Glossary

Service Notices

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Service Notices

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Backbone

Just like the human backbone carries signals to many smaller nerves in the body, a network backbone carries data to smaller lines of transmission. A local backbone refers to the main network lines that connect several local area networks (LANs) together. The result is a wide area network (WAN) linked by a backbone connection.

The Internet, which is the ultimate wide area network, relies on a backbone to carry data over long distances. The Internet backbone consists of several ultra-high bandwidth connections that link together many different nodes around the world. These nodes route incoming data to smaller networks in the local region. The fewer "hops" your data needs to make before reaching the backbone, the faster it will get sent to the destination. This is why many Web hosts and ISPs have direct connections to the Internet backbone.

Backside Bus

There are two types of buses that carry data to and from a computer's CPU. They are the frontside bus and backside bus. Surprisingly, there is no correlation between these and the backside and frontside airs that snowboarders talk about.

While the frontside bus carries data between the CPU and memory, the backside bus transfers data to and from the computer's secondary cache. The secondary, or L2 cache stores frequently used functions and other data close to the processor. This allows the computer's CPU to work more efficiently since it can repeat processes faster.

When the processor needs information from the L2 cache, it is sent over the backside bus. Because this process needs to be extremely fast, the clock speed of the backside bus cannot afford to lag behind. For this reason, the backside bus is often as fast as the processor. The frontside bus, on the other hand, is typically half the speed of the processor or slower.

Backup

Backup is the most important computer term you should know.

A backup is a copy of one or more files created as an alternate in case the original data is lost or becomes unusable. For example, you may save several copies of a research paper on your hard drive as backup files incase you decide to use a previous revision. Better yet, you could save the backups to a USB flash disk, which would also protect the files if the hard drive failed.

Hard drives are meant to run for many years without crashing. But just like all electronic devices, they are not immune to problems. Because they are not solid state devices, hard drives rely on moving parts to access data, which can malfunction and cause your data to become unrecoverable. If you need proof of how fragile hard drives really are, go to your local computer store and have someone show you an open hard drive. When you realize all your data is stored in such a small, delicate device, you may have a new understanding of why you need to backup your data.

But it's not just hardware malfunctions you have to worry about. Software corruption can also damage your files. Directory structures can become damaged and cause entire folders to disappear. Files can be mistakenly deleted or corrupted by viruses or other software attacks. Program installation conflicts can make applications or files unusable. There are unfortunately many ways for your data to become damaged or disappear.

That is why it is so important to backup your data. Most people don't realize the importance of having a backup until it is too late. Of course, when you have lost years of photos, school papers, business documents, e-mail archives, music, movies, or any other data that you cannot recover, the importance of having a backup becomes all too real.

So how do you backup your data? The best way is to use an external storage device, such as an external hard drive, flash memory device, or even another computer. You can also create permanent backups using optical media, such as CD-R and DVD-R discs. Backing up individual folders and files is as easy copying them from the source media (your computer's hard disk) to the destination (an external hard drive). If you want to backup your entire system or would like to have regular backups automatically performed, you can use backup software that will backup your data for you. Many programs are available for both Mac and Windows that provide automatic backups and system restore capabilities.

If you have not yet backed up your hard drive, now is a good time to do so. It's much better to back up your data now than once it is too late.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. It is usually measured in bits per second, or "bps." You can think of bandwidth as a highway with cars travelling on it. The highway is the network connection and the cars are the data. The wider the highway, the more cars can travel on it at one time. Therefore more cars can get to their destinations faster. The same principle applies to computer data -- the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time.

Banner Ad

Whether you like it or not, much of the Web is run by advertising. Just like television or radio, websites can offer free content by generating revenue from advertising. While you may get tired of Web ads from time to time, most people would agree that seeing a few advertisements here and there is better than paying a usage fee for each website.

Perhaps the most prolific form of Web advertising is the banner ad. It is a long, rectangular image that can be placed just about anywhere on a Web page. Most banner ads are 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels high (468x60). They may contain text, images, or sometimes those annoying animations that make it hard to focus on the page's content. Regardless of the type of banner ad, when a user clicks the advertisement, he or she is redirected to the advertiser's website.

