In an effort to explain some of the more common terms on the Internet,
ChicagoNET has created this glossary of terms. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but
if you would like an Internet term defined that is not available in this list, please send
mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A B C D E F G H I
K L M N P
R S T U V
- A "smiley". The official term for this is "emoticon ".
Emoticons are used to convey emotion in an ASCII world. The idea is to tilt your head to
the left 90 degrees and it looks like a smiley face. You're bound to encounter an endless
number of variations on the theme.
- There are two types of addresses in common use within the Internet. They are email and IP or Internet
- A name, usually short and easy to remember, that is translated into another name,
usually long and difficult to remember. commonly used in the Unix realm to
"abbreviate" verbose commands. Common places for storing aliases are the shell
configuration file (.cshrc or .profile) and a separate file sources from the configuration
file (usually called .alias)
Also used similarly in the context of electronic
mail. Mail aliases are the basis of many electronic mailing lists.
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- This organization is responsible for approvinig U.S standards in many areas, including
computers and communications. Standards approved by this organization are often called
ANSI standards (e.g., ANSI C is the version of the C language approved by ANSI). ANSI is a
member of the ISO.
- American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)
- A standard character-to-number encoding widely used in the computer industry.
- Anonymous FTP
- Anonymous FTP allows a user to retrieve documents, files,
programs and other archived data from anywhere on the Internet without having to establish
a userid and password. By using the special userid of "anonymous" the network
user will bypass local security checks and will have access to publicly accessible files
on the remote system.
- See: American National Standards Institute
- A program that performs a function directly for a user. FTP, mail and Telnet clients are examples of network applications.
- A system to automatically gather, index and serve information on the Internet. The
initial implementation provides an indexed directory of filenames from more than 800
anonymous FTP archives on the Internet -- some 100 gigabytes worth of information. This
information is accessible through archie client programs, through servers reachable using
the telnet command, through email servers and through forms on the World Wide Web.
versions provide indexing services for many different resources.
See also: Gopher, Wide Area Information Servers.
- See: American Standard Code for Information Interchange
- The top level in a hierarchical network. Stub and transit networks which connect to the
same backbone are guaranteed to be interconected.
- Technically, the difference, in Hertz (Hz), between the highest and lowest frequencies
of a transmission channel. However, as typically used, the amount of data that can be sent
through a given communications circuit. Also used colloquially (esp. on Usenet) to
indicate message traffic.
- A gauge to measure the speed at which a modem communicates. Synonymous with "bits
per second" (bps); e.g., 14,400bps = 14,400baud.
- See: Bulletin Board System
- Be Seeing You
- In the preliminary or testing stage of a product.
- Base 2 numeral system. The two symbols used are '0' and '1'.
- Binary file
- Any file that is not plain, ASCII text. For example: executable files, graphic files and
compressed (ZIP) files.
- "Because It's Time" Network. An academic computer network that provides
interactive electronic mail and file transfer services, using a store-and-forward
protocol. BITNet hosts are not on the Internet per se, but are reachable by email
through BITNet to Internet gateways.
- The return of a piece of mail because of an error in the delivery process. Mail can be
bounced for various reasons. "Bounce" can also refer to the message indicating
the error (informal usage).
- By The Way
- Bulletin Board System (BBS)
- A computer, and associated hardware, which typically privides electronic messaging
services, archives of files and any other services or activities of interest to the
bulletin board system's operator. Many BBS's are currently operated by government,
educational and research institutions.
Although BBS's have traditionally been the
domain of hobbyists, an increasing number of BBS's are connected to the Internet. The
majority, however, are still reachable only via a direct modem-to-modem connection over a
See also: Electronic Mail, Internet and Usenet.
- A computer system or process that requests a service of another computer system or
process. A workstation requesting the contents of a file from a file server
is a client of the file server.
- A cracker is an individual who attempts to access computer systems without
authorization. These people are often malicious, as opposed to hackers,
and have many means at their disposal for breaking into a system.
See also: Trojan Horse, virus, worm.
- A term coined by William Gibson in his SF novel Neuromancer (1984) to describe
the interconnected "world" of computers and the society that gathers around
- A program which establishes and maintains your connection to the Internet, as well as
provides Winsock support. Voyager contains a built-in
dialer. Other popular dialers include Trumpet Winsock and the Windows '95 Dial Up
- A temporary connection between machines established with modems over a standard phone
- See: Domain Name System
- A group of computers whose hostnames share a common suffix. This is the domain name.
ChicagoNET's domain name is Chicagonet.net.
