TOOTKA - Terms One Ought To Know About.

The purpose of this document is to present an explanation of terms often used on the network. It is broken down into two sections - non-technical and technical. The non-technical portion is a list of acronyms often used when writing to each other - this is a way of saving time when writing lots of articles. The technical section explains terms associated with the Internet, which frequently pop up.



: ) Smiley face - don't take the message seriously
8 ) Same
: - ) Same
8 - ) Same
: ( Miserable face - the writer is none too pleased
< g > Grin

AFAIK - As Far As I Know.
AFAUI - As Far As I Understand It.
AIUI - As I Understand It.
BTW - By The Way.
CFD - Call For Discussion - to do with setting up new newsgroups.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Question.
FWIW - For What It's Worth
GTBOS - Glad To Be Of Service.
IMHO - In My Humble Opinion.
IMO - In My Opinion. (variant of IMHO)
IYSWIM - If You See What I Mean.
OTOH - On The Other Hand
RFC - Request For Comments
ROFL - Rolls On the Floor Laughing.
RTFM - Read the F*@%ing Manual.
SIG - Special Interest Group.
TIA - Thanks In Advance
TTFN - Ta-Ta For Now.
YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary - i.e. don't take this as gospel!
WRT - With Respect To.
WYSIWYG - What You See is What You Get.



A name, usually short and easy to remember, that is translated into another name, usually long and difficult to remember.

ANSI - American National Standards Institute
The organisation responsible for approving U.S. standards in many areas, including computers and communications. Standards approved by this organisation are often called ANSI standards (e.g., ANSI C is the version of the C language approved by ANSI). ANSI is a member of ISO.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange
A standard character-to-number encoding widely used in the computer industry.

anonymous FTP
Anonymous FTP allows a user to retrieve documents, files, programs, and other archived data from anywhere in the Internet without having to establish a userid and password. By using the special userid of "anonymous" or "ftp", the network user will by-pass local security checks and will have access to publicly accessible files on the remote system.

A networking protocol developed by Apple Computer for communication between Apple Computer products and other computers.

API - Application Program Interface
A set of calling conventions which define how a service is invoked through a software package.

A system to automatically gather, index and serve information on the Internet. The initial implementation of archie provided an indexed directory of filenames from all anonymous FTP archives on the Internet. Later versions provide other collections of information.

archive site
A machine that provides access to a collection of files across the Internet. An "anonymous FTP archive site", for example, provides access to this material via the FTP protocol.

Technically, the difference, in Hertz (Hz), between the highest and lowest frequencies of a transmission channel. However, as typically used, the amount of data that can be sent through a given communications circuit.

The return of a piece of mail because of an error in its delivery.

BBS - Bulletin Board System
A computer, and associated software, which typically provides electronic messaging services, archives of files, and any other services or activities of interest to the bulletin board system's operator. Although BBS's have traditionally been the domain of hobbyists, an increasing number of BBS's are connected directly to the Internet, and many BBS's are currently operated by government, educational, and research institutions.

A computed value which is dependent upon the contents of a packet. This value is sent along with the packet when it is transmitted. The receiving system computes a new checksum based upon the received data and compares this value with the one sent with the packet. If the two values are the same, the receiver has a high degree of confidence that the data was received correctly.

A computer system or process that requests a service of another computer system or process. A workstation requesting the contents of a file from a file server is a client of the file server.

CCITT - Comite Consultatif International de Telegraphique et Telephonique
This organisation is part of the United National International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and is responsible for making technical recommendations about telephone and data communications systems. Every four years CCITT holds plenary sessions where they adopt new standards; the most recent was in 1992.

Cyberspace A term coined by William Gibson in his fantasy novel Neuromancer to describe the "world" of computers, and the society that gathers around them.

CRC - Cyclic Redundancy Check
A number derived from a set of data that will be transmitted. By recalculating the CRC at the remote end and comparing it to the value originally transmitted, the receiving node can detect some types of transmission errors.

A temporary, as opposed to dedicated, connection between machines established over a standard phone line.

DNS - Domain Name System
The DNS is a general purpose distributed, replicated, data query service. The principal use is the lookup of host IP addresses based on host names. The style of host names now used in the Internet is called "domain name", because they are the style of names used to look up anything in the DNS. Some important domains are: .COM (commercial), .EDU (educational), .NET (network operations), .GOV (U.S. government), and .MIL (U.S. military). Most countries also have a domain. For example, .US (United States), .UK (United Kingdom), .AU (Australia).

Electronic Mail (email)
A system whereby a computer user can exchange messages with other computer users (or groups of users) via a communications network. Electronic mail is one of the most popular uses of the Internet.

A 10-Mb/s standard for LANs, initially developed by Xerox, and later refined by Digital, Intel and Xerox (DIX).

