Computer Terms


@ – Used in an email address, the @ sign joins a username on the left with the server that hosts the electronic mailbox. It is also sometimes used in defining mail exchange records (see MX Record). The @ sign is now the standard protocol worldwide for email addresses.

Additional email – Additional email addresses (in addition to the primary) for a domain. The price is currently set at $5 per year per additional email.

A record – IP address Pointer.

Abuse – Generic term used to complain about or describe spamming.

Ad banner – A graphic or a banner on a webpage that when clicked on, takes the surfer to another site.

Ad Clicks – A click on an advertisement on a website that takes a surfer to another site.

Ad Views (Impressions) – The number of times an ad banner is downloaded and presumably seen by visitors. If the same ad appears on multiple pages simultaneously, this statistic may understate the number of ad impressions, due to browser caching.

Address Verification System (AVS) – A service provided by a processor that offers additional features to validate the purchaser as the rightful cardholder by verifying whether the address submitted by the purchaser matches the billing address on file with a credit card company.

ASP – Stands for Active Server Pages. A specification for a Web page that is dynamically created by the webserver and contains both HTML and scripting code. With ASP, programs can be run on a webserver in a similar way to CGI scripts, but ASP uses the ActiveX scripting engine to support either VBScript or JScript. When a user requests data from an Active Server Page, the ActiveX server engine reads through the file, sends the HTML back to the browser and executes the script. Active Server Pages were first available on the Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 3.0. They have the .ASP filename extension.

Authorization – The process of verifying that a credit card has sufficient funds (credit) available to cover the amount of the transaction. The authorization also validates the credit card. An authorization is obtained for every sale.


Backbone – A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a large pathway within a network. The term is relative to the size of the network it is serving. A backbone in a small network would probably be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.

Bandwidth – The amount of information (text, images, video, sound) that can be sent through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move approximately 15,000 bits in one second.

Batch – A collection of credit card transactions saved for submitting at one time, usually each day. Batch fees are charged to encourage a merchant to submit his or her transactions at one time, rather than throughout the day. At directNIC, batches are performed daily at 10 pm.

BBS – Bulletin Board System. 1. A computerized version of the bulletin boards found in stores and other public places, where people can leave messages and advertise things they want to buy or sell. Local computer user groups often run BBSs, and offer downloads of shareware and freeware plus online information and services. There are special interest bulletin boards, including those run by computer companies to provide information on their products. Many BBSs now have web pages. 2. In chat, it stands for “Be Back soon.”

BIN – A MacBinary II encoded file (filename extension). This file type, downloaded as MacBinary or Binary, can be decompressed with Stuffit Expander.

BMP – Bitmap image file typically used with windows.

Bookmark – Ability to add a URL to a list of favorites on a browser.

Broadband – Broadband refers to telecommunication that provides multiple channels of data over a single communications medium (i.e. DSL, Cable internet connections).

Browser – A program used to locate and view HTML documents (Netscape or Microsoft Explorer, for example.)

Browser Caching – To speed surfing, browsers store recently used pages on a user’s disk. If a site is revisited, browsers display pages from the disk instead of requesting them from the server. As a result, servers undercount the number of times a page is viewed.


C++ (CPP, C Plus Plus, or C++) – A programming language.

CA – Certificate Authority. A Certificate Authority is a company that is authorized to issue, renew, and revoke digital certificates after verifying the identity and legitimacy of the requesting party through a registration authority.

Cable Modem – A cable modem is a device that enables you to hook up your PC to a local cable TV line and receive data at about 1.5 Mbps . This data rate far exceeds that of the prevalent 28.8 and 56 Kbps telephone modems and the up to 128 Kbps of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and is about the data rate available to subscribers of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) telephone service. A cable modem can be added to or integrated with a set-top box that provides your TV set with channels for Internet access. In most cases, cable modems are furnished as part of the cable access service and are not purchased directly and installed by the subscriber. The actual bandwidth for Internet service over a cable TV line is up to 27 Mbps on the download path to the subscriber with about 2.5 Mbps of bandwidth for interactive responses in the other direction. However, since the local provider may not be connected to the Internet on a line faster than a T-carrier system at 1.5 Mpbs, a more likely data rate will be close to 1.5 Mpbs.

Cache – A temporary storage area for frequently accessed or recently accessed data. Having certain data stored in cache, speeds up the operation of the computer. There are two kinds of cache: internal (or memory cache) and external (or disk cache). Internal cache is built into the CPU, and external cache is on the motherboard. When an item is called for, the computer first checks the internal cache, then the external cache, and finally the slower, main storage. A cache hit (accessing data from a cache) takes much less time than retrieving information from the main memory; the cache has high-speed memory chips. The cache may also be used as a temporary storage area for data that will be written to disk when the computer is idle.

Canonical – conforming to a general rule or acceptable procedure.

Central Registry – VeriSign Global Registry Services ( (VeriSign GRS) is the leading provider of domain name registry services and Domain Name System (DNS) support to the Internet. The division maintains the definitive directory of over 30 million .com, .net, and .org Web addresses and is responsible for the infrastructure that propagates this information throughout the Internet and responds to over 1.5 billion DNS look-ups daily.

