A Microsoft technology that allows small programs to run inside your browser.
Part of your e-mail software where you store details of your friends’ and contacts’
e-mail addresses so you don’t have to remember them!
Another word for Broadband via a phone line, a high-speed internet connection.
It receives digital information around 100 times faster than a normal modem
and is “always-on”.
A form of spyware which installs programs which generate advertising on your
computer (often in the form of pop-up windows).
The letters at the start of the “alternative” user-originated newsgroups
ranging from alt.bill-gates to alt.yoga
The text which appears when you roll the mouse over a picture. This is the
alt tag in HTML and is useful for people who view pages in text-only mode, or
who are blind or visually impaired.
One of the original search engines on the internet. It can also search for
pictures and has advanced search features.
A technical term used for a link in a web page.
A GIF is a type of image file and when it is animated it might blink,
flash or have moving pictures.
Pictures which are combined in a certain way so they appear to move.
Cartoons are animations.
If you do not want to show your real name or e-mail address you
can create an “anonymous” e-mail account.
Anti-virus software helps protect your computer
A small program using the Java language that allows you to do more
complicated things on web pages. For example, chat applets let you
type in a window for your on-line buddies to read and reply to.
Another word for computer program. For example, Word which is used
for creating documents is a word processing application.
The place on a website where you find old articles, stories etc.
A computer code that represents letters as numbers. For example,
the letter A is ASCII code 65.
A file which is ‘attached’ and sent with a standard text e-mail
message. Often photographs or word documents are attached to e-mails.
A picture or cartoon of yourself or a favourite character that you
use to represent yourself in games or chat forums on the web.
The techie term for copying files onto disk or CD-Rom for safe keeping
so that they are kept in more than one place.
The amount of data that can be carried per second by your internet
connection. Usually measured in kilobytes per second (kbps).
A rectangular shaped advert or heading normally at the top of a
A techie word for the speed at which your modem can transmit and
receive information. Nowadays techies use the term bps (bits per second).
Format used to save images. The file contains a colour value for
each pixel in a picture.
Stands for Bulletin Board System. An system for ‘posting’ messages
so other people on the board can read them and reply that you access
by phoning the BBS and connecting using special software.
Blind carbon copy. The Bcc box allows you to send an e-mail to more
than one person but their e-mail addresses are hidden from other
Program that hasn’t been tested enough to be on general public release.
You can download them and the companies will use your experience
of bugs to iron out the product’s problems. At your own risk!
BBC Education Text to Speech Internet Enhancer. Software running
on the BBCi websites to help blind and visually impaired people.
On most BBCi pages it’s on the top left hand side (click on text
-An online personal diary with thoughts and opinions on life as
well as links to other websites the author likes.
Any website you like and want to remember, can be made a ‘bookmark’
or a ‘favorite’ in your browser. So, when you want to go back to
that page, you can go there in one click instead of trying to remember
Advanced searches using the words AND, OR, and NOT (written in capital
letters) to describe what you want to find. e.g. London AND job
Bytes per second. The measurement of how fast data can be transmitted
over a phone line or on a network line.
A permanent high-speed internet connection. It receives digital
information at about 100 times faster than a dial up modem and is
A program you use to view web pages and ‘browse’ websites. Firefox
and Internet Explorer are the most popular browsers.
Errors in a piece of software or web page that can make it break
or work strangely.
Bytes are used to measure amounts of computer data. One byte is
roughly the same as one character (letter) of text. One KB (or one
K) is approximately 1,000 bytes, one MB is approximately 1,000 KB,
and one GB is approximately 1,000 MB.
Your browser uses a ‘cache’ to store web pages you have seen already.
When you go back to those pages they’ll load more quickly because
they come from the cache and don’t need to be downloaded over the
Typing an e-mail address or string of e-mail addresses in the ‘Cc’
box will send your mail to those additional addresses as well as
the main recipient.
Discs that look like a music CD but can hold software, data, text,
pictures, sound and video files.
CD Rewritable. These are CD-Roms you can save files on over and
over again. (On CDR’s you can only save once.)
Common gateway interface. A script protocol that allows websites
to have order forms, searchable databases and chat forums etc.
Real time chat where you type in a window on a web site’s chat room
or using a special chat program and other users can instantly reply.