Base Station

The term "base station" was first used to refer to the towers you see on the side of the road that relay cell phone calls. These stations handle all cellular calls made within their area, receiving information from one end of the call and transmitting it to the other.

In the computer world, however, a base station refers to the wireless access point for computers with wireless cards. It is basically a router that communicates with devices based on the Wi-Fi standard. Some common Wi-Fi configurations include 802.11b and 802.11g. Wireless base stations are made by companies such as Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, Apple Computer, and other manufacturers. Fortunately, as long as the hardware is based on the Wi-Fi standard, all wireless cards can communicate with base stations from any manufacturer.

Baseband

A baseband signal is an original transmission signal that has not be modulated, or has been demodulated to its original frequency. Most telecommunications protocols require baseband signals to be converted, or modulated, to a higher frequency so they can be transmitted over long distances. Therefore, the original baseband, or lowpass, signals are converted during the transmission process. When the signal arrives at the destination, it is demodulated so that the recipient receives the original baseband signal. Ethernet is an example of a protocol that does not require signal modulation, since it transmits data in baseband.

BASIC

Stands for "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code." BASIC is a computer programming language that was developed in the mid-1960s to provide a way for students to write simple computer programs. Since then, the language has evolved into a more robust and powerful language and can be used to create advanced programs for today's computer systems.

BASIC originally used numbers at the beginning of each instruction (or line) to tell the computer what order to process the instructions. Lines would be numbered as 10, 20, 30, etc., which would allow additional instructions to be placed between commands later on if needed. "GOTO" statements enabled programs to loop back to earlier instructions during execution. For example, line 230 of a BASIC program may have an "if" clause that tells the computer to jump back to line 50 if a variable is less than 10. This instruction might look something like this:

230 IF (N < 10) THEN GOTO 50

More modern BASIC implementations use "while loops," which perform a series of instructions as long as a certain case is true. Newer BASIC development software also supports more data types, such as integers, strings, and arrays, for storing variables and other data. While the first BASIC development environments were strictly text-based, today's BASIC programming software allows developers to design much of their programs visually, using a graphical user interface. Some of the more popular BASIC development programs used today include REALbasic and Microsoft Visual Basic.

Batch File

A batch file is a type of script that contains a list of commands. These commands are executed in sequence and can be used to automate processes. For example, some programs may include a batch file that executes a number of commands as the program starts up. A user can also create a custom batch file to automate tedious processes such as copying multiple directories or renaming several files at once.

Batch files are run by the COMMAND.COM program, which is part of DOS and Windows. Therefore, batch files can only be run within the Windows operating system. Macintosh and Unix have other scripting tools, such as AppleScript and Unix shell commands, that can be used for similar tasks. Because batch files contain executable commands, it is important not to open unknown batch files on your hard disk or in e-mail attachments.

File Extensions: .BAT, .CMD

Batch Process

As most computer users know, some computing tasks can be tedious and repetitive. Fortunately, if a task is indeed repetitive, a batch process can be used to automate much of the work.

A batch process performs a list of commands in sequence. It be run by a computer's operating system using a script or batch file, or may be executed within a program using a macro or internal scripting tool. For example, an accountant may create a script to open several financial programs at once, saving him the hassle of opening each program individually. This type of batch process would be executed by the operating system, such as Windows or the Mac OS. A Photoshop user, on the other hand, might use a batch process to modify several images at one time. For example, she might record an action within Photoshop that resizes and crops an image. Once the action has been recorded, she can batch process a folder of images, which will perform the action on all the images in the folder.

Batch processing can save time and energy by automating repetitive tasks. While it may take awhile to write the script or record the repetitive actions, doing it once is certainly better than having to do it many times.

Baud

Contrary to popular belief, baud is not a direct measurement of data transfer speed, but instead it measures how many electrical signals are sent per second. Baud is used to measure the rate of electrical signals, or "signaling elements," for modems, networks, serial cables, and other data transfer mediums.

