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Glossary of Internet and Computer Terms


Below, you will find a comprehensive glossary of Internet and Computer terms with definitions that are helpful and easy to understand. To find a term, click the letter of which the word begins with and scroll alphabetically to find your term. For example, to find the definition for the word "Media", click the letter "M", then scroll the list alphabetically until you find "Media".




  • FAT: 
    Stands for File Allocation Table. Basically this is a table of contents in a directory that tells the computer what all is in there. Look at your Netscape cache, you'll see a FAT. It'll be the first file.

  • FAT 16:
    This was an older FAT (File Allocation Table) that was designed for use in the MS-DOS system. FAT 16 was used in many Windows Operating Systems up to Windows ME. Its biggest downfall was that it could only handle small partition sizes.

  • FAT 32:
    A new version of the file allocation table (FAT) available in Windows 95 OSR 2 and Windows 98. FAT32 increases the number of bits used to address clusters and also reduces the size of each cluster. The result is that it can support larger disks (up to 2 terabytes) and better storage efficiency (less slack space).

  • Fault Tolerance:
    The ability of a system to respond gracefully to an unexpected hardware or software failure. There are many levels of fault tolerance, the lowest being the ability to continue operation in the event of a power failure. Many fault-tolerant computer systems mirror all operations -- that is, every operation is performed on two or more duplicate systems, so if one fails the other can take over. 

  • FAQ: 
    Stands for Frequently Asked Questions. An FAQ is a file or document where a moderator or administrator will post commonly asked questions and their answers.

  • Fax Modem:
    A device you can attach to a personal computer that enables you to transmit and receive electronic documents as faxes. A fax modem is like a regular modem except that it is designed to transmit documents to a fax machine or to another fax modem. Some, but not all, fax modems do double duty as regular modems. As with regular modems, fax modems can be either internal or external. Internal fax modems are often called fax boards.

  • FDDI:
    Fiber Distributed Data Interface -- A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3). 

  • FDISK:
    A program found in all Aptiva software loads that allows modification of the partitions and/or logical drives on the hard drive. It can Display, Delete and Create partitions and logical drives, defining them for DOS, OS/2 or Windows, depending on which version of FDISK is used and how it is used. Type FDISK and hit Enter to start the program. This is a DESTRUCTIVE command and incorrect use will result in data loss!

  • Fetch:
    The process of 'fetching' a data or instruction item from memory and writing it to a register. The 'fetched' item is then either executed (instruction), or acted upon (data).

  • Fiber Optic:
    An alternative to copper wire for transmitting information. In fiber optics, pulses of light representing binary data are flashed along a flexible glass fiber. The advantage over copper wiring is that a single strand of optical fiber can carry thousands and thousands of different frequencies at once without data loss.

  • File Sharing: 
    This is the most important feature of the Internet. This is a method of allowing one server to give the same file to many different end users.

  • File Server:
    A computer or a file storage device on a network that allows other computers on the same network access to stored information and resources.

  • Firmware:
    Software (programs or data) that has been written onto read-only memory (ROM). Firmware is a combination of software and hardware. ROMs, PROMs and EPROMs that have data or programs recorded on them are firmware.

  • Flash Memory:
    This type of non-volatile memory has the ability to retain its information even when there is no power source. Flash Memory is best known for its use in hand help devices where it is used to store the operating system and core applications. Other devices that use Flash Memory are:

    -Digital Cameras
    -Audio Players
    -Cell Phones and Pagers
    -USB Drives

  • Flow Chart:
    A graphical representation of planned activities, operations or tasks. Usually, flow charts are used to show the progress of a certain activity. They can also be used to show the variance between specific operations.

  • Formal Specification:
    These specifications exist to satisfy predefined properties of a device or program. The word "formal" in Computer Science is referring to the act of being "precise". It takes three language components to make a specification "formal":
    1. Syntax:
    Grammatical structuring of data using a special code that defines how this special code is used to form words, phrases or any other allowable constraint.
    2. Semantics:
    A relationship between words, phrases or any other allowable constraint and their actual meaning. This is contrast to "Syntax". An example could be; if you enter a misspelled command, it would be a syntax error, but if you enter what may be a legitimate command but is not understood in its current context, this would be a "semantics error".
    3. Proof Theory:
    This deals with the actual "logic" of the programming. Using mathematical analysis techniques, the programming language is proof checked.

  • Forms:
    A web page element that uses text fields, radio buttons and check boxes to process predefined data. Forms also allow users to interact with an application by allowing information to be passed dynamically between two points.

    FORmula TRANslator. Developed in 1954 by IBM, it is a high-level programming language, most widely used for scientific and engineering applications because it has excellent mathematical functions. Many programmers consider it to sacrifice "elegance" for speed of numerical manipulations. 

  • Freeware: 
    This is a shortened version of Free Software. Programmers offer their work without wanting pay in return.

  • Front Side Bus:
    This is the main pathway for data transfer in a PC. It connects all of a computers major components, such as; memory, AGP socket and chipset.

  • FTP: 
    Stands for File Transfer Protocol.

  • Full Duplex:
    Refers to the transmission of data in two directions simultaneously. For example, a telephone is a full-duplex device because both parties can talk at once. In contrast, a walkie-talkie is a half-duplex device because only one party can transmit at a time.

    Most modems have a switch that lets you choose between full-duplex and half-duplex modes. The choice depends on which communications program you are running.

    In full-duplex mode, data you transmit does not appear on your screen until it has been received and sent back by the other party. This enables you to validate that the data has been accurately transmitted. If your display screen shows two of each character, it probably means that your modem is set to half-duplex mode when it should be in full-duplex mode.  

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