CGI – Common Gateway Interface is a special type of UNIX program that allows a web server to access an application and transfer the information to your display. An interface-creation scripting program that allows Web pages to be made on the fly, based on information from buttons, checkboxes, text input, etc.

Chargeback – A fee charged by a merchant services provider against a merchant account for transactions that are successfully challenged by a credit card holder. After a charge is disputed and adjudicated in the cardholder’s favor, the transaction total and chargeback fee are deducted from the merchant account.

Chat Room – A place on the Internet where people go to “chat” with other people. The “rooms” are usually organized by topics.

Click Through Rate – Percentage of users who click on a viewed advertisement. This is an indication of the effectiveness of an ad.

Client – The browser used by a visitor to a website.

Close – The process of sending the batch for settlement.

CNAME – The canonical name for an alias.

Commerce Server – A Web server that contains the software necessary for processing customer orders via the Web, including shopping cart programs, dynamic inventory databases, and online payment systems. Commerce servers are also usually secure servers.

Complainant – means the party initiating a complaint concerning a domain-name registration.

Compression – A technology that reduces the size of a file to help save both time and bandwidth.

Content – Content is any information viewable on the Internet, including graphics such as a bar chart of company sales, or a photograph of a museum piece. Content can be lists of Web addresses of other sites of interest to the reader. It can be just texts.

Cookies – A cookie is a set of data that a website server gives to a browser the first time the user visits the site that is updated with each return visit. The remote server saves the information the cookie contains about the user and the user’s browser does the same, as a text file stored in the Netscape or Explorer system folder. Not all browsers support cookies. Cookies store information, such as username and password and what parts of the site were visited. This information can be updated with each visit. The browser only shares each cookie with the server that originated it; other servers can only read their own cookies. Netscape can be set up to alert the user when a cookie is being sent, so the user can accept it or not, by means of the Network Preferences window. There are also downloadable applications that eat cookies such as Cookie Killers, Cookie Monster (Mac), and Kill Cookie Batch File (PC). Counter – A number on Web pages that displays the amount of hits or counts the times the page has been accessed. In other words, it counts the number of people that have visited that page.

CPM – CPM is the cost per thousand for a particular site. A website that charges $15,000 per banner and guarantees 600,000 impressions has a CPM of $25 ($15,000 divided by 600).

Credit Card Processors – Merchant services providers that handle the details of processing credit card transactions between merchants, issuing banks, and merchant account providers. Website operators usually must first establish their own merchant account before contracting for credit card processing services.

CSR – Certificate Signing Request. A CSR is a text file, generated through a web server that is submitted to the Certificate Authority during the digital certificate application process and used to generate a signed digital certificate identifying information about the company applying for the digital certificate.

Cybermarketing – Any type of Internet-based promotion, including website promotion through websites, targeted email, and Internet bulletin boards.

Cyberspace – A metaphor for describing the non-physical terrain created by computer systems. Online systems, for example, create a cyberspace within which people can communicate with one another (via e-mail), do research, or simply window shop. Like physical space, cyberspace contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics, etc.) and different modes of transportation and delivery. Unlike real space, though, exploring cyberspace does not require any physical movement other than pressing keys on a keyboard or moving a mouse. Some programs, particularly computer games, are designed to create a special cyberspace, one that resembles physical reality in some ways but defies it in others. In its extreme form, called virtual reality, users are presented with visual, auditory, and even tactile feedback that makes cyberspace feel real. The term was coined by author William Gibson in his sci-fi novel Neuromancer (1984).


Daemon — In the UNIX operating system, a daemon is a background process that lies dormant waiting to perform some useful tasks. The send mail daemon, for example, continually runs but becomes active only when email is sent or received.

Database — A file or file system containing organized information and, most commonly, a filing and retrieval system for storing information. Most database software also includes tools for data analysis. Examples of database software include Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft Access, Lotus Approach, Microsoft Access, Filemaker, dBASE, MySQL, mSQL, Microsoft SQL. Debit Card – A financial instrument used by consumers in place of cash. Unlike a credit card, debit card purchases are deducted automatically from the cardholder’s account.

DHTML – Dynamic HTML is a collective term for a combination of new Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags and options, that will let you create Web pages more animated and more responsive to user interaction than previous versions of HTML. Much of dynamic HTML is specified in HTML 4.0. Simple examples of dynamic HTML pages would include (1) having the color of a text heading change when a user passes a mouse over it or (2) allowing a user to “drag and drop” an image to another place on a Web page. Dynamic HTML can allow Web documents to look and act like desktop applications or multimedia productions. The biggest obstacle to the use of dynamic HTML is that, since many users are still using older browsers, a Web site must create two versions of each site and serve the pages appropriate to each user’s browser version.

Dial-up access – Refers to connecting a device to a network via a modem and a public telephone network. Dial-up access is really just like a phone connection, except that the parties at the two ends are computer devices rather than people. Because dial-up access uses normal telephone lines, the quality of the connection is not always good and data rates are limited. In the past, the maximum data rate with dial-up access was 56 Kbps (56,000 bits per second), but new technologies such as ISDN are providing faster rates. An alternative way to connect two computers is through a leased line, which is a permanent connection between two devices. Leased lines provide faster throughput and better quality connections, but they are also more expensive.

