Glossary

Acrobat
A suite of programs sold by Adobe. Acrobat is often used for publishing complex documents with embedded images and graphs. Document pages can be linked to each other, have embedded movies or sound files, be zoomed, or downloaded and printed, with all page setup intact. While creating .PDF documents requires expensive software, reading them only requires the free Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from their website.

API
Application Programming Interface. Many online businesses (credit card processors, search engines, job databases, parcel shippers) have programs running on their servers, with the intention that web programmers can "hook" to their system using a network protocol, and extract data. For example, UPS allows E-commerce sites to poll their servers directly for shipping prices, so those prices can be displayed to the customer in real-time. The API is a document which describes the mechanism for connecting to, and extracting data from, their server. It is a technical document used by your programmer to enable certain features on your site.

ASCII
American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Since different computer systems have proprietary protocols for coding such things as paragraph formatting, font sizes, underlining, etc., this is a uniformly accepted means of transmitting text in a bare bones format. It means just text, with no fonts, emphasis, or anything else. ASCII can be read by all computers and all operating systems.

Background
The color behind the text. It can be white, yellow, purple, textured, marbellized, paisley, a logo, or anything else. Good taste is called for here, as well as consideration of the readability of the text.

Banner Advertising
If your needs require it, you can rent advertising on other web sites. This can be especially useful if you choose a site that attracts the kind of person that might do business with you. In Internet marketing, exposure is important. Through companies like "LinkExchange", you can get free banner ads in exchange for putting some on your site.

Binary
Files that are not "human-readable", like images and compiled programs. Binary files contain only 1s and 0s in combinations that make sense only to a computer.

Blinking text Don't even think about it! It gets on visitor's nerves.

Blog
Short for Web Log, essentially a moderated guest book, that allows the owner to post editorials or diatribes, and visitors to post responses, or articles of their own. These are usually moderated. Blogs became big news in the 2004 election, when they were largely responsible for bringing down the CBS News division of the Democratic National Committee. Is this a blog?

Browser
The program you are using to look at this. The most common browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape, with a combined market share of over 95%, but newer ones include Mozilla and Foxfire. There are also a few older ones, like Mosaic and Lynx (a text-only browser). We recommend Netscape, version 7, as MSIE has serious security holes. Firefox is gaining in popularity, and has over 25,000,000 downloads.

BSD
Berkeley Standard Distribution, the grandfather of the UNIX OS. UNIX is an extremely well-tested and stable operating system in a multi-process environment (like the Web). The BSD heritage lives on in operating systems like FreeBSD, NetBSD, and others.

Cable
Many people use their cable TV company for Internet access. Cable service is typically faster than DSL, although, unlike DSL, speeds can drop during peak TV hours.

CGI
Common Gateway Interface, a protocol for making web pages interactive, as with submission forms, visitor counters, searchable databases, and credit card processing. Ask before you plan, as not all ISPs allow CGI access, and some that do charge extra for it. Generically, CGI can include both Perl and PHP programming.

Co-Located server
A server has to be connected to the Internet backbone, and have an IP number. For an extra charge, some ISPs will let you set up a server in your home or office, with an IP, connected to their backbone by an "always-on" connection (T1, ISDN, or DSL). You then have complete control over your content and configuration. That's usually how porno sites are set up. The server has to have the correct operating system and webserver software. Plan to have a back-up computer, and a System Administrator.

Content Management System
A mechanism by which an ordinary mortal can make routine updates to their website without the intervention of a web guru. Systems that will handle every page on a site exist, but they are very buggy, and generally require that every page be customized for them. Ultimately, they cost more than they save. An exception to the rule is a system that allows updating of a database, when the affected pages are auto-generated from that database. We do that for high-maintenance pages, like realtor home listings, or pages of constantly-changing financial data.

