Computer Terminology - B

This web page looks at some of the terminology associated with the Computer Industry. This appendix is not to be deemed as complete but does cover a large range of common terminology.

If you find a term not covered in this file you may Email Button and list the word (computer connected terminology ONLY). We will endeavour to locate the meaning and respond to you. If we consider it a common enough term, we will add it to our list. New terminology (with explanation) may also be submitted for consideration.

Index SIZE Numeric A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Bad sector: Part of a hard or floppy disk storage medium that doesn't hold data. Formatting generally detects and marks these areas so they won't be used. Certain utility programmes do too, and it is a good idea to run this type of utility occasionally to prevent data loss if the condition of the disk changes.

Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be tranmittted between two connected devices in a given time.

bang: Spoken name for an exclamation point, used in old-style UUCP addresses to delimit the steps in a path from one site to another.

barfmail: Repeated bounce messages, usually due to mail server or gateway errors, which cause significant annoyance.

BASIC: Acronym for Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instructional Code. An easy-to-learn, highly flexible computer language invented at Dartmouth University. Different versions of BASIC run on various operating systems.

Batch file: A file that contains a series of DOS commands. Batch files have the extension bat. If you execute a batch file, DOS attempts to carry out all the commands in the file in order.

baud: The speed of a modem. Specifically, the number of times per second a communications channel changes the carrier signal it sends on the phone line.

BBS: See bulletin board system.

bcc: Abbreviation for Blind Carbon Copy. To bcc: an email message to someone is to send them a copy of the email message without the knowledge of the person to whom the email message is addressed to. Benchmark: A programme or procedure which tests or evaluates the relative performance characteristics of computer systems or peripherals.

BeOS: A computer operating system designed by the BE company.

beta: A version of an application that is made available prior to the official release for the purposes of testing.

bible: A detailed and sometimes authoritative reference book covering a particular operating system, platform, or application.

Binary: The fundamentals of computer technology. It has two states (or numbers) that are either On (1) or Off (0).

BIOS: Basic Input Output System. The part of the operating system of the IBM PC that provides the lowest level interface to peripheral devices. The BIOS is stored in ROM in every IBM PC.

Bit: Binary digit. It is the smallest piece of computer information and is either the number 0 or 1. Through "machine language," the computer interprets a series of O's and 1's to form numbers, letters, punctuation marks, and symbols.

BITNET: Acronym for Because It's Time NETwork. An obsolete network used by the academic and research community for email, mailing lists, and file transfers. It is distinct from the Internet but connected to it through email and news gateways.

Bit Rate: The nominal quality of samples of sound taken from a sound wave. The higher the frequency the more samples taken. The term is closely associtaed with sound cards.

BMP: Bitmapped Picture. A graphic image stored as a specific arrangement of screen dots, or pixels.

Bookmark: A name given for regularly used sites that are added to a special component within your browser. This makes access to regularly used sites as simple as a single click of the mouse. They will vary from browser to browser in operation and format. Other names used here include FAVOURITES, HOTSITES and REGULARS.

Boot: To load and initialise the operating system on a computer.

Bootup: Terminology used to refer to starting the computer (see Boot).

bounce: The return of a piece of email because it could not be delivered to the specified address. See also bounce message.

bounce message: A notification message returned to sender indicating that an email message could not be delivered.

box: A computer.

bozo filter: A feature of some email and newsgroup reader applications that screens out incoming messages from those whose correspondence in not valued.

bps: Bits per second. The rate at which data is sent over some communication line.

Browser: This is a piece of software that allows you to move around the Internet in a graphics mode and look at what is available at each site.

browser war: A catch phrase that refers to the battles between Netscape and Microsoft for dominance of the web browser market.

BTW: Abbreviation for By The Way.

bug: A problem with computer software or hardware that causes it to malfunction or crash.

bulletin board system: (abbreviation: BBS) An open computer system that members can dial into in order to send email, join discussion groups, and download files.

BUS: The communication line of a computer system

Byte: Most computers use combinations of eight bits, called bytes, to represent one character of data or instructions. For example, the word "cat" has three characters, and it would be represented by three bytes. A general description (though not technically correct) is "the amount of space required by a computer to store one alpha/numeric character".