Dig – 1) (domain information groper) is a flexible tool for interrogating DNS name servers. It performs DNS lookups and displays the answers that are returned from the nameserver(s) that were queried. Most DNS administra tors use dig to troubleshoot DNS problems because of its flexibility, ease of use and clarity of output. Other lookup tools tend to have less functionality than dig. Although dig is normally used with command-line arguments, it also has a batch mode of operation for reading lookup requests from a file. A brief summary of its command-line arguments and options is printed when the -h option is given. Unlike earlier versions, the BIND9 implementation of dig allows multiple lookups to be issued from the command line. 2) What you do with a shovel.

Digital Wallet – A consumer account setup to allow e-commerce transactions through a particular credit card processing system. Before the consumer can make a purchase, he or she must first establish an account with the credit card processor, who provides an ID and password. These can then be used to make purchases at any website that supports that transaction system. Discount Rate – A percentage fee paid to the merchant account provider or ISO for handling an electronic transaction. Most Web merchants pay between two and 10 percent of their revenue from online credit card or electronic check orders.

DNS – 1) Short for Domain Name System (or Service), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name might translate to The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn’t know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned. 2) Short for digital nervous system, a term coined by Bill Gates to describe a network Domain Name – An Internet address in alphabetic form. Domain names must have at least 2 parts: the part on the left that names the organization, and the part on the right that identifies the highest sub-domain, such as the country (fr for France, uk for United Kingdom) or the type of organization (com for commercial; edu for educational, etc.). Directory levels can be indicated in other parts. The IP address is translated into the domain name by the domain name server domains or to print a list of hosts in a domain.

Domain Parking – In the Web hosting business, DNS parking is a service that the Web host will offer to its clients as a way of securing a domain name for future use. The Web host registers the domain name with a registrar such as directNIC and “parks” the domain name on a server until it is ready to be made active. By doing this, the Web host ensures the availability of the domain name for the client’s future use so that another individual or company cannot register that same domain name.

Download – The transfer of information from the Internet to your computer. Every time you instruct your computer system to retrieve your mail, you are downloading your mail to your computer. You may also download programs to your computer. However, be careful about downloading files or programs from a site in which you are not familiar. You could download a virus and not know it until it’s too late.

DSL – DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines. xDSL refers to different variations of DSL, such as ADSL, HDSL, and RADSL. Assuming your home or small business is close enough to a telephone company central office that offers DSL service, you may be able to receive data at rates up to 6.1 megabits (millions of bits) per second (of a theoretical 8.448 megabits per second), enabling continuous transmission of motion video, audio, and even 3-D effects. More typically, individual connections will provide from 1.544 Mbps to 512 Kbps downstream and about 128 Kbps upstream. A DSL line can carry both data and voice signals and the data part of the line is continuously connected.

Dynamic DNS – When you connect to the Internet, your ISP assigns you one of two types of machine readable addresses: static or dynamic. A static address never changes. A dynamic address changes every time you dial into the ISP and get on the net. So you may (and probably will) have one address right now and another address next time you dial in. The nameservers need to be told that it changed and this is where dyndns (short for “dynamic name server”) comes in. It automates the process of advising the name servers that your IP has changed.

Dynamic – Performed while a program is running. of personal computers that make it easier to obtain and understand information


E-Commerce – The processing of economic transactions, such as buying and selling, through electronic communication. E-commerce often refers to transactions occurring on the Internet, such as credit card purchases at websites.

Editor – Any program that is used to write and modify text.

Electronic Data Interchange – EDI is a global computer network, separate from the Internet, used to handle financial transactions between banks and other institutions.

Email – Electronic mail. Your ISP usually provides this tool. It allows you to send and receive mail (messages) over the Internet. Through email, you can write your friends, ask your ISP a technical question about your service, or even receive an Internet birthday card.

Email forwarding – To have an email alias that “forwards” mail to an existing email address.

Embedded hyperlink – a hyperlink that is incorporated into a line of text.

Ethernet – The most popular type of local area network, which sends its communications through radio frequency signals carried by a coaxial cable. Each computer checks to see if another computer is transmitting and waits its turn to transmit. If two computers accidentally transmit at the same time and their messages collide, they wait and send again in turn. Software protocols used by Ethernet systems vary, but include Novell Netware and TCP/IP.

Expiration – the act of coming to an end or the point at which something ends.


Factoring – The purchase of debts owed, or “accounts receivable,” in exchange for immediate payment at a discount. In e-commerce, the term is often applied to ISOs that offer to process credit card transactions through their own merchant account rather than through an account established by the merchant, in exchange for a percentage of the transaction or other fee. Factoring of credit card debt is illegal.

Filter – A means of narrowing the scope of a report or view by specifying ranges or types of data to include or exclude.

Firewall – An electronic boundary that prevents unauthorized users from accessing certain files on a network; or, a computer used to maintain such a boundary.

Forms – An HTML element that passes variable data back to the server. Scripts on the server use these variables to gather information from users.

FQDN – Stands for Fully Qualified Domain Name: the full name of a system that contains its hostname and domain name. (essentially is the nameserver itself (

Front End – The user interface that appears on a Web page and allows a visitor to the site to interact with dynamic features, including databases, shopping cart programs, and online purchase processing software.

