Glossary of Terms
- (Application Programming
Interface) A set of subroutines or functions that a program, or application,
can call to tell the operating system to perform some task. The Windows API
consists of more than 1,000 functions that programs written in C, C++, Pascal,
and other languages can call to create windows, open files, and perform other
essential tasks. An application that wants to display an on-screen message can
call Windows' MessageBox API function, for example. ASCII (American Standard
Code for Information Interchange) The standard code that is used for
information transfer between data processing systems. It is the most common
format for PC files.
- (Application-Specific Integrated
Circuit) An integrated-circuit chip designed for a particular use rather than
general use. Many video boards and modems use ASICs.
- Ratio of screen height to width,
such as 640 x 480 (VGA), 800 x 600 (SVGA), 1024 x 768.
- (AT Attachment) The
specification, formulated in the 1980s by a consortium of hardware and software
manufacturers, that defines the IDE drive interface. AT refers to the IBM PC/AT
personal computer and its bus architecture. IDE drives are sometimes referred
to as ATA drives or AT bus drives. The newer ATA-2 specification defines the
EIDE interface, which improves upon the IDE standard. (See also IDE and EIDE.)
- A structured approach to
combining all media elements within an interactive program, assisted by
computer software designed for this purpose.
- A high level computer
programming facility with natural language or mnemonic commands specifically
designed to implement interactive applications.
- One of DOS's start-up files.
Issues PATH commands and loads TSRs automatically every time you start your PC.
Can be used to start Windows automatically.
- A communications company located
in Dayton, Ohio. Founded in 1975, this highly creative group of individuals
specializes in Interactive Software development and Multimedia productions.
- The process of gathering data
from the field to determine if the presentation /course meets the objectives
and goals as originally described; sometimes referred to as Validation.
- (Basic Input/Output System)
Control software stored in a read-only memory chip on a motherboard, expansion
board, or other circuit board. Your PC includes CPU BIOS on the motherboard and
video BIOS on the display board.
- The smallest unit of data
managed by a computer. 8-bit computers process data 8 bits at a time, 16-bit
computers process data 16 bits at a time, and so forth.
- A computer graphic stored as a
collection of pixels and their locations. Bitmap graphics come in a variety of
file formats (including .BMP, the Windows PaintBrush file format), and tend to
lose their image quality if you scale them.
Bits Per Second
- (BPS) How fast modems send and
receive data. A 14.4 modem moves 14,400 bits per second; a 28.8 modem, also
known as a V.34 (say it V-dot-three-four) is twice as fast. An earlier term,
baud, is considered archaic.
- A generic term for a PC
expansion board that is designed to occupy an expansion slot in your PC.
Sometimes called a "card" or "adapter."
- The process of starting up your
PC and starting DOS.
- The options available at a
decision point in a program or presentation.
- Software to view the graphical
"pages" of the World Wide Web.
Bulletin Board System
- (BBS) A computer system that
serves as an information and messaging center for a group of users who can dial
in and connect using a modem and communications software. A computer service
similar to an online service, but usually smaller (and cheaper) with fewer
users, fewer features and a narrow focus. A bulletin board is also any online
or Internet area for posting messages. Some sophisticated BBS's are called
online information services.
- The internal connection, or
pathway, between components of a PC. A bus has a certain bandwidth and clock
speed, which together affect its ability to carry data. Sometimes used as a
synonym for expansion slot.
- A unit of computer memory used
to store numeric or character information. Usually, memory size is stated as
"nK" bytes, where "nK" represents the number of 1024 byte
memory segments (e.g., 640 K bytes). For example, a PC works with 8-bit bytes;
each byte represents one character (letter, number, or symbol).
- A powerful language used by
sophisticated programmers for general purposes, including complex interactive
- Memory reserved for holding data
expected to be used soon. Caches anticipate data needs to speed up the
effective operation of CPUs and disk drives.
- (Computer-Assisted Instruction)
One application of CBT that involves an on-line interactive process between a
learner and a computerized delivery system, in which the computer assumes a
direct instructional role.
- A computer board with printed
circuitry and components that plugs into the computer's system board to provide
a special feature or function. Also called an adapter (card).
- (Computer-Based Training) An
interactive instructional experience between a computer and a learner in which
the computer provides the majority of the stimulus and the learner responds;
progress toward increased knowledge or skill results.
- (Compact Disc - Interactive) A
CD format that provides interleaved data, audio and video information on a CD.
It is designed for inexpensive, stand-alone players, probably for the consumer
or school market.
- (Compact Disc - Read only
Memory) A format for recording data on 12 cm. optical discs.
- (CD-ROM eXtended Architecture) A
format for recording compressed digital audio at lower qualities, allowing
capacity to increase from four to nineteen hours on a single CD.
- An individual byte of
information. Characters may be text, graphic, control code, or ASCII.
- Areas on an online service, BBS
or the Internet that allow real-time, typed-in communication with other people.
- (Complex Instruction-Set
Computing) Pronounced "sisk." A microprocessor architecture that
favors robustness of the instruction set over the speed with which individual
instructions are executed. The Intel 486 and Pentium are both examples of CISC
microprocessors. (See the Tutor column of October 24, 1995.) (See also RISC.)
