What is Accelerator key?
A keyboard shortcut for a command. For example, Ctrl + Alt + Delete is an accelerator
key for the task manager in Windows 95.
What is Active window?
The current window that is being used.
What is Asynchronous SRAM?
Async SRAM is not synchronized with the system clock, so the CPU must wait for requested
data from the L2 cache.
What is BIOS (Basic Input and Output Software)?
BIOS stands for Basic Input and Output Software. The BIOS is software that controls
the most fundamental operations of a computer and a BIOS is necessary in order to
start a computer. Without a BIOS, a computer would not know how to communicate with
its hard disk and other devices. The BIOS is stored on a ROM (Read-Only Memory)
computer chip inside the computer. Many computers in the past few years use "Flash
EPROM" chips, which means the BIOS chip can be reprogrammed with an updated
BIOS. A BIOS may need to be updated to fix bugs, such as the year 2000 bug, or an
update may be necessary in order to support new hardware protocols.
Bit is short for binary digit. A bit can be a zero or a one.
What is Binary?
Binary is an alternative number system which works very well for computers. Humans
have ten fingers; that's probably why we use ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, and 9) in our number system (decimal), but it is easier for a computer
to use only two digits (0 and 1). Ones and zeros can be represented with high or
low voltage, closed or open switches, aligned or misaligned magnetic particles,
etc. A byte is a group of eight bits, and it is the standard unit by which data
is stored. There are 256 different combinations of zeros and ones you can make with
one byte, from 00000000 to 11111111. This is enough to cover all the ASCII characters.
If more than 256 values are needed, then more than one byte can be used. With two
bytes, there are 65536 possible combinations of ones and zeros. These bytes can
represent any kind of data. For example, a picture may be made up of thousands of
pairs of bytes, with each pair of bytes representing a single dot in one of 65536
colors. Put together all these dots (known as pixels) and you have a full-color
picture (most picture data is also compressed). On systems using Microsoft Windows,
the meaning of data stored on a disk is determined by the file's extension.
For example: if it is TXT, then it is ASCII text; if it is EXE, then it is a program
What is Byte?
A byte is eight binary digits. It is the smallest unit a computer works with at
once. The bits of a byte can be individually modified, but a computer still works
with at least one byte at a time. See also: Binary and my article on Bits and Bytes.
What is Button?
A button does some command in a program when it is clicked. Buttons usually have
a 3-dimensional look, although you may have to move the mouse over the button for
it to look 3D. You should single-click on buttons (do not double-click).
What is CD-R?
Compact Disc Recordable. A special type of compact disc which can have information
written onto it once. You must have a special CD-R drive to write to these discs,
but most CD-ROM drives can read them.
What is Activate?
To make a window active by bringing it to the front.
What is Cascade?
An arrangement of Windows so each window is neatly stacked with only the title bar
of each window is showing.
What is Clicking?
Swiftly pressing and releasing a mouse button.
What is Close button?
The X in the upper right corner of a window. When clicked, it will close the current
What is Color scheme?
A selection of colors that the user sees when using Windows. These colors make up
the display of applications, dialog boxes, etc.
What is Associate?
To link a file with a certain program. This way, when you double-click on an associated
file, it will open the correct program.
What is Auto arrange?
In Windows Explorer, selecting auto arrange will lock any visible icons into a grid
What is Backward Compatible?
A program is backward compatible if it can use files from an older version of itself.
For a file saved in the program to be backward compatible, it must be possible to
open the file in a previous version of the program.
What is CD-ROM?
Compact Disc - Read Only Memory. A CD-ROM is any compact disc which contains computer
data. These discs can store huge amounts of data (up to 640 megabytes). If there
is a large amount of data on a CD-ROM, then it is usually impractical to copy the
data on to the hard disk; in this case, you must insert the disc whenever you want
to use the data. The ROM simply means that you can not save information onto these
discs. CD-ROM may also refer to the drive used to read these discs.
What is Check box?
A dialog box, usually square, that records an on or off value.
What is Clipboard?
A temporary storage location in Windows. The clipart will store one piece of information
at a time when it is manually added to the clipart or is copied there.
What is Collapsing?
Hiding an additional level of directories beneath the selected directory in My Computer
or Windows Explorer.
What is Command?
An option form an application’s menu, or a command typed in by the user, such as
at a DOS prompt or at the Run dialog box in Windows.
