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Geek Speak


Member Eva Milstead wrote to the editor of the PC Alamode with a list of acronyms that she culled from a recent edition of the magazine. “It would be a great help to the beginners,” she wrote, “if these terms could be defined.” She’s right! Here are some of the terms that Eva stumbled over. I have to admit, there were a few I had to look up myself. She missed one, though. Dennis Stacy used the term SUV in his column. That’s a Sports Utility Vehicle. I heard that term on the news for a year before I cottoned onto what it meant.
    CPU: Central Processing Unit. 
      The CPU is the brains of the computer. On personal computers the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor.
    DSL: Digital Subscriber Line. 
      This is a way to get high speed, or “broadband” Internet access into homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines. Traditional telephone service is often referred to as POTS, or “Plain Old Telephone Service.”
    HDD: Hard Disk Drive. 
      You may also see FDD, or Floppy Disk Drive.
    HTML: HyperText Markup Language. 
      This is the coding that is used to organize and format many web pages. It is also the file extension used on many web page files. 
    HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol. 
      This is the protocol, or set of technical instructions, which is used to move web pages over a network. Other Internet protocols are mail, news, gopher, telnet and chat, to name a few. 
    ISP: Internet Service Provider. 
      This is the company from which you contract for your Internet service.
    JPG: Joint Photographic (Exchange) Group
      but that’s not crucial. Pronounced “Jay-Peg.” JPG or JPEG is a graphics file format that is used to display images, mainly photographs, on the Internet and in other applications. Another graphics file format often seen on the Internet is a GIF, which stands for Graphical Interchange Format. Gang wars have broken out over whether this is pronounced with a hard or soft G.
    MHTML: Multilingual-HTML
      This is software that makes it possible to browse documents on the Web written in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Greek, or Russian, without installing fonts for these languages.
    NT: Shorthand for Windows NT
      A version of Windows that is used in networks. Windows 2000 is replacing it.
    OCR: Optical Character Recognition. 
      The ability to scan a printed page and turn it into a computer file that can be manipulated in a word processor. 
    PDA: Personal Digital Assistant. 
      This is a hand-held computing device such as a Palm.
    PDT: Portable Data Terminal. 
      This usually refers to a hand-held computer used in business and industry, such as the portable bar code scanners used in stores.
    RAM: Random Access Memory. 
      This is the memory that is used to temporarily store files and run programs while you are working with them, as opposed to the permanent storage you get on a hard drive or floppy disk. Most new computers today come with at least 64 MB (megabytes) of RAM. When speaking, say “ram.”
    ROM: Read Only Memory. 
      Memory used to store the background routines that boot the computer and perform diagnostics. Most personal computers have a small amount of ROM (a few thousand bytes). When speaking, say “rom.”
    RPC: Remote Procedure Call. 
      This is a technical networking term that means a procedure that operates a server from a remote workstation.
    SIG: Special Interest Group. 
      This is an Alamo PC class or study group that meets periodically to learn more about a selected computer topic. When speaking, say “sig,” as in cigarette.
    TIF: Tagged Image File (Format)
      Sometimes seen as TIFF. This is a graphic file format that is used for printed images; a TIF file cannot be displayed on a web page. When speaking, say “tiff.”
    URL: Uniform Resource Locator. 
      This is an Internet address. The most commonly known one is a web page address, which will begin with http://, but other protocols can also have their addresses express as URLs, such as telnet:// and gopher://. Most people say “u-r-l” but some insist on pronouncing it as “earl.”

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