Computer Terminology - P

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

packet: A unit of data sent across a network. When a large block of data is to be sent over a network, it is broken up into several packets, sent, and the reassembled at the other end. Packets often include checksum codes to detect transmission errors. The exact layout of an individual packet is determined by the protocol being used.

packet sniffing: The intentional and usually illegal act of intercepting packets of data being transmitted over the Internet and searching them for information.

Parallel: Side-by-side data transmission. In 8-bit parallel, all the bits in a byte arrive simultaneously.

parse: To search through a stream of text and either break it up into useful chunks of information or reformat it in some other manner.

password: A secret code that you utilize along with your user ID in order to log on to a network.

path: The hierarchical description of where a directory, folder, or file is located on your computer or on a network

PC: See Personal Computer.

PC-Dos: Disk Operating System developed by IBM

PCI: A disk interface system.

PCMCIA: Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. It is a standard for PC cards which was originally developed for the portable market. A PCMCIA card is the same size as a standard credit card that is inserted into a slot and is automatically configured at boot by drivers.

Peer-to-Peer: A communications network that allows all workstations and computers in the network to act as servers to all other users on the network.

Pentium: Intel's successor to the 486 processor.

Pentium II: Intel's successor to the Pentium Pro processor, which combines the power of the Pentium Pro with the rich multimedia capabilities of MMX technology.

Pentium III: Intel's successor to the Pentium II.

Pentium IV: Intel's successor to the Pentium III.

Pentium Pro: Intel's successor to the Pentium processor. This processor has more cache designed into the chip, 5.5 million transistors (compared to the Pentium's 3.1 million), and is optimised for 32-bit applications.

Peripheral: Any device which is attached to or installed in the system unit. Examples include printers, modems, scanners, and CD-ROM drives.

Perl: A programming language whose acronym stands for "Practical Extraction and Report Language". Perl is a powerful, yet unstructured language that is especially good for writing quick and dirty programs that process text files. Because of these abilities, Perl is a common choice of programmers for writing CGI scripts to automate input and output from web pages. Perl was invented in 1986 by Larry Wall and is available to anyone at no charge.

Personal Computer: A single-user computer containing a central processing unit (CPU) and one or more memory circuits. IBM introduced the original PC in 1981.

Petabyte: A terminology for measuring memory size in computers and is equal to 1024 Terabytes or 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes - generally rounded to being 1000 Terabytes or 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Not yet in popular use. Abbreviation is Pb.

PGP: See Pretty Good Privacy.

PIM : Personal Information Manager (see also next definition)

PIM: The Protocol Independent Multicast (see also previous definition): This is technology that involves the following:

PING: Abbreviation for Packet InterNet Groper. A connection testing program that sends a self-returning packet to a host and times how long it takes to return.

Platform: Refers to a specific combination of hardware, operating system, and/or other software, as in "This programme has been tested on both Windows NT and UNIX platforms".

Plug-and-Play: A computer specification that allows components (modem, sound cards, network interface cards, etc.) to be added to a computer without manual configuration.

Plug-In: An "add-on" for computer browsers to allow special files to be viewed to their best. These include visual, movie and sound devices. Generally, plug-ins are available free for down loading from Internet sites. Usually, the plug-in will automatically install itself when it is downloaded.

PNG: Portable Network Graphics. A new compressed image format that is designed to replace the GIF type of graphics.

Point of Presence: (abbreviation: POP) A site that has a collection of telecommunications equipment, usually refers to ISP or telephone company sites.

Point-to-Point Protocol: (abbreviation: PPP) A protocol used by TCP/IP routers and PCs to send packets over dial-up and leased-line connections.

Pointer: The mouse pointer has four general shapes. The first of these is the standard pointer arrow which simply indicates where the pointer is. When it moves across a link (such as hypertext or a graphic box) it will change (usually to the shape of a pointing hand) and when it is in this mode, the point is active and can be clicked to move to that new point. The other indicators for the mouse (most commonly seen) are the hourglass (indicating "please wait, something is happening") and the I bar, indicating that you can add text at that point. Keep in mind that these are the generally accepted shapes and may vary as the user can select their own mouse pointers either as a set or individually.

POP: See Point of Presence.

post: To send a message to a public area like a BBS or newsgroup where it can be read by many others.

POST: Power-On Self Test. A series of built-in diagnostics that are performed when the computer is first started.

postmaster: The name given to the person in charge of administrating email for a particular site. According to convention, mail sent to should be read by a real live person.

power newbie: An enthusiastic newbie (network newcomer) who takes advantage of educational resources in an effort to become a knowbie. Power newbies share their knowledge with other newbies both face-to-face and in bulletin boards and chat rooms. See also newbie and knowbie.

PowerPC: A competitor to the Pentium chip. It is a new generation of powerful sophisticated microprocessors produced from an Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance.

PPM: Pages Per Minute. A measure of the speed of a printer. Usually tells how many times the printer can print the same page in a minute.

PPP: See Point to Point Protocol.

Pretty Good Privacy: (abbreviation: PGP) A program, developed by Phil Zimmerman, that uses cryptography to protect files and electronic mail from being read by others. PGP also includes a feature which allows users to digitally "sign" a document or message, in order to provide non-forgable proof of authorship.

Prodigy: A commerical online service.

Programme: A precise series of instructions written in a computer language that tells the computer what to do and how to do it. Programmes are also called "software" or "applications". Sometimes spelt program (American).

Programming Language: A series of instructions written by a programmemer according to a given set of rules or conventions ("syntax"). High-level programmeming languages are independent of the device on which the application (or programme) will eventually run; low-level languages are specific to each programme or platform. Programmeming language instructions are converted into programmes in language specific to a particular machine or operating system ("machine language") so that the computer can interpret and carry out the instructions. Some common programmeming languages are BASIC, C, C++, FORTRAN, Java and Perl.

protocol: A series of rules and conventions that allow different kinds of computers and applications to communicate over a network.

© Design by Compsale - May 2005