What is Command button?
A command button, when clicked, will cause an action to occur.
What is Connection?
An established communication session between a server and a workstation.
What is Control Panel?
A system utility that comes with Windows that allows the use to change a variety
if different Windows and system settings.
What is Cursor?
The representation of the mouse on-screen. Depending on your settings, the cursor
can be many different things.
What is Desktop?
This is what you see on your computer screen when you have no windows open. It may
be a solid color, or it may be graphics. On the desktop, there will be icons, including
one called "My Computer" and one called "The Recycle Bin."
What is Dialog box?
This is a small window that is demanding your attention. You must respond before
you can continue using the program that displayed the dialog box. A dialog box does
not have a minimize or maximize button and does not show up on the taskbar. It is
only a portion of its "parent" program. Most dialog boxes have a cancel
What is Dial-up Networking?
Using a modem to dial into a remote site network.
What is Double-click?
Move your mouse pointer over the object, then press the left mouse button twice
in a row quickly. Be VERY careful to not move the mouse as you double-click. If
you move the mouse while trying to double-click, you may end up dragging the object
instead of double-clicking it.
What is Download?
Retrieving a file from a BBS, an FTP site, or a remote computer.
What is Drag?
Move the mouse pointer over the object you wish to drag, then hold down the left
mouse button. While holding the mouse button, move the mouse pointer (and the object)
to the location you want it, then let go of the mouse button. This will move or
copy the object to the new location, depending on the context.
What is Drag and drop?
When you click your mouse once and an object and hold it, while simultaneously moving
that item to a different location.
What is Drop-down list?
A dialog box such as a File menu that contains one command until it is clicked when
a number of different commands "drop-down."
What is Drive?
Any data storage device. This includes your CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive, and
hard disk drive.
What is Driver software?
Driver software is software that works as a translator between another program and
some piece of hardware. In the software industry, there are generally standard ways
to do things. There are many different types of hardware, however, and each piece
of hardware may have its own protocol (or "language"). The driver software
receives standard signals from another program, then translates these into commands
for a particular piece of hardware. This way a program can be written in a standard
way, and it will work with many different devices.
What is DVD and DVD-ROM?
DVD is a new technology very similar to compact discs. A DVD looks just like an
ordinary compact disc, however a DVD can hold up to 25 times as much as a CD!! That's
18 gigabytes!! This gives enough room to hold an entire movie at twice the quality
of VHS with theater quality sound (better than CD-quality). Since it is on a disc,
you can jump to any scene instantly, and you never need to rewind.
A DVD-ROM is a DVD disc for a computer. This means a multimedia encyclopedia can
have even more multimedia with much better quality (on DVD-ROM). You must have a
DVD-ROM drive to use DVD-ROM discs. If you have a DVD-ROM drive, then you can also
play DVD movies on your computer. Many systems with DVD-ROM can output the video
and sound to your TV and home audio system, so you may not have to buy a separate
DVD player. See also: CD-ROM
What is Icon?
An icon is a picture used to represent an object. Some example objects are: data
files, program files, folders, email messages, and drives. Each type of object has
a different icon. That means that different types of files each have an icon representing
its file type. MS Word files will have the MS Word icon; MS Excel files will have
the MS Excel icon; Etc.
What is Inactive window?
A window that is open but is not active.
What is Insertion point?
A vertical flashing line that shows the user where text will be inserted.
What is Macro?
A series of keystrokes and mouse clicks that can be abbreviated into a single keystroke
or mouse click.
What is the Interface?
The visible layer which allows a user to communicate with a computer.
What is Map network drive?
Associating a network drive. Doing this will have the drive appear in My Computer.
What is Maximize button?
To make a window appear at its largest possible size. he maximize button is a square
in the top right corner of the window.
What is Minimize button?
To make a window disappear from the screen and move down to the taskbar.
What is Modem?
A device, usually connected to a serial port of a computer, that transmits data
over regular phone lines. Modem stands modulatordemodulator ; it converts a digital
stream of data into sound for transmission (modulator) and converts incoming sound
signals into data (demodulator).
What is Mouse Cursor?
The mouse cursor is a little picture that represents the location on the screen
you want to select. You can move the mouse cursor by moving the mouse device. Once
the mouse cursor is over the item to want to interact with, you can click or double-click
to activate that item. In many cases, the picture you see for the mouse cursor will
change, depending on what is underneath it. For example, if you move the mouse cursor
over this link, the mouse cursor will probably change into a pointing hand (depending
on your software). This indicates that you can single-click to go to that link.