FTP – An acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It’s also the tool used to transfer files through the Internet from one computer to another. For example, you would use an FTP to upload your webpage from where you built it (like your computer at home) to a website (like this one) so that all of your friends and neighbors can look at it. Examples are CuteFTP, WsFTP, and FrontPage.


gif – Graphics Interchange Format. A format used for displaying bitmap images on World Wide Web pages, usually called a “gif” because .gif is the filename extension. These files use loss-less compression and can have 256 colors. JPEG and GIF are commonly used for images on the Web; JPEG is considered best for photos and GIF for other graphic images.

Gross Exposures – Each time a Web server sends a file to a browser, it is recorded in the server log file as a “hit.” Hits are generated for every element of a requested page (including graphics, text and interactive items). If a user views a page containing two graphics, three hits will be recorded: one for the page itself and one for each graphic. Webmasters use hits to measure their server’s workload. Because page designs vary greatly, hits are a poor guide for traffic measurement.


Hit – Each time a Web server sends a file to a browser, it is recorded in the server log file as a “hit.” Hits are generated for every element of a requested page (including graphics, text and interactive items). If a page containing two graphics is viewed by a user, three hits will be recorded – one for the page itself and one for each graphic. Webmasters use hits to measure their server’s workload. Because page designs vary greatly, hits are a poor guide for traffic measurement.

Holdback – A portion of the revenue from a merchant’s credit card transactions, held in reserve by the merchant account provider to cover possible disputed charges, chargeback fees, and other expenses. After a predetermined time, holdbacks are turned over to the merchant. Note: Merchant account providers almost never pay interest on holdbacks.

Hot Linking – The function of linking between two applications where as the changes in one will effect the other. Such as linking an image from another application (or server) to view in an application in different location. The process of linking two seperate applications.

Home Page – The main page of a website. The home page provides visitors with an overview and links to the rest of the site. It often contains or links to a Table of Contents for the site.

Host – An Internet host used to be a single machine connected to the Internet (which meant it had a unique IP address). As a host, it made certain services available to other machines on the network. However virtual hosting has now meant that one physical host can now be actually many virtual hosts.

HQX – BinHex (filename extension — Macintosh).

Htaccess – password authentication scheme for websites on apache servers.

HTML – Stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, a coding language used to make hypertext documents for use on the Web. HTML resembles old-fashioned typesetting code, where a block of text is surrounded by codes that indicate how it should appear. HTML allows text to be “linked” to another file on the Internet.

HTTP – Stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, a standard method of transferring data between a Web server and a Web browser.

Hyperlink – A link in a HTML document that leads to another World Wide website, or another place within the same document. Hyperlinks are usually underlined or shown in a different color from the surrounding text. Sometimes hyperlinks are pictures.

Hypertext – Any text that causes another document to be retrieved and displayed when clicked on.


IANA – Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

IAP – Short for Internet Access Provider, a company that provides access to the Internet. IAPs generally provide dial-up access through a modem and PPP connection, though companies that offer Internet access with other devices, such as cable modems or wireless connections, could also be considered IAPs. The terms IAPs and ISP (Internet Service Providers) are often used interchangeably, though some people consider IAPs to be a subset of ISPs. Whereas IAPs offer only Internet access, ISPs may provide additional services, such as leased lines (T-1 or T-3) and Web development. In contrast to both IAPs and ISPs, online services provide their own proprietary content in addition to Internet access.

ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN located at is the governing body for domain names and also operates the root servers. They determine what TLDs are available, how domain name disputes are handled, and other policies regarding the domain name system.

ICQ – A program which allows chat and the exchange of other types of information, plus there are add-on programs for “telephone” conversations. “ICQ” is said to derive from “I seek you” (say it aloud if you don’t get it). A good way to find out if your friends are online and want to chat is for all to download and install ICQ.

IM – Instant messaging (sometimes called IM or IMing) is the ability to easily see whether a chosen friend or co-worker is connected to the Internet and, if they are, to exchange messages with them. Instant messaging differs from ordinary e-mail in the immediacy of the message exchange and also makes a continued exchange simpler than sending e-mail back and forth. Most exchanges are text-only. However, some services allow attachments. Independent Service Organization – A firm or organization that offers to process online credit card transactions, usually in exchange for transaction fees or a percentage of sales. Merchants must generally establish a merchant account before contracting for ISO services, although some ISOs claim not to require separate merchant accounts. See also factoring.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)- A firm that provides access to the Internet, including Web browsing and email. ISPs often offer connections that can be accessed by dialing a telephone number through your computer’s modem.

Internet – A global network connecting millions of computers. As of 1999, the Internet has more than 200 million users worldwide, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 100 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions. Unlike online services, which are centrally controlled, the Internet is decentralized by design. Each Internet computer, called a host, is independent. Its operators can choose which Internet services to use and which local services to make available to the global Internet community. Remarkably, this anarchy by design works exceedingly well. There are a variety of ways to access the Internet. Most online services, such as America Online, offer access to some Internet services. It is also possible to gain access through a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Intranet – A local area network which may not be connected to the Internet, but which has some similar functions. Some organizations setup World Wide Web servers on their own internal networks so employees have access to the organization’s Web documents.