CPU
Central Processing Unit, the brains of a computer. Although smaller than a credit card, a CPU may cost $500 or more. The speed is rated in megahertz (Mhz). In 1990, 12 Mhz was still common; now 400 is slow, and most CPUs are 900 Mhz to 2 Ghz. Speed is essential to graphics-intensive applications, like CAD, scanning software, and graphics editors.

Cross-platform
Most computers use the open architecture designed by IBM, while a smaller number use the Apple/Macintosh architecture. The two are almost totally incompatible, so the rare software that will run on both is referred to as "cross-platform." On the Internet, it more often refers to applications that will run on both Windows and Unix servers. Many of these are buggy on Windows servers.

Databases
Large files of information used for customer records, inventories, etc. Databases of up to about 8,000 short records can be managed by a text database, but for larger needs, a relational database is best. Database engines like Informix, Sybase, or SQL Server can be quite a large investment, but there are other options, like MySQL. [See SQL]

Dial-Up Account
The cheapest kind of Internet service. For about $10-20 a month, you get access to the Internet, an Email address, and space for a webpage if you want it. Pay attention to a) how much access you get (unlimited, 100 hrs,10 hrs, etc.), and b) restrictions on the size or content of your webspace. It may not matter now, but it might later. These webspaces generally do not allow use of a domain name.

Direct Email
An advertising campaign that involves sending an ad to tens of thousands of email addresses at once. Done incorrectly, this is called spamming, but done with targeted addresses, this is a very effective way of promoting a product or service. [See Opt-In]

Distribution List
With an email distribution list, you can send the same message to dozens, or hundreds, of people at the same time. Promote products or sales, send out business tips, or keep your business fresh in their minds.

DNS
Domain Name Server. A set of numbers used to identify a web address. These are provided by your ISP or web host, and are needed to register a Domain Name.

Domain Name
User-friendly web addresses, like "www.yourname.com", as opposed to the more common and obtuse "www.artex.net/users/~jones/myfile.html". Whew! [Not available with AOL (big surprise)]

Doorway pages
Multiple front pages that point to the same website, each written to maximize a different keyword or product.

DHTML
Dynamic HTML. Code embedded in web pages that makes objects fly across the page, spin, or other tricks. You must have a version 4.0 browser or above to see the effects.

Download
Moving files from a server to a local computer. You can, for example, place a document (repair procedures, or technical specifications) on your server, and let customers download it to their computers, without having to use the mail, or tying up your phones.

DSL
Digital Subscriber Line. An "always on" connection to the Internet, over a phone line. Since you can use the phone and the Internet at the same time, it obviates the need for a second phone line, but check before you sign up; there are hidden charges from the phone company.

Encryption
For security purposes, scrambling the letters or numbers of a message or text file so they cannot be read. This is the cheapest way to protect credit card information. [See PGP]

Email
Yes, you know what it is, but customers may not have your address. When they search the web, they can find your web site, and use the email link to contact you. You can also use email for marketing and promotion campaigns. Most businesses use MS Outlook Express (or Outlook), although it has built-in spam/virus problems.We recommend Pegasus, the original email program (and it's free!). Another popular alternative is Thunderbird, a product of the Mozilla project. [See Distribution List]

Firewall
In the corporate world, an electronic barrier between the company intranet and the world of the Internet. Used for security from hackers and viruses, and to aggravate the employees.

Flaming
Not what you think, but the sending of patronizing, insulting, or abusive messages to someone because of either a perceived insult, or, more often, a violation of "netiquette". [See Lurking]

Forms
With the proper web programming and server operating system, you can let customers order over the Internet, and pay by credit card. [See CGI]

Frames
Text and/or graphics can be displayed in two or more windows on the screen. Frames can look tacky if overdone.

FTP
File Transfer Protocol. A mechanism for moving files from your computer to a server (upload).

GUI
Graphical User Interface. A Windows-like screen, as opposed to working at a command line.

Hacker
Common usage: Computer experts who, out of curiosity, or with criminal intent, break into computer systems and "look around". Sometimes they do damage, steal sensitive files, or hijack the mailserver to send out spam. They are more often referred to as "crackers", or "script kiddies". Servers have to be carefully configured to keep out hackers/crackers.
Correct usage: A good programmer, often able to patch or modify existing code rather than replace it.