See also: Domain Name System.
- Domain Name System (DNS)
- The DNS is a general purpose distributed, replicated, data query service. The principal
use is the lookup of host IP addresses based on host names. The style of host names now
used in the Internet is called "domain name", because they are the style of
names used to look up anythin in the DNS. Some important domains are .COM (commercial),
.NET (network), .EDU (educational), .GOV (government) and .MIL (military). Most countries
also have a domain. For example, .US (United States), .UK (United Kingdom) and .AU
- Electronic Mail
- A system wherby a computer user can exchange messages with other computer users (or
groups of users) via a communications network. Electronic mail is one of the most popular
uses of the Internet.
- See: Electronic Mail
- Email Address
- The domain-based or UUCP address that is used to send electronic
mail to a specified destination. For example, "email@example.com" is the
email address for the user supportthat is part of the Chicagonet.net domain.
- An ASCII glyph used to indicate an emotional state, typically used in email or Usenet
messages. Although originally intended mostly as jokes, emoticons or some other explicit
humor indication are virtually required under certain circumstances in high-volume
text-only communication forums such as Usenet. The lack of verbal and visual cues can
otherwise cause what were intended to be humorous, sarcastic, ironic or otherwise
non-serious comments to be badly misinterpreted, resulting in arguments and flame wars.
- Encryption is the manipulation of data in order to prevent any but the intended
recipient from reading that data. There are many types of data encryption and they are the
basis of network security.
- Frequently Asked Question. In its usual context, FAQ refers to collected answers to
often-asked questions on Usenet newsgroups. These are periodically posted to the
newsgroups in question, to the .answers newsgroups (news.answers, rec.answers,
comp.answers, etc.) and are stored on the FAQ FTP archive on rtfm.mit.edu.
- File Transfer
- The copying of a file from one computer to another over a computer network.
File Transfer Protocol, Kermit.
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
- A protocol which allows a user on one host to access and transfer files to and from
another host over a network. Also, FTP is usually the name of the program the user invokes
to execute the protocol.
See also: Anonymous FTP.
- A program that displays information about a particular user, or all users, logged on the
local system or on a remote system. It typically shows full name, last login time, idle
time, terminal line and terminal location (where applicable). It may also display plan and
project information files created by the user.
Not all machines support finger, and you
cannot finger a Voyager account.
- Any of several ways to protect a network from an untrusted host or network. Consists of
mechanisms to block network traffic and mechanisms to permit network traffic.
- A strong opinion or criticism of something, usually as a frank inflammatory statement,
in an electronic mail message.
- For Your Information (FYI)
- FYIs convey general information about topics related to TCP/IP, the Internet and others.
- See: File Transfer Protocol
- For What It's Worth
- See: For Your Information.
- Graphic Interchange Format. An image compression algorithm that facilitates the transfer
of high quality images over a network. A GIF can be of any resolution but only has 8 bit
- A billion bytes, which is large enough to hold 1,250 copies of Moby Dick.
- A distributed information service that makes available hierarchical collections of
information across the Internet. Gopher uses a simple protocol that allows a single gopher
client to access information from any accessible gopher server, providing the user with a
single "gopher space" of information. The clients are generally text menu-based.
Public domain versions of the client and server are available.
- A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a
system, computers and computer networks in particular. The term is often misused in a
pejorative context, where "cracker" would be the correct
- The portion of a packet, preceeding the actual data, containing source and destination
addresses, error checking and other fields. A header is also the part of an electronic
mail message thatpreceedes the body of a message and contains information about
the message originator and time stamp.
- A computer that allows users to communicate with other host computers on a network.
Individual users communicate by using client programs, such as
electronic mail, Telnet and FTP.
- See: HyperText Markup Language
- See: HyperText Transfer Protocol
- A link between one document and other, related documents elsewhere in a collection. By
clicking on a word or phrase that has been hightlighted on a computer screen, a user can
skip directly to files related to that subject.
- HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
- The coding that World Wide Web browsers read to create Web pages.
- HyperText Transfer Protocol
- The protocol used to transfer World Wide Web data across the Internet.
- In My Humble Opinion.
- Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
- ISDN combines voice and digital network services in a single medium, making it possible
to offer customers digital data services as well as voice connections through a single
- A network or collection of networks interconnected with routers. It also refers to the
largest network of computers in the world "The Internet".
- Internet Address
- An IP address that uniquely identifies a node on the Internet.
- Internet Protocol (IP)
- The network layer for the TCP/IP Protocol Suite. It is a connectionless, best-effort
packet switching protocol.
