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212 terms

Essential Computer Concepts

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accounting software
Software designed to help individuals and businesses create and track budgets
adware
Software installed with another program that generates advertising revenue for the program's creator by displaying targeted ads to the program's user
analog signal
A continuous wave signal (sound wave) that can traverse ordinary phone lines
anti-spyware software
Software that detects and removes spyware
antivirus software
Software that searches executable files for the sequences of characters that may cause harm and disinfects the files by erasing or disabling those commands. Also called virus protection software
application software
Software that enables you to perform specific computer tasks, such as document production, spreadsheet calculations, database management, and presentation preparation
architecture
The design and construction of a computer; also called configuration
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
The number system that personal computers use to represent character data
BD-R
A Blu-ray disc on which you can record data once
BD-RE
A Blu-ray disc on which you can record data as on a BD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.
BIOS
Stands for basic input/output system, the set of instructions stored in ROM that the computer uses to check its components to ensure they are working and to activate the software that provides the basic functionality of the computer when you turn on the computer.
binary digit (bit)
The representation of data as a 1 or 0.
bits per second (bps)
The unit of measurement for the speed of data transmission.
Bluetooth
A wireless technology standard that allows electronic devices to use short range radio waves to communicate with one another or connect to the Internet; the radio waves can be transmitted around corners and through walls.
Blu-ray
A disc used for storing high-definition video that stores 25 GB of data per layer.
boot process
The set of events that occurs between the moment you turn on the computer and the moment you can begin to use the computer
boot process
The act of turning on the computer.
broadband connection
A high-speed connection to the Internet.
byte
A series of eight bits.
Cable
Plastic-enclosed wires that attach a peripheral device to a computer port.
cache memory
Special high-speed memory chips on the motherboard or CPU that store frequently-accessed and recently-accessed data and commands; also called RAM cache or CPU cache.
card
A removable circuit board that is inserted into a slot in the motherboard to expand the capabilities of the motherboard.
CD (compact disc)
An optical storage device that can store 700 MB of data.
CD-R (compact disc recordable)
A CD that on which you can record data with a laser that changes the reflectivity of a dye layer on the blank disk, creating dark spots on the disk's surface that represent the data; once the data is recorded, you cannot erase or modify it.
CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory)
A CD that contains software or music when you purchase it, but you cannot record additional data on it.
CD-RW (compact disc rewritable)
A CD on which you can record data as on a CD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.
cell
The intersection of a row and a column in a worksheet.
channel
The medium, such as telephone or coaxial cable, over which a message is sent in data communications.
character-based display
A montior display that divides the screen into a grid of rectangles, one for each typed character.
characters per second (cps)
The unit of measurement for the speed of dot matrix printers.
chip
An integrated circuit embedded in semiconductor material.
circuit
A path along which an electric current travels.
circuit board
A rigid piece of insulating material with circuits on it that control specific functions.
client
A computer networked to and dependent on a server.
client/server network
A network with a server and computers dependent on the server.
clip art
Simple drawings that are included as collections with many software packages
clock speed
The pulse of the processor measured in megahertz or gigahertz.
cloud computing
When data, applications, and resources are stored on servers accessed over the Internet or a company's internal network rather than on user's computers.
command
A type of input that instructs the computer how to process data.
complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) memory
A chip installed on the motherboard powered by a battery whose content changes every time you add or remove hardware on your computer system and that is activated during the boot process so it can identify where essential software is stored. Also called semipermanent memory.
computer
An electronic device that accepts input, processes data, displays output, and stores data for retrieval later.
computer system
A computer, its hardware, and software.
controller card
A card that plugs into a slot on the motherboard and connects to a port to provide an electrical connection to a peripheral device. Also called expansion card or interface card.
data
The words, numbers, figures, sounds, and graphics that describe people, events, things, and ideas.
data bus
The path between the microprocessor, RAM, and the peripherals along which communication travels.
data communications
The transmission of text, numeric, voice, or video data from one computer to another or to a peripheral device.
data file
A file created by a user, usually with software, such as a report that you write with a word processing program.
database
A collection of information stored on one or more computers organized in a uniform format of records and fields.
database management software
Software you use to collect and manage data.
desktop computer
A personal computer designed to sit compactly on a desk and run on power from an electrical wall outlet.
device driver
A computer program that can establish communication between two devices because it contains information about the characteristics of your computer and of the device. Also called driver.
digital signal
A stop-start signal that your computer outputs into analog, or continuous wave, signals (sound waves) that can traverse ordinary phone lines.
DNS server
A computer responsible for directing Internet traffic
document production software
Software, such as word processing software, desktop publishing software, e-mail editors, and Web authoring software, that assists you in writing and formatting documents, including changing the font and checking the spelling.
dot matrix printer
A printer that transfers ink to paper by striking a ribbon with pins.
dot pitch (dp)
The distance between pixels on a monitor.
