Appendix A: Lingo
ASCII Has two meanings. ASCII is a universal computer code
for English letters and characters. Computers store
all information as binary numbers. In ASCII, the
letter "A" is stored as 1000001, whether the computer
is made by IBM, Apple or Commodore. ASCII also refers
to a method, or protocol, for copying files from one
computer to another over a network, in which neither
computer checks for any errors that might have been
caused by static or other problems.
ANSI Computers use several different methods for deciding
how to put information on your screen and how your
keyboard interacts with the screen. ANSI is one of
these "terminal emulation" methods. Although most
popular on PC-based bulletin-board systems, it can also
be found on some Net sites. To use it properly, you
will first have to turn it on, or enable it, in your
ARPANet A predecessor of the Internet. Started in 1969 with
funds from the Defense Department's Advanced Projects
backbone A high-speed network that connects several powerful
computers. In the U.S., the backbone of the Internet is
often considered the NSFNet, a government funded link
between a handful of supercomputer sites across the
Baud The speed at which modems transfer data. One baud is
roughly equal to one bit per second. It takes eight
bits to make up one letter or character. Modems rarely
transfer data at exactly the same speed as their listed
baud rate because of static or computer problems. More
expensive modems use systems, such as Microcom Network
Protocol (MNP), which can correct for these errors or
which "compress" data to speed up transmission.
BITNet Another, academically oriented, international computer
network, which uses a different set of computer
instructions to move data. It is easily accessible to
Internet users through e-mail, and provides a large
number of conferences and databases. Its name comes from
"Because It's Time." "
Bounce What your e-mail does when it cannot get to its
recipient -- it bounces back to you.
Command line On Unix host systems, this is where you tell the
machine what you want it to do, by entering commands.
Communications A program that tells a modem how to work.
Daemon An otherwise harmless Unix program that normally works
out of sight of the user. On the Internet, you'll most
likely encounter it only when your e-mail is not
delivered to your recipient -- you'll get back your
original message plus an ugly message from a "mailer
Distribution A way to limit where your Usenet postings go. Handy for
such things as "for sale" messages or discussions of
Domain The last part of an Internet address , such as "news.com."
Dot When you want to impress the net veterans you meet at
parties, say "dot" instead of "period," for example: "My
address is john at site dot domain dot com."
Dot file A file on a Unix public-access system
that alters the way you or your messages interact with
that system. For example, your .login file contains
various parameters for such things as the text editor you
get when you send a message. When you do an ls command,
these files do not appear in the directory listing; do ls
-a to list them.
Down When a public-access site runs into technical trouble,
and you can no longer gain access to it, it's down.
Download Copy a file from a host system to your computer. There
are several different methods, or protocols, for
downloading files, most of which periodically check the
file as it is being copied to ensure no information is
inadvertently destroyed or damaged during the process.
Some, such as XMODEM, only let you download one file at
a time. Others, such as batch-YMODEM and ZMODEM, let
you type in the names of several files at once, which
are then automatically downloaded.
EMACS A standard Unix text editor that beginners hate.
E-mail Electronic mail -- a way to send a private message to
somebody else on the Net. Used as both noun and verb.
Emoticon See smiley.
F2F Face to Face. When you actually meet those people you
been corresponding with/flaming.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions. A compilation of answers to
these. Many Usenet newsgroups have these files, which
are posted once a month or so for beginners.
Film at 11 One reaction to an overwrought argument: "Imminent death
of the Net predicted. Film at 11."
Finger An Internet program that lets you get some bit of
information about another user, provided they have first
created a .plan file.
Flame Online yelling and/or ranting directed at somebody else.
Often results in flame wars, which occasionally turn into
Followup A Usenet posting that is a response to an earlier
Foo/foobar A sort of online algebraic place holder, for example: "If
you want to know when another site is run by a for-
profit company, look for an address in the form of
Fortune cookie An inane/witty/profund comment that can be found around
Freeware Software that doesn't cost anything.
FTP File-transfer Protocol. A system for transferring files
across the Net.
Get a life What to say to somebody who has, perhaps, been spending a
wee bit too much time in front of a computer.
GIF Graphic Interchange Format. A format developed in the
mid-1980s by CompuServe for use in photo-quality graphics
images. Now commonly used everywhere online.
GNU Gnu's Not Unix. A project of the Free Software
Foundation to write a free version of the Unix operating
Handshake Two modems trying to connect first do this to agree on
how to transfer data.
Hang When a modem fails to hang up.
Holy war Arguments that involve certain basic tenets of faith,
about which one cannot disagree without setting one of
these off. For example: IBM PCs are inherently superior to
Host system A public-access site; provides Net access to people
outside the research and government community.
IMHO In My Humble Opinion.
Internet A worldwide system for linking smaller computer
networks together. Networks connected through the
Internet use a particular set of communications
standards to communicate, known as TCP/IP.