- (Computer-Managed Instruction) A
CBT application in which the computer manages a learner's progress through a
training program or course. A CMI system supports instruction by selecting,
presenting, and scoring tests; recording user progress data; providing feedback
on learner drill and practice and test performance; and prescribing use of
various learning resources (e.g., video, textbooks, slide-tapes, reference
- (Complementary Metal-Oxide
Semiconductor Random Access Memory) A bank of memory that stores a PC's
permanent configuration information, including type identifiers for the drives
installed in the PC and the amount of RAM present.
- A DOS configuration file, ready
by DOS every time you start your PC.
- The pull-down menu that drops
down when you click the extreme upper-left corner of a program's main window
(the corner is marked by an icon with a long dash in it). The same menu
displays when you click a program icon. The Control Menu enables you to resize
an application window, call the task manager to switch to another task, or use
optional features of the program.
- Software instructional material
for CBT applications.
- (Central Processing Unit)
Generally used to refer to your PC's core microprocessor - 386, 486, and so
forth. A formal term for the microprocessor chip that powers a personal
computer. The Intel Pentium chip is one example of a CPU. The term sometimes
also refers to the case that houses this chip. (See also FPU.)
- (Cyclical Redundancy Check) A
mathematical method that permits errors in long runs of data to be detected
with a very high degree of accuracy. Before data is transmitted over a phone,
for example, the sender can compute a 32-bit CRC value from the data's
contents. If the receiver computes a different CRC value, then the data was
corrupted during transmission. Matching CRC values confirm with near certainty
that the data was transmitted intact.
- (Cathode-Ray Tube) The tube of a
television or monitor in which rays of electrons are beamed onto a
phosphorescent screen to produce images. Often used as a generic term for a
- A movable point of light on a
display monitor that usually indicates where the next character or pixel is to
be entered, deleted, or replaced.
- To develope an Interactive Sales
Tool specifically to your needs and objectives. This is precisely what the
Avtech company will do for you!
- The metaphoric space where
electronic communication takes place. Everything in Cyberspace is
"virtual" - not physically real, perhaps, but a shared experience
- A collection of data stored in
- (Display Control Interface) A
component of Windows that works in conjunction with the GDI to speed up video
playback operations. Originally a key piece of the Windows 95 graphics
architecture, DCI was recently abandoned in favor of Microsoft's newer and more
powerful Direct Draw interface. (See also DDI and GDI.)
- (Dynamic Data Exchange) A
mechanism used in Windows to transfer data between two applications or two
separate instances of the same application. Windows itself uses DDE for a
variety of purposes, from opening documents in running applications when a
document icon is double-clicked in the shell to obtaining program icons for DOS
applications. DDE is also used to support OLE. (See also OLE).
- A value or condition assumed by
the system, unless specifically overridden.
- To conceive and plan; to draw
the plans for. Also, the plan itself. Interactive Software Development requires
design from the broadest outline of the program down to the specific
arrangement of the elements in each screen.
- Refers to the phase of
implementation when documents such as storyboards, production flowcharts,
talent scripts, graphic lists, production lists, and authoring outlines are
created. The input to this phase is the detail design document.
- A generic name for optical
recording media (as opposed to "disk" which refers to magnetic
- A magnetic storage device for a
computer. (See Diskette or Hard Disk.)
- A thin, flexible magnetic disk
in a semi-rigid protective jacket. Used to store and retrieve data. Synonymous
with Flexible Disk and Floppy Diskette.
- (Dynamic Link Library) A special
type of Windows program containing functions that other programs can call,
resources (such as icons) that other programs can use, or both. Unlike a
standard programming library, whose functions are linked into an application
when the application's code is compiled, an application that uses functions in
a DLL links with those functions at runtime-hence the term dynamic.
- (Direct Memory Access) A
technique that some hardware devices use to transfer data to or from memory
directly without requiring the involvement of the CPU.
- (Disk Operating System) Software
that manages data transfer, program execution, and access to peripheral
- To electronically copy a file to
your computer from another computer.
- (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
Pronounced "dee-ram." The readable/writable memory used to store data
in personal computers. DRAM stores each bit of information in a
"cell" composed of a capacitor and a transistor. Because the
capacitor in a DRAM cell can hold a charge for only a few milliseconds, DRAM
must be continually refreshed in order to retain its data. Static RAM, or SRAM,
requires no refresh and delivers better performance, but it is more expensive
to manufacture. (See also EDO RAM and SRAM.)
- A device that stores and
- A computer program segment that
controls peripheral devices and drives.
- (Digital Signal Processor) A
microprocessor-like device designed to process electrical signals very quickly,
just as an FPU is designed to perform floating-point math at high speeds. DSPs
are used for a variety of devices in personal computers, including high-speed
modems, multimedia sound boards, and real-time audio/video compression and
- (Extended Data-Out Random Access
Memory) A form of DRAM that speeds accesses to consecutive locations in memory
by (1) assuming that the next memory access will target an address in the same
transistor row as the previous one and (2) latching data at the output of the
chip so it can be read even as the inputs are being changed for the next memory
location. EDO RAM reduces memory access times by an average of about 10 percent
compared with standard DRAM chips and costs only a little more to manufacture.