DSL (digital subscriber line
A high-speed connection over phone lines.
dual-core processor
A CPU that has two processors on the chip.
DVD
An optical storage device that stores between 4.7 and 15.9 GB of data, depending on whether data is stored on one or both sides of the disc and how many layers of data each side contains; was originally an acronym for digital video disc and later digital versatile disc.
DVD+R, DVD-R
A DVD on which you can record data once.
DVD+RW, DVD-RW
A DVD on which you can record data as on a DVD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.
DVI (digital video interface) port
A port that digitally transmits video.
electronic publishing
The production of documents using data communication.
email
The capability to send a message from one user's computer to another user's computer where it is stored until the recipient opens it.
embed
To copy and paste source data into a new file.
ergonomic
Designed to fit the natural placement of the body to reduce the risk of repetitive-motion injuries.
ethernet port
A port used to connect computers in a LAN or sometimes directly to the Internet; it allows for high-speed data transmission.
executable file
A file that contains the instructions that tell a computer how to perform a specific task, such as the files that are used during the boot process.
expansion port
The interface between a cable and a controller card. Also called port.
expansion slot
An electrical connector on the motherboard into which a card is plugged. Also called slot.
field
One piece of information in a record.
file
A named collection of stored data.
FireWire
A standard for transferring information between digital devices developed by Apple Computer company and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); was standardized as IEEE 1394 interface.
firewall
Hardware or software that prevents other computers on the Internet from accessing a computer or prevents a program on a computer from accessing the Internet.
flash memory
Memory that is similar to ROM except that it can be written to more than once. Also called solid state storage.
flash memory card
A small, portable card encased in hard plastic to which data can be written and rewritten.
flat panel monitor
A lightweight monitor that takes up very little room on the desktop and uses LCD technology to create the image on the screen.
font
The style of type.
gigabyte (GB)
1,073,741,824 bytes, or about one billion bytes.
gigahertz (GHz)
One billion cycles per second.
graphical user interface (GUI)
A computer environment in which the user manipulates graphics, icons, and dialog boxes to execute commands.
graphics card
A card installed on the motherboard that controls the signals the computer sends to the monitor. Also called video display adapter or video card.
graphics display
A monitor that is capable of displaying graphics by dividing the screen into a matrix of pixels.
graphics processor
A processor that controls the signals the computer sends to the monitor. Also called built-in graphics card.
graphics software
Software that allows you to create illustrations, diagrams, graphs, and charts.
handheld computer
A small computer designed to fit in the palm of your hand, generally has fewer capabilities than personal computers, and runs on battery.
hard copy
A printed copy of computer output.
hard disk
A magnetic storage device that contains several magnetic oxide-covered metal platters that are usually sealed in a case inside the computer. Also called hard disk drive.
hardware
The physical components of a computer.
HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port
A port that digitally transmits video and audio.
hyperlink
A place on a Web page that is programmed to connect to a particular file on the same network server, or even on a network server on the other side of the globe. Also called link.
information management software
Software that keeps track of schedules, appointments, contacts, and "to-do" lists.
infrared technology
A wireless technology in which devices communicate with one another using infrared light waves; the devices must be positioned so that the infrared ports are pointed directly at one another.
inkjet printer
A printer that sprays ink onto paper and produces output whose quality is comparable to that of a laser printer.
input
The data or instructions you type into the computer.
input/output (I/O)
The flow of data from the microprocessor to memory to peripherals and back again.
input device
An instrument, such as a keyboard or a mouse, that you use to enter data and issue commands to the computer.
integration
The seamless nature of OLE among some applications.
Internet
The largest network in the world.
keyboard
The most frequently used input device; consists of three major parts: the main keyboard, the keypads, and the function keys
kilobyte (KB or K
1,024 bytes, or approximately one thousand bytes.
laser printer
A printer that produces high-quality output quickly and efficiently by transferring a temporary laser image onto paper with toner.
LCD (liquid crystal display)
A display technology that creates images by manipulating light within a layer of liquid crystal.
LED (light emmitting diode) monitor
A flat-panel monitor that uses LEDs to provide backlight.
link
1) To create a connection between source data and the copy in a new file; the copy in the new file is updated every time a change is made to the source data; 2) a place on a Webpage that is programmed to connect to a particular file on the same network server, or even on a network server on the other side of the globe.
local area network (LAN)
A network in which the computers and peripheral devices are located relatively close to each other, generally in the same building, and are usually connected with cables.
log in/log on
To sign in with a user name and password before being able to use a computer.
magnetic storage media
An object that stores data as magnetized particles on a surface.
mainframe computer
A computer used by larger business and government agencies that provides centralized storage, processing, and management for large amounts of data.
malware
A broad term that describes any program that is intended to cause harm or convey information to others without the owner's permission.
megabyte (MB)
1,048,576 bytes, or about one million bytes.
megahertz (MHz
) One million cycles per second.
memory
A set of storage locations on the main circuit board that store instructions and data.
microprocessor
A silicon chip, located on the motherboard, that is responsible for executing instructions to process data; also called processor or central processing unit (CPU).
modem
A device that connects your computer to a standard telephone jack or to a cable connection).
monitor
The TV-like peripheral device that displays the output from the computer.
motherboard
The main circuit board of the computer on which processing tasks occur.
mouse
A pointing device that has a rolling ball on its underside and two or more buttons for clicking commands; you control the movement of the pointer by moving the entire mouse around on your desk.
