Technology Dictionary

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An alphabetical listing of General terms and items.

S/B Compatible   Dico Tools
(SoundBlaster compatible) A common Soundcard format. In practice anything which is described as "S/B compatible" should work with almost all sound cards.

Safe Mode   Dico Tools
A cut-down version of Windows which you can launch instead of the full version for troubleshooting purposes.

SATA   Dico Tools
(Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) The latest high speed standard for connecting hard disks to your computer, replacing EIDE on most new computers.

Save   Dico Tools
Copy whatever you are working on from memory, which is lost when you switch off the computer, to permanent storage, usually the hard disk. It is a good idea to save frequently when you are working on something important, in case there is a sudden power cut or you make some awful mistake that trashes your document.

Scanner   Dico Tools
A device which makes high-resolution copies of printed images and text to use on a computer.

Screensaver   Dico Tools
A program that blanks the computer screen or displays images if you don't do anything for a few minutes, in Windows for example. Early screens could have images literally burned permanently onto the tube if left displaying the same thing all day. Much less of a problem with modern screens, and these days screensavers are mostly used for security (with a password to return to normal mode), or just for fun.

Scroll   Dico Tools
To scroll something is to move it up or down the screen, so you can see what is above or below the current position, for example at a website. A scroll-bar is a bar on the right-hand side (usually) of a window which allows you to move the text etc up and down the screen with a mouse. If the window is too wide to fit the screen there will be a scroll-bar at the bottom, so you can scroll the text left and right too.

SCSI   Dico Tools
(Small Computer Systems Interface; pr. "scuzzy") A fast system for controlling hard disks, tape drives, and various other add-ons. Sometimes used for a PC's main hard disk, but more often the main hard disk is controlled by an EIDE controller built into the motherboard. A SCSI controller would usually be installed as an expansion board. SCSI is a bit faster than EIDE, but more expensive.

Search Engine   Dico Tools
A website directory which indexes as many websites as it can and allows you to search its database for sites on particular subjects. Because of the immense size and rate of growth of the world wide web, no-one has a complete directory of all sites which exist.

Security Suite   Dico Tools
A set of programs designed to protect a computer from malware and similar threats. Usually consists of a firewall, antivirus program, anti-spyware program, and often an anti-phishing program

Security Suite   Dico Tools
A set of programs designed to protect a computer from malware and similar threats. Usually consists of a firewall, antivirus program, anti-spyware program, and often an anti-phishing program

Serial Port   Dico Tools
A socket for plugging devices into the computer (not the same as USB). Most PCs have two, called COM1 and COM2. Most often used to plug in a modem or mouse; however, on many modern computers a modem is built into the computer as an expansion card, and the mouse has its own separate port.

Server   Dico Tools
A computer at the centre of most networks which provides files and other services to other computers. Also known as a file server.

Shockwave   Dico Tools
A very impressive technology from Macromedia Inc for making animations, games, sound and all kinds of special effects on a webpage.

Shortcut   Dico Tools
In Windows (from 95 on), a type of icon which lets you launch a program quickly, without having to search for it. Often placed on the Windows desktop for convenience. Usually has a small arrow in the bottom lefthand corner, to show it is a shortcut rather than the program itself.

SIMM   Dico Tools
(Single In-line Memory Module; pr."sim") A module of RAM for older PCs. Replaced by DIMMs on newer computers.

SIR   Dico Tools
(Serial InfraRed). A wireless communication system for PCs and peripherals, especially laptops. Only works when the devices are in line-of-sight of each other.

Smiley   Dico Tools
:-) or :) A group of symbols used to indicate a smile or laughter in an email or newsgroup message (look at it sideways). There are all sorts of variants including :-( for sadness, ;-) for a smile with a wink, and :-o for astonishment. Collectively they are often called emoticons.

SMTP   Dico Tools
(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). The original method of transmitting and receiving email on the internet. Still often used for transmitting, but has been widely replaced by POP3 for receiving.

Software   Dico Tools
The programs that run on a computer. Without software, a computer can't do anything.

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SoundBlaster   Dico Tools
The best known type of Soundcard, made by Creative Labs. Most modern soundcards are described as "SoundBlaster compatible" (or S/B compatible), meaning that they understand the same commands as the popular SoundBlaster range, and should therefore work with almost all programs.

Soundcard   Dico Tools
An expansion card which enables the PC to make sounds more sophisticated than a simple "beep!". Almost all modern PCs are fitted with soundcards; nowadays they are often built into the motherboard instead of being added as an expansion card.

SP2   Dico Tools
(Service Pack 2). A major enhancement to Windows XP, particularly its security vulnerabilites, downloadable as a free patch from Microsoft's website.

Spam   Dico Tools
Originally a name for mass postings to Usenet newsgroups advertising products or services, regardless of their relevance to the newsgroup. (The name comes from a famous Monty Python sketch in which every conversation is interrupted every few seconds by people shouting "spam spam spam" at the top of their voices). Now generally used to describe bulk commercial advertising emails (UCE). Sending spam is a violation of most ISPs' AUP.

Spreadsheet   Dico Tools
A program used for doing calculations and setting up financial balance sheets, indispensable for accountants and managers. The best known are Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.

Spyware   Dico Tools
Programs, typically installed by stealth, which record what you do on your PC and send reports to criminals, allowing them to steal your bank details, passwords and so on. See also Malware.

Standalone   Dico Tools
A computer not connected to any kind of network.

Start Button   Dico Tools
A button on the lefthand end (usually) of the Taskbar in most versions of Windows, which you click on to display the Start Menu.

Start Menu   Dico Tools
A set of menus which appear when you click on the Start Button in Windows, which you can customise to suit your own preferences. Most programs will automatically add themselves to the Start Menu when you install them.

StartUp Folder   Dico Tools
An area under Programs in the Windows Start Menu. Any programs placed in this folder will launch themselves automatically whenever you start up Windows.

Storage   Dico Tools
The generic term for any method of storing information which is not lost when the computer is switched off; the most common types are hard disks, CD ROMs, and floppy disks.

Stream   Dico Tools
Video or audio that plays while still downloading, rather than you having to wait till the download has finished.

Suite   Dico Tools
A group of programs which carry out different tasks but are intended to work together, such as Microsoft Office.

Surfing   Dico Tools
In a computer context, wandering around the World Wide Web (which really annoys the guys with the boards and the big waves). Also called websurfing.

System Tray   Dico Tools
An area on the righthand end of the Windows Taskbar which displays icons representing TSRs presently running, usually at least a loudspeaker which represents the volume control for the soundcard, and a clock. Programs in the Sytem Tray are often but not always launched from the StartUp folder.

System Unit   Dico Tools
The unit with the disk drives which the keyboard, monitor etc are plugged into. In other words, the actual computer.

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