Glossary

We've put together a website development, design and marketing glossary to help with some of the digital terms you may be wondering about. Like what on earth is a 'WYSIWIG'? Browse through our internet glossary. If there's a term you can't find, just let us know and we'll add it. 

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Term Definition
Access Point

Example: "The hotel provides an access point for customers with Wi-Fi devices."

An access point provides wireless access to a network. Devices connected to an access point can communicate with other devices on the network. They may also connect to the Internet if the access point is linked to an Internet connection, which is commonly the case. Access points that use Wi-Fi are also called base stations.

Adware

Adware is free software that is supported by advertisements. Common adware programs are toolbars that sit on your desktop or work in conjunction with your Web browser. They include features like advanced searching of the Web or your hard drive and better organization of your bookmarks and shortcuts. Adware can also be more advanced programs such as games or utilities. They are free to use, but require you to watch advertisements as long as the programs are open. Since the ads often allow you to click to a Web site, adware typically requires an active Internet connection to run.

Most adware is safe to use, but some can serve as spyware, gathering information about you from your hard drive, the Web sites you visit, or your keystrokes. Spyware programs can then send the information over the Internet to another computer. So be careful what adware you install on your computer. Make sure it is from a reputable company and read the privacy agreement that comes with it.

Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of instructions, sometimes called a procedure or a function, that is used to perform a certain task. This can be a simple process, such as adding two numbers together, or a complex function, such as adding effects to an image. For example, in order to sharpen a digital photo, the algorithm would need to process each pixel in the image and determine which ones to change and how much to change them in order to make the image look sharper.

API

Stands for "Application Program Interface," though it is sometimes referred to as an "Application Programming Interface." An API is a set of commands, functions, and protocols which programmers can use when building software for a specific operating system. The API allows programmers to use predefined functions to interact with the operating system, instead of writing them from scratch.

All computer operating systems, such as Windows, Unix, and the Mac OS, provide an application program interface for programmers. APIs are also used by video game consoles and other hardware devices that can run software programs. While the API makes the programmer's job easier, it also benefits the end user, since it ensures all programs using the same API will have a similar user interface.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. It is usually measured in bits per second, or "bps." You can think of bandwidth as a highway with cars travelling on it. The highway is the network connection and the cars are the data. The wider the highway, the more cars can travel on it at one time. Therefore more cars can get to their destinations faster. The same principle applies to computer data -- the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time.

Beta software

Before a commercial software program is released to the public, it usually goes through a "beta" phase. During this stage, the software is tested for bugs, crashes, errors, inconsistencies, and any other problems. Though beta versions of software used to be made available only to developers, they are now sometimes made available for the general public to test, usually through the software company's Web site. However, because beta software is free, the programs usually expire after a period of time. If you choose to test a beta software program, don't be surprised if it has multiple problems and causes your computer to repeatedly crash. After all, it is the beta version. You can tell if a program is still in beta by checking the program's properties. If there is a "b" in the version number (i.e. Version: 1.2 b3) that means it's a beta version.

Binary

Binary is a two-digit (Base-2) numerical system, which computers use to store data and compute functions. The reason computers use the binary system is because digital switches inside the computer can only be set to either on or off, which are represented by a 1 or 0. Though the binary system consists of only ones and zeros, the two digits can be used to represent any number.

For example:

A single 0 in binary represents zero.
A single 1 represents (2^0) or 1.
10 represents (2^1) or 2.
11 represents (2^1 + 2^0) or 3.
100 represents (2^2) or 4.
101 represents (2^2 + 2^0) or 5.
110 represents (2^2 + 2^1) or 6.
111 represents (2^2 + 2^1 + 2^0) or 7.
1000 represents (2^3) or 8, and so on.
Bing

Bing is a search engine created by Microsoft. It evolved from "MSN Search," which was later renamed "Windows Live Search," then "Live Search." In 2009, Microsoft decided to revamp their search engine and give it a simple name that is easy to remember and easy to say — "Bing."

While Bing is similar to Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines, it offers a unique web search experience. For example, the home page has a custom picture or video with related information that updates every day. You can also choose to connect your Facebook account to your Bing login, which will allow Bing to display pages your friends like within the search results.

Besides web search, Bing offers several types of specific searches, including images, videos, shopping, news, and maps. It also offers a language translation service called "Microsoft Translator." You can try Bing for yourself at Bing.com.

Bitmap

Most images you see on your computer are composed of bitmaps. A bitmap is a map of dots, or bits (hence the name), that looks like a picture as long you are sitting a reasonable distance away from the screen. Common bitmap filetypes include BMP (the raw bitmap format), JPEG, GIF, PICT, PCX, and TIFF. Because bitmap images are made up of a bunch of dots, if you zoom in on a bitmap, it appears to be very blocky. Vector graphics (created in programs such as Freehand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw) can scale larger without getting blocky.

Blog

Short for "Web Log," this term refers to a list of journal entries posted on a Web page. Anybody who knows how to create and publish a Web page can publish their own blog. Some Web hosts have made it even easier by creating an interface where users can simply type a text entry and hit "publish" to publish their blog.

Because of the simplicity of creating a blog, many people (often young kids and adults) have found a new presence on the Web. Instead of writing confidential entries in a book that no one is supposed to see, people now can share their personal feelings and experiences with thousands of people around the world. Blogs are typically updated daily, monthly, or anywhere in between.

Browser

You are probably using a browser to read this right now. A Web browser, often just called a "browser," is the program people use to access the World Wide Web. It interprets HTML code including text, images, hypertext links, Javascript, and Java applets. After rendering the HTML code, the browser displays a nicely formatted page. Some common browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari.

Captcha

A captcha is a challenge-response test that determines whether a user is human or an automated bot. A typical captcha includes an image of distorted text and a form field for the user to enter the text. Captchas are commonly found at the end of website forms, and must be filled out in order for the form to be submitted. By requiring users to decipher and enter the captcha text, webmasters can prevent automated programs from sending spam or other unwanted data through online forms.

Certificate

An SSL certificate, or secure certificate, is a file installed on a secure Web server that identifies a website. This digital certificate establishes the identity and authenticity of the company or merchant so that online shoppers can trust that the website is secure and reliable. In order to verify that these sites are legitimate (they are who they say they are), the companies and their websites are verified by a third party, such as Verisign or Thawte.

Once the verification company establishes the legitimacy of an organization and the associated website, they will issue an SSL certificate (for the small fee of a few hundred dollars). This digital certificate is installed on the Web server and will be viewable when a user enters a secure area of the website. You can tell you are visiting a secure page when the URL starts with "https." To view the certificate, click the lock icon near one of the edges of your browser window.

Because digital certificates verify a company's current status, they do not last forever. SSL certificates typically expire every one to three years. If the certificate is not renewed in time, you may see an alert box pop up that says "This website's certificate has expired." This error has nothing to do with you or your computer, but is displayed because the Web server you connected to has not renewed its SSL certificate. While this does not necessarily mean the site is fraudulent, it does show that the site is less than professional.

SSL Certificates are necessary for online stores, or anywhere on a website taking payments or personal data.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a general term used to describe Internet services. These include social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, online backup services, and applications that run within a Web browser. Cloud computing also includes computer networks that are connected over the Internet for server redundancy or cluster computing purposes.

The "cloud" is metaphor for the Internet and represents the global interconnectedness of online services. Anyone with an Internet connection can access the cloud and share data with other online users.