IP Address – Internet Protocol address. Every system connected to the Internet has a unique IP address, which consists of a number in the format A.B.C.D, where each of the four sections is a decimal number from 0 to 255. Most people use Domain Names instead, and the network and the Domain Name Servers handle the resolution between Domain Names and IP addresses. With virtual hosting, a single machine can act like multiple machines (with multiple domain names and IP addresses).

IP – Internet Protocol. The IP part of TCP/IP; the protocol that is used to route a data packet from its source to its destination over the Internet.

IRC – Internet Relay Chat is a worldwide network of people talking to each other in real time. These chat rooms typically focus on specific topics, issues or commonality.

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network is a digital network that moves up to 128,000 bits-per-second over a regular phone line at nearly the same cost as a normal phone call.

ISP – Internet Service Provider is your connection to the Internet. You use an ISP to connect onto the Internet every time you log on. See also IAP. Issuing Bank – The bank that maintains the consumer’s credit card account and must pay out to the merchant’s account in a credit card purchase. The issuing bank then bills the customer for the debt.


Javascript – JavaScript is an interpreted programming or script language from Netscape. In general, script languages are easier and faster to code in than the more structured and compiler languages such as C and C++. Script languages generally take longer to process than compiled languages, but are very useful for shorter programs. JavaScript is used in Web site development to do such things as: Automatically change a formatted date on a Web page (see our “Today” page), cause a linked-to page to appear in a popup window (see our “Make a WordPop!” page), cause text or a graphic image to change during a mouse rollover.

Jpeg – (also jpg) – a graphic image created by choosing from a range of compression qualities (actually, from one of a suite of compression algorithm ). When you create a JPEG or convert an image from another format to a JPEG, you are asked to specify the quality of image you want. Since the highest quality results in the largest file, you can make a trade-off between image quality and file size. Formally, the JPEG file format is ISO standard 10918. The JPEG scheme includes 29 distinct coding processes although a JPEG implementor may not use them all. JPEG is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the committee that established the baseline algorithms.


Link – A link will transport you from one Internet site to another with just a click of your mouse. Links can be text or graphic and are recognizable once you know what to look for. Text links usually will be underlined and often a different color than the rest of the text on your screen. A graphic link usually has a frame around it.

Listserv – The most widespread of mail lists. Listervs started on BITNET and are now common on the Internet.

Local – In networks, local refers to files, devices, and other resources at your workstation. Resources located at other nodes on the networks are remote.

Log File – A file created by a web or proxy server that contains all of the access information regarding the activity on that server.


Mailbox quotas – The amount of space we allot for each user to be able to use. This amount is currently set at 15MB.

Mail Exchange Record – (MX Record) A DNS resource record type indicating which host can handle electronic mail for a particular domain.

Mail order / telephone order discount rate – The discount rate charged by the merchant account provider for credit card transaction in which the actual credit card was not available to the merchant. MOTO discount rates are generally higher than swipe discount rates to account for the increased chance of fraud or nonpayment.

Mailing List – Electronic discussion groups that link a relatively small group of people together by common interests and that are distributed throughout the Internet via its global email system. If you belong to a mailing list, you receive every message that is posted to that list.

Mail server username –

MCSE – Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

Merchant Account Provider – A bank or other institution that hosts merchant accounts and processes online credit card transactions. The term is also often used broadly to include any credit card processing service, including ISOs.

Merchant Account – An account established by a merchant to receive the proceeds of credit card purchases. By establishing a merchant account, the merchant bank agrees to pay the merchant for valid credit card purchases in exchange for the right to collect on the debt owed by the consumer.

Merchant Bank – A bank that holds a merchant account. After a consumer buys a product using a credit card, the merchant bank places funds into a merchant account in exchange for the right to collect on the debt owed by a consumer. See also merchant account provider.

Merchant Services Provider – A bank, ISO, or other firm that provides services for processing financial transactions, usually credit card sales. Many MSPs provide merchant accounts, while others require their clients to establish merchant accounts on their own. Some MSPs claim that they do not require merchant accounts; this may indicate factoring, which is illegal in many areas. See also holdback.

Monthly Minimum – The minimum amount in fees and percentages charged by a merchant services provider in a given month. If account activity does not generate the monthly minimum, the account holder must make up the difference.

MX/A DNS records – Changed when creating a POP account on DN, the ‘A’ record identifies the users mail server for their domain (i.e. The ‘MX’ (mail exchange) record identifies where to send the email, in this case ‘’


Nameserver – A name server is a computer that contains a list of domain names and the associated IP addresses. When a domain name is typed in a web browser, the nameserver associates that with the IP address and the correct web site opens in the web browser.

Navigation Bar (Navbar) – A Navbar is just a kind of “Table of Contents” of a site that stays available so the reader can move easily from place to place.

Netiquette – Contraction of Internet etiquette, the etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services, and particularly Internet newsgroups. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e., avoiding flames), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. For example, netiquette advises users to use simple formats because complex formatting may not appear correctly for all readers. In most cases, netiquette is enforced by fellow users who will vociferously object if you break a rule of netiquette. See:

Newsgroup – A discussion group on Usenet devoted to talking about a specific topic. Currently, there are over 45,000 newsgroups. Also called USENET, they are groups that often have nothing to do with news. Newsgroups are ongoing discussion groups among people on the Internet who share a mutual interest.