Compressed files are electronically “squeezed” so they
take up less memory. This makes them quicker to send over the internet.
The process of reducing the size of computer files by electronically
“squeezing” them so that they can be passed around the
internet more quickly. Zip files are a common example of one type
A small file which websites place on your hard drive so they can
recognise you the next time you come to their website.
A plug-in which enables you to view and move around 3D worlds within
your browser using your keyboard and mouse.
Central Processing Unit – the ‘brain’ of the computer. When people
talk about the speed of a computer they are talking about the speed
of the CPU.
When your computer temporarily stops working. It may pause or ‘freeze’
up, or tell you to restart or quit.
Sending the same e-mail message to lots of different mailing lists
or newsgroups. It can you make unpopular if your message is not
relevant to all the groups you crosspost to.
The flashing vertical line on the screen that shows you where you
are and where the next character you type will appear.
Cut and paste
Selecting text, images or files and deleting them from one place
while putting them in another.
Shops or coffee shops where you pay by the minute to connect to
Digital Audio Broadcasting, or Digital Radio to you and me!
Program that stores information in tables. This allows you to search,
sort and use it in many different ways.
Data Protection Act
Law that protects personal information stored electronically and
on paper. It gives you the right to see data held about you and
prevent it being passed on without your permission.
Camera that takes photographs and stores them on disks or smart
cards rather than on film. The photos can then downloaded onto a
computer where the images can be printed, put on a web page or e-mailed.
Disk Operating System. What PCs used before Windows. It is a non-graphical
system where a menu or typed commands are used to give commands.
Commercial website. Comes from the .com address which is used mainly
by businesses in the United States.
Software which runs hardware attached to your computer like a modem,
printer or scanner. New hardware normally comes with a CD containing
the necessary drivers to install on your computer.
Internet connection using a phone line. You have to dial a number
(using your computer) and usually give a password before you can
gain access to the internet, e-mail, etc.
Folder where a computer stores other files and information. Keeping
files on the same topic together in the same directory is a good
way to keep track of your files.
The system that changes a website address (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk) into
a numbered IP address (e.g. 220.127.116.11).
Websites have a domain name so they can be found easily (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk).
The domain name is the part before the forward slash.
Getting a file onto your computer from another computer on the internet.
Drag and drop
Clicking on an icon or selection, holding the mouse button down
and moving the mouse to ‘drag’ the selection to a new location.
When the mouse button is released the item is ‘dropped’.
Looks like a thick CD but has a greater storage capacity – up to
4Gb compared to 650Mb on a CD-Rom.
The buying and selling of good and services over the internet.
The part of an internet address used by US schools and universities.
Electronic mail. Messages ( sometimes with attachments ) sent over
the internet from one e-mail address to another.
Faces made up of text. e.g. winking 😉 or smiling 🙂 can be used
to say “don’t take that last comment seriously”.
Encoding used to stop people opening your private information when
it is sent over the internet.
A ‘complaint’ by the computer that something has gone wrong. There
will often be some type of jargon heavy explanation, maybe including
an ‘error code’.
A file containing a program, for example, files that end in the
file extension ‘.exe’ . These files have rights to access important
parts of your computer in order to run.
A company website that employees and business partners can access
from inside and outside the company. It is not available to the
Electronic magazine. Magazines on the web or sent by e-mail.
Frequently Asked Questions. A list of standard answers to questions
which newcomers to a topic or website may have.
Data stored on a disk. There are two types: ‘program files’ (with
instructions that make up software application, e.g. Word) and ‘data
files’ (files created by you and me, e.g. a letter or photo).
The group of letters added after the full stop at the end of the
file name. They tell the computer which program to use when opening
the file. For example, in the file ‘myfile.txt’ the ‘.txt’ is the
file extension. Not used on Apple Macs.
File not found
Error message you see when you enter an incorrect website address
or an address for a site which has moved.
Program which sits between your computer and the internet and watches
for hacking, viruses or unapproved data transfer.
Upleasant or abusive e-mail usually written to a message board to
try and provoke an argument.
A Macromedia plug-in you download which allows your browser to show
animations. ( Comes pre-installed with many browsers )
Small rectangular magnetic disks which go in the slot found on the
front of your computer. They are becoming less popular as they can
only hold 1.4MB of data (not enough for one MP3 song!)
