Technical Terms A-E

Technical Dictionary

This section contains common terms used in the world of telecommunications and on the World Wide Web.

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A/UX : An alternate operating system for Macintosh on UNIX. A/UX has a unique 32-bit addressing mode.

Access Number: The telephone number used to dial into your local Internet Service Provider (ISP). To connect to the Internet, you must first establish an account with an ISP in your area. Usually, you'll receive a list of telephone numbers that you can use to "dial-in" to the service.

Active X: In its simplest terms, Active X is an architecture that lets a program (the active X control) interact with other programs over a network, such as the Internet.

ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. A high-speed transmission technology originally developed by Telecordia and now standardized by ANSI as T1.413. ADSL uses existing UTP copper wires from the telephone company's central office to the subscriber's premises and involves electronic equipment in the form of ADSL modems at both the central office and the subscriber's location.

Analog: Comes from the word "analogous," which means "similar to." In telephone transmission, the signal being transmitted-voice, video, or image-is analogous to the original signal. In other words, if you speak into a microphone and see your voice on an oscilloscope and you take the same voice as it is transmitted on the phone line and run that signal into the oscilloscope, the two signals would look essentially the same.

ASCII: Pronounced as'-kee. American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It's the most popular coding method used by small computers for converting letters, numbers, punctuation and control codes into digital form.

Audio: Sound that may be converted to electrical signals for transmission. A person with optimal hearing capacity can hear sounds ranging from 20 to 20,000 hertz.

AVI: Audio Video Interleaved. File format for digital video and audio in Windows. Use the "media player" in Windows to play AVI files. The AVI file format is cross-platform compatible, allowing AVI video files to be played in Windows and other operating systems.


Backbone: The backbone carries the most traffic on a communications network. The backbone also joins LANs together (either inside a building or across a city or country). LANs are connected to the backbone via bridges and/or routers, and the backbone serves as a communications highway for LAN-to-LAN traffic.

Background Music: This feature allows music to be played through speakers in the ceiling and/or through speakers in each telephone throughout an office, office-to-office, or selectively.

Bandwidth: In telecommunications, bandwidth is the width of a telecommunications channel. In analog communications, bandwidth is typically measured in Hertz-cycles per second. In digital communications, bandwidth is measured in bits per second (bps).

Base 64: As a standard algorithm for encoding and decoding non-ASCII data for attachment to an e-mail message, base 64 is the foundation for MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions).

1-1- The line from which a graph is drawn. The baseline is the x-axis on a vertical graph, the y-axis on a horizontal bar graph, or the line representing zero if the data contains both positive and negative numbers.
2-2- The imaginary line extending through a font and representing the line on which characters are aligned for printing.

BASIC: Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. A programming language. Several BASIC languages exist.

Batch Processing: There are two basic types of basic processing. One type is batch processing, also called deferred time processing or off-line processing. Batch processing occurs when everything related to one complete task (such as preparing a payroll) is bunched together and transmitted for processing, usually by the same computer and the same applications program.

Beta: Refers to the final stages of development and testing before a product is released to market. "Alpha" is describes a product in preliminary development.

Binary: When only two values or states are possible for a particular condition, such as "On," "Off," "One," or "Zero."

Binary Code: A code in which every element has only one of two possible values, which may be the presence or absence of a pulse, a one or a zero, or a high or a low condition for a voltage or current.

Blocked Calls: Calls that are not served immediately are called blocked calls.

BMP: A Window BitMaP format. The images that are visible when Windows starts up and closes down and the wallpaper that adorns the Window desktop are all in BMP format.

BPS: In telecommunications, BPS always means bits per second. In computing, BPS (note the capital B) often means bytes per second. But don't trust people to always use the correct upper or lower case "B." You have to recognize what context you're working in.

Broadcast: Software that translates digital bits into pictures and text for viewing. A browser displays documents on the Internet and the World Wide Web . . . A Web Browser is a computer software that allows a computer user to surf the Internet.

Browser: Software that translates the digital bits into pictures and text so you can look at them. A browser displays documents on the Internet and the World Wide Web to your computer. A Web Browser is a computer software that allows a computer user to surf the Internet.

Buffer: In data transmission, a buffer is a temporary storage location for information being sent or received. A buffer is located between two devices that have different abilities or speeds for handling data.

1 - A concealed microphone, a listening device or other audio device
2 - To install the means for audio surveillance
3 - A semi-automatic telegraph key
4 - A problem in software or hardware

Byte: Abbreviated as "B" (upper case B). A set of bits (ones and zeros) of a specific length that represents a value in a computer coding scheme. A byte is to a bit what a word is to a character.


C: The programming language that Lucent uses for several of its central office switches. It is also the programming language of choice for interactive voice response systems. C operates under UNIX, MS DOS, Windows, and other operating systems. It is a standard for programming telecom switches.

C++: A high-level programming language that was developed by Bjarne Stoustrup at AT&T's Bell laboratories. Combining all the advantages of the C language with those of object-oriented programming, C++ has been adopted as the standard house programming language by several major software vendors.

Cable: Refers to different types of wires or groups of wires that are capable of carrying voice or data transmission.

Cable Modem: A cable modem is a small box that connects your PC to the Internet via your local cable TV provider. A cable modem will typically have three connections-one connecting your coaxial cable outlet to your local CATV provider and the other two connecting your PC and TV.

Caching: A process by which information is stored in memory or on a server in anticipation of the next request for information.

CGI: Common Gateway Interface. Programs or scripts, usually executed on the web server, that perform actions (like searching or running applications) when the user clicks on certain buttons located on the web screen. CGI refers to the pre-defined way that these programs communicate with the web server, but the term has recently been used to refer to the programs themselves. The preferred programming language for CGI is PERL.

CGI-Bin: The most common name for a directory on the web server in which CGI programs are stored. The "Bin" part of a CGI-Bin is short for "binary." Most programs found in CGI-Bin directories are text files or scripts that are executed by binaries located elsewhere on the same machine.

CLEC: Competitive Local Exchange Carrier or Certified Local Exchange Carrier.


Domain Name:
1 - A sphere of influence or activity
2 - The part of a computer network in which data processing resources are under common control.
3 - A location on the Internet, i.e. World Wide Web site.

Domain Name Server: Domain Name Server (DNS) is a computer on the internet which contains the programs and files which make up a domain's name database.

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Entry Title: Technical Terms A-E
Entry ID: 606


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