Internet Terms and Acronyms
(Adapted from VICNET Glossary of Internet Terms)

 by Allan J. Greenberg


As in small application. Programs are also called applications,
so an applet is a small program. E.g. Java Applets


(American Standard Code for Information Interchange) ASCII (usually pronounced "as-key") is a binary code for text. ASCII is the built-in character for personal computers.


Audio files come in various formats. The most common ones are WAVE, MP3, and Real Audio.


Bandwidth is how much information or data can be sent in a set amount of time, usually measured in kbps (kilobits per second). If information is "water" then bandwidth is the size of the pipe that it's flowing though. The bigger the "pipe" you have, the more quickly information can get to your computer from the Internet.


A Bulletin Board System is another name for a group discussion or newsgroup area, which can also be called a forum, just to really confuse everyone. It's a way of having an ongoing discussion about a topic between a whole bunch of people over the Internet. You can post messages and read other people's postings or just "lurk" and listen in.


Broad as in wide, and band as in bandwidth. Broadband usually refers to any transmission rate that is at T1 speeds or better.


A Web browser is a software application that lets you view and interact with Web pages. The browser takes information from a Web server, interprets it and then displays it on your monitor.


The Cache (pronounced "cash") is like a secret pocket in your computer where it stores information temporarily. Things that are "cached" can be retrieved more quickly by the CPU, which makes loading Web pages faster.


CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface, and is a collection of scripts (like JavaScript) that help your browser communicate with Web servers. CGI is a protocol for gathering data from a Form and sending it to a program or Script such as Perl. Often used to indicate the entire method for processing a Form but in fact it is only a transfer interface.


Chat is a way to communicate with other people over the Internet in "real-time." Chat rooms are places where people come online to chat with one another by typing messages back and forth.


A software program that allows you to actually chat online. Most chat clients are available free from the sites that offer chats, and you simply download and install them to start chatting.


The process of making a file or files smaller by coding data to save storage space or transmission time. There are many different ways to compress files, all resulting in smaller file sizes. Compressed data must be decompressed before it can be used.


Some Web sites put a small text file on your computer so the site can recognize you when you return. These files are called "cookies." Think of cookies as being like membership cards to certain sites.


Cascading Style Sheets. The ability to assign styles to elements on a web page (HTML document). Examples include position, size, color, etc. These are only rendered in version 4 and above versions, with different results in Netscape and IE.


Dynamic HTML. Incorporates the ability to change the CSS values in a HTML document after it has been loaded. The results are Animated and Interactive web pages.


An ISP that provides telephone connection services so that you can connect to the Internet with your modem.


The Domain Name System is the way Web browsers identify the IP addresses of other computers on the Internet. The DNS translates a domain name (such as "") into the IP address of the Warner Bros. Web server.


The Domain is the unique part of a Web site's name. For example, in the URL, "" is the domain name.


"Downloading" a file is the process of accessing a file over the Internet and saving it on your computer. Your browser also downloads Web pages into its cache (temporary memory) to display them.


A Digital Subscriber Line is a way of getting high-speed Internet access using ordinary phone lines.


An e-mail address is sort of like an online post office box. All e-mail addresses have the same format: a user name, the "@" symbol followed by a domain name.


A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is a list of guidelines, instructions and/or helpful information about certain aspects of Web sites. (They can be very useful when you're too embarrassed to ask a co-worker or friend.)


This is both a tool to create animation for the Web as well as a tool to play animations that were created with Flash. Macromedia provides the Flash player as a free Web browser plug-in, but developers must buy the Flash production software in order to create these animations.


Also called a BBS or a Newsgroup. This is an area where you can read and post messages.


A Web site usually appears in a single window, but different frames can split that window into several, independent areas. For example, in Entertaindom, a top "frame" provides navigation across the entire Entertaindom site.


File Transfer Protocol is a way to move files around on the Internet. The biggest advantage to using an FTP tool to send or get files is that FTP can more easily handle large files, which can bog down some e-mail systems.


This is one of the standard image formats on the Internet. It has been turned into a word, and sounds just like gift, without the "t" on the end.


Home page actually has three definitions. A home page can be the first page that shows up when you start your browser. Or a home page can be the very first page that shows up when you enter a Web site. Or a home page can be your own personalized page on the Web.