EDO RAM has already replaced DRAM in many computers, and the trend is expected
- (Enhanced Dynamic Random Access
Memory) A form of DRAM that boosts performance by placing a small complement of
static RAM (SRAM) in each DRAM chip and using the SRAM as a cache. Also known
as cached DRAM, or CDRAM.
- (Electrically Erasable
Programmable Read-Only Memory) Pronounced "ee-ee-prom." A special
type of read-only memory (ROM) that can be erased and written electrically.
EEPROM is frequently used for system-board BIOSes so that a computer's BIOS can
be updated just like a piece of software. (See also ROM, EPROM, and
- (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) A
computer graphics format that provides 16 colors (See VGA.)
- (Enhanced Integrated Device
Electronics or Enhanced Intelligent Drive Electronics) An enhanced version of
the IDE drive interface that expands the maximum disk size from 504 MB to 8.4
GB, more than doubles the maximum data transfer rate, and supports up to four
drives per PC (as opposed to two in IDE systems). Now that hard disks with
capacities of 1 GB or more are commonplace in PCs, EIDE is an extremely popular
interface. EIDE's primary competitor is SCSI-2, which also supports large hard
disks and high transfer rates. (See also IDE and SCSI.)
- (Extended Industry Standard
Architecture) Pronounced "ee-suh." An open 32-bit bus architecture
developed by Compaq and a consortium of computer vendors to counter the
proprietary Micro Channel architecture proffered by IBM. Unlike the Micro
Channel, an EISA bus is backward-compatible with 8- and 16-bit expansion cards
designed for the ISA bus. Despite its 32-bit design and other promising
features (such as bus arbitration and support for burst-mode data transfers),
EISA never gained widespread acceptance, in part because of the substantially
higher cost required to manufacture EISA buses and adapters.
- Electronic mail messages from
one user to another (or to a group).
- Also called smileys or winkies,
they are little punctuation faces that add body language to cybercommunication.
A smiley looks like this :) or, with a nose, like this :-) and a winky is this
- (Expanded Memory Specification)
A bank-switched memory management scheme developed by Intel, Lotus, and
Microsoft that allows MS-DOS applications (normally limited to 640K of memory)
to access vast quantities of memory. The first widely accepted version of the
EMS specification, Version 3.2, supported up to 8MB of memory, and Version 4.0
increased the limit to 32MB. Memory that conforms to this standard is often
referred to as expanded memory. EMS memory has been all but made obsolete by
protected-mode operating systems such as Windows.
- The individual who interacts
with the completed application.
- (Enhanced Parallel Port) A
parallel port that conforms to the EPP standard developed by the IEEE
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 1284 standards committee.
The EPP specification transforms a parallel port into an expansion bus that can
handle up to 64 disk drives, tape drives, CD-ROM drives, and other mass-storage
devices. EPPs are rapidly gaining acceptance as inexpensive means to connect
portable drives to notebook computers.
- (erasable programmable read-only
memory) Pronounced "ee-prom." A special form of ROM that can be
erased by high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light and then rewritten, or
"reprogrammed," in a manner similar to common DRAM. EPROM chips
normally contain UV-permeable quartz windows exposing the chips' internals.
(See also ROM and EEPROM.)
- (File Allocation Table)
Pronounced "fat." The file system used by DOS and 16-bit versions of
Windows to manage files stored on hard disks, floppy disks, and other disk
media. The file system takes its name from an on-disk data structure known as
the file allocation table, which records where individual portions of each file
are located on the disk. (See also VFAT.)
- The flow of information about
the outcome of an action back to the source of the action so that it may be
used to improve subsequent actions. Can be an acknowledgement, confirmation,
prompt or hint, reinforcement, correction, explanation, or referral to another
source for information. For instructional systems design purposes, synonymous
with knowledge of results.
- Information such as data, text,
or a program that is stored as a unit under a specific file name.
- Noun or verb; a nasty online
message or personal attack, often sent in response to a posting the flamer
- A typeface, either on your
display (screen font) or on your printer (printer font).
- An online area focusing on a
particular topic; the new-age forum on CompuServe has bulletin boards, a chat
room and a library.
- (Floating-Point Unit) A formal
term for the math coprocessors (also called numeric data processors, or NDPs)
found in many personal computers. The Intel 80387 is one example of an FPU.
FPUs perform certain calculations faster than CPUs because they specialize in
floating-point math, whereas CPUs are geared for integer math. Today, most FPUs
are integrated with the CPU rather than packaged and sold separately. (See also
- (File Transfer Protocol) A set
of rules that allows two computers to talk to each other as a file transfer is
carried out. This is the protocol used when you download a file to your
computer from another computer on the Internet.
- A key, or combination of keys,
used to perform a specific function.
- (Graphics Device Interface) The
component of Windows that permits applications to draw on screens, printers,
and other output devices. The GDI provides hundreds of convenient functions for
drawing lines, circles, and polygons; rendering fonts; querying devices for
their output capabilities; and more.
- A format for transmitting
photos. A newer photo format: JPEG (say it JAY-peg.
- 1,000 Megabytes.
- A way to search for information
on the 'Net with a program that lets you burrow into a remote computer's files
through on-screen menus. Also the mascot at University of Minnesota, where the
program was born.
