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Archive for the ‘Computer Terms’ Category



Q:
What does it mean when software is a “beta” version?

A:
A beta version is basically a test version of a software program. The program has been written and the author(s) think that it is probably bug free, but they aren’t 100% sure. So they release a test version. Sometimes the test version is open to the public, sometimes just to a select group.… Continue reading

What is Java?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Q:
What is Java/Javascript?

A:
Javascript is a scripting language that web designers use to perform various tasks. For example, if you’ve ever seen buttons on a web page that light up when your mouse goes over them, you’ve probably seen Javascript in action (in case you’re wondering, those are called “Java Rollovers – our site uses them at the top of every page).… Continue reading

Many of Worldstart’s tips will refer to the Windows Desktop at one point or another. If you don’t know what it is, that’s okay, because we’re here to help!

So here we go!

The Desktop, basically, is where all your icons live (stuff like the Recycle Bin sit on the Desktop).

It’s the “background” area you see when your computer first… Continue reading

What does ASCII mean?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Q:
What does ASCII mean?

A:
ASCII is short for “American Standard Code for Information Interchange.”

This is what an ASCII chart looks like:

ASCII is basically a non-formatted text document that can be read by any application that can read text, unlike say, a Word document. If you have a Word document, you have to open it… Continue reading

What is BIOS?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Q:
What is BIOS?

A:
BIOS (basic input / output system) is basically the “software” the computer uses for it’s most basic operations (accessing memory, disks, processors, etc.). This “software” is built into the computer’s motherboard, so don’t worry about losing it if your hard drive crashes.

Note that these are NOT Windows

What is the Windows Clipboard?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Q:
What is the Windows Clipboard?

A:
The Windows clipboard is used to temporarily store stuff. This “stuff” can come in the form of just about anything. Images, files, documents, etc.—they can all be placed on the clipboard. Once something has been copied to the clipboard it can be pasted into another location.

The clipboard isn’t a program you can actually access and play with. It’s a built-in… Continue reading

What is a Buffer?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Q:
What is a “Buffer?”

A:
A buffer is basically an area of memory a hardware device or software program uses when it needs a constant, uninterrupted flow of information.

For example, if you ever listened to any kind of streaming audio, the program you use probably “buffers” the signal a little before the music starts to play.… Continue reading

The difference between DVD-R and DVD+R

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004


Q:
What is the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R?

A:
Short answer? Not much.

Anyone who was around twenty years ago might remember the battle between the two video tape formats: VHS (Victor Home System) and Betamax (Sony). Fast forward to the twenty-first century and we have a similar battle of the formats with DVD.

The… Continue reading

What is a cache?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Hello, I’m Johhny Cache! Sorry, I couldn’t help it! I was wearing black today, plus this will remind you to say it the right way.

Cache files are used to store information on a temporary basis for quick access. The physical location of this can be either on a hard drive or in RAM memory.

The idea behind it is… Continue reading

What does it mean to configure?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Q:
What does it mean to “configure”?

A:
That’s one of those computer words that you see tossed about. It can refer to the set-up of your computer hardware: memory and devices. It can be your combination of software: operating system, utilities, and applications. It can also mean the adjustment of your software: options or preferences.

Many computer problems are caused by poor configuration and can often be… Continue reading

What is an OS?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

“OS” is short for “Operating System.” Windows is an “OS,” as is Linux and Mac OS X. Whatever flavor you enjoy, they all do pretty much the same thing – they give you a way to run programs and work with your computer. Continue reading

What are plug-ins?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Q:
What are plug-ins?

A:
A plug-in is a small application that works with your browser to display certain types of web media. For example, some web sites use Shockwave to allow you to play interactive games. However, in order to play these games, you need to have a Shockwave plug-in. Oh, if you want to check out some of these games and more, head to:

What Drivers Do

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Drivers are basically instructions that tell your computer how to use its hardware. Each hardware device in your computer has a driver. Continue reading

Worms and Viruses

Monday, November 15th, 2004

I got a question the other day from a reader wanting to know what the difference between a worm and a virus. So, without further adieu, here we go!