Cookie

In computer terminology, a cookie is data sent to your computer by a Web server that records your actions on a certain Web site. It's a lot like a preference file for a typical computer program. When you visit the site after being sent the cookie, the site will load certain pages according to the information stored in the cookie. For example, some sites can remember information like your user name and password, so you don't have to re-enter it each time you visit the site. Cookies are what allow you to have personalized web sites like "My Excite" or "My Yahoo," where you can customize what is displayed on the page. While cookies have many benefits, some people don't like to have their information recorded by Web sites that they visit. For this reason, most Web browsers have an option to accept or deny cookies.

CPC

Stands for "Cost Per Click," and is used in online advertising. CPC defines how much revenue a publisher receives each time a user clicks an advertisement link on his website. For example, a publisher may place text or image-based ads on his website. When a visitor clicks one of the advertisements, he or she is directed to the advertiser's website. Each click is recorded by the advertiser's tracking system and the publisher is paid a certain amount based on the CPC.

Google Adwords is one of the most popular online advertising tools.

CSS

Stands for "Cascading Style Sheet." Cascading style sheets are used to format the layout of Web pages. They can be used to define text styles, table sizes, and other aspects of Web pages that previously could only be defined in a page's HTML.

CSS helps Web developers create a uniform look across several pages of a Web site. Instead of defining the style of each table and each block of text within a page's HTML, commonly used styles need to be defined only once in a CSS document. Once the style is defined in cascading style sheet, it can be used by any page that references the CSS file. Plus, CSS makes it easy to change styles across several pages at once. For example, a Web developer may want to increase the default text size from 10pt to 12pt for fifty pages of a Web site. If the pages all reference the same style sheet, the text size only needs to be changed on the style sheet and all the pages will show the larger text.

Database

A database contains data stored in a structured format. It includes one or more tables, which each contain multiple fields. Each field is assigned a specific data type, such as a string or integer. These fields include data for each record that is entered into the database. By storing data in organized records, the information in a database can be easily searched, sorted, and updated.

Domain Name

A domain name is used to identify a website. Businesses commonly have a domain name that is their name with the ".com" domain suffix after it. For example, the domain name of Microsoft's primary website is "microsoft.com." Some web-based businesses and organizations even name their brands after their domain name. For example, both the name and domain name of this website is "coastcreative.com.au"

When you access a website in a web browser, the domain name is actually translated to a specific number called an IP address. This translation is performed by a system called DNS, which directs your browser to the appropriate location.

While all websites have a domain name, not all registered domain names have a corresponding website. For example, cybersquatters may register multiple domain names they intend to sell or use in the future. Until the website is published, the domain name will not be accessible on the Web.

If you want to register own domain name, you can get one through Coast Creative Services. 

Domain Suffix

A domain suffix is the last part of a domain name. Common examples include ".com," ".net," and ".org," though many others exist. For example, country-specific domain suffixes such as  ".com.au" ".uk," and ".se", and ".jp" can be used to identify websites located in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Japan.

Newer domain suffixes, such as ".tv" and ".mobi" are used to identify specific types of websites. For example, the ".tv" domain suffix is commonly used by television station websites. The ".mobi" suffix is used for mobile versions of websites that can easily be viewed on mobile devices. Domain suffixes are also called "top-level domains" or "TLDs."

Coast Creative allows you to choose one of several different domain suffixes when you register a domain name.

Drop Down Menu

A drop down menu is a horizontal menu that displays a list of options when one of the primary menu items is selected. These options typically "drop down" below the selected menu item. Drop down menus may be used within programs (like a standard menu bar), as well as websites. Website drop down menus are often used for navigational purposes and are typically created using dynamic HTML (DHTML). They can help streamline navigation since they provide one-click access to more pages than a static navigation bar allows.

Dynamic Websites

A dynamic website contains Web pages that are generated dynamically. Each time a user accesses a page within a dynamic site, the HTML is generated in real-time and is sent to the user's Web browser. The content is typically accessed from a database, which is why dynamic websites are often called "database-driven" sites. Most large sites contain dynamic content, while smaller sites may be designed as static websites.

E-Commerce

E-commerce (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as Amazon.com, Buy.com, and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B). While companies like Amazon.com cater mostly to consumers, other companies provide goods and services exclusively to other businesses. The terms "e-business" and "e-tailing" are often used synonymously with e-commerce. They refer to the same idea; they are just used to confuse people trying to learn computer terms.

See our e-commerce article for more information.

Email

It's hard to remember what our lives were like without e-mail. Ranking up there with the Web as one of the most useful features of the Internet, e-mail has become one of today's standard means of communication. Billions of messages are sent each year. If you're like most people these days, you probably have more than one e-mail address. After all, the more addresses you have, the more sophisticated you look...

E-mail is part of the standard TCP/IP set of protocols. Sending messages is typically done by SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and receiving messages is handled by POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3), or IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). IMAP is the newer protocol, allowing you to view and sort messages on the mail server, without downloading them to your hard drive.

Though e-mail was originally developed for sending simple text messages, it has become more robust in the last few years. Now, HTML-based e-mail can use the same code as Web pages to incorporate formatted text, colors, and images into the message. Also, documents can be attached to e-mail messages, allowing files to be transfered via the e-mail protocol. However, since e-mail was not originally designed to handle large file transfers, transferring large documents (over 3 MB, for example) is not allowed by most mail servers. So remember to keep your attachments small!

Extranet

An extranet actually combines both the Internet and an intranet. It extends an intranet, or internal network, to other users over the Internet. Most extranets can be accessed via a Web interface using a Web browser. Since secure or confidential information is often accessible within an intranet, extranets typically require authentication for users to access them.

Extranets are often used by companies that need to share selective information with other businesses or individuals. For example, a supplier may use an extranet to provide inventory data to certain clients, while not making the information available to the general public. The extranet may also include a secure means of communication for the company and its clients, such as a support ticket system or Web-based forum.

Unlike the Internet, "extranet" is not a proper noun and therefore should not be capitalized.

Facebook

Facebook is a social networking website that was originally designed for college students, but is now open to anyone 13 years of age or older. Facebook users can create and customize their own profiles with photos, videos, and information about themselves. Friends can browse the profiles of other friends and write messages on their pages.

Each Facebook profile has a "wall," where friends can post comments. Since the wall is viewable by all the user's friends, wall postings are basically a public conversation.

Facebook provides an easy way for friends to keep in touch and for individuals to have a presence on the Web without needing to build a website. It is also used more and more for business pages and celebrity / artist pages, with these instead of making 'friends', people can 'Like' the page.

see www.facebook.com

Favicon

A favicon is a small website icon. Just like software programs can have custom file icons, websites can have custom icons that show up in a web browser. The term "favicon" is short for "favorites icon," since it is saved with any bookmarks or "favorites" you create. However, modern web browsers also display favicons whenever you visit a website. In some browsers, the favicon appears to the left of the URL, while other browsers display the favicon in the window tab, next to the page title.

The standard way to develop a favicon is to create an .ICO file with an image that represents the website. It should contain a 16x16 pixel image, but may also include a 32x32 icon, which can be displayed on Hi-DPI screens. The file must be named "favicon.ico" and uploaded to the root directory of the associated website. While favicons should be saved in the Windows ICO format, most web browsers (besides Internet Explorer) will display favicons saved as .GIF, .JPG, or .PNG files.