- Any pictorial representation of
- (PC) Text or pictorial artwork
created with computer-generated graphics software and then stored on the PC
hard disk or CD-ROM. Types of graphics include: Image (Bit Mapped), Vector,
- A rigid magnetic disk within a
computer. The storage capacity is much greater than a flexible diskette.
- Usually refers to a delayed
attempt to assist the learner in obtaining the acceptable or correct response
by supplying additional information or calling attention to certain parts of
the information the learner already has.
- A main page on the Web.
Companies and organizations have home pages that serve as virtual brochures;
individuals' home pages often share personal passions.
- (Hypertext Markup Language) An
ASCII text-based, scriptlike language for creating hypertext documents like
those on the Internet's World-Wide Web.
- Hidden codes that let users
click on a highlighted word or phrase to automatically access a related site.
Hypertext markup language (HTML) is the language in which Web pages are written
and linked; hypertext transfer protocol (http) is how information is sent over
- The graphics associated with a
function to be performed - usually appears as a graphic picture that suggests
- (Integrated Development
Environment) A term for products such as Microsoft's Visual C++ and Borland's
Delphi that combine a program editor, a compiler, a debugger, and other
development tools into one integrated unit. The forerunner of all modern IDEs,
Borland's Turbo Pascal changed the way programmers write code by allowing
programs to be edited and compiled within the same application.
- IDE (Integrated Device
Electronics or Intelligent Drive Electronics) A drive-interface specification
for small to medium-size hard disks (disks with capacities up to 504MB) in
which all the drive's control electronics are part of the drive itself, rather
than on a separate adapter connecting the drive to the expansion bus. This high
level of integration shortens the signal paths between drives and controllers,
permitting higher data transfer rates and simplifying adapter cards. IDE drives
have virtually replaced the Enhanced Small Device Interface (ESDI) drives that
enjoyed widespread acceptance in the late 1980s. (See also EIDE and
- In my humble opinion. Often
appended to opinionated posted views.
- The phase in which the
application is installed.
- An individual who designs the
instructional strategy and content flow of an interactive program based on
specific objectives and application analyses.
- The active participation and
involvement of a user in directing his/her own movement through an application
program by making choices, answering questions or controlling the
- A term describing a learning
process in which the user and the system alternate in addressing each other.
Typically, each is capable of selecting alternative actions based on the
actions of the other.
- (Input/Output) A general term
for reading and writing data on a computer. The term "file I/O," for
example, refers to the act of reading or writing information in a disk
- (Interrupt Request) A signal
from a hardware device such as a keyboard or a drive controller indicating that
it needs the CPU's attention. IRQ signals are transmitted along IRQ lines,
which connect peripheral devices to a programmable interrupt controller, or
PIC. The PIC prioritizes the incoming interrupt requests from different devices
and delivers them to the CPU one at a time via a dedicated IRQ line connecting
the PIC to the CPU.
- (Industry Standard Architecture)
Pronounced "eye-suh." The 8- and 16-bit bus design featured in the
IBM PC/AT and still used today in one form or another in most PCs. (See also
EISA and MCA.)
- (Integrated Services Digital
Network) The CCITT (Comite Consultatif Internationale de Telegraphie et
Telephonie) standard that defines a digital communications network geared to
replace the world's analog telephone systems. Among other things, ISDN provides
superior dial-up connections for transferring information between computers and
connecting to the Internet, because it supports data transfer rates of 128
kilobits per second (Kbps), compared with 14.4 Kbps and 28.8 Kbps for the
fastest modems. It also permits voice and data signals to share the same phone
- (Joint Photographic Experts
Group) Pronounced "jay-peg." A lossy image-compression algorithm that
often reduces the size of bitmapped images by a factor of 10 or more with
little or no discernible image degradation. JPEG compression works by filtering
out an image's high-frequency information to reduce the volume of data and then
compressing the resulting data with a lossless compression algorithm.
Low-frequency information does more to define the characteristics of an image,
so losing some high-frequency information doesn't necessarily affect the image
- K or Kb - Kilobyte; 1024 bytes
- 1,024 bytes, usually abbreviated
- A self-contained, free-standing
unit used to house an interactive system. Usually designed for use in public
- (Liquid Crystal Display) A
display technology that relies on polarizing filters and liquid-crystal cells
rather than phosphors illuminated by electron beams to produce an on-screen
image. To control the intensity of the red, green, and blue dots that comprise
pixels, an LCD's control circuitry applies varying charges to the
liquid-crystal cells through which polarized light passes on its way to the
screen. The amount of light that makes it through to the screen depends on the
amount of charge applied to the corresponding cell and thus the degree to which
the light is "twisted" before it passes through a second polarizing
filter and a red, green, or blue color mask. Laptops, notebooks, PDAs, and
other types of portable computers commonly use LCDs. (See also CRT.)
- (Messaging Application
Programming Interface) Pronounced "map-e." An API developed by
Microsoft and other computer vendors that provides Windows applications with an
implementation-independent interface to various messaging systems such as
Microsoft Mail, Novell's MHS, and IBM's PROFS. A subset of MAPI known as Simple
MAPI lets developers easily create "mail-aware" applications capable
of exchanging messages and data files with other network clients.