Harvesting
To automatically collect thousands, or tens of thousands, of email addresses, for use in Direct Email campaigns.

Hexadecimal
A type of math used in computer programming, base 16 instead of the normal base 10. Since there are no single-digit numbers greater than 9, those places are filled with letters, like so: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, a, b, c, d, e, f. In hex, the number "15" can be expressed as "e", and "100" can be expressed as "ff". The short answer "why?" is so 3 digit numbers can be expressed in 2 digits, many 5 digit numbers in 4 digits, and enormous numbers in just 8 digits. The long answer has to do with the architecture of computer chips, and that's as much as you want to know.

Hosting
The maintenance of a website by a third party. While your ISP will generally host your website, you can often get a better price and customer service by placing your site with a hosting company, and getting your basic access elsewhere. [See also]

HTML 4.0
The current universal version of the international standard Hypertext Markup Language, used for all Web applications. Proper syntax is important for future compatibility. Even if it works now, it may not work with future versions of Netscape / MSIE / Mosaic / etc., unless the code is validated. HTML is a subset of SGML.

HTTP
Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the mechanism by which web pages and images are transmitted to your browser, as opposed to FTP, Gopher, and others. [See FTP]

Images
Pictures, buttons, bars, maps, logos, and backgrounds, in all colors and sizes. Images are graphic files of binary data, and require special software for editing and manipulation. Consequently, logos may take more time than the web page itself. There are dozens of graphic file formats, but only three are universally supported at this time. Everything else (like clip-art) has to be converted, and often re-touched.

Internet
The totality of online networks. The Internet is bigger than most people realize, since it includes newsgroups, FTP sites, gopher sites, and many technical and specialized areas either not accessible to people with web browsers, or of no interest to them. [See Web]

Intranet
Notice the spelling. A private network, similar to a LAN, usually found in the corporate world. Intranets work like the Internet, but in the context of a closed system. Sometimes they have access, through a doorway or firewall, to the real Internet.

ISP
An Internet Service Provider, a company that supplies you a 24-hour link to the Internet. Not all ISPs are the same, as some do not support some features needed by your Web Designer, or charge extra for them. Some provide only limited technical support for anything. Determine your current and future needs before signing on to an ISP, or you may not get the features you need, or the price you expected. Ask someone who knows the industry. [See UNIX]

Java / JavaScript
Programming and scripting languages, respectively, which introduce interactivity to a web site. JavaScript is also used extensively for form validation, roll-over effects, and other client-side actions.

LAN
Local Area Network, a closed network of computers, usually inside one company, but not necessarily inside one building.

Linux
A version of Unix, becoming very popular, especially for co-located servers. There are several flavors of Linux, some better than others, including Debian, Suse, and Redhat.

Lurking
Subscribing to a newsgroup or mailing list, but only reading postings, and not participating. Newbies are best advised to do this for awhile, until they get the feel of it all.

Mailing Lists
Like a social circle, these are groups of people with a common interest, one of whom maintains an automated mail server which forwards all messages sent to it to everyone on the list. These (active) are different from newsgroups (passive) in that, instead of you going to check on new postings, the postings are sent to you. Mailing lists are especially common among organizations, and in the very active field of Internet genealogy.

Merchant Account
To sell products over the web by credit card you will need either a merchant account with a bank, or an arrangement with an online processor to operate under their merchant account. [See Real-Time Processing]

Modem
A device in (or near) your computer that connects the computer to a phone line or cable connection. Faster is better, and 56K is now the standard. Cable and DSL modems run many times faster.

Netiquette
The etiquette of email communication. Although informal, and certainly not mandated, these conventions are nevertheless well-known and carry almost the rule of law. Break the rules (LIKE SENDING MESSAGES IN ALL CAPS!), and you will be flamed, often by dozens of people. Sometimes your mailbox will fill up and cause your mail server to crash. It pays to learn the rules.