Some people think that baud and bits per second are equal. For example, they'll say a 28,800 bps modem transmits at 28,800 baud, and act like they know everything. But the fact is, most modems transmit multiple bits of data per baud, so while the the two values are related, they are typically not equal. So the next time your friend says his 56K v.90 modem can transfer data at 56,000 baud, you can kindly tell him that he is incorrect and explain to him the difference between baud and bps.

bcc

Stands for "Blind Carbon Copy." When you send an e-mail to only one person, you type the recipient's address in the "To:" field. When you send a message to more than one person, you have the option to enter addresses in the "Cc:" and "Bcc:" fields. "Cc" stands for "Carbon Copy," while "Bcc" stands for "Blind Carbon Copy."

A carbon copy, or "Cc'd" message is an e-mail that is copied to one or more recipients. Both the main recipient (whose address is in the "To:" field) and the Cc'd recipients can see all the addresses the message was sent to. When a message is blind carbon copied, neither the main recipient nor the Bcc'd recipients can see the addresses in the "Bcc:" field.

Blind carbon copying is a useful way to let others see an e-mail you sent without the main recipient knowing. It is faster than sending the original message and then forwarding the sent message to the other recipients. It is also good netiquette to use Bcc when copying a message to many people. This prevents the e-mail addresses from being captured by someone in the list who might use them for spamming purposes. However, if it is important that each recipient knows who your message was sent to, use carbon copy (Cc) instead.

Beta

Before a commercial software program is released to the public, it usually goes through a "beta" phase. During this stage, the software is tested for bugs, crashes, errors, inconsistencies, and any other problems. Though beta versions of software used to be made available only to developers, they are now sometimes made available for the general public to test, usually through the software company's Web site. However, because beta software is free, the programs usually expire after a period of time. If you choose to test a beta software program, don't be surprised if it has multiple problems and causes your computer to repeatedly crash. After all, it is the beta version. You can tell if a program is still in beta by checking the program's properties. If there is a "b" in the version number (i.e. Version: 1.2 b3) that means it's a beta version.

Binary

Binary is a two-digit (Base-2) numerical system, which computers use to store data and compute functions. The reason computers use the binary system is because digital switches inside the computer can only be set to either on or off, which are represented by a 1 or 0. Though the binary system consists of only ones and zeros, the two digits can be used to represent any number.

For example:

A single 0 in binary represents zero.
A single 1 represents (2^0) or 1.
10 represents (2^1) or 2.
11 represents (2^1 + 2^0) or 3.
100 represents (2^2) or 4.
101 represents (2^2 + 2^0) or 5.
110 represents (2^2 + 2^1) or 6.
111 represents (2^2 + 2^1 + 2^0) or 7.
1000 represents (2^3) or 8, and so on.

Biometrics

Biometrics refers to technologies used to detect and recognize human physical characteristics. In the IT world, biometrics is often synonymous with "biometric authentication," a type of security authorization based on biometric input.

There are several types of biometric authentication. Common examples include fingerprint scanning, retinal scanning, facial recognition, and voice analysis. A facial recognition system, for instance, uses a camera to capture an image of a person's face. The photograph is then recorded and processed using biometrics software. The software attempts to match the scanned image with an image from a database of users' photos. If the scan is close enough to a specific user, the person will receive authorization to continue.

In many cases, a biometric scan is similar to a login. For example, some computers have a finger scanner that allows you to authenticate yourself by swiping your finger across a sensor. Instead of entering a username and password, the finger scan provides your authorization. Some retail outlets now use finger scanners to verify people's identity as an alternative to entering a unique pin number. High-security government and office buildings may even require retinal scans in order to access certain areas of the building. In some cases, a keycard, passcode, or login is required in addition to a biometric scan in order to provide extra security.