Viruses are self-replicating programs that embed themselves into other programs, or even the operating system , and use the host to carry out its function. Unless it attaches itself to an email, a virus… Continue reading

Open Source

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Basically, the term “open source” is used to describe a program or app where the author(s) gives the public access to the source code. Continue reading

Q:
What’s the difference between Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer?

A:
Actually, nothing. It’s a program with a split-personality. The Internet Explorer side of the program is for surfing the web. The Windows Explorer side is used for exploring the files, folders, drives, and directories on your computer.

What’s cool about it is they work very much the same manner. For example, click the Back button on Internet… Continue reading

POP3 Email

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Q:
What is POP3 Email?

A:
POP3 means “post office protocol, version 3″. It is a protocol for getting e-mail off of a web server. If you use Outlook Express, Outlook, Netscape Mail, or Eudora you’re using POP3.

Some web-based e-mail accounts use this protocol as well. I know that Hotmail and Yahoo (for a price) allow you to get your mail via POP3. AOL does not.

~… Continue reading

Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Q:
What are those three little buttons on the upper right-hand corner of an open window for?

A:
Those are the Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons.

The “X” closes the window.

The “Box” maximizes the program, making it full screen. If it’s already maximized, it looks like a box on top of another box. If you click it in that state, it will make your window smaller.

Finally… Continue reading

What are Zip Files?

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Q:
What are “zipped” files?

A:
A zip file is basically a “package” of one or more compressed files. If you download a lot of software, you’ll run across these all the time.

They are not difficult to work with. You’ll need an “unzipping” program in order to access them, something like Winzip or Winrar are both good choices.… Continue reading

Downloading, Uploading and Installing

Friday, November 12th, 2004


Q:
What is the difference between Downloading, Uploading and Installing?

A:
Here’s a blow by blow:

Downloading – This is moving a file that’s on the Internet (or over a network) onto your computer. For most of us, downloading is just a matter of clicking a download link on a web site and saving the file to disk.… Continue reading

Image File Guide

Friday, November 12th, 2004

I get questions about image formats all the time, so if you don’t know your JPEG’s from your GIF’s, this is for you. First, a little background on file compression.

There are basically two ways of saving images, lossy or lossless (no, I didn’t make those up). If an image is saved in a lossy image format, it means the format being

What are all those cards?

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Q:
What are sound cards, graphic cards, network cards, and all those other cards all about?

A:
You might hear of different kinds of “cards” in a PC. Some are usually included as basic hardware, while others offer optional features. Most basic PC’s will include a Sound Card, Video Card, and maybe a Network Card. Also, in some modern PCs, these can also be integrated… Continue reading


Q:
What is the difference between a Taskbar and a Toolbar?

A:
Your taskbar is the long gray bar that sits at the bottom of your screen (you can move it to the top or either side of your screen though). It has the Start button, system tray, and possibly more on it. In addition, it’s where your programs buttons sit. Here’s a… Continue reading

What a Briefcase is for.

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Q:
What is the Briefcase for? How do I use it?

A:
You’ve probably had this file just sitting on your desk top and wondered the same thing.

I use this feature to synch the newsletter folders on my desktop with our server. It also comes in handy if you have a laptop and desktop that share files. I guess you could also use it if you… Continue reading

What are .pdf files?

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

Q:
What are .pdf files?

A:
If you’ve been using the internet for any amount of time, you’ve probably run across these little buggers. They’re Adobe Acrobat files. Normally, you download them and use Adobe Acrobat Reader to read them. You can get Adobe Acrobat Reader for free at Adobe’s web site:

http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html (Make sure you… Continue reading

Internet Error Codes

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

Q:
What do all those error codes (like 404) mean?

A:
It happens to all of us. We’re surfing along, and up comes an error. What do all those error codes mean? Here’s a quick rundown of the most common:

400 – Bad Request – You probably typed in a URL wrong, the server has no clue what you’re looking for, or you aren’t allowed to have access… Continue reading

Emoticons

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

Emoticons are little text representations of emotions that you find in email, chat rooms, and IM’s. When you talk to someone, they can tell what you mean by the tone of your voice or the look on your face. For example, maybe someone says something like, “Why are you so annoying?”

Now, if they say it while they’re laughing, you know that it’s just lighthearted humor. If they say it… Continue reading

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