FTP

Stands for "File Transfer Protocol." It is a common method of transferring files via the Internet from one computer to another. Some common FTP programs are "Fetch" for the Mac, and "WS_FTP" for Windows. However, you can also use a Web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer to access FTP servers. To do this, you need to type the URL of the server into the location field of the browser. For example: "ftp://ftp.servername.com/" will give you a listing of all the directories of the FTP server, "ftp://ftp.servername.com/directory/" will give you a listing of all the files available in that directory, and "ftp://ftp.servername.com/directory/filename" will download the actual file to your computer. Many FTP servers are "anonymous FTP" servers which means you can log in with the user name "anonymous" and your e-mail address as the password. Other FTP servers require a specific login in order to access the files.

Gigabyte

A gigabyte is 2 to the 30th power, or 1,073,741,824 bytes.

It can be estimated as 10 to the 9th power, or one billion (1,000,000,000) bytes. A gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes and precedes the terabyte unit of measurement. Hard drive sizes are typically measured in gigabytes, such as a 160GB or 250GB drive. The term gigabyte is often often abbreviated as simply a "gig" in speech. For example, if you have a 250GB hard drive, you could say, "I have 250 gigs of disk space." The prefix "giga" comes from the Greek word "gigas," meaning giant.

Google

Google is the world's most popular search engine. It began as a search project in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were two Ph.D. students at Stanford University. They developed a search engine algorithm that ranked Web pages not just by content and keywords, but by how many other Web pages linked to each page. This strategy produced more useful results than other search engines, and led to a rapid increase in Google's Web search marketshare. The Google ranking algorithm was later named "PageRank" and was patented in September of 2001. In only a short time, Google became the number one search engine in the world.

According to Google's website, the company's mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." While the Web search remains Google's primary tool for helping users access information, the company offers several other services as well. Some of these include:

  • Froogle - price comparison shopping
  • Image Search - search for images on the Web
  • Google Groups - online discussion forums
  • Google Answers - answers to questions based on a bidding system
  • Google Maps - maps and directions
  • Google Toolbar - a downloadable search tool
  • Blogger - a free blogging service
  • Gmail - Web-based e-mail with several gigabytes of storage
  • AdWords - Advertising services for advertisers
  • AdSense - Advertising services for Web publishers
  • Google Plus
  • YouTube

Google has become such a popular search engine that the term "Google" is now often used as a verb, synonymous with "search." For example, if you are looking for information about someone, you can Google that person using Google's search engine.

Hexidecimal

Hexadecimal is a base-16 number system. It is a different method of representing numbers than the base-10 system we use in every day practice. In base-10, we count in multiples of 10 before adding another digit. For example, "8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12..." and "98 - 99 - 100 - 101 - 102..." Notice how a new digit is added when the number 10 is reached, and another digit is added to represent 100 (10x10). In base-16, or the hexadecimal number system, each digit can have sixteen values instead of ten. The values of a hexadecimal digit can be:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F

Therefore, the number 12 (in the common base-10 format) would be represented as "C" in hexadecimal notation. The number 24 would be 18 (16+8). 100 is 64 in hexadecimal (16x6 + 4) and 1000 is 3E8 (256x3 + 16x14 + 8).

While computers process numbers using the base-2, or binary system, it is often more efficient to visually represent the numbers in hexadecimal format. This is because it only takes one hexadecimal digit to represent four binary digits. Since there are eight binary digits in a byte, only two hexadecimal digits are needed to represent one byte.

Host

This is a computer that acts as a server for other computers on a network. It can be a Web server, an e-mail server, an FTP server, etc. For example, a Web host is what provides the content of Web pages to the computers that access it.

HTML

Stands for "Hyper-Text Markup Language." This is the language that Web pages are written in. Also known as hypertext documents, Web pages must conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser. The HTML syntax is based on a list of tags that describe the page's format and what is displayed on the Web page.

 

HTTP

Stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol." This is the protocol used to transfer data over the World Wide Web. That's why all Web site addresses begin with "http://". Whenever you type a URL into your browser and hit Enter, your computer sends an HTTP request to the appropriate Web server. The Web server, which is designed to handle HTTP requests, then sends to you the requested HTML page.

HTTPS

Stands for "HyperText Transport Protocol Secure." HTTPS is the same thing as HTTP, but uses a secure socket layer (SSL) for security purposes. Some examples of sites that use HTTPS include banking and investment websites, e-commerce websites, and most websites that require you to log in.

Websites that use the standard HTTP protocol transmit and receive data in an unsecured manner. This means it is possible for someone to eavesdrop on the data being transferred between the user and the Web server. While this is highly unlikely, it is not a comforting thought that someone might be capturing your credit card number or other personal information that you enter on a website. Therefore, secure websites use the HTTPS protocol to encrypt the data being sent back and forth with SSL encryption. If someone were to capture the data being transferred via HTTPS, it would be unrecognizable.

You can tell if a website is secure by viewing the URL in the address field of your Web browser. If the Web address starts with https://, you know you are accessing a secure website. Most browsers will also display a lock icon somewhere along the edge of the window to indicate the website you are currently visiting is secure. You can click the lock icon to view the secure certificate that authenticates the website.

So whenever you are asked to enter personal or financial information on a website, make sure that the URL starts with "https://" and that the lock icon appears in the window. Then you can be sure that the website is secure and any data you enter will only be recognized by your computer and the Web server.

Hyperlink

A hyperlink is a word, phrase, or image that you can click on to jump to a new document or a new section within the current document. Hyperlinks are found in nearly all Web pages, allowing users to click their way from page to page. Text hyperlinks are often blue and underlined, but don't have to be. When you move the cursor over a hyperlink, whether it is text or an image, the arrow should change to a small hand pointing at the link. When you click it, a new page or place in the current page will open.

Hyperlinks, often referred to as just "links," are common in Web pages, but can be found in other hypertext documents. These include certain encyclopedias, glossaries, dictionaries, and other references that use hyperlinks. The links act the same way as they do on the Web, allowing the user to jump from page to page. Basically, hyperlinks allow people to browse information at hyperspeed.

Internet

Believe it or not, the Internet was created way back in 1969, during the Cold War, by the United States military. It was meant to be a "nuke-proof" communications network. Today, the Internet spreads across the globe and consists of countless networks and computers, allowing millions of people to share information. Data that travels long distances on the Internet is transferred on huge lines known collectively as the Internet backbone. The Internet is now maintained by the major Internet service providers such as MCI Worldcom, Sprint, GTE, ANS, and UUNET. Because these providers make huge amounts of revenue off the Internet, they are motivated to maintain consistent and fast connections which benefits everyday Internet users like you and me.

Many people think the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing. They're not! The World Wide Web is what you are browsing right now. It is one of the many features of the Internet. E-mail, FTP, and Instant Messaging are also features of the Internet.

Intranet

Contrary to popular belief, this is not simply a misspelling of "Internet." "Intra" means "internal" or "within," so an Intranet is an internal or private network that can only be accessed within the confines of a company, university, or organization. "Inter" means "between or among," hence the difference between the Internet and an Intranet.

Up until the last few years, most corporations used local networks composed of expensive proprietary hardware and software for their internal communications. Now, using simple Internet technology, intranets have made internal communication much easier and less expensive. Intranets use a TCP/IP connection and support Web browsing, just like a typical Internet connection does. The difference is that Web sites served within the intranet can only be accessed by computers connected through the local network. Now that you know the difference between the Internet and an intranet, you can go around telling people on the street what you know and impress them.