The typefaces you see on-screen and in print in documents or on
websites. Some of the most frequently used are Times New Roman,
Arial and Courier.
An HTML feature that allows several different pages to be displayed
in one window at the same time. This lets you to click on a link
in the left frame and see that link in the right frame.
– programs that are available for free. Sometimes the software is
a trial version and “free” for only a limited amount of
time or some of the features of the full version are disabled.
File Transfer Protocol. A program you use to download and upload
files onto computers on the internet.
A type of image file. GIF files work best for non-photo images like
logos and line drawings.
A thousand million bytes (1000 MB).
Unauthorised access to a computer, its files and programs by a ‘hacker’,
a computer expert who can break through its security.
The name for the noise made by two modems when they first connect.
Hard drive / Hard disk
The place inside on your computer where you save documents, pictures,
The physical stuff to do with computers like chips, keyboards, monitors,
printers, modems, scanners, CD-Rom drives etc.
The list your web browser has of addresses of the websites you have
A small picture which, when you click on it launches an application,
program or acts like a link on the world wide web .
Apple Macintosh’s budget range of computer. The ‘i’ stands for internet.
The folder in your e-mail program / webmail where you get your incoming
An image divided into a number of areas called ‘hot spots’ which
are links. You know the hot spots are there because the pointer
changes to a hand shape when passing over them.
Putting a program onto your hard disk so you can use it. Installation
is usually started by clicking on a file called “setup.exe”
on Windows and shown by a diamond/arrow icon on a Mac. The most
common ways to install programs is from CD-Rom or via the internet.
Sending messages and chatting with friends or colleagues when you
are both online via a special application called an Instant Messenger
(IMs). IMs have a buddy list which tell you when people you know
Millions of computers (and the data stored on them) around the world
connected together by telephone lines, cables or satellites.
One of the most popular web browsers, designed by Microsoft.
A company’s internal website used for communicating between staff.
The numerical address that every computer on the internet has. So,
for example, the IP address of one of the BBC’s computers is 18.104.22.168.
Internet Relay Chat. A real time chat system using a dedicated program
where you talk to other people on topic related channels by typing
your comments in a chat window.
A special digital phone line that offers internet connections of
up to 128kpbs. ISDN has been replaced by broadband technology.
Internet Service Provider. An ISP is the company that provides internet
connections to private and business customers, for example, BT Openworld
and Demon internet.
Aa programming language widely used on the web, to run small programs
in your browser called applets.
A scripting language developed by Netscape and Sun
Microsystems which is used to do things like make new browser windows
JPEG / JPG
A common type of image file that is good for saving photos and other
images with many different colours.
Direct marketing sent by e-mail rather than by the post.
Stands for local area network. Describes a network, usually (but
not always) within an office, building or closed geographical area.
A small, portable computer which can be battery operated as well
as run from the mains.
Macintosh / Mac
A family of computers developed by Apple. The Mac operating system
(Mac OS) was one of the first to use a ‘drag and drop’ interface
for organising files and is still the major rival to PCs.
A way to record and save a series of commands so you can reapply
them later with a single command or keyboard stroke.
The folder which contains a person’s individual items such as an
inbox, outbox, sent items, notes and calendar.
An online discussion conducted via e-mails. Messages and replies
are distributed to all the people subscribed to the particular mailing
File-sharing application which could be downloaded so that music
could be shared over the internet by people who are online at the
same time. Napster was closed by the US courts but has been launched
again as a pay for service.
The opposite of broadband. Normally used to refer to a modem running
at a speed of 56Kbps or less.
To move within or between websites using navigation bars and links.
A set of links to the main sections of a website which appears on
each web page within that website. The Nav Bar often appears at
the top or left of a web page.
The unofficial etiquette about online behaviour. For example, no
CAPITALS because they indicate shouting and no advertising except
in designated areas.
A group of computers communicating together via a server along cables
Digital media including television, radio, and the telephone as
well as the newer forms such as the internet, interactive television,
CD-Rom and streaming audio.
Someone who is new to the internet or a part of the internet, for
example, a “chat newbie”.