BIOS

Stands for "Basic Input/Output System." Most people don't need to ever mess with the BIOS on a computer, but it can be helpful to know what it is. The BIOS is a program pre-installed on Windows-based computers (not on Macs) that the computer uses to start up. The CPU accesses the BIOS even before the operating system is loaded. The BIOS then checks all your hardware connections and locates all your devices. If everything is OK, the BIOS loads the operating system into the computer's memory and finishes the boot-up process.

Since the BIOS manages the hard drives, it can't reside on one, and since it is available before the computer boots up, it can't live in the RAM. So where can this amazing, yet elusive BIOS be found? It is actually located in the ROM (Read-Only Memory) of the computer. More specifically, it resides in an eraseable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) chip. So, as soon as you turn your computer on, the CPU accesses the EPROM and gives control to the BIOS.

The BIOS also is used after the computer has booted up. It acts as an intermediary between the CPU and the I/O (input/output) devices. Because of the BIOS, your programs and your operating system don't have to know exact details (like hardware addresses) about the I/O devices attached to your PC. When device details change, only the BIOS needs to be updated. You can make these changes by entering the BIOS when your system starts up. To access the BIOS, hold down the key as soon as your computer begins to start up.

Bit

The computer term "bit" comes from the phrase "Binary DigIT," which is different than that thing you put around a horse's mouth. A bit is a single digit number in base-2 (a zero or a one) and is the smallest unit of computer data. A full page of text is composed of about 16,000 bits.

It is important not to confuse bits with bytes. Both are used to measure amounts of data, but it takes eight bits to make one byte. The most common area where bits are used intstead of bytes is in measuring bandwidth (in bits per second). Why? Probably because it makes your Internet connection sound faster than it really is.

Bitmap

Most images you see on your computer are composed of bitmaps. A bitmap is a map of dots, or bits (hence the name), that looks like a picture as long you are sitting a reasonable distance away from the screen. Common bitmap filetypes include BMP (the raw bitmap format), JPEG, GIF, PICT, PCX, and TIFF. Because bitmap images are made up of a bunch of dots, if you zoom in on a bitmap, it appears to be very blocky. Vector graphics (created in programs such as Freehand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw) can scale larger without getting blocky.

Bitrate

Bitrate, as the name implies, describes the rate at which bits are transferred from one location to another. In other words, it measures how much data is transmitted in a given amount of time. Bitrate is commonly measured in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps), or megabits per second (Mbps). For example, a DSL connection may be able to download data at 768 kbps, while a Firewire 800 connection can transfer data up to 800 Mbps.

Bitrate can also describe the quality of an audio or video file. For example, an MP3 audio file that is compressed at 192 Kbps will have a greater dynamic range and may sound slightly more clear than the same audio file compressed at 128 Kbps. This is because more bits are used to represent the audio data for each second of playback. Similarly, a video file that is compressed at 3000 Kbps will look better than the same file compressed at 1000 Kbps. Just like the quality of an image is measured in resolution, the quality of an audio or video file is measured by the bitrate.

BitTorrent

Often shortened to "torrent". BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol designed to reduce the bandwidth required to transfer files. It does this by distributing file transfers across multiple systems, thereby lessening the average bandwidth used by each computer. For example, if a user begins downloading a movie file, the BitTorrent system will locate multiple computers with the same file and begin downloading the file from several computers at once. Since most ISPs offer much faster download speeds than upload speeds, downloading from multiple computers can significantly increase the file transfer rate.

In order to use the BitTorrent protocol, you need a BitTorrent client, which is a software program that accesses the BitTorrent network. The client program allows you to search for files and begin downloading torrents, which are in-progress downloads. Most BitTorrent clients allow you to resume torrents that have been paused or stopped. This can be especially helpful when downloading large files.

Blog

Short for "Web Log," this term refers to a list of journal entries posted on a Web page. Anybody who knows how to create and publish a Web page can publish their own blog. Some Web hosts have made it even easier by creating an interface where users can simply type a text entry and hit "publish" to publish their blog.