Killfile A file that lets you filter Usenet postings to some
extent, by excluding messages on certain topics or from
Log on/log in Connect to a host system or public-access site.
Log off Disconnect from a host system.
Lurk Read messages in a Usenet newsgroup without ever saying
Mailing list Essentially a conference in which messages are delivered
right to your mailbox, instead of to a Usenet newsgroup.
You get on these by sending a message to a specific e-
mail address, which is often that of a computer that
automates the process.
MOTSS Members of the Same Sex. Gays and Lesbians online.
Originally an acronym used in the 1980 federal census.
Net.god One who has been online since the beginning, who knows
all and who has done it all.
Net.personality Somebody sufficiently opinionated/flaky/with plenty of
time on his hands to regularly post in dozens of
different Usenet newsgroups, whose presence is known to
thousands of people.
Net.police Derogatory term for those who would impose their
standards on other users of the Net. Often used in
vigorous flame wars (in which it occasionally mutates to
Netiquette A set of common-sense guidelines for not annoying others.
Network A communications system that links two or more
computers. It can be as simple as a cable strung
between two computers a few feet apart or as complex
as hundreds of thousands of computers around the world
linked through fiber optic cables, phone lines and
Newbie Somebody new to the Net. Often used derogatorily by
net.veterans who have forgotten that, they, too, were
once newbies who did not innately know the answer to
Newsgroup A Usenet conference.
NIC Network Information Center. As close as an Internet-
style network gets to a hub; it's usually where you'll
find information about that particular network.
NSA line eater The more aware/paranoid Net users believe that the
National Security Agency has a super-powerful computer
assigned to reading everything posted on the Net. They
will jokingly (?) refer to this line eater in their
NSF National Science Foundation. Funds the NSFNet, the
backbone of the Internet in the U.S.
Offline When your computer is not connected to a host system
or the Net, you are offline.
Online When your computer is connected to an online service,
bulletin-board system or public-access site.
Ping A program that can trace the route a message takes from
your site to another site.
.plan file A file that lists anything you want others on the Net to
know about you. You place it in your home directory on
your public-access site. Then, anybody who fingers
you, will get to see this file.
Post To compose a message for a Usenet newsgroup and then
send it out for others to see.
Postmaster The person to contact at a particular site to ask for
information about the site or complain about one of
his/her user's behavior.
Protocol The method used to transfer a file between a host
system and your computer. There are several types,
such as Kermit, YMODEM and ZMODEM.
Prompt When the host system asks you to do something and
waits for you to respond. For example, if you see
"login:" it means type your user name.
README files Files found on FTP sites that explain what is in a given
FTP directory or which provide other useful information
(such as how to use FTP).
Real Soon Now A vague term used to describe when something will
RFC Request for Comments. A series of documents that
describe various technical aspects of the Internet.
ROTFL Rolling on the Floor Laughing. How to respond to a
particularly funny comment.
ROT13 A simple way to encode bad jokes, movie reviews that give
away the ending, pornography, etc. Essentially, each
letter in a message is replace by the letter 13 spaces
away from it in the alphabet. There are online decoders
to read these; nn has one built in.
RTFM Read the, uh, you know, Manual. Often used in flames
against people who ask computer-related questions that
could be easily answered with a few minutes with a
manual. More politely: RTM.
Screen capture A part of your communications software that
opens a file on your computer and saves to it whatever
scrolls past on the screen while connected to a host
Server A computer that can distribute information or files
automatically in response to specifically worded e-mail
Shareware Software that is freely available on the Net, but which,
if you like and use it, you should send in the fee
requested by the author, whose name and address will be
found in a file distributed with the software.
.sig file Sometimes, .signature file. A file that, when placed in
your home directory on your public-access site, will
automatically be appended to every Usenet posting you
.sig quote A profound/witty/quizzical/whatever quote that you
include in your .sig file.
Signal-to-noise The amount of useful information to be found in a given
ratio Usenet newsgroup. Often used derogatorily, for example:
"the signal-to-noise ratio in this newsgroup is pretty low."
Snail mail Mail that comes through a slot in your front door.
Sysadmin/ The system administrator/system operator; the person
sysop who runs a host system.
TANSTAAFL There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The
particular system for transferring information over a
computer network that is at the heart of the Internet.
Telnet A program that lets you connect to other computers on
Terminal There are several methods for determining how your
emulation keystrokes and screen interact with a public-access
site's operating system. Most communications programs
offer a choice of "emulations" that let you mimic the
keyboard that would normally be attached directly to
the host-system computer.
Upload Copy a file from your computer to a host system.
User name On most host systems, the first time you connect you
are asked to supply a one-word user name. This can be
any combination of letters and numbers.
UUCP Unix-to-Unix CoPy. A method for transferring Usenet
postings and e-mail that requires far fewer net resources
than TCP/IP, but which can result in considerably slower
VT100 Another terminal-emulation system. Supported by many
communications program, it is the most common one in
use on the Net. VT102 is a newer version.
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