- See: Internet Protocol
- See: Integrated Services Digital Network
- A popular file transfer protocol developed by Columbia University. Because Kermit runs
in most operating environments, it provides an easy method of file transfer. Kermit is not
the same as FTP.
- An automated mailing list distribution system originally
designed for the Bitnet/EARN network.
- No active participation on the part of a person to a mailing list,
Usenet newsgroupor IRC channel. A person
who is lurking is just listening to the discussion.
Lurking is encouraged for beginning
users who wish to become acquainted with a particular discussion before joining in.
- Mail Server
- A software program that distributes files or information in response to requests sent
via email. Internet examples include Almanac and
servers have also been used in Bitnet to provide FTP-like services.
- See: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
- A person, or small group of people, who manage moderated mailing lists and Usenet
newsgroups. Moderators are responsible for determining which email
submissions are passed onto a list.
- See: Multi-User Dungeon
- Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
- An extension to Internet email which provides the ability to
transfer non-textual data, such as graphcis, audio and video.
ChicagoNET Voyager users
have MIME capability in versions 1.2 and above.
- Multi-User Dungeon (MUD)
- Adventures, role playing games, or simulations played on the Internet. Devotees call
them "text-based virtual reality adventures". Players interact in real time and
can modify the "world" in which the game is played. Most MUDs are based on the Telnet protocol.
- Net Abuse
- Net abuse can be either abuse of ChicagoNET's network services, or violations of netiquette. Types of net abuse that violate ChicagoNET's Terms and
- Using too many of the system resources.
- Attempting to "hack", or break into accounts.
- Using an account for any illegal activity.
- Evading the 15-minute idle timeout.
- Running background processes or "bots".
- Sending unsolicited email.
- Sending chain letters via email.
- "Flooding" someone with chat requests.
See also: Internet Relay Chat, Usenet.
- A pun on "etiquette", referring to proper behavior on a network.
- See: Usenet
- Network Information Center (NIC)
- A NIC provides information, assistance and services to network users.
Network Information Center (InterNIC) is a project administered by AT&T and Network
Solutions, Inc. (NSI). AT&T provides directory and database services for registered
Internet hosts, while NSI administers the registration process.
- Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)
- A protocol for the distribution, retrieval and posting of Usenet
articles through high-speed links available on the Internet.
- Slang term for a user who is new to the Internet.
- See: Network News Transfer Protocol
- See: Pretty Good Privacy
- Point of Presence (POP)
- A site containing a collection of telecommunications equipment, usually digital leased
lines and multi-protocol routers. Also referred to as a Local Access Site.
- Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)
- The Point-to-Point Protocol provides a method for transmitting packets over serial
See also: Serial Line Internet Protocol
- See: Post Office Protocol, Point of Presence
- Post Office Protocol (POP)
- A protocol designed to allow single user hosts to read email
from a server. There are three versions: POP, POP2 and POP3. Later versions are not
compatiblewith earlier versions.
- The administrator reponsible for resolving email problems,
answering queries about users and other related duties at a site.
- See: Point-to-Point Protocol
- Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
- A controversial freeware program created in June, 1991 by Philip Zimmermann, PGP is
designed to encrypt data for security.
- A formal description of message formats and the rules two computers must follow to
exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine
interfaces (the order in which bits and bytes are transmitted across a network) or
high-level exchanges (how two programs transfer a file across the Internet).
- Remote Login
- Operating on a remote computer, using a protocol over a computer network, as though
- Rolling On The Floor Laughing.
- Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP or CSLIP)
- A protocol used to run IP over serial lines, such as telephone circuits or RS-232
cables, interconnecting two systems. CSLIP indicates that compression is used with the
See also: Point-to-Point Protocol.
- A provider of resources (e.g., file servers and name servers).
- The user interface to an operating environment. Unix has several, including the Bourne
shell (sh), the C shell (csh), and the Korn shell (ksh).
- The three or four line message at the bottom of an email message
or Usenet news article identifying the sender. Large signature
files (over five lines)are considered poor "netiquette".
- Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
- A protocol used to transfer electronic mail between computers.
SMTP is a server to server protocol, so other protocols are used to access the messages.
also: Post Office Protocol.
- See: Serial Line IP
- See: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
- A colloquial term referring to the act of posting the same message to several
inappropriate newsgroups, or mass-mailing unsolicited email messages to several users.
- Informal term for exploring the Internet (i.e., "surfing the 'net."). Most
often used in reference to accessing sites on the World Wide Web.