IP

Stands for "Internet Protocol." It provides a standard set of rules for sending and receiving data through the Internet. People often use the term "IP" when referring to an IP address, which is OK. The two terms are not necessarily synonymous, but when you ask what somebody's IP is, most people will know that you are referring to their IP address. That is, most people who consider themselves computer nerds.

IP Address

Also known as an "IP number" or simply an "IP," this is a code made up of numbers separated by three dots that identifies a particular computer on the Internet. Every computer, whether it be a Web server or the computer you're using right now, requires an IP address to connect to the Internet. IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers from 0 to 255, separated by three dots. For example "66.72.98.236" or "216.239.115.148". Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), will assign you either a static IP address (which is always the same) or a dynamic IP address, (which changes everytime you log on). ISPs typically assign dial-up users a dynamic IP address each time they sign on because it reduces the number of IP addresses they must register. However, if you connect to the Internet through a network or broadband connection, it is more likely that you have a static IP address.

To find out what your computer's IP address is, click here.

ISPs and organizations usually apply to the InterNIC for a range of IP addresses so that all their clients have similar addresses. There are three classes of IP address sets that can be registered: Class C, which consists of 255 IP addresses, class B, which contains 65,000 IP addresses, and class A, which includes hundreds of thousands of IP addresses. Because there are so many computers now connected to the Internet, the InterNIC is actually running out of IP addresses. Therefore, Class A and Class B address blocks are very hard, if not impossible, to get. Most large companies have to register multiple Class C addresses instead. To resolve this problem, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which created the original IP address standard, is working on a new protocol called "IP Next Generation" or "IPng."

ISP

Internet Service Provider

A company that provides a customer access to an internet connection (for a fee).

Java

While most of the world uses "Java" as another term for coffee, the computer science world uses it to refer to a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. The syntax of Java is much like that of C/C++, but it is object-oriented and structured around "classes" instead of functions. Java can also be used for programming applets -- small programs that can be embedded in Web sites. The language is becoming increasingly popular among both Web and software developers since it is efficient and easy-to-use.

JavaScript

Like Java, this is a programming language designed by Sun Microsystems, in conjunction with Netscape, that can be integrated into standard HTML pages. While JavaScript is based on the Java syntax, it is a scripting language, and therefore cannot be used to create stand-alone programs. Instead, it is used mainly to create dynamic, interactive Web pages. For example, Web developers can use JavaScript to validate form input, create image rollovers, and to open those annoying pop-up windows.

JPEG

The term actually stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group," because that is the name of the committee that developed the format. But you don't have to remember that because even computer nerds will think you're weird if you mention what JPEG stands for. Instead, remember that a JPEG is a compressed image file format. JPEG images are not limited to a certain amount of color, like GIF images are. Therefore, the JPEG format is best for compressing photographic images. So if you see a large, colorful image on the Web, it is most likely a JPEG file.

While JPEG images can contain colorful, high-resolution image data, it is a lossy format, which means some quality is lost when the image is compressed. If the image is compressed too much, the graphics become noticeably "blocky" and some of the detail is lost. Like GIFs, JPEGs are crossplatform, meaning the same file will look the same on both a Mac and PC.

File extensions: .JPG, .JPEG

Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that describe content. They can be used as metadata to describe images, text documents, database records, and Web pages. A user may "tag" pictures or text files with keywords that are relevant to their content. Later on, these files may be searched using keywords, which can make finding files much easier. For example, a photographer may use a program like Extensis Portfolio or Apple iPhoto to tag his nature photos with words such as "nature," "trees," "flowers," "landscape," etc. By tagging the photos, he can later locate all the pictures of flowers by simply searching for the "flowers" keyword.

 

Keywords are used on the Web in two different ways: 1) as search terms for search engines, and 2) words that identify the content of the website.

 

1) Search Engine Search Terms
Whenever you search for something using a search engine, you type keywords that tell the search engine what to search for. For example, if you are searching for used cars, you may enter "used cars" as your keywords. The search engine will then return Web pages with content relevant to your search terms. The more specific keywords you use, the more specific (and useful) the results will be. Therefore, if you are searching for a specific used car, you may enter something like "black Honda Accord used car" to get more accurate results.

 

2) Web Page Description Terms
Keywords can also describe the content of a Web page using the keyword meta tag. This tag is placed in the section of a page's HTML and contains words that describe the content of the Web page. The purpose of the keywords meta tag is to help search engines identify and organize Web pages, like in the photos example above. However, because webmasters have been known to use inaccurate tags to get higher search engine ranking, many search engines now give little to no weight to the keywords meta tag when indexing pages.

Link

When you are browsing the Web and you see a highlighted and underlined word or phrase on a page, there is a good chance you are looking at a link. By clicking on a link, you can "jump" to a new Web page or a completely different Web site. While text links are typically blue and underlined, they can be any color and don't have to be underlined. Images can also serve as links to other Web pages. When you move the cursor over a link in a Web page, the arrow will turn into a little hand, letting you know that it is a link. The term "hypertext" comes from the way links can quickly send you to another Web destination.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking website. It allows you to create a custom profile and add other LinkedIn users to your list of connections. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn profiles are designed to be professional, rather than personal. They appear like a resume, with education and work experience being the most prominent. By using LinkedIn, you can keep in touch with past colleagues and meet new potential business partners.

Linux

Linux is a free, open source, Unix-like operating system. It is available in several different distributions, including CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, and Red Hat. Linux can run on several different hardware platforms and may even be used as the OS for electronics devices besides computers. Though Linux is not commonly installed on home computers, it is widely used by Web hosting companies and has many other specialized applications.

Load Balancing

Computer networks are complex systems, often routing hundreds, thousands, or even millions of data packets every second. Therefore, in order for networks to handle large amounts of data, it is important that the data is routed efficiently. For example, if there are ten routers within a network and two of them are doing 95% of the work, the network is not running very efficiently. The network would run much faster if each router was handling about 10% of the traffic. Likewise, if a website gets thousands of hits every second, it is more efficient to split the traffic between multiple Web servers than to rely on a single server to handle the full load.

Load balancing helps make networks more efficient. It distributes the processing and traffic evenly across a network, making sure no single device is overwhelmed. Web servers, as in the example above, often use load balancing to evenly split the traffic load among several different servers. This allows them to use the available bandwidth more effectively, and therefore provides faster access to the websites they host.

Whether load balancing is done on a local network or a large Web server, it requires hardware or software that divides incoming traffic among the available servers. Networks that receive high amounts of traffic may even have one or more servers dedicated to balancing the load among the other servers and devices in the network. These servers are often called (not surprisingly) load balancers.

Clusters, or mulitple computers that work together, also use load balancing to spread out processing jobs among the available systems.

Localhost

"Localhost" refers to the local computer that a program is running on. For example, if you are running a Web browser on your computer, your computer is considered to be the "localhost." While this does not need to be specified when using a single computer, the localhost does need to be defined when running programs from multiple computers. For example, a network administrator might use his local machine to start a Web server on one system and use a remote access program on another. These programs would run from computers other than the localhost.

In the example above, the two non-local computers must be defined by their IP addresses. The local machine is defined as "localhost," which gives it an IP address of 127.0.0.1. This is considered a "loopback" address because the information sent to it is routed back to the local machine. Localhost is often used in Web scripting languages like PHP and ASP when defining what server the code should run from or where a database is located.