Please note that there is a separate text cursor that shows where text will appear
as you type. You can not just move the mouse cursor to where you want text and start
typing; you must first click to move the text cursor to that location.
See also: text cursor, click, double-click, drag.
What is Restore?
Restore means to make a window smaller than full screen, so that it can be resized.
What is Right-click?
To click with the right mouse button rather than the usual left button.
What is File?
A file is a long sequence of bytes which represent data. Each file has a name and
an extension which are separated by a dot (a period). The name, of course, identifies
the file. The extension tells the computer what type of data is contained within
the file. For example, a file called "Letter to George.DOC" is a Microsoft
Word DOCUMENT. The file you are reading now is called "glossary.html".
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it is the file type for web pages.
What is Floppy Disk?
A round, flexible piece of magnetic media stored within a 3.5 inch square protective
plastic case. One floppy disk can store 1.44 megabytes of data. Because floppy disks
use magnetic media, they must be kept away from magnets, or the data on them could
be erased! Computer speakers are magnetically shielded to prevent erasure of floppy
disks, but standard speakers are not!
What is Focus?
When you use a dialog box with many items to fill out, only one of the items can
be accepting input from the keyboard at a time. The active item is said to be the
item with the focus. You can press the TAB key to move the focus to the next item;
press SHIFT+TAB to move the focus to the previous item. The item with the focus
will usually have a dashed border around it, or it will have a blinking text cursor
What is Folder?
A folder can be thought of as a location on your hard disk or floppy disk. Folders
used to be called directories/subdirectories. A folder contains files and can contain
nested folders (subfolders). Folders and subfolders are used to organize your hard
disk. For example, you probably already have a folder named "My Documents"
on your hard disk; you could place a subfolder named "Work" under "My
Documents", and place all your work documents within this subfolder. This way,
you can keep your work documents separate from your personal documents.
What is Open?
You must open a file to view or edit it. When you open a file, it is copied from
the hard disk into the computer's high-speed memory. Memory is temporary workspace
only. If you change the file, you must save it (which copies the file back to the
permanent hard disk).
What is Select?
Select means to highlight data. To select text, for example, hold down the mouse
button at the beginning of what you want to select, then move the mouse to the end
of what you want to select (and let go of the mouse button). The selected text will
now be in inverse (opposite) colors. This is only to show what text is selected,
it does not affect the printed document.
What is Text Formatting?
Text formatting refers to the attributes of text other than the actual text itself.
For example, bold, italics, underlining, color, and size, are all formatting attributes
of text. The location of text can also be considered part of the formatting. Text
can be automatically centered, indented, or positioned in other ways. When you wish
to change the format of text, you usually have to select the text, then do the formatting
by clicking the appropriate buttons. Occasionally, there are exceptions to the select-then-do
paradigm. In Microsoft Word, there is a feature called Format Painter with which
you click some already formatted text, then click the Format Painter toolbar button,
then drag the mouse cursor across some other text. The other text will be "painted"
with the formatting of the original text selected. If you double-click the Format
Painter button, then it will be "locked" and you can paint lots of text.
When you are done, click the Format Painter button again to turn it off.
What is Toolbar?
A toolbar is a collection of buttons, usually organized by category. Some programs
allow you to turn individual toolbars on and off (to display or hide them), and
you may even be able to customize the toolbar by changing what buttons are shown
(or even add your own buttons). Often, you can drag a toolbar (by dragging from
an edge of the toolbar where there is no button) to move it to a different location
on the screen. If a novice user does this, though, the user may not know what he
or she did and may "lose" the toolbar. Usually, you can turn toolbars
on and off by clicking the "view" menu, then choosing "toolbars".
What is Taskbar?
A bar that usually runs at the bottom of Windows 95 which shows all tasks that are
currently being run. The Start button is usually on the left side of the Taskbar.
A clock is usually on the right side of the Taskbar. The Taskbar can be moved to
any edge of the screen, and the clock and Start button can be removed if desired.
task list A list of applications that are currently running. Windows users can access
the Task list by pressing Alt + Tab.
A group of option buttons in some programs that usually make performing certain
actions quicker and easier.
Any data storage device. This includes your CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive, and
hard disk drive.