HyperText Markup Language is the language that Web pages are built in, much the same way English is the language this sentence is written in. HTML describes the written and visual elements of a Web page and your browser "reads" the HTML to figure out how to display the site.


HyperText Transport Protocol is the way information is sent on the World Wide Web.


Hypertext is the links embedded within Web pages.


Microsoft Internet Explorer - the most popular browser, since it is integrated in the Windows 95/98 operating system. You should upgrade your browser regularly to the latest version, to continue to render Web pages as accurately as possible. You will encounter problems if you continue to use IE3. As of Dec 1999, the current version is 5.01 (with 5.5 beta next). Visit the Microsoft Website to download the latest version of IE (FREE).


Internet Message Access Protocol is the method some e-mail software uses to get e-mail. IMAP is like POP, but has some additional features, and like POP, IMAP also uses SMTP to send e-mail.


Interfaces are the buttons, menus and commands that let you communicate with your computer.


The Internet is a global network of computers that communicate using Internet Protocol (IP). Includes the Web, email, chat, FTP, telnet etc.


Not to be confused with your desktop Windows Explorer (file management program). Microsoft's Internet Explorer - usually just called "IE" - is a Web browser (software you use to view Websites).


Internet Protocol is the way information is routed through the Internet.


An IP number is a unique identifier that computers use to recognize each other over the Internet. An IP number is actually 4 groups of numbers separated by dots, like:


Internet Relay Chat is an incredibly popular kind of chat on the Internet. There are a lot of IRC servers around, and anyone can create a public or a private chat area themselves.


An Integrated Services Digital Network is a way to move data faster over your regular phone line, but it does cost extra.


An Internet Service Provider is a company that sells Internet access. VICNET is an ISP. Read about VICNET's Internet Access or other ISP's.


Java is a programming language used to make some of the applications that run inside your browser. Sun created this as a small, fast, efficient, and portable programming language, which are just a few reasons why it's used so much to write programs for the Web.


Despite its name, JavaScript really doesn't have anything to do with Java. JavaScript is also a programming language, but it's a much simpler one. In fact, a lot of non-programmers can write and use JavaScript applets to add cool features to their sites, like buttons that change colors or shapes when the mouse moves over them.


This is one of the main image formats for photos, and high quality images on the Web.


A Local Area Network is a group of computers that are connected to one another, usually by "Ethernet" cable. A kind of mini Internet between locally connected computers, often in a business.


Links are the way to navigate on the Web. Links can be text only, in which case they are underlined, or they can be an image.


A list serve is a list of e-mail names who are "served" up a regular e-mail newsletter. You usually sign up for this service.


Macromedia makes the Flash and Shockwave plug-ins, which are used just about everywhere on the Web. People use them so much that now they even come installed with the newest browser versions.


A mailing list is an automated e-mail system that lets people send e-mail to one address, so that it will be sent to all subscribers. A mail list can be used to send out an electronic newsletter, or to let folks discuss a specific topic.


This is Microsoft's automated program to help you setup Internet service.


MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is a method for transmitting non-text files using e-mail, which was originally designed for ASCII text.


A modem is a device that lets your computer talk to other computers on the Internet by sending out data in a signal that other computers can accept and read. Name means MOdulator, DEModulator.


Netiquette is the rules of politeness and acceptable behavior on the Internet.


Netscape is the company that makes the Netscape Navigator Web browser. To continue to render Web pages accurately, you should upgrade your browser regularly. You may encounter problems if you use an old version. Visit The Netscape Website to download the latest browser (FREE)


If you hook up two computers, you have a network. Networks can be small or really, really big.


A newsgroup is also sometimes, and more accurately, called a discussion group, or a forum, a BBS, or Usenet. It's just a group of folks who share a similar interest, and who post messages for each other to read and respond to.


Online simply means "connected to a network," whether private or public.


Usually, when you set up an Internet account, your ISP will give you a password. It's important to change this right away to something only you can remember, but that would be hard for someone to guess. (You'll use your password to both go online and get your e-mail).


Practical Extraction and Report Language. The most common scripting language for processing Form data.


A small software program that adds more features to another software program. For example, Shockwave is a plug-in for Netscape's Navigator.


Usually, POP means how your e-mail software gets mail (sort of like a PO Box number). But POP can also mean Point of Presence, as in when your Internet company says they're putting a POP in your neighborhood, meaning they're setting up a place near you where you can connect.