Network Card (NIC)
A device in your computer that allows you to connect to network cables, LANs, routers, or external modems.

Newsgroups
A huge subset of the Internet, made up not of HTML webpages, but special interest online forums. Topics range from orphan diseases and Saxophone playing (no connection) to pornography and cybersex. There are many thousands of newsgroups. To subscribe and read the postings,you should use a news reader program, like Fagent. You can get these types of programs from any of the online software sources, like www.shareware.com.

NT [See Windows NT]

Open Source
Software developed by teams of volunteer programmers, and made public for little or no money. Since the source code is available, people who find bugs can contribute fixes, so the software grows and evolves with time. Prominent examples are the Apache webserver software, PHP, and the MySQL relational database. This type of software is updated more often, and is typically more stable, than commercial software.

Opt-In
Direct Email systems that send only to people who have volunteered to receive advertising. [See Direct Email]

OS
Operating System. You knew that, right?

Outsourcing
Hiring computer professionals from outside a company. Certain skills, though necessary, may not justify a full-time employee, with an office, benefits, sick days,etc. Web services certainly fall into this category, so many companies "outsource" this to a company that may not even be in the same state. A manager can email changes or updates to their webmaster, who makes the changes remotely or does routine maintenance, and faxes them a bill for the hourly charges. Apptech does this for a number of clients, from California to Florida to Japan.

Pentium
A CPU made by Intel, and cloned by AMD (K5, K6) and Cyrix. The newer versions run at "clock speeds" of 1-2 GHz+. In 1984, the standard speed was 8 Mhz. Much modern 32-bit software will often run poorly on anything slower than 900 MHz.

PDF
File extension that indicates Portable Document Format, a proprietary format used by the Adobe Acrobat system. These documents can be read cross-platform. [See Acrobat]

Perl
A computer language used to create interactivity on webpages, provide password protection, generate dynamic pages, read form input, provide a front-end connection to databases, and system administration tasks. Perl is used by NASA to plot space shuttle flights. Once the premier language for web applications, it has now arguably fallen into second place behind PHP.

PGP
Pretty Good Privacy, a file and email encryption program written by Phil Zimmermann. PGP is free for private use, but commercial users must buy it. If absolute secrecy is required, this is the way to go, although both sender and recipient must have PGP installed on their computers.

PHP
A page scripting language gaining in popularity as a CGI tool. It is fast, fairly easy to learn, and works well with databases and socket connections. It has now surpassed Perl as a language for building large-scale web applications.

Pixelizing
In graphics editing, a process for manually enhancing or changing colors, redefining lines, removing blurs, and other tedious jobs.

Real-time processing
In some E-commerce systems, credit card numbers are submitted to the merchant for manual processing. In others, the merchant web site links to a processor who drafts the funds immediately, deposits in the merchant's bank account, and provides a receipt, all in "real-time". This is a much better way to go.

ROI
Return On Investment. Most websites do not return their development costs for years, sometimes not ever, because the client had not thought through his/her business plan, or the developer was looking for a quick buck with no long-term relationship, or both. Many small businesses think, there are 50 million customers on the web, I should be able to get a million of those. It doesn't work that way. Before you spend money, talk to us about what it really takes to do business on the web.

RSS
Depending on who you ask, either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Either way, it is a protocol for providing text (news or press releases) in a generic XML format so that RSS-capable browsers can format it themselves and notify subscribers. Many websites now offer RSS feeds instead of email subscriptions.

Scrolling text
By using either Java or JavaScript, marquee-like scrolling text can be inserted on the page, or on the status line at the bottom.

Search Engines
Giant indices of the Internet, these companies use roving "spider" programs to follow links and index URLs, keywords, and content of web pages. People can type in search words and find web pages containing relevant material. There are hundreds of search engines, but about 95% of web site hits are referred from less than a dozen of them. Google is now the King.

