Computer Related Tutorials
~ Internet Basics ~
© Copyright, Advocacy Unlimited, Inc.
Part III. - Some "Non-Techie" Technical Term Definitions
A wicked fast way of accessing the Internet that is much faster than a dial-up connection. Best examples are DSL through your phone service (about 25 times faster than a dial-up connection), and Cable Modem through your Cable TV company (up to 100 times faster than a dial-up connection).
A browser, also called a "web browser," is a software program on your PC that allows you to view and interact with various kinds of Internet resources, especially websites, available on the World Wide Web. Popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), Firefox, Opera, and Google's Chrome. Browser software, especially MSIE, comes pre-installed on almost every new PC.
A client is a software program that uses the services of another program. The client program is used to contact and obtain data or request a service from the server. An example of a client program is your PC's "browser."
- Dial-Up Connection
A way to connect to the Internet through your telephone line. Your PC's modem gets connected to your phone line, and your PC "dials up" your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which in turn connects your PC, and hence you, to the Internet.
- Domain Name
A domain name is the unique name that identifies an Internet site's web server and email addresses associated with that site. The Internet is made up of billions of computers, networks and websites, all having their own domain name, or unique address. Domain names always have two or more parts, separated by "dots" (i.e., periods), as in "somedomainname.com". A given domain name points to only one web server (or a set of web servers if the site is very large and has a great deal of traffic) and one specific website.
For example, "whitehouse.gov" is the domain name belonging to the White House's computer system and website. This becomes part of the White House's web address, namely "www.whitehouse.gov".
The act of transferring something, such as software, a picture (image), music, or a video, from the Internet down to your PC. Downloaded files are typically stored on your PC's hard drive or copied to a CD.
- FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
These are handy references that provide answers to common questions frequently asked about a particular topic. That is, a lot of people will likely have the same questions about a particular topic, so rather than continually answering the same questions over and over, an "FAQ's" provides a compilation of those questions and the answers. Many websites have a page or section of FAQ's specific to the content or subject matter of their site. Always consult them whenever available.
- Internet Service Provider (ISP)
ISP's are company's that, for a monthly fee, provide the service of connecting thousands, or even millions, of individuals to the Internet. This way, the cost and hassle of connecting directly to the Internet, which requires equipment and technology that most people don't want to bother with, is shared and handled for you. Examples of ISP's are AOL, SBCGlobal, MSN, Earthlink, and NetZero, to name a few.
- Local Area Network (LAN)
A very common type of network is a LAN, or Local Area Network, that connects computers located relatively near one another, such as on the same floor, or in the same building, or even nearby buildings. LAN's are used by many businesses and companies that have multiple people using multiple computers in order to share resources.
Short for Modulator/Demodulator, a modem allows your computer to connect through your phone line to an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, which in turn connects you to the Internet. To go online your computer must be equipped with a modem, which, in the case of a dial-up connection, translates the digital signals from your computer into analog signals that travel over a standard phone line. Those scratchy sounds you hear when first logging on to your ISP come from the modem's speaker. There is meaning in all that noise. A modem on the other end of the line understands it, and converts the sounds back into digital information. You can think of a modem as a translator. It translates the technology of computers (digital technology) to the much older technology of the phone networks (analog voice technology), and vice versa.
With today's high speed Internet connections (broadband) such as cable or DSL, the modem still connects your PC to your ISP, but the technology is a bit different.
A network is two or more computers connected to each other so they can share information and resources, such as documents, images, programs, etc. A very common type of network is a LAN, or Local Area Network. Businesses and companies that have multiple people using multiple computers very often network their computers in order to share resources. Nowadays, many families with more than one PC in their homes are networking them together.
The Internet is a "network of networks," whereby anyone -- from an individual at a home PC to a large corporation with multiple departments and computer systems -- can freely and easily exchange information via the web.
A server is a computer that takes requests for websites, web pages, email, data files, documents, and other network services from other computers (frequently referred to as "clients") connected to the network that the server is on, and sends the requested information (files) back to the requesting computer.
As an example, when you are on a computer connected to the Internet and you want to visit a website, you open your "browser" (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator), and tell it to go get www.suchandsuchwebsite.com. Your browser then sends a request, via the Internet, to the server that hosts (or stores) the website you want to see. The server then grabs that web page and sends it back, or "serves it up," to your PC, and your browser displays the web page on your monitor. Simple, right?
Unsolicited email. That is, email messages you get that you didn't ask for. For the most part (at least 90%), this is junk email, sort of like all the junk mail the postman delivers that you never really wanted in the first place. These email's are frequently advertisements for loans, debt-consolidation, insurance, credit cards, prescription drugs, as well as x-rated material. Many of them come from less than ethical marketers only trying to get your email address, your personal information, or your money, and most are scams.
In general, spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. On the Internet, spyware is programming that is put on someone's computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties.
Spyware sends information about your web surfing habits to its home website. It is often installed on your computer without your knowledge in combination with a free download you selected from the web. Spyware transmits information in the background as you move around the Web. Also known as "parasite software," "scumware," "junkware" and "thiefware," spyware is occasionally installed just by visiting a website, referred to as a "drive-by download" -- a program that is automatically installed on your computer by merely visiting a website without having to explicitly click on a link on the page. Drive-by downloads are deployed by exploiting flaws in the browser and operating system code, primarily Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Installing good anti-virus and anti-spyware software, such as Webroot's SecureAnywhere or Microsoft's free Security Essentials, and also routinely and regularly installing Microsoft Updates and Security Patches is the best way to protect yourself from spyware.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, which is simply the online "address" of something on the Internet, like a website or web page. URL is more commonly called Internet address or web address. Advocacy Unlimited's web address is www.mindlink.org. AU also has a second website address, www.advocacyunlimited.org.
Web addresses are case insensitive. That is, www.AdvocacyUnlimited.org will bring you to the same website as www.advocacyunlimited.org.
Also, every web address must be unique. There can't be two www.Mindlink.org's!
- Virus (or "Computer Virus")
A computer program that enters a computer usually without the knowledge of the computer owner or operator and is designed to replicate itself by copying itself into the other programs stored in the computer. Computer viruses spread from machine to machine on disks or, more commonly, over the Internet (e.g., through email attachments). Some viruses are mild and only cause messages to appear on the screen, but others are destructive and can cause a program to operate incorrectly, corrupt the computer's memory, or cause more severe damage.
- Wireless Internet
A newer technology in the last few years that enables computers, laptops, and hand-held devices such as cell phones, PDA's (Personal Data Assistants), etc. to connect to the Internet without wires, using a similar technology to digital cellular.
- Zip File (also called an Archive File)
Files (pictures, music, documents, etc.) that are "compressed" so that they can be uploaded and downloaded over the Internet faster. Requires special "unzipping" software on your PC before you can make use of the files. "WinZip" is a popular unzipping program that is fairly simple to use. An "evaluation version" can be downloaded over the Internet (free for 45 days) from WinZip.com.
For more definitions than you probably ever wanted to know but may very well need to know sometime, go to the Glossary at LearnTheNet.com (opens in a new browser window).
Computer Related Tutorials: Internet Basics
Part I, The Internet
Part II, Email
Part III, "Non-Techie" Technical Term Definitions
Top of Page