mission jobs calendar ask questions newsletter links classes articles sitemap


site at a glance
what's new?
sta school
member enrollment
events calendar
meeting directions
STA Shop
current weather
building codes
ny times news
search site
contact us
super questions
ask a question
maintenance jobs
management jobs
sta education services
continuing ed
tip of the month
newsletter archives
one super life
book suggestions
book reviews
helpful links
2009 membership
vendor member list
maintenance links
nyc links
more nyc links
local papers
supers blogs
nyc transit info
conserving resources
real estate
nyc site of the week
helpful numbers
site info
press releases
in the media
your privacy
terms of service
ad rates
building fund
download toolbar
supers' blogs
photo archives
membership form
nyc weather
classified ads
about paypal
for web novices
game room
tools bought/sold
vendor member list
Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
Internet Terms - Glossary
by Matisse Enzer
Creative Commons License
This Glossary of Internet Terms is licensed under the Creative Commons "Attribution-ShareAlike" license.
The original author and copyright holder is Matisse Enzer, and the current version of the Glossary is available at
ADN -- (Advanced Digital Network)

Usually refers to a 56Kbps leased-line. See also: Leased Line


ADSL -- (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)

A DSL line where the upload speed is different from the download speed. Usually the download speed is much greater. See also: DSL, SDSL

Anonymous FTP

See: FTP


A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from full-fledged Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers across a network. The common rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent. See also: HTML, Java


A tool (software) for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites. You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it. By 1999 Archie had been almost completely replaced by web-based search engines.

Back when FTP was the main way people moved files over the Internet archie was quite popular.
See also: FTP

ARPANet -- (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network)

The precursor to the Internet. Developed in the late 60's and early 70's by the US Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking to connect together computers that were each running different system so that people at one location could use computing resources from another location. See also: Internet (Upper case I), Network, WAN

ASCII -- (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

This is the defacto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.

Back to Index

A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network. See also: Network


How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 57,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression. See also: Bit, bps, T-1


In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300= 1200 bits per second).

See also: Bit, Modem

BBS -- (Bulletin Board System)

A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time. In the early 1990's there were many thousands (millions?) of BBSs around the world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like AOL gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.


Information consisting entirely of ones and zeros. Also, commonly used to refer to files that are not simply text files, e.g. images. See also: MIME, UUENCODE

Binhex -- (BINary HEXadecimal)

A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII. See also: ASCII, MIME, UUENCODE

Bit -- (Binary DigIT)

A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second. See also: Bandwidth, Bit, bps, Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte

BITNET -- (Because It's Time NETwork (or Because It's There NETwork))

A network of educational sites separate from the Internet, but e-mail is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs®, a popular form of e-mail discussion groups, originated on BITNET. At its peak (the late 1980's and early 1990's) BITNET machines were usually mainframes, often running IBM's MVS operating system. BITNET is probably the only international network that is shrinking. See also: Internet (Upper case I), Listserv ®, Network

Blog -- (weB LOG)

A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.

Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.


bps -- (Bits-Per-Second)

A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 56K modem can move about 57,000 bits per second. See also: Bandwidth, Bit


A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources. See also: Client, Server, URL, WWW

BTW -- (By The Way)

A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum. See also: IMHO


A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made. See also: Bit

Back to Index
CATP -- (Caffeine Access Transport Protocol)

Common method of moving caffeine across Wide Area Networks such as the Internet

CATP was first used at the Binary Cafe in Cybertown and quickly spread world-wide.

There are reported problems with short-circuits and rust and decaffeinated beverages were not supported until version 1.5.3 See also: Internet (Upper case I), IRC, WAN

Certificate Authority

An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections. See also: SSL

CGI -- (Common Gateway Interface)

A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the ?CGI program?) talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard. See also: Server, WWW


The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored. See also: CGI


A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind of Client. See also: Browser, Client, Server


Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on their own network. See also: Internet (Upper case I), Network, Server


The most common meaning of "Cookie" on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server.

Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browsers' settings, the Browser may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a short time or a long time.

Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc.

When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular users' requests.

Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their "expire time" has not been reached.

Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them. See also: Browser, Server


CSS -- (Cascading Style Sheet)

A standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS was developed for use with HTML in Web pages but is also used in other situations, notably in applications built using XPFE. CSS is typically used to provide a single "library" of styles that are used over and over throughout a large number of related documents, as in a web site. A CSS file might specify that all numbered lists are to appear in italics. By changing that single specification the look of a large number of documents can be easily changed. See also: HTML, Web page, XPFE


Cyberpunk was originally a cultural sub-genre of science fiction taking place in a not-so-distant, dystopian, over-industrialized society. The term grew out of the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and has evolved into a cultural label encompassing many different kinds of human, machine, and punk attitudes. It includes clothing and lifestyle choices as well. See also: Cyberspace


Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks. See also: Cyberpunk

Back to Index
DHTML -- (Dynamic HyperText Markup Language)

DHTML refers to web pages that use a combination of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to create features such as letting the user drag items around on the web page, some simple kinds of animation, and many more. See also: CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Web page


The digital version of literati, it is a reference to a vague cloud of people seen to be knowledgeable, hip, or otherwise in-the-know in regards to the digital revolution.

DNS -- (Domain Name System)

The Domain Name System is the system that translates Internet domain names into IP numbers. A "DNS Server" is a server that performs this kind of translation.

See also: Domain Name, IP Number, Server

Domain Name

The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine. For example, the domain names:

can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more than one machine.

Usually, all of the machines on a given Network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names ( in the examples above). It is also possible for a Domain Name to exist but not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or business can have an Internet e-mail address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed Domain Name. See also: IP Number, TLD


Transferring data (usually a file) from a another computer to the computer your are using. The opposite of upload. See also: Upload

DSL -- (Digital Subscriber Line)

A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber's premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line (however a DSL circuit is not a leased line.

A common configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both directions.

In theory ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second.

DSL is now a popular alternative to Leased Lines and ISDN, being faster than ISDN and less costly than traditional Leased Lines. See also: ADSL, Bandwidth, ISDN, Leased Line, SDSL

Back to Index
Email -- (Electronic Mail)

Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses. See also: Listserv ®, SMTP


A very common method of networking computers in a LAN.

There is more than one type of Ethernet. By 2001 the standard type was "100-BaseT" which can handle up to about 100,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer. See also: Bandwidth, FDDI, LAN


An intranet that is accessible to computers that are not physically part of a company's' own private network, but that is not accessible to the general public, for example to allow vendors and business partners to access a company web site.

Often an intranet will make use of a Virtual Private Network. (VPN.) See also: Intranet, Network, VPN

Back to Index
FAQ -- (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject. There are hundreds of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are usually written by people who have tired of answering the same question over and over.

FDDI -- (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)

A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as 10-BaseTEthernet, about twice as fast as T-3). See also: Ethernet, T-3


An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.


Fire Wall

A combination of hardware and software that separates a Network into two or more parts for security purposes. See also: Network


Originally, "flame" meant to carry forth in a passionate manner in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude. See also: Flame War

Flame War

When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks against the debaters, rather than discussion of their positions. A heated exchange. See also: Flame

FTP -- (File Transfer Protocol)

A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites.

FTP is a way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name "anonymous", thus these sites are called "anonymous ftp servers".

FTP was invented and in wide use long before the advent of the World Wide Web and originally was always used from a text-only interface. See also: Login, WWW

Back to Index

The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example America Online has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet e-mail format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.

GIF -- (Graphic Interchange Format)

A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG. See also: JPEG, PNG


1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring. See also: Byte


Invented at the University of Minnesota in 1993 just before the Web, gopher was a widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet.

Gopher was designed to be much easier to use than FTP, while still using a text-only interface.

Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while. See also: Client, FTP, WWW

Back to Index

As used in reference to the World Wide Web, ?hit? means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 ?hits? would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics. See also: Browser, HTML, Server

Home Page (or Homepage)

Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. "Check out so-and-so's new Home Page." See also: Browser, WWW


Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as SMTP (email) and HTTP (web). See also: Network, SMTP

HTML -- (HyperText Markup Language)

The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear.

The "hyper" in Hypertext comes from the fact that in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or an image, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a "Web Browser".

HTML is loosely based on a more comprehensive system for markup called SGML. See also: Browser, Hypertext, WWW

HTTP -- (HyperText Transfer Protocol)

The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW). See also: Client, Hypertext, Server, WWW


Generally, any text that contains links to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed. See also: HTML, HTTP

Back to Index
IMAP -- (Internet Message Access Protocol)

IMAP is gradually replacing POP as the main protocol used by email clients in communicating with email servers.

Using IMAP an email client program can not only retrieve email but can also manipulate message stored on the server, without having to actually retrieve the messages. So messages can be deleted, have their status changed, multiple mail boxes can be managed, etc.

IMAP is defined in RFC 2060. See also: Client, Email, POP, RFC, Server

IMHO -- (In My Humble Opinion)

A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion. One of many such shorthands in common use online, especially in discussion forums.

internet (Lower case i)

Any time you connect 2 or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state. See also: Internet (Upper case I), Network

Internet (Upper case I)

The vast collection of inter-connected networks that are connected using the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early 70's.

The Internet connects tens of thousands of independent networks into a vast global internet and is probably the largest Wide Area Network in the world. See also: internet (Lower case i), Network, WAN


A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use. Compare with extranet. See also: Extranet, internet (Lower case i), Internet (Upper case I)

IP Number -- (Internet Protocol Number)

Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.

Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Many machines (especially servers) also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember. See also: Domain Name, Server, TCP/IP

IRC -- (Internet Relay Chat)

Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls. See also: Server

ISDN -- (Integrated Services Digital Network)

Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is available to much of the USA and in most markets it is priced very comparably to standard analog phone circuits. It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000or 64,000 bits-per-second.

Unlike DSL, ISDN can be used to connect to many different locations, one at a time, just like a regular telephone call, as long the other location also has ISDN. See also: DSL

ISP -- (Internet Service Provider)

An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.

Back to Index

Java is a network-friendly programming language invented by Sun Microsystems.

Java is often used to build large, complex systems that involve several different computers interacting across networks, for example transaction processing systems.

Java is also becoming popular for creating programs that run in small electronic devices, such as mobile telephones.

A very common use of Java is to create programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks. See also: Applet, JDK


JavaScript is a programming language that is mostly used in web pages, usually to add features that make the web page more interactive. When JavaScript is included in an HTML file it relies upon the browser to interpret the JavaScript. When JavaScript is combined with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and later versions of HTML (4.0 and later) the result is often called DHTML. See also: HTML

JDK -- (Java Development Kit)

A software development package from Sun Microsystems that implements the basic set of tools needed to write, test and debug Java applications and applets. See also: Applet, Java

JPEG -- (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art. See also: GIF, PNG

Back to Index

A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (210) bytes. See also: Byte

Back to Index
LAN -- (Local Area Network)

A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building. See also: Network, VPN, WAN

Leased Line

Refers to line such as a telephone line or fiber-optic cable that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line. See also: DSL, ISDN


A widely used Open Source Unix-like operating system. Linux was first released by its inventor Linus Torvalds in 1991. There are versions of Linux for almost every available type of computer hardware from desktop machines to IBM mainframes. The inner workings of Linux are open and available for anyone to examine and change as long as they make their changes available to the public. This has resulted in thousands of people working on various aspects of Linux and adaptation of Linux for a huge variety of purposes, from servers to TV-recording boxes. See also: Open Source Software, Unix


Listserv ®

The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv" is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet. See also: BITNET, Internet (Upper case I), Maillist


Noun or verb.

Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password).

Verb: the act of connecting to a computer system by giving your credentials (usually your "username" and "password") See also: Password

Back to Index