- (Media Control Interface) The
Windows component that allows multimedia devices such as CD-ROM drives and
videodisk players to be programmed using high-level function calls that
insulate the software from the nuances of the hardware. You can use the MCI
play command, for example, to play a song on an audio CD or a video clip on a
videodisc player. MCI drivers provided with Windows translate the play command
into low-level commands specific to the intended output device.
- Material or technical means of
artistic communication using forms such as film, art, voice, computer
- 1,024 kilobytes, or over 1
- The area within the computer
which stores recorded information, either permanently or temporarily. Usually
measured in terms of nK (e.g., 640K) where K represents one 1024 byte segment,
or n "megs" which represents a megabyte, or 1024K bytes.
- A screen display designed to
present learners with a number of fixed options and allow them to choose the
option they desire. Can be hierarchically structured, or nested, using
sub-menus (i.e., more detailed options within an overall menu).
- Refers to a program, the running
of which is controlled by a menu; presents successive menus to the user as
prompts for each step.
- (Musical Instrument Digital
Interface) Pronounced "middy." A specification that standardizes the
interface between computers and digital devices that simulate musical
instruments. Rather than transmit bulky digitized sound samples, a computer
generates music on a MIDI synthesizer by sending commands just a few bytes in
length characterizing the pitch and duration of sounds (and the instruments
that produce them) through a unidirectional serial cable. Each channel of a
MIDI synthesizer corresponds to a different instrument, or "voice,"
and you can program several channels simultaneously to produce symphonic
- Short for Modulator/demodulator,
a communications device that enables a computer to transmit information over a
standard telephone line. A modem translates (modulates) digital data to analog
signal for transmission over telephone lines and then back to digital
(demodulates) at the other end. Modems can transmit at different speeds or data
- Black and white.
- The main circuit board in a PC.
The motherboard contains the CPU, the memory, the expansion slots, and
- A hand-held electronic device
used to facilitate cursor movement and information entry into a PC.
- (Motion Picture Experts Group)
Pronounced "em-peg." A multimedia video playback standard that allows
digital video to be compressed using a combination of JPEG image compression
and a sophisticated form of differencing-encoding a video sequence by recording
differences between frames rather than entire images of each frame. There are
two MPEG standards: MPEG-1, which supports a playback quality roughly equal to
that of a VCR, and MPEG-2, which supports high-quality digital video. MPEG-1 is
the form normally used with personal computers. (See also JPEG.)
- Once used to refer to computer
controlled sound/slide presentations; now used as a generic term for sound and
image-based applications delivered with a variety of technologies.
- In marketing applications, a
description of existing, perceived, or created needs of the intended
- A group of computers and
associated devices that are connected by communications facilities (both
hardware and software) for the purpose of sharing information and peripheral
devices such as printers and modems.
- (Network Operating System) An
operating system such as Novell NetWare that provides basic file system
services and supervisory functions to computers connected by a network.
- (NT File System) The file system
that is native to Microsoft Windows NT. NTFS is probably the most advanced file
system available for personal computers, featuring superior performance,
excellent security and crash protection, and the ability to handle large
volumes of data. (See also FAT and HPFS.)
- (Optical Character Recognition)
A technology that allows dots or pixels comprising characters in a bitmapped
image to be converted into ASCII text. OCR is frequently combined with scanners
to scan documents into a computer and convert the resulting information into
- (Open Database Connectivity) A
standard promulgated by Microsoft that allows databases created by various
database management programs-such as dBASE, Microsoft Access, Microsoft FoxPro,
and Oracle-to be accessed using a common interface independent of the database
file format. By relying on ODBC, one can write an application that uses the
same code to read records from a dBASE file or a FoxPro file. Internally, ODBC
drivers use a form of SQL to carry out database operations. (See also SQL and
- (Object Linking and Embedding)
Pronounced "oh-lay." A complex specification that describes the
interfaces used for such tasks as embedding objects created by one application
within documents created by another, performing drag-and-drop data transfers
within or between applications, creating automation servers that expose their
inner functionality to other programs, extending the Windows 95 shell with
custom DLLs, and much more. Version 1.0 of the specification was originally
created for placing objects such as Excel spreadsheets inside documents created
by other applications such as Microsoft Word for Windows. OLE 2.0 greatly
expanded the scope of OLE and made the original name obsolete, but the name had
achieved widespread recognition and was retained.
- The available colors for a
graphics screen; some or all of them may be displayed at one time, depending
upon the graphics system.
- (Peripheral Component Interface)
A 32/64-bit local bus architecture developed by DEC, IBM, Intel, and others
that is widely used in Pentium-based PCs. A PCI bus provides a high-bandwidth
data channel between system-board components such as the CPU and devices such
as hard disks and video adapters. PCI is one of two widely adopted local-bus
standards. The other, the VL-Bus, is primarily used in 486 PCs. (See also
- (Printer Control Language) The
printer language that drives HP DeskJet, LaserJet, and other Hewlett-Packard
printers. PCL defines a standard set of commands enabling applications to
communicate with HP or HP-compatible printers.
