Computer Terminology - C

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

C: The name of a sophisticated computer language commonly used for the creation of professional-grade applications.

C++: A computer language based on C that uses objected-oriented programming design principles.

Cache: A special block of fast memory used for temporary storage of data for quick retrieval. Memory storage space (either on your hard disk or in memory) used to store regularly and recently used data.

CAD: Computer Aided Design. Using microcomputer-based software to produce architectural and mechanical engineering drawings. Usually requires a fast computer with powerful graphics and mathematical capability, a large screen, and lots of memory.

CAM: Computer Aided Manufacturing. Using microcomputers to control manufacturing equipment such as milling machines.

cascade: A series of reply posts to a USENET message, each adding a trivial or nonsense theme to the corpus of previous replies. Some consider this art; there is a USENET newsgroup devoted to propagating this self-expressive form (alt.cascade).

cc: Abbreviation for Carbon Copy. To cc: an email message to someone is to send them a copy of the email message.

CD: 1. Abbreviation for compact disk.
2. Abbreviation for change directory, a command in both the UNIX and DOS operating systems that assists in navigating a hierarchical directory structure.

CD-DA: The standard audio format used in CD Recording for playback on standard audio CD Players.

CD-ROM: Compact Disc Read-Only Memory. Similar to a CD music disc, but designed for computers, a single disc can hold an entire library of books such as encyclopedias or other reference works, and multimedia programmes for quick, convenient viewing.

Central Processing Unit: (abbreviation: CPU) The main silicon chip that runs a computer's operating system and application software. It performs a computer's essential mathematical functions and controls essential operations.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA): Applies to special certificates applied to software to show that you have purchased the genuine article and not a pirated copy.

CGI: Common Gateway Interface - this is an interface to web pages that is able to run scripts or programmes on the server. It is regularly used to handle data on HTML forms.

chat: A form of interactive online communication that enables typed conversations to occur in real-time. When participating in a chat discussion, your messages are instantaneously relayed to other members in the chat room while other members' messages are instantaneously relayed to you.

chat history: A transcript of a chat session.

chatter's block: A condition characterized by excessive anxiety about sending chat messages. The chatter with chatter's block feels that every message he types in a chat must be perfectly worded and perfectly timed. By striving to meet these standards of perfection, the chatter constantly erases and rewords his messages, often deciding not to send the messages at all. The cure for chatter's block is to relax. Everyone in a chat is expressing (and typing) ideas quickly and no one will blink an eye at the odd typo.

checksum: A mathematical calculation applied to the contents of a packet before and after it is sent. If the "before" calculation does not match the "after" calculation, there were errors in the transmission.

Chip: A tiny wafer of silicon containing miniature electric circuits that can store millions of bits of information.

Chipset: Any group of computer chips that work together to perform a common function.

churn: The turnover of users on an online service, especially after the expiration of a free trial period.

churning: Describes a computer taking a long time to process a particular operation. When a computer is churning, it may seem to be doing nothing.

Client: A single user of a network application run off a server. A client/server architecture allows many people to use the same data simultaneously; the programme's main component resides on a centralised server, with smaller components (user interface) on each client. client-server model: A configuration in which one computer, designated as a "server", sends information to a number of other "client" computers.

clipboard: A holding area that temporarily stores information copied or cut from a document. Both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems support this feature.

CMOS: Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. This is a semi programmable chip that contains information about the specific computer - such as what drives it has connected, what keyboard is being used, what monitor type, specific bootup instructions and date and time data.

COA (Certificate of Authenticity: Applies to special certificates applied to software to show that you have purchased the genuine article and not a pirated copy.

CODEC: Encoder/Decoder abbreviation. and is, in its simplest form a programme or algorithm for changing an audio file into binary language and back again.

collision detection: The process by which a node on a network monitors the communications line to determine when a collision (two nodes attempting to transmit at the same time) has occurred.

commercial online service: A computer network that supplies its members with access to chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other online content on a monthly fee basis. Commercial online services include America Online, CompuServe, The Microsoft Network, and Prodigy. Common Gateway Interface: See CGI.

compile: To have a computer translate code written in a computer language into an executable form.

compression: A technology that reduces the size of a file. Compression programs like WinZip and UNIX compress are valuable to network users because they help save both time and bandwidth.

Compuserve: A commercial online service.

computer literacy: Knowledge about and the ability to learn about computers.

congestion: A state occurring in a part of a network when the message traffic is so heavy that it slows down network response time.

connection: When two computers have established a path through which the exchange of information can occur.

Cookie: A small piece of data that is stored o your hard disk to perform special tasks when certain web pages are accessed.

Cold boot: Switching a computer completely off, then switching it back on again.

COM port: One of up to four serial ports allowable in DOS. Identified by number: COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4. Normally only two COM ports can be used at one time, and they must have consecutive numbers.

coopetition: The phenomena of computer companies cooperating with their competitors on a project-by-project basis.

copy protection: A software lock placed on a computer program by its developer to thwart piracy. This preventative measure was widely used in the mid-1980s but later abandoned by many developers because of numerous customer complaints.

CPU: see Central Processing Unit.

cracker: A malicious hacker who breaks (or cracks) the security of computer systems in order to access, steal, or destroy sensitive information. "Hacker" is often incorrectly used instead of cracker, especially by the media. See also hacker.

crossload: To send an attached file via email. See also upload and download.

cross-posting: To post a single message simultaneously to multiple newsgroups or discussion groups. Gratuitous cross-posting is considered poor Netiquette.

crunch: To efficiently process large amounts of information. A number cruncher, for example, is a routine or device optimized for and dedicated to processing numbers.

CU-SeeMe: Pronounced "See you, See me," CU-SeeMe is a publicly available videoconferencing program developed at Cornell University. It allows anyone with audio/video capabilities and an Internet connection to videoconference with anyone else with the same capabilities. It also allows multiple people to tie into the same videoconference.

cube: An original NeXT computer. The motherboard and drives for this machine are packed into a 12-inch matte black cube.

Cursor: A moving position-indicator displayed on the computer monitor that shows the computer operator where he or she is working.

cyberpunk: 1. A subgenre of science fiction inspired by William Gibson's 1982 novel "Neuromancer".
2. A lifestyle characterized by computer games, Internet surfing, and large doses of attitude.

cyberspace: 1. The place where computer networking hardware, network software, and people using them converge. Defined by John Perry Barlow as the place where a telephone call happens.
2. The prefix "cyber" is often combined with other words, as in "cyberpunk".

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