Log File

A log file contains a record of events generated by a software program or output by a hardware device. Most log files are saved in a plain text format, which allows them to viewed in a basic text editor. Log files may be generated by Web servers, software installers, or a variety of applications. The data stored in a log file can be used to troubleshoot software issues or run reports.

Most log files have a .LOG file extension.

Malware

Short for "malicious software," malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. In Spanish, "mal" is a prefix that means "bad," making the term "badware," which is a good way to remember it (even if you're not Spanish).

Common examples of malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. Viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer's hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Spyware can gather data from a user's system without the user knowing it. This can include anything from the Web pages a user visits to personal information, such as credit card numbers.

It is unfortunate that there are software programmers out there with malicious intent, but it is good to be aware of the fact. You can install anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities on your computer that will seek and destroy the malicious programs they find on your computer. So join the fight against badware and install some protective utilities on your hard drive!

Markup Language

A markup language is a type of syntax used for defining elements within a document, such as a webpage or data file. It uses tags to define the beginning and end of each element. Since markup files are saved as plain text files, the code can be viewed and edited in a text editor.

Popular markup languages include HTML, SGML, and XML. HTML, which is a subset of SGML (the Standard Generalized Markup Language), is used to define the layout of webpages, as well as the elements within each page. A typical HTML page starts with a section, which may include a title, metadata, and references to one or more CSS files. The section of an HTML page defines the content, which may include text, references to image files, and links to other pages.

XML files contain custom tags that are used to define elements and sub-elements within a document. While HTML files are used to format how information is displayed, XML files are generally used to store data in a structured format. For example, an tag could be used to define an employee element within an XML data file. The tags and could be used as sub-elements to define the employee's name and position. The simplicity and flexibility of XML has made it a popular choice for sharing structured data between programs.

Meta Tage

This is a special HTML tag that is used to store information about a Web page but is not displayed in a Web browser. For example, meta tags provide information such as what program was used to create the page, a description of the page, and keywords that are relevant to the page. Many search engines use the information stored in meta tags when they index Web pages.

Metadata

Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item's content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document's metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document.

Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe the Web page's content. Most search engines use this data when adding pages to their search index.

Metafile

A metafile can refer to two different types of computer files. The first is a file that describes the contents of other files. This type of metafile may contain metadata, which defines a group other files and gives a summary of what data they contain.

The second type of metafile is most often used in computer graphics. These files define objects and images using a list of coordinates. They are typically used for vector images, such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, and EPS files, but can include raster images as well.

MySQL

MySQL, pronounced either "My S-Q-L" or "My Sequel," is an open source relational database management system. It is based on the structure query language (SQL), which is used for adding, removing, and modifying information in the database. Standard SQL commands, such as ADD, DROP, INSERT, and UPDATE can be used with MySQL.

MySQL can be used for a variety of applications, but is most commonly found on Web servers. A website that uses MySQL may include Web pages that access information from a database. These pages are often referred to as "dynamic," meaning the content of each page is generated from a database as the page loads. Websites that use dynamic Web pages are often referred to as database-driven websites.

Many database-driven websites that use MySQL also use a Web scripting language like PHP to access information from the database. MySQL commands can be incorporated into the PHP code, allowing part or all of a Web page to be generated from database information. Because both MySQL and PHP are both open source (meaning they are free to download and use), the PHP/MySQL combination has become a popular choice for database-driven websites.

Name Server

A name server translates domain names into IP addresses. This makes it possible for a user to access a website by typing in the domain name instead of the website's actual IP address. For example, when you type in "www.microsoft.com," the request gets sent to Microsoft's name server which returns the IP address of the Microsoft website.

Each domain name must have at least two name servers listed when the domain is registered. These name servers are commonly named ns1.servername.com and ns2.servername.com, where "servername" is the name of the server. The first server listed is the primary server, while the second is used as a backup server if the first server is not responding.

Name servers are a fundamental part of the Domain Name System (DNS). They allow websites to use domain names instead of IP addresses, which would be much harder to remember. In order to find out what a certain domain name's name servers are, you can use a WHOIS lookup tool.

Network

When you have two or more computers connected to each other, you have a network. The purpose of a network is to enable the sharing of files and information between multiple systems. The Internet could be described as a global network of networks. Computer networks can be connected through cables, such as Ethernet cables or phone lines, or wirelessly, using wireless networking cards that send and receive data through the air.

Offline

When a computer or other device is not turned on or connected to other devices, it is said to be "offline." This is the opposite of being "online," when a device can readily communicate with other devices. For example, if you try to print to your printer and you get one of those frustrating errors saying, "The specified printer could not be found," the printer is probably offline. You should check to see if the printer is connected properly and, yes, turned on as well.

Offline can also mean not being connected to the Internet. When you disconnect from your ISP or pull out the Ethernet cable from your computer, your computer is offline. Some programs, such as Web browsers and e-mail programs, have an option to "Work Offline." This option disables the program's network connection, meaning no data can be transmitted to or from the computer. This option was more useful when most people used dial-up connections. They didn't want their computer automatically dialing their ISP whenever a program tried to access the Internet. However, since most people now have "always on" connections such as DSL and cable modems, there usually is no reason to work offline.

Open Source

When a software program is open source, it means the program's source code is freely available to the public. Unlike commercial software, open source programs can be modified and distributed by anyone and are often developed as a community rather than by a single organization. For this reason, the phrase "open source community" is commonly used to describe the developer of open source software development projects.

Since the source code of an open source program can be modified by anyone, it makes sense that the software is also free to download and use. The terms of use are often defined by the GNU General Public License, which serves as the software license agreement (SLA) for many open source programs. Open source software development projects are often funded by donors with an interest in the project, by user donations, or through advertisements. Some developers also generate revenue by selling documentation and help manuals for the software. Other projects are funded by no more than a collective desire of developers to create a great program.

Since open source software is free to use, there is typically no technical support included with the software. Instead, users may need to rely on Web forums and user discussions to report bugs or get answers to their questions. Fortunately, the most popular open source programs have an abundance of helpful resources available on the Web. Some of the most well-known open source projects include the Linux operating system, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and the OpenOffice.org productivity suite. Each of these projects have been developed by a community of developers and have gained levels of popularity that rival their commercial counterparts.

Open source software can be a cost-effective way to run many types of programs on your computer. Just remember that since the programs are not backed by a commercial company, if you have problems using the software, you will most likely not be able to obtain technical support from the developer. Of course, if you like to figure things out on your own or participate in online discussions, open source software may be just right for you.

Page View

Each time a user visits a Web page, it is called a page view. Page views, also written "pageviews," are tracked by website monitoring applications to record a website's traffic. The more page views a website has, the more traffic it is receiving. However, since a page view is recorded each time a Web page is loaded, a single user can rack up many page views on one website. Therefore, unique page views are commonly tracked to log the number of different visitors a website receives in a given time period.

Page views are commonly confused with website hits. While people often use the term "hit" to describe a page view, technically a hit is recorded for each object that loads during a page view. For example, if a Web page contains HTML, two images, and a JavaScript reference, a single page view will record four hits. If a page contains over two hundred images, one page view will record over two hundred hits.