- (Personal Computer Memory Card
International Association) A consortium of computer manufacturers that devised
the standard for the credit card-size adapter cards used in many notebook
computers. PCMCIA defines three card types: Type I cards can be up to 3.3 mm
thick and are generally used for RAM and ROM expansion cards; Type II cards can
be as thick as 5.5 mm and typically house modems and fax modems; Type III cards
are the largest of the lot (up to 10.5 mm thick) and are mostly used for
miniature hard disks. PCMCIA support is a major component of Windows 95's Plug
and Play architecture, which automatically recognizes when PCMCIA devices are
added and removed. (The simpler term PC Card has largely replaced this acronym
to refer to these cards.)
- (Personal Digital Assistant) A
hand-held computer, such as the Apple Newton. PDAs typically use pens for
input, rather than keyboards, to conserve space.
- (Programmable Interrupt
Controller) Pronounced "pick." A chip or device that prioritizes
interrupt requests generated by keyboards, serial ports, and other devices and
passes them on to the CPU in order of highest priority. (See also IRQ in Part
- The smallest illuminated area on
a monitor, represented as a point with a specific color and/or intensity level.
Sometimes referred to as a Pixel.
- (Program Information File)
Pronounced "piff." A binary file in which Windows stores
configuration information about a DOS program. A PIF file includes such
information as the path to the executable file, the amount of memory the
program requires, and whether the window in which the program is run closes
automatically when the program terminates.
- (Personal Information Manager)
Pronounced "pimm." A software application designed to store and
manage "personal" information such as schedules, phone lists, and
- (See Picture Element.)
- (Plug and Play) The technology
that lets Windows 95 automatically detect and configure most of the adapters
and peripherals connected to a PC. A fully Plug and Play-enabled PC requires
three PnP components: a PnP BIOS, PnP adapters and peripherals, and a PnP
operating system. Adding a PnP-compliant CD-ROM drive, hard disk, monitor,
printer, or other device to a PnP PC requires little more than making the
physical connection. The operating system, in conjunction with PnP logic
present in the BIOS and in the device itself, handles the IRQ settings, I/O
addresses, and other technical aspects of the installation to ensure that the
device doesn't conflict with other installed devices.
- A window that appears in
response to the entry of data.
- (Point-to-Point Protocol) A
protocol that allows a computer to connect to the Internet through a dial-in
connection and enjoy most of the benefits of a direct connection, including the
ability to run graphical front ends such as Mosaic and Netscape Navigator. PPP
is generally considered to be superior to SLIP, because it features error
detection, data compression, and other elements of modern communications
protocols that SLIP lacks. (See also SLIP.)
- The assembled series of events
run by a user.
- As a noun, a set of instructions
that direct a computer to perform some meaningful task. Such instructions are
written in a computer language. As a verb, the act of writing such instructions
and storing them on a computer system.
- (Query By Example) A database
query method in which the user forms a query by filling in a table with
examples of the requested information. IBM created QBE in the 1970s to simplify
the process of retrieving information from mainframe databases; it was later
implemented on the PC platform in such products as dBASE and Paradox. (See also
- (Random Access Memory)
Pronounced "ram." The generic term for read/write memory-memory that
permits bits and bytes to be written to it as well as read from it-used in
modern computers. RAM comes in several forms, and manufacturers are continually
coming up with new designs to provide the fastest possible access times at the
lowest possible cost. (See also DRAM, EDO RAM, SRAM, and VRAM.)
- The ability to access
information by direct address as opposed to a linear search of data.
- The number of dots or pixels in
a given area, which determines the sharpness and level of detail in an image.
High-resolution printers, displays, and graphics files yield sharp, finely
detailed images; low-resolution devices and files do not.
- (Red, Green, Blue) A computer
color display output signal with separately controlled red, green, and blue
signals resulting in a high quality color screen.
- (Reduced Instruction-Set
Computing) Pronounced "risk." A microprocessor architecture that
favors the speed at which individual instructions execute over the robustness
of the instruction set. The PowerPC architecture is one example of a RISC
microprocessor design. (For details, see the Tutor column of October 24, 1995.)
(See also CISC.)
- (Read-Only Memory) Pronounced
"romm." The generic term for memory that can be read from but not
written to. A computer's BIOS is typically contained in ROM. This offers two
advantages: The code and data in the ROM BIOS need not be reloaded each time
the computer is started, and they can't be corrupted by wayward applications
that write into the wrong part of memory. Some forms of ROM can be rewritten by
applying higher-than-normal voltages to the inputs and holding the voltages for
several milliseconds. (See also BIOS, EPROM, and EEPROM.)
- The primary listing of files and
sub-directories on a disk.
- A standard serial interface that
connects a computer and its peripheral devices.
- (Small Computer System
Interface) Pronounced "scuzzy." A powerful and flexible
peripheral-connect interface popularized on the Apple Macintosh and used to
connect hard disks, CD-ROM drives, tape drives, and other mass-storage devices
to PCs of all types. SCSI and SCSI-2, an enhanced version of the original SCSI
specification (now sometimes referred to as SCSI-1), excel at handling large
hard disks and permit up to eight devices to be connected along a single bus
provided by a SCSI connection. (See also IDE.)
- (Standard Generalized Markup
Language) A text-based language for describing the content and structure of
digital documents. HTML, which has gained fame as the language used to create
World-Wide Web pages on the Internet, is a descendant of SGML. SGML documents
are viewed with transformers, which render SGML data the way Web browsers
render HTML data. (See also HTML and VRML.)