Because of the simplicity of creating a blog, many people (often young kids and adults) have found a new presence on the Web. Instead of writing confidential entries in a book that no one is supposed to see, people now can share their personal feelings and experiences with thousands of people around the world. Blogs are typically updated daily, monthly, or anywhere in between. "Blog" may also be used as a verb, as in "Wow, Matt sure blogged a lot last week."

Blu-Ray

Blu-ray is an optical disc format such as CD and DVD. It was developed for recording and playing back high-definition (HD) video and for storing large amounts of data. While a CD can hold 700 MB of data and a basic DVD can hold 4.7 GB of data, a single Blu-ray disc can hold up to 25 GB of data. Even a double sided, dual layer DVD (which are not common) can only hold 17 GB of data. Dual-layer Blu-ray discs will be able to store 50 GB of data. That is equivalent to 4 hours of HDTV.

Blu-ray discs can hold more information than other optical media because of the blue lasers the drives use. The laser is actually blue-violet, but "Blu-ray" rolls off the tounge a little easier than "Blu-violet-ray." The blue-violet laser has a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used for CDs and DVDs (405nm compared to 650nm). This allows the laser to focus on a smaller area, which makes it possible to cram significantly more data on a disc the same size as a CD or DVD. Proponents of the Blu-ray format say they expect Blu-ray devices to replace VCRs (thank goodness) and DVD recorders as more people make the transition to HDTV. For the latest Blu-ray news, check out Blu-ray.com.

Bluetooth

This wireless technology enables communication between Bluetooth-compatible devices. It is used for short-range connections between desktop and laptop computers, PDAs (like the Palm Pilot or Handspring Visor), digital cameras, scanners, cellular phones, and printers.

Infrared once served the same purpose as Bluetooth, but it had a number of drawbacks. For example, if there was an object placed between the two communicating devices, the transmission would be interrupted. (You may have noticed this limitation when using a television remote control). Also, the Infrared-based communication was slow and devices were often incompatible with each other.

Bluetooth takes care of all these limitations. Because the technology is based on radio waves, there can be objects or even walls placed between the communicating devices and the connection won't be disrupted. Also, Bluetooth uses a standard 2.4 GHz frequency so that all Bluetooth-enabled devices will be compatible with each other. The only drawback of Bluetooth is that, because of its high frequency, its range is limited to 30 feet. While this is easily enough for transferring data within the same room, if you are walking in your back yard and want to transfer the address book from your cell phone to your computer in your basement, you might be out of luck. However, the short range can be seen as a positive aspect as well, since it adds to the security of Bluetooth communication.

BMP

Short for "Bitmap." It can be pronounced as "bump," "B-M-P," or simply a "bitmap image." The BMP format is a commonly used raster graphic format for saving image files. It was introduced on the Windows platform, but is now recognized by many programs on both Macs and PCs.

The BMP format stores color data for each pixel in the image without any compression. For example, a 10x10 pixel BMP image will include color data for 100 pixels. This method of storing image information allows for crisp, high-quality graphics, but also produces large file sizes. The JPEG and GIF formats are also bitmaps, but use image compression algorithms that can significantly decrease their file size. For this reason, JPEG and GIF images are used on the Web, while BMP images are often used for printable images.

Bookmark

Similar to a real-life bookmark, an Internet bookmark acts as a marker for a Web site. (In Internet Explorer, they're called "Favorites".) When using a Web browser, you can simply select a bookmark from the browser's Bookmarks menu to go to a certain site. This way, you don't have to go through the redundant process of typing in the Internet address each time you visit one of your favorite sites. Also, who remembers those 200-character addresses anyway?

In most browsers, to create a bookmark, you simply choose "Add Bookmark" from the Bookmarks menu when you're at a page that you'd like to bookmark. Woah, four "bookmarks" in one sentence. That's what happens with words that serve as both nouns and verb.

Boolean

This is the logic that computers use to determine if a statement is true or false. There are 4 main boolean operators: AND, NOT, OR, and XOR. Below are some examples of how the 4 operators work:

x AND y returns True if both x and y are true, otherwise the expression returns False.