FTP - File Transfer Protocol
A protocol which allows a user on one host to access, and transfer files to and from, another host over a network. Also, FTP is usually the name of the program the user invokes to execute the protocol.

A program that displays information about a particular user, or all users, logged on the local system or on a remote system. It typically shows full name, last login time, idle time, terminal line, and terminal location (where applicable). It may also display plan and project files left by the user.

A strong opinion and/or criticism of something, usually as a frank inflammatory statement, in an electronic mail message. It is common to precede a flame with an indication of pending fire (i.e., FLAME ON!). Flame Wars occur when people start flaming other people for flaming when they shouldn't have.

FYI - For Your Information
A subseries of RFCs that are not technical standards or descriptions of protocols. FYIs convey general information about topics related to TCP/IP or the Internet.

A distributed information service that makes available hierarchical collections of information across the Internet. Gopher uses a simple protocol that allows a single Gopher client to access information from any accessible Gopher server, providing the user with a single "Gopher space" of information. Public domain versions of the client and server are available.

A term used in routing. A path to a destination on a network is a series of hops, through routers, away from the origin.

A computer that allows users to communicate with other host computers on a network. Individual users communicate by using application programs, such as electronic mail, Telnet and FTP.

The name given to a machine.

A device connected to several other devices. In ARCnet, a hub is used to connect several computers together. In a message handling service, a hub is used for the transfer of messages across the network.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network
An emerging technology which is beginning to be offered by the telephone carriers of the world. ISDN combines voice and digital network services in a single medium, making it possible to offer customers digital data services as well as voice connections through a single "wire".

ISO - International Organisation for Standardisation
A voluntary, non-treaty organisation founded in 1946 which is responsible for creating international standards in many areas, including computers and communications. Its members are the national standards organisations of the 89 member countries, including ANSI for the U.S.

While an internet is a network, the term "internet" is usually used to refer to a collection of networks interconnected with routers.

(note the capital "I") The Internet is the largest internet in the world. Is a three level hierarchy composed of backbone networks (e.g., NSFNET, MILNET), mid-level networks, and stub networks. The Internet is a multi-protocol internet. See also: backbone, mid-level network, stub network, transit network, Internet Protocol, Corporation for Research and Educational Networks, National Science Foundation.

internet address
A IP address that uniquely identifies a node on an internet. An Internet address (capital "I"), uniquely identifies a node on the Internet.

IP - Internet Protocol
The Internet Protocol is the network layer for the TCP/IP Protocol Suite. It is a connectionless, best-effort packet switching protocol.

IRC - Internet Relay Chat
A world-wide "party line" protocol that allows one to converse with others in real time. IRC is structured as a network of servers, each of which accepts connections from client programs, one per user.

IP address
The 32-bit address usually represented in dotted decimal notation.

A popular implementation of TCP/IP and associated protocols for amateur packet radio systems.

A popular file transfer protocol developed by Columbia University. Because Kermit runs in most operating environments, it provides an easy method of file transfer. Kermit is NOT the same as FTP.

An experimental directory service.

LAN - Local Area Network
A data network intended to serve an area of only a few square kilometres or less. Because the network is known to cover only a small area, optimisations can be made in the network signal protocols that permit data rates up to 100Mb/s.

mail gateway
A machine that connects two or more electronic mail systems (including dissimilar mail systems) and transfers messages between them. Sometimes the mapping and translation can be quite complex, and it generally requires a store-and-forward scheme whereby the message is received from one system completely before it is transmitted to the next system, after suitable translations.

mail server
A software program that distributes files or information in response to requests sent via email. Internet examples include Almanac and netlib. Mail servers have also been used in Bitnet to provide FTP-like services.

MTU - Maximum Transmission Unit
The largest frame length which may be sent on a physical medium.

MIME - Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
An extension to Internet email which provides the ability to transfer non-textual data, such as graphics, audio and fax.

name resolution
The process of mapping a name into its corresponding address.

A pun on "etiquette" referring to proper behaviour on a network.

A computer network is a data communications system which interconnects computer systems at various different sites. A network may be composed of any combination of LANs, MANs or WANs.

Network File System (NFS)
A protocol developed by Sun Microsystems which allows a computer system to access files over a network as if they were on its local disks. This protocol has been incorporated in products by more than two hundred companies, and is now a de facto Internet standard.

NNTP - Network News Transfer Protocol
A protocol for the distribution, inquiry, retrieval, and posting, of news articles.

NTP - Network Time Protocol
A protocol that assures accurate local time-keeping with reference to radio and atomic clocks located on the Internet. This protocol is capable of synchronising distributed clocks within milliseconds over long time periods.

An addressable device attached to a computer network.

