A.C.'s Internet Primer

GLOSSARY


A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S.
BCC: BLIND CARBON COPY. A piece of header information found in an email. Any email addresses specified will also receive a copy of the email, BUT no recipient of the email will see the address, or know that the BCC:'d individual received a copy. See also TO: and CC:.
CC: CARBON COPY. A piece of header information found in an email. Any email addresses specified will also receive a copy of the email, AND every recipient of the email will see the address, and realize that the CC:'d individual received a copy. See also TO: and BCC:.
DOS DISK OPERATING SYSTEM. An Operating System used to run PCs. Absolutely bare-bones. Required extensive knowledge of a fairly cumbersome (by today's standards, anyway) text-based command scheme. Contrast with Windows.
FAQ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. An online manual for a web page, web site, or application. The FAQ is the first place one should look for help. It is generally considered bad Netiquette to send a request for help before at the very least checking the FAQ. If you do so, prepare to be flamed.
GNU GNU'S NOT UNIX. Another self-referential acronym to describe a software project aimed at replacing the commercial version of the Unix OS. Click here if you're among the morbidly curious. See also TLA.
OS OPERATING SYSTEM. The software that makes your system work. Without an operating system, you have a very expensive paperweight. Windows, Unix, and MacOS are examples of relatively popular OSs, but there are many more out there.. The OS is responsible for translating higher-level commands (such as "Copy this file to that directory") into lower level instructions that the computer can understand (such as "move the head of the disk drive to the start of file 0x004A5BE3 and read in 256 bytes, store it in memory, move the head of the disk drive to..." etc.)
TLA THREE LETTER ACRONYM. Geeks are an ornery bunch, and particularly enjoy self-referential acronyms like this one. See also GNU.

Terms and Phrases
Database A software package that allows the user to store and retrieve large amounts of data. The advantages of a database over a spreadsheet are
  • Can work quickly with much larger amounts of data.
  • Can have multi-dimensional data, rather than 2-dimensional. For example, you could have a database with several tables in it, detailing your neighborhood. You could then query the database and say "Give me a list of all males over 35 who live on the north side of the street." This would be much harder to do in a spreadsheet, because this type of data does not translate to rows and columns. What are your row headings? How would you sort the data to answer this query?
The disadvantage of a database is that it does not have the functionality built in to process the data. It is a "dumb" repository of information. You tell it what to store, and then ask it to give you back pieces of that information via "queries", and then do with it what you will, but it must be an external program that links to the database doing the data manipulation.
Excel Microsoft's spreadsheet program. The most common spreadsheet program in use today.
Flame
Flamed
Flamer
Flamebait
Flame - to unleash a vitriolic and often insulting to the victim's personal response to another individual, usually in response to a breach of Netiquette, whether real or perceived. Flamer = one who flames. Flamebait = one who might actually have deserved a flaming. Alternately, one who intentionally provokes another Netizen to entice him to flame.
Header The part of an email that contains information about who sent it, who received it, the subject line, the time and date it was sent, the route it took to get to the recipient(s), and so on. Everything else is called the "Body" of the email.
MacOS The Operating System that makes Macintoshes run. Sometimes. Macintoshes are used primarily in the creative sector, for graphic design, layout, music creation, and fine arts. There is something of a feud between Mac and Windows users. The former referse to the latter as "Windoze", while the latter make fun of the dearth of applications available on a Macintosh. Usually programs are ported to the Mac only years after it's been available under Windows.
Microsoft The world's largest software company, which has made its founder, Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. (For now, at least.) Microsoft's biggest product is the Windows Operating System, but it also produces software from soup to nuts, and has recently entered new arenas such as software services, consulting, and even videogames.
Netiquette Short for Net Etiquette. An unwritten system of mores and values generally accepted by most Netizens. Some of the more common infractions:
  • Forwarding email that promises monetary income from Bill Gates if you send it to all your friends, or threatens that you will lose your genetalia to a rotting disease if you don't. Also common: forwarding hoax emails, even unknowingly. If you receive an email that sounds dubious in any way, go here, type the subject of your email in the search line (or some keywords), and hit Search. This will bring up a list of results, some of which might match your email, and tell you whether it's true or a hoax. Here's an example: search on "Microsoft sends free money", and you will get these results. Look at the first item...titled "Can you get free cash or merchandise for forwarding an e-mail message?". Click on the underlined red title above that (starting with "Urban Legends") and you will be taken to a detailed explanation debunking the email. Please do not forward this to me. Or anyone. Just delete it.
  • Getting off-topic. If you're in a bulletin board discussing which wine goes with chicken, do not ask a question about hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains.
  • Sending emails with very large attachments.
  • "Replying to All" when you meant to simply "Reply". See "Reply to All vs. Reply"
Netizen Short for "Citizen of the Internet". Another Internet user, whether someone you converse with by e-mail, chat room, bulletin board, or not at all.
Newbie New user. Someone who is reading this to learn, rather than for the humor value. It's meant as a slight derogatory, but is no stronger than, say, "dork". Nothing to get upset about, even if you are one. Usually preceded by "Don't be such a".
PCs Short for "Personal Computers". You're probably using one now. Usually it refers to computers that run Windows, and have Intel Pentium processor(s) as opposed to Macintoshes ("Macs").
Port To translate a program from one system (or, more correctly, OS) to another. For example, the new version of Microsoft Excel will be released for Windows first, and then later ported to MacOS.
Propellerhead Geek. Dork. Nerd. Reference to the beanie worn by your stereotypical brainiac, even though these haven't been seen in decades.
"Reply to All" vs. "Reply" Almost all email programs offer you these choices when reading an email. When you "Reply", you send your response ONLY to the person who originally emailed you. "Reply to All" means "Send my response to the person who just emailed me AS WELL AS everyone else who received the original email".
Ex: Person A sends an email to Person B and Person C. Person B then chooses to "Reply" - this email is sent only to Person A. Person C chooses to "Reply to All", and her response is sent to both Person A (the original sender) and Person B (a fellow recipient of the original email). See also CC: and BCC:.
Spreadsheet Software package that is used to organize and calculate data, particularly that can be easily represented in a row-column table form. Differs from a database in its ability to perform complex calculations on the data, such as automatically recalculating interest over the life of a loan if the interest rate changes .05%.
To: A piece of header information found in an email. Specifies the main recipient(s) of the email. The only required piece of information in an email. You can actually send an email with nothing but a "To:" field. Useless, but possible. Also generally a breach of Netiquette. See also CC: and BCC:.
Unix An Operating System usually associated with business applications. Sun Microsystems computers usually run with a form of Unix. It's known for being highly configurable, and is a favorite among the particularly technically oriented (a.k.a. Propellerheads).
Windows Microsoft's Operating System that runs (somewhat sporadically) on something like 95% of all PCs. Launched MS to a position of such dominance that it was the target of a Justice Department probe investigating the possibility of monopolistic practices. The Windows OS is successful largely due to two factors.
  • 1) Ease of use. Prior to Windows, PCs ran an OS called DOS, which required the user to type in arcane strings of text to get anything done. Now, instead of typing
    copy a:\docs\rpts\maysales.doc c:\homeoff\work\rpts\current
    a user can simply dragg a file icon from one folder to another to copy a file. It mimicked real-world files and folders, and flattened the learning curve for many users.
  • 2) Applications. If you can do it on a computer, you can do it Windows. Usually cheaper and better, too. From word processing to spreadsheets to web surfing to massive payroll databases to email and web services, chances are there's a Windows program to do anything you need to.