Forums for exchanging information and views over the internet which
are held on newsgroup servers. When you post a message it is systematically
copied to other newsgroup servers around the world so other people
can read it and reply with their views.
A dedicated program which enables you to read and send newsgroup
messages. It’s often included within mail programs such as Outlook
Express or Netscape Messenger.
Another name for a laptop. A small, portable computer which can
be battery operated as well as run from the mains.
What you call it when you are not connected to the internet.
What you call it when you are connected to the internet.
The software environment on your computer. The most famous ones
are Windows and Mac OS.
A tiny computer that can be easily held in one hand (hence the name).
When files are sent along the internet the data in them is divided
into lots of small packets which are then reassembled in the correct
order at the other end.
A series of letters, number and characters that you enter to get
into your computer, internet connection, e-mail or websites that
you are registered with.
A popular format from Apple for streaming audio and video on the
web. You need a Quicktime player to view or listen to Quicktime
Stands for Random Access Memory. It’s the memory a computer needs
to run software. When you load or ‘run’ software, it goes into RAM.
If you type something it also goes into RAM before being saved on
the hard disk. When you turn your computer off all the data in RAM
A popular format from Real.com for streaming audio and video on
the web. You need a RealOne player to view or listen to RealPlayer
clips. RealAudio is ‘streamed’ in a similar way to radio broadcasts,
meaning that the clip can be played as it is downloaded.
The button that you use to download a web page again. In internet
Explorer it’s called “Refresh” and in Netscape Navigator
“Reload”. You should press this button if for some reason
a web page appears not to have loaded correctly.
Some websites ask you to give your name, e-mail address and other
personal information in order to view pages. This is called registering.
RGB stands for red, green and blue. A combination of these colours
in various proportions will make any colour.
A software tool for performing automated tasks, often on the internet.
For example, search bots are used by search engines to scour the
automatically and populate their database.
A piece of hardware which decides the next network point to which
a packet of data on the internet should be sent on its journey towards
its final destination.
A device which scans images or printed material and converts them
into a digital format which the computer can then process. Scanned
images can be used in desktop publishing or added to web pages.
A search engine is usually a website which allows you to search
the internet for information. The search engine lists results that
relate to your search phrase. For example, inputting ‘Eastenders’;
would bring up a list of sites on the web containing information
and news on the residents of Albert Square.
A method of sending or storing information that is encrypted or
security protected to prevent unauthorised users accessing it.
A powerful computer which holds data to be shared over a network
or over the internet. When you get a web page it is being sent to
you by a server.
Software which is free or almost free to try out. Shareware often
has a ‘free trial’ period during which time you can test and use
the program. After this, payment is required, but it is usually
A plug-in which gives you access to interactive multimedia on the
world wide web. Often used to make CD-Roms it can be used to combine
animation, video and audio into games or presentations.
The internet equivalent of a shopping trolley. On an online shopping
site you choose what items you want and add them to your on-screen
shopping cart by indicating what items you want. These stay in your
cart until you check out.
A small file of text which can be automatically added to every e-mail
message you send. It usually contains details such as your name
and e-mail address, but may also be your job title or a favourite
quote. It is sometimes called a “.sig”.
The internet protocol for the sending and receiving of e-mail over
A jokey term used by techie folk for the conventional postal service
because it is slow compared to e-mail.
Any programs such as word processors, e-mail applications or internet
A piece of hardware inside your computer which you plug headphones
or external speakers into.
The code a web page is written in. This is usually HTML but may
also involves CGI, Java or Java Script as well. You can view the
HTML source code of a web page by clicking on the “View Source”
menu option in your browser.
Junk e-mail sent to many people at once, usually involving advertising
or offering services. Spam is very deeply frowned upon by most internet
users, and where it involves advertising or a false return address
it is particularly disliked.
A web page which the visitor sees while the rest of a website is
loading. It is usually an animated design and often offers the visitor
the choice of “skipping” this intro or watching the rest
of the movie.
Software that you install on your computer, often without you realising,
that sends information on your software and internet usage to outside
When a sound or video file is played at almost the same time it
is being sent from a website. In this way you don’t have to wait
for a clip to download, you just watch it as it downloads.
Macintosh software used for compressing files (making them take
up less memory) so making them quicker to send over the internet.
