contact information and so on. See also palmtop.

PDF   Dico Tools
(Portable Document Format) A popular document format, used mainly for online computer manuals, which retains the look of a printed book onscreen. PDFs are created using Adobe Acrobat, but can be read and displayed by many different programs including Internet Explorer.

Peer-to-peer   Dico Tools
A type of network where computers are connected together directly, rather than via a server, allowing them to access each other's hard disk etc.

Pentium   Dico Tools
The best known PC processor (or CPU), manufactured by Intel.

Peripheral   Dico Tools
Anything that plugs into the computer, such as keyboard, printer etc.

Phishing   Dico Tools
An internet scam in which a forged message from a bank provides a link for you to go to their website and "confirm your details" - but the website is a fake, and if you do enter your details they will be used to steal all your money. Note that a legitimate email from your bank should be addressed to you personally rather than "Dear customer" etc, and will never ask you to enter your PIN.

Pixel   Dico Tools
(PICture ELement) All computer screen or printed images are made up of pixels, small square dots - the smaller the pixels, the higher the image quality.

Pixelated   Dico Tools
A picture that has been compressed so much that the pixels that make it up are large and visible to the naked eye, making the image look like it is made out of square blocks (which it is, but they shouldn't be visible).

Plasma   Dico Tools
A type of very large screen, either TV or computer monitor. At present plasma screens aren't very suitable for computing because the images, although bright and colourful, aren't very sharp, especially when depicting motion.

Platform-independent   Dico Tools
If something is platform-independent, you don't need a particular type of computer or particular software to use it. Perhaps the best example is the internet, which you can access from a PC, Mac or just about any other type of computer, and using a huge range of different software.

Podcast   Dico Tools
An audio file that can be downloaded to a portable audio player or computer, usually speech.

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Pop-up   Dico Tools
A form of online advertising where the advert pops up in a separate browser window when you go to a particular webpage. Many people find it intensely irritating, and most browsers now have the ability to block pop-ups from opening.

POP3   Dico Tools
(Post Office Protocol version 3; pr. "pop 3") A protocol for transmitting and receiving email, but mostly used just for receiving. (Transmitting is still mostly handled by it's less powerful predecessor, SMTP).

Port   Dico Tools
A socket on the back (usually) of a computer which allows you to plug in extra hardware such as a printer or modem.

Portal   Dico Tools
A virtual gateway between computer systems, or a website that provides links to lots of useful sites on a particular theme, eg shopping or news.

POST   Dico Tools
(Power On Self Test; pr. "post") A routine PCs go through when first switched on, before loading the operating system, to make sure the hardware is working properly.

Power-on Password   Dico Tools
A password which the computer will prompt you for whenever the computer is switched on, a good security measure provided you don't forget the password. Power-on passwords can usually only be bypassed by taking the computer to bits.

Powerpoint   Dico Tools
A popular program for creating graphical presentations, mostly for business use. Available separately or as part of Microsoft Office, Microsoft's office suite.

Processor   Dico Tools
The nerve centre of the computer : everything flows through it. Also called the CPU. The best known are Intel's Pentium and AMD's Athlon. The most important single specification on any PC is the speed of its processor, usually measured in megahertz (MHz), or gigahertz (GHz).

Program   Dico Tools
A program is essentially a list of instructions that tell a computer how to do something. Any word processor, spreadsheet, database, game or any other tool you may use on a computer is a program (often a group of programs). Also referred to as software.

Protocol   Dico Tools
Any "language" used by computers to communicate with each other for particular tasks.

Proxy Server   Dico Tools
A computer used to store copies of popular webpages at an ISP and provide them on request, to save having to fetch them from the website each time.

PS/2   Dico Tools
The type of connector used to plug in mouse and keyboard on most modern PCs, now gradually being superseded by USB. PS/2 was originally the name of a PC from IBM with a number of innovative but non-standard features, including special connectors for mouse and keyboard. The PC didn't catch on particularly well, mainly because its unusual architecture meant that it could not accept standard expansion cards, but its mouse and keyboard connectors proved popular and were widely adopted.

PVR   Dico Tools
(Personal Video Recorder) A TV video recorder which records to a hard disk. Typically a standalone unit, but you can also get software which allows you to use your PC's hard disk for this purpose.

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