NS record – nameserver record.

Nslookup – Nslookup is a program to query Internet domain name servers. Nslookup has two modes: interactive and non-interactive. Interactive mode allows


Operation systems (or OS) – The main control program of a computer that schedules tasks, manages storage, and handles communication with peripherals. Its main part, called the kernel, is always present. The operating system presents a basic user interface when no applications are open, and all applications must communicate with the operating system.

OS- see Operating System.

OSI – (Open Systems Interconnection, or Open Systems Interconnect). A model developed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to allow computer systems made by different vendors to communicate with each other. The goal of OSI is to create a worldwide open systems networking environment where all systems can interconnect. Most communications protocols today are based on the OSI model. OSI defines a framework for communications which has seven layers: 1) the physical layer, 2) the data link layer, 3) the network layer, 4) the transport layer, 5) the session layer, 6) the presentation layer, and 7) the application layer. Control is passed from one layer to the next. A communication begins with the application layer on one end (for example, a user opening an application and typing a request). The communication is passed through each of the seven layers down to the physical layer (which is the actual transmission of bits). On the receiving end, control passes back up the hierarchy.


Page – All websites are a collection of electronic “pages.” Each Web page is a document formatted in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that contains text, images or media objects, such as RealAudio player files, QuickTime videos or Java applets. The “home page” is typically a visitor’s first point of entry and features a site index. Pages can be static or dynamically generated. All frames and frame parent documents are counted as pages.

Page Views – Number of times a user requests a page that may contain a particular ad. Indicative of the number of times an ad was potentially seen, or “gross impressions.” Page views may overstate ad impressions if users choose to turn off graphics (often done to speed browsing).

Party – A Complainant or a Respondent.

Perl – Perl is a general-purpose programming language invented in 1987 by Larry Wall. It has become the language of choice for World Wide Web development, text processing, Internet services, mail filtering, graphical programming, systems administration, and every other task requiring portable and easily developed solutions.

Personal Identification Number (PIN): An alphanumeric or numeric code used to verify the identity of an individual attempting to use a credit card, debit card, or other account

PHP – PHP is a tool that let you create dynamic web pages. PHP-enabled web pages are treated just like regular HTML pages and you can create and edit them the same way you normally create regular HTML pages.

Ping – Packet Internet Groper. A program used to test whether a particular network destination is online, by sending an Internet control message protocol (ICMP) echo request and waiting for a response. (Also called packet Internet gopher).

Platform – The operating system (i.e. Windows 95, Windows NT, etc.) used by a visitor to your website.

Png – Portable Network Graphics bitmap (filename extension).

POP3 – Post Office Protocol, version 3. The central repository where electronic mail is stored before the recipient downloads it; analogous to a U.S. Mail post office box where mail is stored waiting to be picked up. When you use your email program to check for new messages, this is similar to visiting the post office and using a key to check a P.O. box.

Portal – Usually used as a marketing term to described a website that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a “Portal site” has a catalog of websites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main “point of entry” (hence “portal”) to the Web.

Posting – Sending an article to a newsgroup, listserv, etc. Online, you send email messages to people and posts to lists.

Preregistration – The theoretical process of paying for registration of new TLD before it becomes available, not necessarily guaranteeing that domain’s registration.

Primary email – The primary email address for an account. The price for a primary email is currently set at $10 per year.

Propagation – When a domain name is registered and has name servers set for it, the information that tells other computers about that domain name is distributed throughout the internet so that all computers on the internet can find the new domain. This process is called propagation and can take several days once a domain name is registered.

Protocol – An established method of exchanging data over the Internet.

Python – An interpreted, object-oriented programming language developed by Guido van Rossum. The name comes from one of van Rossum’s favorite television shows, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Python is very portable since Python interpreters are available for most operating system platforms. Although Python is copyrighted, the source code is freely available, and unlike GNU software, it can be commercially re-sold.


Qmail – The email POP3/SMTP system used by Intercosmos.


Real Time Processing – The verification and processing of credit card transactions immediately following a purchase. Real-time verification on the Web usually takes less than five minutes. Real-time verification is especially important for websites that sell products and services that consumers expect immediately, such as memberships to the site or software downloads.

Redirection – any traffic going to a domain name will be redirected to a different URL chosen by the user, for example, a pre-existing website on another server.

Referrer – URL of an HTML page that refers to your website.

Registrant – The person that is trying to register a domain for use through a registrar.

Registrar – A company or organization that registers domain names for individuals and organizations.

Registration – To enroll for the use of, the act of registering.

Registration Agreement – Means the agreement between a Registrar and a domain-name holder.

Remote – In networks, remote refers to files, devices, and other resources that are not connected directly to your workstation. Resources at your workstation are considered local.

Remote Access – The ability to log onto a network from a distant location. Generally, this implies a computer, a modem, and some remote access software to connect to the network. Whereas remote control refers to taking control of another computer, remote access means that the remote computer actually becomes a full-fledged host on the network. The remote access software dials in directly to the network server. The only difference between a remote host and workstations connected directly to the network is slower data transfer speeds.

