Below you will find some useful information to help you understand common Internet terms and references.
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- 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.
- A term describing the process of identification of individuals and businesses through the use of digital certificates.
- This is the process where permission is granted by the card issuer (the financial institution) allowing the payment transaction to proceed. It is during this process that the issuing bank checks that the available credit on the card is not exceeded.
- How much stuff 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.
- A composite of captures and credits accumulated over a period of time, although generally no more than one day, which are waiting to be settled with the merchant's acquiring financial institution.
- Batch Close
- The process of sending a batch to the financial institution for settlement.
- In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second).
- (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.
- A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources.
- Browser plug-in
- Additional software that is installed on your computer which extends the functionality of your Web browser.
- 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.
- A transaction performed on a previously authorised transaction after a merchant has shipped goods or services to the customer. This transaction triggers the movement of funds from the issuer to the acquirer and then to the merchant's account
- An individual or business that has established an account with a credit or debit card issuer. A cardholder is eligible to initiate a payment card transaction.
- Certificate Authority
- An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.
- (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.
- 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 refered 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.
- 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.
- Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on thier own network.
- 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 Browser’s 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 user’s 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.
- (Digital Subscriber Line) --A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber’s premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.
A commonly discussed configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: “Asymmetric” Digital Subscriber Line.
Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both directions.
In theory ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second.
DSL is now a popular alternative to Leased Lines and ISDN, being faster than ISDN and less costly than traditional Leased Lines.
- Digital Certificate
- Online identification that authenticates a consumer, merchant and a financial institution. Digital certificates are used during SET transactions.
- Digital Certificate (SET)
- In SET, a certificate is a public key that has been digitally signed by a trusted authority (the financial institution) to identify the user of the public key. SET uses certificates to encrypt payment information.
- 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:
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 (matisse.net 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.
- (Electronic Mail) -- Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses (Mailing List).
- Electronic Commerce (e-commerce)
- A term given to all types of transactions that are conducted using digitally- transmitted data methods.
- Electronic Wallet
- Software, residing as a plug-in in the Web browser, that enables a cardholder to conduct online transactions, manage payment receipts and store digital certificates. Like your real wallet, your digital wallet stores your credit card number and shipping details. This wallet initiates the data encryption in a SET transaction. See PayPurse for more details.
- A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.
- (Frequently Asked Questions) -- FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject. There are hundreds of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are usually written by people who have tired of answering the same question over and over.
- Fire Wall
- A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes.
- (File Transfer Protocol) -- A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers.
- The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example Prodigy has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet e-mail format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.
- (Graphic Interchange Format) -- A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.
- 1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring.
- As used in reference to the World Wide Web, “hit” means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 “hits” would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics.
“hits” are often used as a very rough measure of load on a server, e.g. “Our server has been getting 300,000 hits per month.” Because each “hit” can represent anything from a request for a tiny document (or even a request for a missing document) all the way to a request that requires some significant extra processing (such as a complex search request), the actual load on a machine from 1 hit is almost impossible to define.
- Home Page (or Homepage)
- Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. “Check out so-and-so’s new Home Page.”
Another sloppier use of the term refers to practically any web page as a “homepage,” e.g. “That web site has 65 homepages and none of them are interesting.”
- Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and USENET.
- (HyperText Markup Language) -- The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client Program, such as Netscape or Mosaic.
- (HyperText Transfer Protocol) -- The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
- Generally, any text that contains links to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.
- IP Number
- (Internet Protocol Number) -- Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.
Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.
- (Integrated Services Digital Network) -- Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is rapidly becoming available to much of the USA and in most markets it is priced very comparably to standard analog phone circuits. It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000 or 64,000 bits-per-second.
- (Internet Service Provider) -- An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.
- A financial institution that issues payment cards, such as credit or debit cards.
- Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.
We can expect to see a huge variety of features added to the Web using Java, since you can write a Java program to do almost anything a regular computer program can do, and then include that Java program in a Web page.
- (Joint Photographic Experts Group) -- JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.
- A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.
- (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
- The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv" is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.
- Noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password).
Verb: The act of entering into a computer system, e.g. Login to the WELL and then go to the GBN conference.
- (or Mailing List) A (usually automated) system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the maillist. In this way, people who have many different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.
- A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.
- Meta Tags
- There are several meta tags, but the most important for search engine indexing are the description and keywords tags. The description tag returns a description of the page in place of the summary the search engine would ordinarily create. The keywords tag provides keywords for the search engine to associate with your page.
- (MOdulator, DEModulator) -- A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.
- A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape (tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
Netscape has grown in features rapidly and is widely recognized as the best and most popular web browser. Netscape corporation also produces web server software.
Netscape provided major improvements in speed and interface over other browsers, and has also engendered debate by creating new elements for the HTML language used by Web pages -- but the Netscape extensions to HTML are not universally supported.