Any place where information goes in or out of your computers is called a "port." On your computer you have a COM (for communications) port, a sound port, and so on.


An overused marketing buzzword for a Web site that's the "first" place you see or visit, as in a site that acts as your gateway to the Net. Netscape is a "portal," so is AOL, so is MSN, so is every search engine out there, and any other site that wants to jump on the portal-wagon.


A message left in a newsgroup or on a message board is said to have been "posted." You'd use this as in, "I need to post an answer to that message I read about a new job."


Point to Point Protocol is the method a computer uses with a telephone line and a modem to make TCP/IP connections and get connected to the Internet.


A protocol is a set of standards for two computers to talk to each other--sort of like diplomatic protocol.


The proxy is a buffer between a user and the Internet - breaking the direct connection between sender and receiver. It funnels all user requests to the Internet and fans responses back out to the appropriate users. Proxy servers are available for common Internet services; for example, an HTTP proxy is used for Web access, and an SMTP proxy is used for e-mail. Proxies may also cache Web pages, so that the next request can be obtained locally, saving time and money. Proxies are only one tool that can be used to build a firewall, for hacker protection and filtering.


Use Search Engines and directories to find what you are looking for on the Internet. They index the content of millions of Web pages. Some search engines use automatic software called "spiders" that "crawl" Web sites and create listings of what they find. Some are actually directories, where real live people surf the Web to find the best of everything and then categorize it for you to use. And some are actually a combination of both techniques. Examples include Alta Vista and Yahoo. See VICNET Search page for more information.


Web sites hand out these things to make sure that you get a secure connection when you go shopping. These are good things.


This is a computer which "serves up" software to others, such as a Web server or e-mail server.


This is a software program from Macromedia that acts as a plug-in for Web browsers, and which is usually used to create cool games.


Before PPP came along, SLIP, or Serial Line Internet Protocol, was used for computers to connect to an Internet site.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is the method your e-mail software uses to send e-mail. Call your Internet Service Provider to get your SMTP and POP settings.


A luncheon meat made famous by Monty Python and now freely distributed over the Internet using TCP/IP on the WWW to your email box as soon as the distributor finds your Domain IP mail box host address. Spam is junk e-mail and it's the bane of the Internet - just like junk mail is the bane of your mailbox.


A Secure Sockets Layer is what keeps data secure and private on any site where you're shopping or sending information about yourself.

T1 T3

T1 and T3 are super fast connections to the Internet usually used by businesses and not individuals.


Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol is the basic method that lets ALL computers communicate with each other on the Internet, defining the rules. TCP/IP is the method by which all computers talk over the Internet but it works equally as well on a LAN.


This is a software program that lets your computer connect to another, so that you can then enter commands directly to another computer.


A Trojan horse is what seems to be legitimate software, but that does something destructive when run. See virus.


URL (either sounded out as in: "U-R-L" or pronounced "yur-al") stands for Uniform Resource Locator, but it's sometimes called a "Universal Resource Locator." Either way, it's an address that locates something on the Internet.


Usenet is the area of the Internet that holds newsgroups.


A user name is an online identity. It can be your real name, or if you want a little more privacy, make something up, sort of like what CB-handles were in the era of truckers and short-wave radio.


Video files are usually Quicktime, RealPlayer or MPEG.


A virus is a malicious piece of software programmed to spread itself over the Internet.

Viruses can range from fairly harmless to ones that can cause data loss. You should always have a current virus protection program on your computer. How to avoid a virus. See also "worm" and "Trojan horse". Be careful not to spread one of the many virus hoaxes! This misinformation damages the reputation of both the Internet and companies involved. Check the Latest Hoax News.


The Word Wide Web is really just part of the Internet. And if the Internet is the super-highway of information, then the Web acts like the billboards and information signs along the way, using text and graphics, and links to help you get around.


A worm is like a virus: it is a destructive program that replicates itself throughout disk and memory, using up the computers resources until it crashes.


The formal name of the Web is the World Wide Web. Often incorrectly used as a synonym for the whole Internet. As well as the Web, the Internet incorporates email, chat, telnet, ftp protocols etc.


What You See Is What You Get. A computer program that displays a reasonably good example of the finished result as it is being constructed.


XML stand for eXtensible Mark-up Language. XML is a Web page language like HTML, but instead of just describing how information will look, it actually describes what information is, such as a post code, or date of birth.