- The person responsible for maintenance of a given computer system. Short for
- An AT&T term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a DS-1 formatted
digital signal at 1.544 megabits per second.
- A term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a DS-3 formatted signal at 44.746
megabits per second.
- A protocol which allows two people on remote computers to communicate in real-time.
also: Internet Relay Chat.
- See: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
- TCP/IP Protocol Suite
- Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol. This is a common shorthand which
refers to the suite of transport and application protocols which run over IP.
See also: IP, TCP, FTP , telnet, SMTP.
- The standard Internet protocol for remote terminal connection service.
- A series of articles on the same topic, in a Usenet newsgroup.
- The Internet Adapter (TIA)
- A product that emulates a SLIP or PPP connection over a serial line,allowing shell users
to run a SLIP/PPP session thru a Unix dialup account.
- "TIA" is also used informally as an abbreviation for "Thanks in
- Three Letter Acronym
- A variation of the Telnet program that allows a user to logon to IBM mainframes and use
the computers as if he or she were using an IBM3270 or similar terminal.
- Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
- An Internet standard transport layer protocol. It is connection-oriented and
steam-oriented, as opposed to UDP.
- Trojan Horse
- A computer program which carries within itself a means to allow the program's creator
access to the system using it.
- Ta-Ta For Now
- See: User Datagram Protocol
- Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
- Uniform Resource Locators provide an absolute location for a given piece of information.
URL's are used by web browsers to locate information. The protocol is: protocol://host/path/filename
. For example, the URL for the ChicagoNET homepage is http://www.chicagonet.net
- Unix-to-Unix CoPy (UUCP)
- This was initially a program run under the Unix operating system that allowed one Unix
system to send files to another Unix system via dialup phone lines. Today, the term is
more commonly used to describe the large international network which uses the UUCP
protocol to pass news and electronic mail.
ChicagoNET's UUCP customers have their own
internal networks and purchase email and Usenet
news feeds from ChicagoNET.
- See: Uniform Resource Locator
- A collection of thousands of topically named newsgroups, the computers which run the
protocols and the people who read them and submit Usenet news articles. Not all Internet
hosts subscribe to Usenet and not all Usenet hosts are on the Internet.
See also: Network News Transfer Protocol, Unix-to-Unix CoPy.
- User Datagram Protocol (UDP)
- An Internet standard transport layer protocol. It is an
unreliable,connectionless-oriented delivery service, as opposed to TCP.
- A compression of "user identification"; the userid always proceeds the @ sign
in an email address.
- See: Unix-to-Unix CoPy
- The restoration of uuencoded data to its original form.
- The conversion of binary data into a 7-bit ASCII representation using an encoding
scheme. Originally implemented to enable users to send such data over UUCP, it is now used
to send binary files such as graphics files, user application documents and programs
through email and on Usenet.
The uuencode utility (along with its corresponding
decoder, uudecode) is available on most Unix machines. Voyager customers have to use
third-party software developed for Windows, such as Wincode.
See also: UUdecoding.
- A service that maintains an index of titles of items on gopher
servers, and provides keyword searches of thosetitles.
- A program which replicates itself on computer systems by incorproating itself into other
programs which are shared among computer systems.
See also: Trojan
- See: World Wide Web.
- See: Wide Area Information Servers.
- An Internet program which allows users to query a database of people and other Internet
entities, such as domains, networks and hosts.
- Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS)
- A distributed information service which offers simple natural language input, indexed
searching for fast retrieval and a "relevance feedback" mechanism which allows
the results of initial searches to influence future searches. Public domain
implementations are available.
See also: Archie, Gopher,
- Winsock is a TCP/IP stack that allows you to use your modem to send data to/from the
Internet. A Winsock interface is required for Windows Internet applications like Netscape,
Eudora, Mosaic and manyothers. Winsock allows true Internet networking via modem.
- World Wide Web (WWW or W3)
- A hypertext-based, distributed information system created by researchers at CERN in
Switzerland. Users may create, edit or browse hypertext documents. The clients and servers
are freely available.
- A computer program which replicates itself and is self-propagating. Worms, as opposed to
viruses, are meant to spawn in network environments. Network worms were first defined by
Shoch and Hupp of Xerox in ACM Communications (March 1982). The Internet worm of November
1988 is perhaps the most famous; it successfully propagated itself on over 6,000 systems
across the Internet.
See also: Trojan Horse, Virus.
- See: World Wide Web
- What You See Is What You Get.
Revised: May 1, 2000
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