MP3 player
A hand-held computer that is used primarily to play and store music, but that can also be used to play digital movies or television shows, allow you to listen to FM radio stations, and access the Internet and email.
multimedia authoring software
Software that allows you to record digital sound files, video files, and animations that can be included in presentations and other documents.
multitasking
The ability of computers of starting and running more than one program at a time.
netbook
A type of subnotebook computer that is primarily designed to allow isers to access the Internet and check email.
network
Connects one computer to other computers and peripheral devices, enablingyou to share data and resources with others
network interface card (NIC
) The card in a computer on a network that creates a communications channel between the computer and the network.
network software
Software that establishes the communications protocols that will be observed on the network and controls the "traffic flow" as data travels throughout the network
node
Any device connected to a network.
notebook computer
A small, lightweight computer designed for portability. Also called laptop computer.
object linking and embedding (OLE)
The ability to use data from a file created in one application in a file created by another application
operating environment
An operating system, such as Microsoft Windows and MAC OS, that provides a graphical user interface that acts as a liaison between the user and all of the computer's hardware and software.
operating system
Software that allocates system resources, manages storage space, maintains security, detects equipment failure, and controls basic input and output
optical storage device
A polycarbonate disk coated with a reflective metal on which data is recorded using laser technology as a trail of tiny pits or dark spots in the surface of the disk; the data that these pits or spots represent can then be "read" with a beam of laser light.
output
The result of the computer processing input.
output device
A device, such as a monitor or printer, that displays the results of processing data.
pages per minute (ppm)
The unit of measurement for the speed of laser and inkjet printers.
peer-to-peer network
A network in which all the computers essentially are equal, and programs and data are distributed among them.
peripheral device
The components of a computer that accomplish its input, output, and storage functions.
personal area network (PAN)
A network that allows two or more devices located close to each other to communicate or to connect a device to the Internet. In a PAN, devices are connected with cables or wirelessly.
personal computer (PC)
A computer typically used by a single user in the home or office for general computing tasks such as word processing, working with photographs or graphics, email, and Internet access.
pharm
To break into a DNS server and redirect any attempts to access a particular Web site to a spoofed site.
phish
To send emails to customers or potential customers of a legitimate Web site asking them to click a link in the email and then "verify" their personal information; the link leads to a spoofed site.
photo editing software
Software that allows you to manipulate digital photos.
pixel
One of the small dots in a matrix into which a graphics display is divided.
pointer
A small arrow or other symbol on the screen controlled by a pointing device.
pointing device
A device, such as a mouse or trackball, that controls the pointer.
pointing stick
A small, eraser-like device embedded among the typing keys that you push up, left, right, or down to move the pointer; buttons for clicking commands are located in front of the spacebar.
presentation software
Software that allows you to display or project graphics and other information before a group, print them for quick reference, or transmit them to remote computers.
printer
The peripheral computer component that produces a hard copy of the text or graphics processed by the computer.
process
To modify data in a computer.
program
A list of instructions that the computer uses to perform a specific task
programming language
Software used to write computer instructions.
protocol
The set of rules that establishes the orderly transfer of data between the sender and the receiver in data communications.
PS/2 port
A port through which a keyborad or a mouse is connected.
quad-core processor
A CPU with four processors on the chip.
random access memory (RAM)
Chips on cards plugged into the motherboard that temporarily hold programs and data while the computer is turned on. Also called volatile memory or temporary memory.
read-only memory (ROM)
A chip on the motherboard that is prerecorded with and permanently stores the set of instructions that the computer uses when you turn it on. Also called nonvolatile memory or permanent memory.
receiver
The computer or peripheral at the message's destination in data communications.
record
A collection of data items in a database.
resolution
The number of pixels that a monitor displays.
router
A device that controls traffic between network components and usually has a built-in firewall.
scanner
A device that transfers the content on a piece of paper into memory; you place a piece of paper on the glass, a beam of light moves across the glass, similar to a photocopier, and stores the image or words on the piece of paper as digital information.
screen size
The diagonal measurement from one corner of the screen to the other.