Reserving domains – see pre-registration.

Return Code – The return status of the request that specifies whether the transfer was successful and why. Possible “Success” codes are: 200 = Success – OK 201 = Success – Created 202 = Success – Accepted 203 = Success – Partial Information 204 = Success – No Response 300 = Success – Redirected 301 = Success – Moved 302 = Success – Found 303 = Success – New Method 304 = Success – Not Modified

Possible “Failed” codes are – 400 = Failed – Bad Request 401 = Failed – Unauthorized 402 = Failed – Payment Required 403 = Failed – Forbidden 404 = Failed – Not Found 500 = Failed – Internal Error 501 = Failed – Not Implemented 502 = Failed – Overloaded Temporarily 503 = Failed – Gateway Timeout

Roll over – To carry over a previous contract to the new registrar. To keep any time that was previously registered with a new company.

Router – A device that finds the best path for a data packet to be sent from one network to another. A router stores and forwards electronic messages between networks, first determining all possible paths to the destination address and then picking the most expedient route, based on the traffic load and the number of hops. A router works at the network layer (layer 3 of the OSI model); a bridge works at the data link layer (layer 2). A router does more processing than a bridge does. A router can be hardware or a combination of hardware and software. An example of what a router address looks like: or


Sales Draft – A receipt that is sent to the customer.

Search Engine – A Search Engine is a site that serves as an index to other sites on the Web. Some of the more popular search engines are “Starting Point,” “Yahoo” and “Lycos.” Search engines are relatively easy to use. Normally, they contain references to common subject areas that you can point-and-click to connect to other links that connect to other links, and so on. They also give you the opportunity to type in key words (by themselves, or in combination) to begin a search.

Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) – A system for encrypting e-commerce transactions, such as online credit card purchases. Developed by Visa, MasterCard, Microsoft, and several major banks, SET combines 1,024-bit encryption with digital certificates to ensure security. SET is still in development. Secure Server – A Web server or other computer connected to the Internet that is capable of establishing encrypted communication with clients, generally using SSL or SET.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)- A system for encrypting data sent over the Internet, including e-commerce transactions and passwords. With SSL, client and server computers exchange public keys, allowing them to encode and decode their communication.

Security – Ensuring that private information remains private in an atmosphere where all other information is free. Security also means that viruses are prevented from infecting people’s systems.

Server – A Server is a machine that makes services available on a network to client program. A file server makes files available. A WAIS server makes full-text information available through the WAIS protocol (although WAIS uses the term source interchangeably with server).

Server Error – An error occurring at the server. Web server errors have codes in the 500 ranges.

Server ID – See Web Server Certificate.

Settlement – The process of sending the merchants batch to the network for processing and payment.

Shopping Cart – A software package that runs as part of a website to collect and record purchasing decisions by a visitor. Shopping cart programs are stored on Web servers.

Shtml – HTML file with embedded server-side includes (SSIs) (filename extension).

SIT – Stuffit compressed file.

SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, used between servers to relay mail.

SOA record – start of authority record.

Spam (or Spamming) – The practice of sending copies of a message to many different newsgroups, with no regard to whether the subject matter is appropriate; or sending the same message by email to large numbers of people indiscriminately. Sometimes spams are advertisements. Spamming is considered poor netiquette and can have legal repercussions because it not only wastes everyone’s time, but also costs money. The sender of the messages does not pay the cost; the sites of the recipient and others on the route pay it. Spamming often results in angry email replies from the tar

Spiders – Spiders and Robots (or “bots”) are simply automated programs that explore the Web, looking for information. The most common kinds of Spiders are the ones that collect Web addresses for the Search Engines to catalogue. SQL (Structured Query Language) – A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application will have its own version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – A protocol from Netscape Communications Corporation, which is designed to provide secure communications on the Internet. It has become the universal standard on the Web for authenticating websites to Web browser users, and for encrypting communications between browser users and webservers. SSL is built into all major browsers and Web servers, which means it doesn’t matter where the protocol is implemented, the same implementation is operated. After a digital certificate, or Server ID, is installed, SSL capabilities are then enabled. Features of a secure site: 1) The URL changes from http:// to https:// . 2) A lock symbol appears in the lower left-hand status bar in Netscape Navigator. 3) A lock symbol appears in the lower right-hand status bar in Internet Explorer.

Static IP address – A static or dedicated IP Address is a type of account from an ISP where your computer(s) are assigned the same IP Address at all times. While this used to be a requirement for web-site serving, it is usually used today for security purposes.

Sticky – “Sticky” sites are those where the visitors stay for an extended period of time. For instance, a banking site that offers a financial calculator is stickier than one that doesn’t because visitors do not have to leave to find a resource they need.

Suffix (Domain Name) – The three-digit suffix of a domain can be used to identify the type of organization. Possible “Suffixes” are: .com, Commercial; .edu, Educational; .int, International; .gov, Government; .mil, Military; .net, Network and .org, Organization.

Surfer – User or Visitor to a website.


T-1 – A high-speed (1.54 megabits/second) network connection.