Page views are more similar to impressions, which are commonly tracked by online advertisers. Page views and impressions may be identical if one advertisement is placed on each page. However, if multiple ads are positioned on each page, the number of ad impressions will be greater than the number of page views.

PayPal

PayPal, the trusted leader in online payments, enables buyers and businesses to send and receive money online. PayPal has over 100 million member accounts in 190 countries and regions. It's accepted by merchants everywhere, both on and off eBay.

Is it safe to use?
PayPal helps protect your credit card information with industry-leading security and fraud prevention systems. When you use PayPal, your financial information is never shared with the merchant.

Why use PayPal?

  • Make purchases or send money with PayPal – it’s free
  • Shop and pay conveniently by saving your information with PayPal
  • PayPal is accepted by millions of businesses worldwide and is the preferred payment method on eBay
Phishing

Phishing is similar to fishing in a lake, but instead of trying to capture fish, phishers attempt to steal your personal information. They send out e-mails that appear to come from legitimate websites such as eBay, PayPal, or other banking institutions. The e-mails state that your information needs to be updated or validated and ask that you enter your username and password, after clicking a link included in the e-mail. Some e-mails will ask that you enter even more information, such as your full name, address, phone number, social security number, and credit card number. However, even if you visit the false website and just enter your username and password, the phisher may be able to gain access to more information by just logging in to you account.

Phishing is a con game that scammers use to collect personal information from unsuspecting users. The false e-mails often look surprisingly legitimate, and even the Web pages where you are asked to enter your information may look real. However, the URL in the address field can tell you if the page you have been directed to is valid or not. For example, if you are visiting an Web page on eBay, the last part of the domain name should end with "ebay.com." Therefore, "http://www.ebay.com" and "http://cgi3.ebay.com" are valid Web addresses, but "http://www.ebay.validate-info.com" and "http://ebay.login123.com" are false addresses, which may be used by phishers. If URL contains an IP address, such as 12.30.229.107, instead of a domain name, you can almost be sure someone is trying to phish for your personal information.

If you receive an e-mail that asks that you update your information and you think it might be valid, go to the website by typing the URL in your browser's address field instead of clicking the link in the e-mail. For example, go to "https://www.paypal.com" instead of clicking the link in an e-mail that appears to come from PayPal. If you are prompted to update your information after you have manually typed in the Web address and logged in, then the e-mail was probably legitimate. However, if you are not asked to update any information, then the e-mail was most likely a spoof sent by a phisher.

Most legitimate e-mails will address you by your full name at the beginning of the message. If there is any doubt that the e-mail is legitimate, be smart and don't enter your information. Even if you believe the message is valid, following the guidelines above will prevent you from giving phishers your personal information.

PHP

Stands for "Hypertext Preprocessor." (It is a recursive acronym, if you can understand what that means.) PHP is an HTML-embedded Web scripting language. This means PHP code can be inserted into the HTML of a Web page. When a PHP page is accessed, the PHP code is read or "parsed" by the server the page resides on. The output from the PHP functions on the page are typically returned as HTML code, which can be read by the browser. Because the PHP code is transformed into HTML before the page is loaded, users cannot view the PHP code on a page. This make PHP pages secure enough to access databases and other secure information.

A lot of the syntax of PHP is borrowed from other languages such as C, Java and Perl. However, PHP has a number of unique features and specific functions as well. The goal of the language is to allow Web developers to write dynamically generated pages quickly and easily. PHP is also great for creating database-driven Web sites. If you would like to learn more about PHP, the official site is PHP.net.

Ping

A ping is a test to see if a system on the Internet is working. "Pinging" a server tests and records the response time of the server. Pinging multiple computers can be helpful in finding Internet bottlenecks, so that data transfer paths can be rerouted a more efficient way. A good way to make sure you do not get disconnected from your dial-up ISP for being idle is to send a ping every 5 minutes or so. There are a number of shareware Ping programs that will do this for you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, "re-pin" images to their own pinboards, or "like" photos.

see www.pinterest.com

Pixel

The term "pixel" is actually short for "Picture Element." These small little dots are what make up the images on computer displays, whether they are flat-screen (LCD) or tube (CRT) monitors. The screen is divided up into a matrix of thousands or even millions of pixels. Typically, you cannot see the individual pixels, because they are so small. This is a good thing, because most people prefer to look at smooth, clear images rather than blocky, "pixelated" ones. However, if you set your monitor to a low resolution, such as 640x480 and look closely at your screen, you will may be able to see the individual pixels. As you may have guessed, a resolution of 640x480 is comprised of a matrix of 640 by 480 pixels, or 307,200 in all. That's a lot of little dots.

Each pixel can only be one color at a time. However, since they are so small, pixels often blend together to form various shades and blends of colors. The number of colors each pixel can be is determined by the number of bits used to represent it. For example, 8-bit color allows for 2 to the 8th, or 256 colors to be displayed. At this color depth, you may be able to see "graininess," or spotted colors when one color blends to another.

QuickTime

This is a multimedia technology developed by our friends at Apple Computer. It is a popular format for creating and storing sound, graphics, and movie (.mov) files. Though it is an Apple technology, QuickTime software is available for both the Mac and the PC. If you don't have QuickTime on your computer, or if you want to see if you have the latest version, check out Apple's QuickTime site.

Raster Graphic

Most images you see on your computer screen are raster graphics. Pictures found on the Web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster graphics. They are made up of grid of pixels, commonly referred to as a bitmap. The larger the image, the more disk space the image file will take up. For example, a 640 x 480 image requires information to be stored for 307,200 pixels, while a 3072 x 2048 image (from a 6.3 Megapixel digital camera) needs to store information for a whopping 6,291,456 pixels.

Since raster graphics need to store so much information, large bitmaps require large file sizes. Fortunately, there are several image compression algorithms that have been developed to help reduce these file sizes. JPEG and GIF are the most common compressed image formats on the Web, but several other types of image compression are available.

Raster graphics can typically be scaled down with no loss of quality, but enlarging a bitmap image causes it to look blocky and "pixelated." For this reason, vector graphics are often used for certain images, such as company logos, which need to be scaled to different sizes.

File extensions: .BMP, .TIF, .GIF, .JPG

Resolution

This term can describe either how many pixels a monitor can display or how fine a printer can print.

1. Monitors. A small monitor may have a resolution or 640 x 480, which means there are 640 pixels horizontally across the screen and 480 pixels vertically. Some other common monitor resolutions are 800 x 600, 1,024 x 768, and 1,280 x 1,024. The higher the resolution, the more that can be displayed on the screen.

2. Printers. Printer resolution measures how fine a printer can print. This measurement is known as dots per inch, or "dpi." The greater the dpi, the better the image clarity. Scanner resolution is also measured in dpi. Printed material such as brochures, magazines etc generally needs to be at least 300dpi.

3. Websites. Normal screen resolution is 72dpi. So images don't need to be as high a resolution as printed material.

 

Spam

Originating from the name of Hormel's canned meat, "spam" now also refers to junk e-mail or irrelevant postings to a newsgroup or bulletin board. The unsolicited e-mail messages you receive about refinancing your home, reversing aging, and losing those extra pounds are all considered to be spam. Spamming other people is definitely not cool and is one of the most notorious violations of Internet etiquette (or "netiquette"). So if you ever get the urge to let thousands of people know about that hot new guaranteed way to make money on the Internet, please reconsider.

