Granny’s Glossary

(Note: This glossary is a collection of common computer terms and phrases.  It will grow with the site, and I will add new definitions as we find them in the articles and materials.  If you come across  new computer words and phrases you don’t understand, please go to the Contact section, and let me know what I have missed so that I can post it for you. 
Or  – I invite you to send in your own definitions for me to add to the list.) 

Blog
Blog is short for weblog.  Publish your personal thoughts, pictures, and links to other interesting items that you want to share.
Broadband
Broadband usually describes the speed of your connection to the internet.  Broadband is high speed.
Cable Modem
A tool used to bring your fast World Wide Web cable connection to your computer.  Cable connections are almost universally available.  Telephone line connections are slower and are often used in rural areas where there is no cable.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Central processing unit (CPU) is also called a processor, or tower.  The CPU interprets your computer’s instructions and processes your computer programs.
Dial-up
Dial-up access is simply a phone connection to bring Internet to your computer.  The quality of the connection is not always good, and information transmission can very slow because it is coming across normal telephone lines.
Digital image
The picture as you see it on your computer or camera screen, which is formed by tiny dots called pixels (picture   elements).
Downloading
The process of bringing a file from an Internet site into your personal computer.
Dual Core CPU (Central Processing Unit – see above)
A dual core CPU means that your computer contains two complete processors inside.  It allows for multitasking because it’s like there are two ‘brains’ in your computer doing separate tasks.
Email program
Electronic mail is a computer program in which you write and send, read and store, messages electronically.
Email virus
An email virus is just like a virus in your body.  It uses an email that contains a bad message, and copies and transports itself automatically to everyone in the victim’s address book.  It then does the same thing to every email at the next level, very quickly overloading and disabling systems as it goes. 
Encryption
A way of coding the information in a file or email so that it is unreadable by a third party as it travels over the network.  Only the senders and receivers have the key to unlock the information.  This is how you do online banking and accounting, because all your transactions are encrypted.
Firewall
A system that prevents unauthorized access into your computer.  There are many  Firewall systems and your computer tech will advise you which to use.  After awhile you will get to know them and will have your own favourite.
Font
The specific style and appearance of characters (letters and numbers) that you use in your documents and emails.  There are many designs of font families, which also include things like size and spacing.
Hacker
A clever programmer who gets (hacks)  through your firewall and into your computer to get information.
Hard Drive/Hard Disk
Most commonly used computer storage device.  Hard drives are the storage medium in desktop and laptop computers.
Icon
An icon is a small picture on your screen that represents a program, file or folder.
Internet Protocol (IP) Address
A string of four numbers separated by periods (e.g.  178.159. .222.150), which  used to represent any specific computer on the Internet.
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Internet Service Provider is a company that provides your Internet connection.
Key logger
It is a device or program that monitors every stroke that you type on your keyboard.  It is sometimes called a keystroke logger, a key logger, or system monitor.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
A low-power flat-panel display used in many computers and other devices.  Liquid crystal is sandwiched between layers of glass or plastic, and becomes opaque when electric current passes through it forming the visible characters on the screen.
Mail Server
A mail server is a program that receives incoming email and forwards it out for delivery to your email address.  The address of your server is often reflected at the end of your email address.
Malware
Short for ‘malicious software.’   It refers to any software which causes damage to your computer, a server, or a computer network.  There are programs you can load onto your computer that will seek and fix the damage, unless it gets very serious, in which case – call your computer technician.
Megapixel
A million pixels (picture elements or tiny dots) that make up a digital image (see above).  The measure commonly describes the image quality of a digital camera – the more megapixels (MP), the better.
Office Suite
A collection of programs used for business and home use.  A suite may include applications such as word processors (e.g. Microsoft Word), spreadsheets (e.g. Excel), and presentation software (e.g. Power Point).
Phishing
Phishing is email fraud where the perpetrator attempts to gather personal and financial information from the recipient.  Emails look legitimate and appear to come from trustworthy sources.
Podcast
A pre-recorded audio program that can listen to on your personal computer or mobile device (e.g.  iPod).
Post Office Protocol (POP)
A set of ‘rules’ by which your computer retrieves electronic mail from your mail server.  The POP server holds your email until you retrieve it.
Presentation Program
A computer program used to create and display presentations, usually in the form of a slide show (e.g. Power Point).
QWERTY
A ‘QWERTY’ keyboard is the standard computer keyboard display of keys.  QWERTY refers to the first six letters on the upper row of the keyboard.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
‘Random Access Memory’ is the most common form of computer memory.  RAM is used by programs to perform necessary tasks while your computer is switched on.  Its contents are lost as soon you turn off your computer – so that is why you need to find your programs again when you next start up (boot up).
Read Only Memory (ROM)
ROM is the memory holds all the basic instructions you computer needs, for example making the letter ‘W’ appear on the monitor when you press the ‘W’ key.  ROM cannot be changed, so switching off your computer doesn’t affect it.
RSS
RSS means Really Simple Syndication.  It is a format for enabling new data to be distributed, such as bringing new issues of your favourite blog posts to your computer.  RSS sources are often called ‘feeds’, which allow you to regularly obtain this information as soon as it is produced and published.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
SMTP is a set of commands and rules that direct the transfer of email (electronic mail) over the Internet.  Your email program uses SMTP to send a message to the mail server, and the mail server uses SMTP to relay that message to your email.
Software
Operating instructions (used by your CPU) for specific tasks within a program such as word processing, image editing, games, and so on.  Each type of computer system (e.g. Windows, Apple etc) needs specific software for any given program.
Spam
An attempt to use email inappropriately by sending the same message to as many people as possible when they didn’t request it.
Spreadsheet
A computer program that you use to enter numbers or text into a table with rows and columns, which can then be manipulated in a variety of ways.
Spyware
Computer software that collects personal information about you and your computer use without your consent.  It is sometimes called adware or malware. Spyware secretly records your personal information including your Internet browsing history and might send it to, for example, advertising agencies.  There are more malicious variations that attempt to intercept passwords or credit card numbers as you enter them into your computer. 
This is why you need to be scrupulous about your computer’s security.
USB
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is used to connect many types of peripherals to a computer, including mice, keyboards, printers, scanners etc..  You don’t need to reboot your computer when a USB device is attached because these devices are automatically recognized by your system.  Most personal computers (PCs) come equipped with several USB connections.
Virus
A virus is a software program capable of reproducing itself and usually capable of causing great harm to files or other programs on the same computer. (See above: email virus).
Word Processor
A computer program used to create, edit, print, and store documents.