- (Single In-line Memory Module)
Pronounced "simm." A form of chip packaging in which leads (pins) are
arranged in a single row protruding from the chip. Connectors are attached to a
stiff contact strip that permits a SIMM to be inserted into a slot like an
expansion adapter. On PCs, SIMM-style RAM chips have virtually replaced the
dual in-line package (DIP) chips, identifiable by two rows of protruding legs,
that were popular in the 1980s.
- (Serial Line Internet Protocol)
Pronounced "slip." A protocol that allows a computer to connect to
the Internet through a dial-in connection and enjoy most of the benefits of a
direct connection, including the ability to run graphical front ends such as
Mosaic and Netscape Navigator. SLIP is also used to run TCP/IP over phone
lines. (See also PPP and TCP/IP.)
- U.S. Postal Service,
- The programs, routines,
languages, procedures, and other non-hardware information that actually make
the computer run.
- (Structured Query Language)
Pronounced "sequel." A query language developed by IBM that relies on
simple English-language statements to perform database queries. Almost
universally supported in one form or another by relational databases on
platforms of all types, SQL allows databases from different manufacturers and
on different types of computers to be queried using a standard syntax. (See
also ODBC and QBE.)
- (Static Random Access Memory)
Pronounced "es-ram." A form of RAM that retains its data without the
constant refreshing that DRAM requires. SRAM is generally preferable to DRAM
because it offers faster memory access times (a critical element in a PC's
performance), but it is also more expensive to manufacture because it contains
more electrical components. The most common use for SRAM is to cache data
traveling between the CPU and a RAM subsystem populated with DRAM; this boosts
performance by reducing the number of DRAM accesses required. (See also
- Documentation for a production
that contains the audio script, and a complete description of the visual
content, often in the form of pictures or sketches.
- A directory associated with, and
subordinate to, a higher directory.
Subject Matter Expert
- A content expert used as a
consultant in an instructional systems design effort to ensure the accuracy of
factual material in a lesson.
Surfing the 'Net
- Navigating the Internet -
usually random Web browsing.
- (Super Video Graphics Array) An
extension of the VGA video standard. SVGA enables video adapters to support
resolutions of 1,024 by 768 pixels and higher with up to 16.7 million
simultaneous colors (known as true color). (See also VGA.)
- The system operator of a BBS, a
forum or area of an online service (pronounced SIS-op).
- (Telephony Application
Programming Interface) Pronounced "tappy." A set of functions
supported by Windows that permits Windows applications to program
telephone-line-based devices such as modems and fax machines in a
device-independent manner. One of numerous high-level device interfaces that
Windows offers as part of the Windows Open Services Architecture (WOSA), TAPI
simplifies the process of writing a telephony application that works with a
wide variety of modems and other devices supported by TAPI drivers. (See also
- (Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol) A set of communication protocols developed by the
U.S. Department of Defense that allows dissimilar computers to share
information over a network. While networking two identical PCs is no longer a
huge technological challenge, TCP/IP provides a solution to the stickier
problem of connecting a Pentium PC to, say, a DEC minicomputer or a Silicon
Graphics workstation. TCP/IP is the glue that binds the Internet.
- (Tagged Image File Format)
Pronounced "tiff." A popular file format for bitmapped graphics that
stores the information defining graphical images in discrete blocks called
tags. Each tag describes a particular attribute of the image, such as its width
or height, the compression method used (if any), a textual description of the
image, or offsets from the start of the file to "strips" containing
pixel data. The TIFF format is generic enough to describe virtually any type of
bitmap generated on any computer, but it is also complex and difficult to write
- A display screen of a monitor
that can sense a pressure touch, and report its location to the computer
The common name for DOS programs that terminate but remain resident in memory
so they can operate in the background while other programs execute in the
foreground. One of the first (and best-known) TSRs was Borland's Sidekick. By
hooking keyboard interrupts, it could detect when a certain combination of keys
was pressed and respond by popping up a window for the user to work in. TSRs
were popular in the 1980s because they provided a means for a single-tasking
operating system (DOS) to perform two or more tasks at once.
- (Universal Asynchronous
Receiver/Transmitter) Pronounced "you-art." The chip that drives a
serial port. IBM chose the National INS8250, better known simply as "the
8250," for the serial ports in its original PC. Enhanced versions of that
chip-or custom logic that mimics the functions of the 8250-are still used in
- (upper memory block) A block of
memory (between 640K and 1MB) created in upper memory by a 386 memory manager.
This is useful for loading TSRs and device drivers so they don't occupy the
limited memory below 640K. (See also TSR and UMA.)
- To send a copy of a file from
your computer into another computer.
- (Uniform Resource Locator)
Pronounced you-are-el, not earl. A logical address that identifies a resource
on the Internet. For example, the URL
http://www.zdnet.com/~pcmag/utils/utility.htm is the Internet address of a Web
page that gives you access to PC Magazine's utilities. In this example, http
names the protocol (Hypertext Transport Protocol) used to access the page; www
stands for World-Wide Web; zdnet is the institution that operates the server
computer, in this case Ziff-Davis; .com signifies company (as opposed to .gov
for government, .org for nonprofit organization, or .edu for educational
institution); /~pcmag/ utils/ is the directory on the host computer; and
utility.htm identifies the HTML filename for the page itself.