Spiders

A spider is a software program that travels the Web (hence the name "spider"), locating and indexing websites for search engines. All the major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, use spiders to build and update their indexes. These programs constantly browse the Web, traveling from one hyperlink to another.

For example, when a spider visits a website's home page, there may be 30 links on the page. The spider will follow each of the links, adding all the pages it finds to the search engine's index. Of course, the new pages that the spider finds may also have links, which the spider continues to follow. Some of these links may point to pages within the same website (internal links), while others may lead to different sites (external links). The external links will cause the spider to jump to new sites, indexing even more pages.

Because of the interwoven nature of website links, spiders often return to websites that have already been indexed. This allows search engines to keep track of how many external pages link to each page. Usually, the more incoming links a page has, the higher it will be ranked in search engine results. Spiders not only find new pages and keep track of links, they also track changes to each page, helping search engine indexes stay up to date.

Spiders are also called robots and crawlers, which may be preferable for those who are not fond of arachnids. The word "spider" can also be used as verb, such as, "That search engine finally spidered my website last week."

SSL

Stands for "Secure Sockets Layer." SSL is a secure protocol developed for sending information securely over the Internet. Many websites use SSL for secure areas of their sites, such as user account pages and online checkout. Usually, when you are asked to "log in" on a website, the resulting page is secured by SSL.

SSL encrypts the data being transmitted so that a third party cannot "eavesdrop" on the transmission and view the data being transmitted. Only the user's computer and the secure server are able to recognize the data. SSL keeps your name, address, and credit card information between you and merchant to which you are providing it. Without this kind of encryption, online shopping would be far too insecure to be practical. When you visit a Web address starting with "https," the "s" after the "http" indicates the website is secure. These websites often use SSL certificates to verify their authenticity.

While SSL is most commonly seen on the Web (HTTP), it is also used to secure other Internet protocols, such as SMTP for sending e-mail and NNTP for newsgroups. Early implementations of SSL were limited to 40-bit encryption, but now most SSL secured protocols use 128-bit encryption or higher.

Static Website

A static website contains Web pages coded in HTML. The content of each page is fixed and does not change unless it is edited and republished by the webmaster. Static websites are usually small and only contain a few brochure-style Web pages. Large sites are typically designed as dynamic websites, since they are easier to maintain.

T1

This is a data transfer system that transfers digital signals at 1.544 megabits per second (quite a bit faster than a 56K modem, which maxes out at around 0.056 Mbps). Most small to mid-sized colleges and business have T1 lines for their Internet connections. Because of the T1's large bandwidth, hundreds of people can be accessing the Internet from one T1 line. However, like all good things, too many people on one T1 line can cause dramatic decreases in data transfer speeds. For this reason, multiple T1s are often used.

T3

What about T2, you ask? For some reason, there just is no such thing.  If a T1 connection just isn't going to cut it for you, a T3 should do the trick. However, if you thought a T3 was 3 times faster than a T1 connection, you're slightly off. A T3 line actually 30 times faster, supporting data transfer rates of 44.736 megabits per second. What I wouldn't do to have one of those in my basement...

Tag

On clothes, tags usually indicate the brand, size of the garment, fabrics used, and the washing instructions. In Web pages, tags indicate what should be displayed on the screen when the page loads. Tags are the basic formatting tool used in HTML (hypertext markup language) and other markup languages, such as XML. For example, to create a table on a Web page, the

tag is used. The data that should be inside the table follows the
tag, and the table is closed with a
tag.

 

If you want something to show up in bold on a Web page, you would use the bold tag. For example, the line:

 

This site is the best website ever!

 

would show up as: This site is the best website ever!

Tags are a fundemental part of HTML and they are pretty simple to understand.

Upload

While downloading is receiving a file from another computer, uploading is the exact opposite. It is sending a file from your computer to another system. Pretty straight forward. It is possible to upload and download at the same time, but it may cause slower transfer speeds, especially if you have a low bandwidth connection. Because most files are located on Internet servers, people generally do a lot more downloading than uploading.

URI

Stands for "Uniform Resource Identifier." A URI identifies the name and location of a file or resource in a uniform format. It includes a string of characters for the filename and may also contain the path to the directory of the file. URIs provide a standard way for resources to be accessed by other computers across a network or over the World Wide Web. They are used by software programs such as Web browsers and P2P file-sharing programs to locate and download files.

URIs are similar to URLs in that they specify the location of a file. However, a URI may refer to all or part a URL. For example, Apple's iMac Design URL is http://www.apple.com/imac/design.html. The URI of this resource may be defined as just "design.html" or "/imac/design.html." These are called relative URIs since they identify the resource relative to a specific location. The complete URL would be referred to as an absolute URI.

Because URLs and URIs are similar, they are often used interchangeably. In most cases, this is acceptable since the two terms often refer to the same thing. The difference is that a URI can be used to describe a file's name or location, or both, while a URL specifically defines a resource's location.

URL

Stands for "Uniform Resource Locator." A URL is the address of a specific Web site or file on the Internet. It cannot have spaces or certain other characters and uses forward slashes to denote different directories. Some examples of URLs are http://www.cnet.com/, http://web.mit.edu/, and ftp://info.apple.com/. As you can see, not all URLs begin with "http". The first part of a URL indicates what kind of resource it is addressing. Here is a list of the different resource prefixes:

  • http - a hypertext directory or document (such as a Web page)
  • ftp - a directory of files or an actual file available to download
  • gopher - a gopher document or menu
  • telnet - a Unix-based computer system that you can log into
  • news - a newsgroup
  • WAIS - a database or document on a Wide Area Information Search database
  • file - a file located on your hard drive or some other local drive

The second part of a URL (after the "://") contains the address of the computer being located as well as the path to the file. For example, in "http://www.cnet.com/Content/Reports/index.html," "www.cnet.com" is the address or domain name of the host computer and "/Content/Reports/index.html" is the path to the file. When a address ends with a slash and not something like ".html" or ".php," the Web server typically defaults to a file in the current directory named "index.html," "index.htm," or "index.php." So, if you type in "http://www.apple.com/" and "http://www.apple.com/index.html," you should get the same page. Go ahead and try it if you have nothing better to do.

Vector

Mathematically, a vector is a quantity, defined by both magnitude and direction. For example, a vector could be illustrated by an 1 inch arrow pointing at a 30 degree angle. Another vector may be 2.5 inches and point at a 160 degree angle. In the computer world, vectors are used to define paths in certain types of images, such as EPS files and Adobe Illustrator documents. These images are often called vector graphics since they are comprised of vectors, or paths, instead of dots. Vector graphics can be scaled larger or smaller without losing quality.

Vector Graphics

Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, and BMP images, vector graphics are not made up of a grid of pixels. Instead, vector graphics are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams. Paths are even used to define the characters of specific typefaces.

Because vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality. If you blow up a raster graphic, it will look blocky, or "pixelated." When you blow up a vector graphic, the edges of each object within the graphic stay smooth and clean. This makes vector graphics ideal for logos, which can be small enough to appear on a business card, but can also be scaled to fill a billboard. Common types of vector graphics include Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, and EPS files. Many Flash animations also use vector graphics, since they scale better and typically take up less space than bitmap images.

File extensions: .AI, .EPS, .SVG, .DRW

Web host

In order to publish a website online, you need a Web host. The Web host stores all the pages of your website and makes them available to computers connected to the Internet. The domain name, such as "coastcreative.com.au," is actually linked to an IP address that points to a specific computer. When somebody enters your domain name into their browser's address field, the IP address is located and Web site is loaded from your Web host.