StuffIt files usually have the file extension .sit.
Tags are found inside the html code for a webpage that defines attributes
such as the the way words, pictures and other content appear on
The combination of protocols that make the internet. TCP deals with
the process of dividing data into ‘packets’ of information. IP deals
with the process of passing these packets from one computer to the
next until they reach their final destination.
A service offered by ISPs and some computer companies to guide beginners
(and experts!) through the problems and queries that they may have.
Software that allows you to directly run commands on a remote computer
somewhere else on the internet.
A group of messages, often e-mail messages or message board posts,
linked by a common subject. A thread is the online equivalent of
a conversation. Many message boards present messages on the same
subject together – as a thread.
The selection of buttons displayed vertically or horizontally offering
desktop and application functions such as print, save, copy etc.
Software you can install on your computer which will work for a
limited time so you can try it after which it will lock. In many
cases if you decide to purchase you will get a registration code
which you type into the software to make it work again.
A program which appears harmless but is carrying inside viruses,
worms or even another program that will damage your computer. A
trojan is usually an attachment and is often carrying a program
which allows someone to hack into your computer
A computer operating system (OS) used by most Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) on their ‘host’ computers as it allows many people to connect
to the same resources at any given time.
Internet accounts which offer access free of phone charges after
you pay a monthly fixed amount.
Copying from your computer onto a server. Typically someone who
has written a web page ‘uploads’ it from their computer onto a server,
from where it is then accessed by other users.
Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. The techie term for the address
of a website or document on the web (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk).
Another name for the 24,000 internet newsgroups that you can access
with e-mail software or by visiting sites like Google Groups.
A series of letters and / or numbers you input into your computer,
internet account or other computer network service to tell it who
greater interactivity on web pages.
Files which contain instructions for drawing lines or curves and also say how
these shapes should be filled. This approach means vector graphics are smaller
and faster than bitmap images like GIFs and JPGs. They also maintain their quality
when displayed or printed
at differing sizes.
A piece of hardware inside your computer that makes the display
you see on your monitor (the screen). Video cards are also sometimes
referred to as graphics cards.
Video Conferencing Linking up of two or more computers to allow users to see
to each other in live or real time. It’s the online equivalent of
people talking around a conference table.
Pieces of code that are designed to reproduce and damage data or
system performance. There are thousands of viruses and the numbers
A language used to build a three dimensional space in which the
user can move around in a virtual reality world.
Short for Wireless Application Protocol. WAP is a technology which
allows you to access basic information on the internet from your
mobile phone. This includes e-mail and information such as sport,
traffic and news.
A piece of software that allows you to design a web page without
knowing HTML, the code which makes up web pages. Web editors are
as easy to use as word processors but rather than making documents,
you use them to make web pages.
A powerful computer permanently connected to the internet which
“serves” web pages and other internet files to users.
A general term used to describe data travelling around the internet.
The internet can sometimes be very slow because of the amount of
An inexpensive, simple video camera that can sit on top of your
computer monitor or be placed somewhere else such as the top of
a building. It’s designed to send live and recorded video as well
as still pictures over the net to one or more users.
e-mail you access through a web page using your browser rather than
using an e-mail program. This means you can send, view and organise
e-mails on any computer with an internet connection. Hotmail is
a well known example of a webmail service.
The person in charge of a website.
The space on a server that you get given by your ISP to put a website
on. Most Internet Service Providers now allocate free webspace for
Is a program that can reproduce itself over a computer network.
It usually attaches itself to another program and then proceeds
to cause malicious damage to your computer such as shutting it down.
Stands for “What you see is what you get” and refers to
one of two types of programs called web editors, which help you
build web pages. With WYSIWYG you can place images and type text
straight onto the page rather than having to insert HTML code.
Stands for Extensible Markup language. A way of publishing web pages
that allows web designers to change the formatting of the page very
easily. It also makes it much easier to make different versions
of web pages for iTV, mobile phones and PDAs.
Refers to compressing files (making them take up less memory) so
making them quicker to send over the internet. There are various
software tools available for ‘zipping and ‘unzipping’ files including
PKZip and Winzip (for PC) and ZipIt (for Mac). Zipped files usually
have the file extension .zip.