Searchable Index
If your business needs justify it, you can have a huge index of products or parts stored in your web space. It stays on your server, so load time for your web page is not affected, but the user can call a program that will search the index for specific numbers, titles, etc.

Server
The computer that stores your website. The server is on-line 24 hours a day, and holds the code for your web pages, plus all the graphics files called by those pages. Most servers run under the UNIX and Linux operating systems, although Windows servers are often used in corporate settings. We recommend Unix/Linux for everyone except Microsoft Corp.

Shopping cart
Special programs to facilitate the sales of products over the web. The customer can browse a list or catalog of products, choose items, and "drop" them in a virtual "shopping cart". After adding or removing items at will, the customer checks out, and prices, tax, and shipping charges are totalled. A credit card number is submitted, validated, and the order submitted by one of several secure means.

Signature
A section of text at the end of an email message containing your name, company name, website, phone number, IQ, or other useful information. The email program will insert this automatically in every message without your having to type it out each time. A good email client will allow you to have several signatures from which to choose.

Spamming
Internet slang for sending huge quantities of junk email, especially for "Get Rich Quick" business opportunities. Servers have been known to crash because some cretin sent an ad to 900,000 addresses, and most of them went through the same router. Nevertheless, Direct Email is now a fact of life.

SSL
Secure Socket Layer, a protocol for encrypting web connections for secure transmittal of credit card numbers, medical data, etc.

SQL
Structured Query Language, a protocol for searching relational databases with user-defined parameters.

Streaming Audio/Video
Audio and video clips are normally downloaded to your computer before playing, a process that may take several minutes. If your server is equipped for it, audio/video can be "streamed", so that it starts to play almost instantly, and plays while it downloads.

System Administrator
The techno-geek who sets up, configures, and maintains your server, user records, and email boxes, and updates software to keep out crackers. If your server is not in your office, you have one already. If it is, you need one. Apptech performs this service for some clients on an hourly basis.

Transparentizing
The process of making the background of an image, like a logo, transparent, so the screen background will show through it.

UNIX
A computer operating system, older than Windows, but with many more security features. Most good servers run under UNIX, so installation and maintenance of web pages requires some knowledge of the UNIX command set and operating features. Always insist on UNIX from your host. [See Windows NT/200/2003, and BSD]

Upload
To send files from a local computer to a server. Web page files and graphic images have to be uploaded. Customers are often surprised to find out that their web site consists of 50-200 or more different files.

URL
Uniform Resource Locator, the address of a web page. It contains three parts: the protocol (http:// or ftp:// etc.), the domain (www.bigbucks.com/), and the address within that domain (myfiles.html or home/myfiles.html).

Virus
Also referred to as worms and Trojan Horses, these are small computer programs able to replicate themselves and attach their copies to other programs. Infected computers infect other computers through the Internet, and either display unusual behavior or crash. We recommend Norton Anti-Virus for protection.

Web
A subset of the entire Internet, the "Web" normally includes only those sites that use the HTTP protocol for transmitting HTML pages and graphics. [See Internet]

Web Site
Plural of web page. Sites are made up of two or more web pages, but often 10-50 or more. More pages cost more.

Web TV
Don't even think about it!

Windows NT/2000/2003
A 32-bit operating system from Microsoft, made for network connectivity. Some ISPs (like GTE), under monopoly pressure from Microsoft, use it for Internet servers instead of UNIX, but it is inferior, lacking security features and hiding much of the operation from the user. Windows servers have numerous open ports and security holes, and are often the target of attacks (hack attempts).

Wireless networking
For a modest investment, you can set up Internet access in your home or office, and broadcast it to computers in other parts of the building without running wires. You can also subscribe to services to get Internet service on a laptop away from home, with signals bounced off a satellite.

XML
eXtensible Markup Language, a subset of SGML. A new protocol for creating data-driven pages. Browser standards are not yet fully implemented, but some applications use XML sockets to communicate with remote servers. Often used for financial data.

 
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