A Web host can have anywhere from one to several thousand computers that run Web hosting software, such as Apache, OS X Server, or Windows Server. Most websites you see on the Web are accessed from a "shared host," which is a single computer that can host several hundred Web sites. Larger websites often use a "dedicated host," which is a single machine that hosts only one website. Sites with extremely high amounts of traffic, such as apple.com or microsoft.com, use several computers to host one site.

If you want to publish your own website, you'll need to sign up for a "Web hosting service." Coast Creative Services offers quality and cost-effective website hosting services.

Web Page

Web pages are what make up the World Wide Web. These documents are written in HTML (hypertext markup language) and are translated by your Web browser. Web pages can either be static or dynamic. Static pages show the same content each time they are viewed. Dynamic pages have content that can change each time they are accessed. These pages are typically written in scripting languages such as PHP, Perl, ASP, or JSP. The scripts in the pages run functions on the server that return things like the date and time, and database information. All the information is returned as HTML code, so when the page gets to your browser, all the browser has to do is translate the HTML.

Please note that a Web page is not the same thing as a Web site. A Web site is a collection of pages. A Web page is an individual HTML document. This is a good distinction to know, as most techies have little tolerance for people who mix up the two terms.

Webmail

There are two primary ways of checking your e-mail – using an e-mail program like Microsoft Outlook or with a Web-based interface called webmail. When you check or send e-mail via the Web, you are using webmail. Most free e-mail services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail offer webmail interfaces that allow you to send, receive, and organize your e-mail on the Web. If you own a domain name, many Web hosts also offer a webmail interface to use with your domain name or website. Some common webmail systems supported by Web hosts include Horde, NeoMail, and SquirrelMail.

Because webmail is run from a server, the messages downloaded to your inbox are saved on the mail server. This is convenient since you can check your mail and browse old messages from any computer as long as you have an Internet connection. The downside is that, since the messages are not downloaded to your computer, you need an Internet connection to view your messages – even ones that you have already viewed.

All Coast Creative hosting accounts have Webmail.

Webmaster

The webmaster is the person in charge of maintaining a Web site. The jobs of a webmaster include writing Code for Web pages, organizing the Web site's structure, responding to e-mails about the Web site, and keeping the site up-to-date. On some Web sites you might see a phrase that says, "send dead links and other Web site problems to webmaster@domainname.com."

Website

A website, or Web site, is not the same thing as a Web page. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they should not be. So what's the difference? To put it simply, a Web site is a collection of Web pages. For example, Amazon.com is a Web site, but there are millions of Web pages that make up the site.

WHOIS

This is an Internet service that finds information about a domain name or IP address. If you enter a domain name in a WHOIS search engine, it will scour a huge database of domains and return information about the one you entered. This information typically contains the name, address, and phone number of the administrative, billing, and technical contacts of the domain name. WHOIS can also be used to simply check if a certain domain name is available or if it has already been registered.

WYSIWYG

Stands for "What You See Is What You Get," and is pronounced "wihzeewig." WYSIWYG refers to software that accurately represents the final output during the development phase. For example, a desktop publishing program such as Photoshop is a WYSIWYG graphics program because it can display images on the screen the same way they will look when printed on paper. Word processing programs like Microsoft Word and Apple Pages are both WYSIWYG editors, because they include page layout modes that accurately display what the documents will look when printed.

While WYSIWYG originally referred to programs that produce physical output, the term is now also used to describe applications that produce software output. For example, most Web development programs are called WYSIWYG editors since they show what Web pages will look like as the developer is creating them. This means that the developer can move text and images around the page to make it appear exactly how he or she wants before publishing the page on the Web. When the page is published, it should appear nearly the same on the Web as the way it looked in the Web development program. Of course, as most Web developers know, there is no guarantee that a Web page will look the same in two different browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox. But at least a WYSIWYG editor can give developers a close approximation of what the published page will look like.

XHTML

Stands for "Extensible Hypertext Markup Language." Yes, apparently "Extensible" starts with an "X." XHTML is a spinoff of the hypertext markup language (HTML) used for creating Web pages. It is based on the HTML 4.0 syntax, but has been modified to follow the guidelines of XML, the Extensible Markup Language. Therefore, XHTML 1.0 is sometimes referred to as HTML 5.0.

Because XHTML is "extensible," Web developers can create their own objects and tags for each Web page they build. This gives the developers more control over the appearance and organization of their Web pages. The only requirement is that the custom tags and attributes are defined in a document type definition (DTD), that is referenced by the XHTML page.

XHTML pages must also conform to a more strict syntax than regular HTML pages. While Web browsers are rather lenient and forgiving of HTML syntax, XHTML pages must have perfect syntax. This means no missing quotes or incorrect capitalization in the markup language. While the strict syntax requires more meticulous Web page creation, it also ensures Web pages will appear more uniform across different browser platforms.

XML

Stands for "Extensible Markup Language." (Yes, technically it should be EML). XML is used to define documents with a standard format that can be read by any XML-compatible application. The language can be used with HTML pages, but XML itself is not a markup language. Instead, it is a "metalanguage" that can be used to create markup languages for specific applications. For example, it can describe items that may be accessed when a Web page loads. Basically, XML allows you to create a database of information without having an actual database. While it is commonly used in Web applications, many other programs can use XML documents as well.

Yahoo

Yahoo! is one of the Internet's leading search engines. It is also the largest Web portal, providing links to thousands of other websites. These links include sites from the Yahoo! Directory as well as news stories that are updated several times a day.

Besides being a portal and search engine, Yahoo! offers several other services as well. Some of these services include:

  • Yahoo! Finance - stock quotes and financial information
  • Yahoo! Shopping - online retail and price comparison services
  • Yahoo! Games - online games playable over the Internet
  • Yahoo! Groups - organized discussions among Internet users
  • Yahoo! Travel - travel information and booking services
  • Yahoo! Maps - maps and directions
  • Yahoo! Messenger - instant messaging
  • Yahoo! Mail - free Web-based e-mail

To learn more about Yahoo! services, visit the Yahoo! home page.

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing website owned by Google that allows users to watch other people's videos and publish their own. It allows both professional and amateur users to post videos, which can be viewed by anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Videos uploaded to YouTube are available at YouTube.com and may also be posted on other websites. When a YouTube video finishes playing, the user is presented with a list of related videos that he or she may find interesting. This can make watching YouTube videos an addicting hobby.

ZIP

Windows users will see this term a lot when looking for files on the Internet. A zip file (.zip) is a "zipped" or compressed file. For example, when you download a file, if the filename looks like this: "filename.zip," you are downloading a zipped file. "Zipping" a file involves compressing one or more items into a smaller archive. A zipped file takes up less hard drive space and takes less time to transfer to another computer. This is why most Windows files that you find on the Internet are compressed.

To use a zipped file, you'll need to unzip it first. PKZIP for DOS, or WinZip for Windows, are some popular programs that can unzip files for you. 

The term "Zip" also refers to a product by Iomega. The company makes a removable storage device called a Zip Drive. Depending on the model, these drives can hold 100, 250 or 750 MB Zip disks. They are usually used for backup and for transferring large files to different locations. However, Zip drives are not as fast as hard drives, so it is usually not a good idea to run programs off them.