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Frequently Asked Questions

General Terms

?: Applet
$. 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 current rule is that an applet can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent. 

?: Archie
$. A software tool for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites. You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it.

?: ARPANet
$. (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) -- The precursor to the Internet. Developed in the late 60ís and early 70ís by the US Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking that would survive a nuclear war. 

?: ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) 
$. This is the de facto 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. 

?: Backbone
$. 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. 

?: Bandwidth
$. How much information 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 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression. 

?: 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. There are many thousands of BBSís around the world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. 

?: 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. 

?: BPS
$. (Bits-Per-Second) -- A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second. 

?: Browser
$. A Client program that is used to view various kinds of Internet resources. 

?: Byte
$. 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. 

?: 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.
Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an e-mail message, or turning the data into a database query.
You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing cgi-bin in a URL, but not always. 

?: CGI-BIN
$. The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored. The bin part of cgi-bin is a shorthand version of binary, because once upon a time, most programs were referred to as binaries. In real life, most programs found in cgi-bin directories are text files -- scripts that are executed by binaries located elsewhere on the same machine.

?: Checksum 
$. A simple error-detection scheme in which each transmitted message is accompanied by a numerical value based on the number of set bits in the message. The receiving station then applies the same formula to the message and checks to make
sure the accompanying numerical value is the same. If not, the receiver can assume that the message has been garbled.

?: Client
$. 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. 

?: Cookie
$. 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 Browserís 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 userís 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. 

?: 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. 

?: 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:

4eit.com
mail.4eit.net
support.4eit.net

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 (4eit.com 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. 

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