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.

Aspect Ratio
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.

Authoring Language
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.

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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).

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C Language
A powerful language used by sophisticated programmers for general purposes, including complex interactive media programs.

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.

Chat Rooms
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 materials, activities).

(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.

Control Menu
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 computer monitor.

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 nonetheless.

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Data Base
A collection of data stored in computer-readable form.

(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 recording media).

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 devices.

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 retrieves data.

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 decompression hardware.

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(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 to continue.

(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 BIOS.)

(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.)

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(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 disagrees with.

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 CPU.)

(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.

Function Key
A key, or combination of keys, used to perform a specific function.

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(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 information.

(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, etc.

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Hard Disk
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.

Home Page
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 Web.

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The graphics associated with a function to be performed - usually appears as a graphic picture that suggests the function.

(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 SCSI.)

In my humble opinion. Often appended to opinionated posted views.

The phase in which the application is installed.

Instructional Designer
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 system.

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 file.

(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 line.

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(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 quality.

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K or Kb - Kilobyte; 1024 bytes (See Byte.)

1,024 bytes, usually abbreviated as K.

A self-contained, free-standing unit used to house an interactive system. Usually designed for use in public access environments.

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(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.)

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(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 programming, etc.

1,024 kilobytes, or over 1 million bytes.

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 sound.

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 transfer rates.

Black and white.

The main circuit board in a PC. The motherboard contains the CPU, the memory, the expansion slots, and ancillary circuitry.

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.

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Needs Analysis
In marketing applications, a description of existing, perceived, or created needs of the intended user.

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.)

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(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 textual data.

(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 WOSA.)

(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.

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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 VLB.)

(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 1.)

Picture Element
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 contact notes.

(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.

Pop-Up Window
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.

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(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 SQL.)

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(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.)

Random Access
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.)

Root Directory
The primary listing of files and sub-directories on a disk.

A standard serial interface that connects a computer and its peripheral devices.

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(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.)

Snail Mail
U.S. Postal Service, disparagingly.

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 DRAM.)

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).

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(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 WOSA.)

(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 software for.

Touch Screen
A display screen of a monitor that can sense a pressure touch, and report its location to the computer system.

(Terminate-and-Stay-Resident) 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.

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(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 PCs today.

(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 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.

Usenet Newsgroups
More than 15,000 Internet bulletin boards on a huge variety of topics. Each line of discussion is called a thread.

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 programming experience.

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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.

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(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 printers.

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(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.

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There are no Y definitions at this time.

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There are no Z definitions at this time.

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