The main author of Netscape, Mark Andreessen, was hired away from the NCSA by Jim Clark, and they founded a company called Mosaic Communications and soon changed the name to Netscape Communications Corporation.
- Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet.
- The name for discussion groups on USENET.
- (Networked Information Center) -- Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet is the InterNIC, which is where new domain names are registered.
Another definition: NIC also refers to Network Interface Card which plugs into a computer and
adapts the network interface to the appropriate standard. ISA, PCI, and PCMCIA cards are all examples of NICs.
- Online Storefront
- An e-commerce enabled Web site available on a public network, such as the Internet, which offers goods and services for sale. An online storefront is the equivalent of a store or place of business that a customer would visit to purchase goods and services.
- A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. A good password might be:
- A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins.
The idea behind plug-in’s is that a small piece of software is loaded into memory by the larger program, adding a new feature, and that users need only install the few plug-ins that they need, out of a much larger pool of possibilities. Plug-ins are usually created by people other than the publishers of the software the plug-in works with.
- (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol) -- Two commonly used meanings: Point of Presence and Post Office Protocol. A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines. So if an Internet company says they will soon have a POP in Belgrade, it means that they will soon have a local phone number in Belgrade and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network. A second meaning, Post Office Protocol refers to the way e-mail software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell account you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail.
- 3 meanings. First and most generally, a place where information goes into or out of a computer, or both. E.g. the serial port on a personal computer is where a modem would be connected.
On the Internet port often refers to a number that is part of a URL, appearing after a colon (:) right after the domain name. Every service on an Internet server listens on a particular port number on that server. Most services have standard port numbers, e.g. Web servers normally listen on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case the port number must be specified in a URL when accessing the server, so you might see a URL of the form:
shows a gopher server running on a non-standard port (the standard gopher port is 70).
Finally, port also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from one type of computer system to another, e.g. to translate a Windows program so that is will run on a Macintosh.
- A single message entered into a network communications system.
E.g. A single message posted to a newsgroup or message board.
- A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.
- SET - Secure Electronic Transaction
- A protocol developed by MasterCard and Visa, in conjunction with leading technology developers, designed to increase the security of transactions made over the Internet by authenticating all parties involved in a particular transaction, by using certificates.
- SET Mark
- The mark or logo that assures that the transaction software being used is SET compliant.
- (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) -- The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.
SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program receiving mail should interact.
Almost all Internet email is sent and received by clients and servers using SMTP, thus if one wanted to set up an email server on the Internet one would look for email server software that supports SMTP.
- Secure Socket Layer (from Netscape) is a protocol that encrypts data between a Web browser and a Web server. In an SSL session, all data sent is encrypted. SSL does not authenticate the sender or the receiver.
- Security Certificate
- A chunk of information (often stored as a text file) that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection.
Security Certificates contain information about who it belongs to, who it was issued by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid dates, and an encrypted “fingerprint” that can be used to verify the contents of the certificate.
In order for an SSL connection to be created both sides must have a valid Security Certificate.
- A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g.Our mail server is down today, that’s why e-mail isn’t getting out. A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.
- The step in the clearing process when the acquirer credits the merchant account with the amount of a credit card purchase, and the bankcard association (such as Visa and MasterCard) credits the acquirer and debits the card issuer for the transaction.
- Shopping Basket
- As you shop online, you add items to your 'virtual' shopping basket. The basket is simply a list of the items you have selected to buy, together with the necessary details (number selected, price of each item etc). You can review what's in your basket at any time as you shop.
- Spam (or Spamming)
- An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn’t ask for it. The term probably comes from a famous Monty Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over. The term may also have come from someone’s low opinion of the food product with the same name, which is generally perceived as a generic content-free waste of resources. (Spam is a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat product.)
E.g. Mary spammed 50 USENET groups by posting the same message to each.
- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet.
- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video.
- (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) -- This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.
- The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host.
- A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer - the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.
- Terminal Server
- A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.
- This is any action between a cardholder and a merchant that results in activity on the account, such as an authorization and settlement. Merchants and financial institutions also conduct follow-on transactions that affect the cardholders' account, such as a capture and credit.
- (Uniform Resource Locator) -- The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL looks like this:
The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a WWW browser program, such as Netscape, or Lynx.
- Virtual Sales Slip
- Detailed information on a financial transaction which is generated by the merchant's online store and downloaded to your digital wallet. Typical items contained in the virtual sales slip are confirmation of your order, shipping details, and total amount of sale.
- (Wide Area Network) -- Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.
- (World Wide Web) -- Frequently used (incorrectly) when referring to "The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, loosely used: the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be mixed together.
- Web Browser
- A client program that runs on an end-user's computer, linking it to the World Wide Web.
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