scroll wheel
A wheel on a mouse that you roll to scroll the page on the screen
security
The steps a computer owner takes to prevent unauthorized use of or damage to the computer.
sender
The computer that originates the message in data communications.
server
A computer on a network that acts as the central storage location for programs and provides mass storage for most of the data used on the network.
single-core processor
A CPU with one processor on the chip.
slate computer
A thin computer used to read electronic books, view video, and access the Internet, and that does not have a keyboard or a mouse; instead users touch the screen or use a stylus to accomplish tasks.
smartphone
A handheld computer used to make and received phone calles, maintain an address book, electronic appointment book, calculator, and notepad, send email, connect to the Internet, play music, take photos or video, and perform some of the same functions as a PC, such as word processing.
software
The intangible components of a computer system, particularly the programs that the computer needs to perform a specific task.
source
The file from which data is copied or linked into another file.
specifications
The technical details about a hardware component.
spell check
The feature in document production software that helps you avoid typographical and grammatical errors.
spoofed site
A Web site set up to look exactly like another Web site, such as a bank's Web site, but which does not actually belong to the organization portrayed in the site, with the goal of stealing the information people enter.
spreadsheet software
Software that helps you analyze numerical data.
spyware
Software that track a computer user's Internet usage and sends this data back to the company or person that created it, usually without the computer user's permission or knowledge.
standalone computer
A personal computer that is not connected to a network.
storage
Where the data you create and the instructions you use remain when you are not using them
strong password
A string of at least eight characters of upper and lowercase letters and numbers.
subnotebook computers
Notebook computers that are smaller and lighter than ordinary notebooks. Also called ultraportable computer and mini notebook.
supercomputer
The largest and fastest type of computer used by large corporations and government agencies for processing a tremendous volume of data.
synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM)
RAM that is synchronized with the CPU to allow faster access to its contents.
system resource
Any part of the computer system, including memory, storage devices, and the microprocessor, that can be used by a computer program.
system software
A collection of programs and data that helps the computer carry out its basic operating tasks.
tablet PC
A computer designed for portability that includes the capability of recognizing ordinary handwriting on the screen.
telecommunications
The transmission of data over a comparatively long distance using a phone line or some other data conduit.
terabyte (TB)
1,024 GB, or approximately one trillion bytes.
toner
A powdery substance used by laser printers to transfer a laser image onto paper.
touchpad
A touch-sensitive device on a laptop computer that you drag your finger over to control the pointer; buttons for clicking commands are located in front of the touch pad.
touchscreen
A display that shows you output and allows you to touch it with your finger or a stylus to input commands
tower
The part of a desktop computer that stores the motherboard and the microprocessor, the hard disk, and the cards that expand the capabilities of the motherboard.
trackball
A pointing device with a rolling ball on the top side and buttons for clicking commands; you control the movement of the pointer by moving the ball.
URL
An address on the Web.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) port
A high-speed port to which you can connect a device with a USB connector to have the computer recognize the device and allow you to use it immediately.
USB connector
A small, rectangular plug attached to a peripheral device and that you connect to a USB port.
USB flash storage device
A popular type of flash memory most commonly used for secondary backup storage for data usually stored on a hard drive. Also called USB drive or flash drive.
utilities
A category of system software that augments the operating system by taking over some of its responsibility for allocating hardware resources.
VGA (video graphics array) port
A port that transmits analog video.
video editing software
Software that allows you to edit video by clipping it, adding captions or a soundtrack, or rearranging clips.
virtual memory
Space on the computer's storage devices that simulates additional RAM.
virus
A harmful program that instructs a computer to perform destructive activities, such as erasing a disk drive; variants are called worms and Trojan horses.
Web browser
Communication software that you use to navigate the World Wide Web and display information on Web sites.
Web page
Information is stored as a special type of text file, which can include text, graphics, sound, animation, and video, and is meant to be viewed with a Web browser.
Web site
A collection of Web pages.
Web site creation and management software
Software that allows you to create and manage Web sites and to see what the Web pages will look like as you create them.
wide area network (WAN)
A network that connects one or more LAN.
WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access)
A standard of wireless communication defined by the IEEE that allows computers to communicate wirelessly over many miles; signals are transmitted from WiMAX towers to a WiMAX receiver in a device.
wireless fidelity
The term created by the nonprofit Wi-Fi Alliance to describe networks connected using a standard radio frequency established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); frequently referred to as Wi-Fi.
wireless local area network (WLAN)
A LAN connected using high frequency radio waves rather than cables.
word size
Refers to the number of bits—the smallest unit of information in a computer—that are processed at one time; for example, a 32-bit processor processes 32 bits at a time.
worksheet
In spreadsheet software, a grid composed of columns and rows that create cells at their intersection; you type data and formulas into cells.
workstation
A computer that is connected to a network.
World Wide Web (Web)
A huge database of information that is stored on network servers in places that allow public access.