T-3 – A high speed (45 megabits/second) Internet connection. tar.gz – Combined filename extension for a file that has been archived using tar and then gzipped.

TCL – Tool Command Language (TCL). Developed by John Ousterhout, TCL is an interpreted programming language that is used for developing CGI scripts and prototyping applications.

TCP – Transmission Control Protocol works with IP to ensure that packets travel safely on the Internet.

Tgz – Another name for .tar.z and .tar.gz.

TLDs – A top level domain (TLD) is the very last part of an FQDN and helps to group domains by purpose and/or region. It can be either a generic TLD like ‘.edu’ or a country code TLD like ‘.uk’.

TOS – Terms Of Service. A stated list of the terms that must be agreed on by a user of a particular service; the terms under which a service provider provides a particular service.

Traceroute – The Internet is a large and complex aggregation of network hardware, connected together by gate ways. Tracking the route one’s packets follow (or finding the miscreant gateway that’s discarding your packets) can be difficult. Traceroute utilizes the IP protocol `time to live’ field and attempts to elicit an ICMP TIME_EXCEEDED response from each gateway along the path to some host.

Transaction Fee – A charge for each credit card transaction, collected by the merchant account provider or ISO. Transaction fees usually fall between $0.20 and $1 (U.S.).

Transfer – To have a domain moved from one registrar to another registrar so that the new registrar houses the domain name.

TTL – Time to Live. Part of a Dig result that lists the amount of time left before the nameserver expires a cached record.


Unique Users – The number of different individuals who visit a site within a specific time period. To identify unique users, websites rely on some form of user registration or identification system.

UNIX – A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things such as databases and word processors). UNIX can be used by many people at once (“multi-user”) and has TCP/IP built-in. UNIX is the most prevalent operating system for Internet servers.

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy – 1. This policy is now in effect. See for the implementation schedule. 2. This policy has been adopted by all accredited domain-name registrars for domain names ending in .com, .net, and .org. It has also been adopted by certain managers of country-code top-level domains (e.g., .nu, .tv, .ws). 3. The policy is between the registrar (or other registration authority in the case of a country-code top-level domain) and its customer (the domain-name holder or registrant). Thus, the policy uses “we” and “our” to refer to the registrar and it uses “you” and “your” to refer to the domain-name holder.

URL – Universal Resource Locator is a means of identifying an exact location on the Internet. For example, is the URL which defines the use of HTTP to access the Web page default.htm in the /html/info/ directory on the WebTrends Corporation website. As the previous example shows, a URL is comprised of four parts: Protocol Type (HTTP), Machine Name (, Directory Path (/html/info/), and File Name (default.htm).

User Agent – The fields in an extended Web server log file indicating the browser and the platform used by a visitor.

User mail server –

User Session – A session of activity (all hits) for one user of a website. A unique user is determined by the IP address or cookie. By default, a user session is terminated when a user is inactive for more than 30 minutes.


Valid Hits – A further refinement of hits, valid hits are hits that deliver all information to a user. Excludes hits such as redirects, error messages and computer-generated hits.

View Page – Each request for a particular web page that displays an ad. Also referred to as an impression.

Virtual Domain – A virtual domain is an extension off of your domain name. Once you have purchased “” you can create branches off of this name, such as “”. These are called virtual domains.

Visits – A sequence of requests made by one user at one site. If a visitor does not request any new information for a period of time, known as the “time-out” period, then the next request by the visitor is considered a new visit. To enable comparisons among sites, I/PRO uses a 30-minute time-out.


Web browser – a program such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, and others that are used to view pages on the World Wide Web.

Web server – a server on the Internet that holds World Wide Web documents and makes them available for viewing by remote browsers. Examples: Apache, Microsoft IIS, IBM iPlanet, Cern HTTPD.

Web Server Certificate – or Server ID, is a digital document containing unique codes that identify the holder of the certificate to the person accessing the site. A Web Server Certificate is issued by a trusted third party called a Certificate of Authority (CA). CAs must audit the identity of the people or organizations to whom they issue certificates. Once the CA establishes an organization’s identity, it issues a certificate that contains the organization’s public key and signs it with the CA’s private key. SSL certificates hold information about Web-servers. They contain information about the owners of the certificates, the server to which the certificate was sold, when it was sold and when it expires. Visitors to your site will be able to submit credit card numbers and other personal information to your site, with assurance that they are really doing business with you, not an impostor, and that the information that they are sending to you can not be intercepted or decrypted by anyone other than the intended recipient.

Webmaster – A Webmaster is someone who keeps a website running and available to its readers. A website designer is someone who can design effective websites. The two may be the same person, but usually aren’t. They certainly need to be aware of the other’s role. Both need to be able to meet your needs as the client for the spot. A Webmaster is the person in charge of administrating a World Wide website.

Whois – An Internet directory service that can be used to find information about domain names users registered on a server, or other information about the network.

WWW – The common abbreviation for “World Wide Web.” The WWW is what most people refer to as “the Internet,” but it is really one a part of the Internet. The World Wide Web is commonly also called “The Web.”


ZIP – To compress a file using PKZIP, ZipIt, gzip, or other compatible archiver.

2 thoughts on “Computer Terms”

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