- More than 15,000 Internet
bulletin boards on a huge variety of topics. Each line of discussion is called
- The person who utilizes a
presentation. (Also called End-User.)
- Interfaces with the user that
are informative, easy to understand, and require little or no computer or
- The process of gathering data
from the field to determine if the presentation /course meets the objectives
and goals as originally described; sometimes referred to as a Beta Test.
- (Video Electronics Standards
Association) Pronounced "vee-suh." The consortium of computer
manufacturers responsible for the SVGA video standard and the VL-Bus, a local-
bus architecture. (See also SVGA and VLB.)
- (Virtual File Allocation Table)
Pronounced "vee-fat." The 32-bit file system that Windows 95 uses to
manage information stored on disks. An extension of the FAT file system, VFAT
supports long filenames while retaining compatibility with (and many of the
limitations of) FAT volumes. (See also FAT. )
- Video Graphics Array. A computer
graphics format that provides 256 colors. (See EGA.)
- (VESA Local Bus or VL-Bus) The
local-bus standard created by the Video Electronics Standards Association
(VESA) to provide a fast data connection between CPUs and local- bus devices.
The VL-Bus was widely used in 486 PCs, but most Pentium PCs use PCI local buses
instead. (See also PCI. )
- (Virtual Reality) The technology
that uses computer-generated sights and sounds to transport users to new worlds
that exist only inside the computer. A key component of virtual reality is
immersion-blocking out the real world so as to make virtual worlds seem more
real. A VR headset that combines computer-generated images displayed inches
from the eyes with an audio component is a commonly used immersion tool.
- (Video Random Access Memory)
Pronounced "vee-ram." A form of DRAM specially suited for video
adapters. VRAM differs from common DRAM in that it features a
"dual-ported" design allowing two devices to access it at once. Thus
the CRT controller, which converts bits and bytes in video memory to pixels on
the screen, and the CPU, which manipulates the contents of video memory, can
access VRAM simultaneously. In video boards fitted with the less expensive
DRAM, performance suffers somewhat because the CRT controller and the CPU must
takes turns accessing the video buffer. (See also DRAM and WRAM.)
- (Virtual Reality Modeling
Language) An open standard for 3-D imaging on the World-Wide Web that paves the
way for virtual reality on the Internet. The way VRML code describes a 3-D
scene is analogous to four points describing a square, or a center point and
radius describing a sphere. VRML viewers, similar to HTML Web browsers,
interpret VRML data downloaded from the Web and render it on your computer.
This allows the bulk of the processing to be performed locally and drastically
reduces the volume of information that must be transmitted from the Web-a key
consideration if rendering is to be performed in real time.
- (Wide-Area Information Server) A
system for searching huge distributed database servers across a network,
usually the Internet. WAIS allows you to perform a keyword search; it's
analogous to an index, whereas Gopher, which is sometimes used as a complement
to WAIS, is analogous to a table of contents. WAN (wide area network)
Pronounced "wan" to rhyme with "LAN." A geographically
dispersed network formed by linking several computers or local area networks
(LANs) together over long distances, usually using leased long-distance lines.
WANs can connect systems across town, in different cities, or in different
regions of the world.
- (Windows Open Services
Architecture) Pronounced "woe-suh." A collection of APIs that provide
standard ways for Windows applications to access databases, telephony devices,
messaging services, and other services. ODBC and MAPI are two examples of APIs
that fall under the WOSA umbrella. (See also ODBC, MAPI, and TAPI.)
- (Windows Random Access Memory)
Pronounced "double-you-ram." Similar to VRAM, but with added logic
designed to accelerate common video functions such as bit-block transfers and
pattern fills. WRAM is priced competitively with VRAM and can substantially
speed up certain graphical operations such as video playback and screen
animation. (See also VRAM. )
- (World Wide Web) A collection of
richly formatted hypertext "pages" located on computers around the
world and logically linked together by the Internet. With a graphical Web
browser such as Mosaic or Netscape Navigator, users can "surf" the
Web by clicking highlighted words on the screen. Each click activates a
hypertext link, connecting the user to another Web location identified by a
URL. (See also HTML and URL.) The fastest-growing part of the 'Net. It's
multimedia-capable, intricately interlinked and set up for viewing in colorful
magazine-style "pages" containing text, images, video and sound.
- (What You See Is What You Get)
Pronounced "wizzywig." Screen output that exactly (or very closely)
matches the appearance of printed output. WYSIWYG displays were once rare on
the PC platform, because most applications ran in character mode and had little
control over the format of text rendered on the screen. Today WYSIWYG
applications abound, because Windows allows more precise control over screen
formatting and provides a device-independent interface to both screens and
- (eXtended Memory Specification)
A memory allocation scheme developed by AST Research, Intel, Lotus, and
Microsoft that allows real-mode programs to use extended memory (memory above
1MB) without interfering with each other. Access to XMS memory is facilitated
by an XMS driver such as Microsoft's HIMEM.SYS, which is supplied with Windows.
- There are no Y definitions at
- There are no Z definitions at