The unit of data sent across a network. "Packet", a generic term, is used to describe unit of data at all levels of the protocol stack, but it is most correctly used to describe application data units.

PING - Packet InterNet Groper
A program used to test the reachability of destinations by sending them an ICMP echo request and waiting for a reply. The term is used as a verb: "Ping host X to see if it is up!"

PoP - Point Of Presence
A site where there exists a collection of telecommunications equipment, usually digital leased lines and multi-protocol routers.

PPP - Point-to-Point Protocol
The Point-to-Point Protocol, defined in RFC 1171, provides a method for transmitting packets over serial point-to-point links.

A port is a transport layer demultiplexing value. Each application has a unique port number associated with it.

The person responsible for taking care of electronic mail problems, answering queries about users, and other related work at a site.

A distributed filesystem which provides the user with the ability to create multiple views of a single collection of files distributed across the Internet. Prospero provides a file naming system, and file access is provided by existing access methods (e.g., anonymous FTP and NFS). The Prospero protocol is also used for communication between clients and servers in the archie system.

A formal description of message formats and the rules two computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (e.g., the order in which bits and bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between allocation programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file across the Internet).

A backup of packets awaiting processing.

remote login
Operating on a remote computer, using a protocol over a computer network, as though locally attached.

RFC - Request For Comments
The document series, begun in 1969, which describes the Internet suite of protocols and related experiments. Not all (in fact very few) RFCs describe Internet standards, but all Internet standards are written up as RFCs. The RFC series of documents is unusual in that the proposed protocols are forwarded by the Internet research and development community, acting on their own behalf, as opposed to the formally reviewed and standardised protocols that are promoted by organisations such as CCITT and ANSI.

RTT - Round-Trip Time
A measure of the current delay on a network.

The path that network traffic takes from its source to its destination. Also, a possible path from a given host to another host or destination.

SLIP - Serial Line IP
A protocol used to run IP over serial lines, such as telephone circuits or RS-232 cables, interconnecting two systems.

A provider of resources (e.g., file servers and name servers).

sig or signature
The three or four line message at the bottom of a piece of email or a Usenet article which identifies the sender. Large signatures (over five lines) are generally frowned upon.

SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
A protocol, defined in STD 10, RFC 821, used to transfer electronic mail between computers. It is a server to server protocol, so other protocols are used to access the messages.

SNMP - Simple Network Management Protocol
The Internet standard protocol developed to manage nodes on an IP network. It is currently possible to manage wiring hubs, toasters, jukeboxes, etc.

Telnet is the Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection service.

terminal emulator
A program that allows a computer to emulate a terminal. The workstation thus appears as a terminal to the remote host.

TLA - Three Letter Acronym
A tribute to the use of acronyms in the computer field.

token ring
A token ring is a type of LAN with nodes wired into a ring. Each node constantly passes a control message (token) on to the next; whichever node has the token can send a message.

TCP - Transmission Control Protocol
An Internet Standard transport layer protocol. It is connection-oriented and stream-oriented, as opposed to UDP.

UDP - User Datagram Protocol
An Internet Standard transport layer protocol. It is a connectionless protocol which adds a level of reliability and multiplexing to IP.

A collection of thousands of topically named newsgroups, the computers which run the protocols, and the people who read and submit Usenet news. Not all Internet hosts subscribe to Usenet and not all Usenet hosts are on the Internet.

This was initially a program run under the UNIX operating system that allowed one UNIX system to send files to another UNIX system via dial-up phone lines. Today, the term is more commonly used to describe the large international network which uses the UUCP protocol to pass news and electronic mail.

white pages
The Internet supports several databases that contain basic information about users, such as email addresses, telephone numbers, and postal addresses. These databases can be searched to get information about particular individuals. Because they serve a function akin to the telephone book, these databases are often referred to as "white pages".

An Internet program which allows users to query a database of people and other Internet entities, such as domains, networks, and hosts, kept at the DDN NIC. The information for people shows a person's company name, address, phone number and email address.

WAIS - Wide Area Information Servers
A distributed information service which offers simple natural language input, indexed searching for fast retrieval, and a "relevance feedback" mechanism which allows the results of initial searches to influence future searches. Public domain implementations are available.

WAN - Wide Area Network
A network, usually constructed with serial lines, which covers a large geographic area.

WWW or W3 - World Wide Web
A hypertext-based, distributed information system created by researchers at CERN in Switzerland. Users may create, edit or browse hypertext documents. The clients and servers are freely available.

YP - Yellow Pages
A service used by UNIX administrators to manage databases distributed across a network.


For further details on technical matters refer to fyi_18.txt. This can be found on ftp

OwlLine UpHand

© Copyright 2006 Orbital Decisions®
Information Request