NOT x returns True if x is false (or null) and False if x is true.

x OR y returns True if either x or y or both are true; only if they are both false will it return False.

x XOR y returns True if either x or y are true, but not both. If x and y are both true or false, the statement will return False.

While boolean expressions are what drive the CPUs in computers, they can also be used by computer users. For example, when searching for information on the Web, many search engines accept boolean operators in the search phrases (i.e. "Yamaha AND piano NOT motorcycle"). Programmers often use boolean expressions in software development to control loops and variables as well.

Boot

When you boot a football, you kick it really far. When you boot a computer, you simply turn it on. Kicking your computer really far is not recommended, though you may be tempted to do so at times. The term "boot" comes from the word "bootstraps," which people at one time used to get their boots on. Likewise, "booting" a computer gets it up and running.

In simple terms, to boot a computer is to turn it on. Once the computer's power is turned on, the "boot process" takes place. This process involves loading the startup instructions from the computer's ROM, followed by loading the operating system from the current boot disk. The boot disk is usually an internal hard drive, but can also be an external drive, a CD or DVD-ROM, or even a floppy disk. Once the operating system software is loaded, the boot process is complete and the computer is ready to be used.

Boot Disk

A boot disk is actually not a computer disk in the shape of a boot. If it was, most disk drives would have a difficult time reading it. Instead, a boot disk is a disk that a computer can start up or "boot" from. The most common type of boot disk is an internal hard drive, which most computers use to start up from. The operating system installed on the hard drive is loaded during the boot process.

However, most computers allow you to boot from other disks, including external Firewire hard drives, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and floppy disks. In order to function as boot disks, these disks need to have an operating system installed that is understandable by the computer. This can either be a full-blown operating system like Windows or Mac OS X, or a small utility operating system, such as Norton Utilities or DiskWarrior.

CD and DVD boot disks are often used to start up a computer when the operating system on the internal hard drive won't load. This can happen when bad data blocks or other errors occur on the disk. By running a disk repair utility from the CD or DVD, you can often fix the hard drive and restart from it, using the full operating system.

Boot Sector

A boot sector is the first section of a hard drive or other data storage media. It contains the master boot record (MBR) which is accessed by the computer during the boot sequence. The boot sector may also include a partition map, which defines each disk partition.

Boot Sequence

Each time a computer boots up, it goes through an initial series of processes. This sequence of events is aptly named a "boot sequence." During the boot sequence, the computer activates the necessary hardware components and loads the appropriate software so that a user can interact with the machine.

The boot sequence starts by accessing the the computer's BIOS on Windows PCs or the system ROM on a Macintosh. The BIOS and ROM contain basic instructions that tell the computer how to boot up. These instructions are then passed to the computer's CPU, which begins loading information into the system RAM. Once a valid boot disk or startup disk is found, the computer begins loading the operating system into the system memory. After the operating system finishes loading, the computer is ready to be used.

The boot sequence can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the computer's configuration. If the system is booting from a CD or DVD, the boot time may be significantly longer than if the computer is booted from a hard drive. Also, if your computer was turned off unexpectedly, the boot time might increase since the system may perform some additional checks to make sure everything is OK.

Bot

This is an automated software program that can execute certain commands when it receives a specific input (like a ro-"bot"). Bots are most often seen at work in the Internet-related areas of online chat and Web searching. The online chat bots do things like greet people when they enter a chat room, advertise Web sites, and kick people out of chat rooms when they violate the chat room rules. Web searching bots, also known as spiders and crawlers, search the Web and retrieve millions of HTML documents, then record the information and links found on the pages. From there, they generate electronic catalogs of the sites that have been "spidered." These catalogs make up the index of sites that are used for search engine results.

Botnet

A botnet is a network of computers that are controlled from a single source. While some botnets are used for legitimate cluster computing purposes, most botnets are created for malicious activity. Some examples include sending spam messages, spreading viruses, and attacking Internet servers.

Hackers create botnets by compromising the security of several computers and installing bots, or automated programs, on each system. This is often accomplished by exploiting a security hole in the operating system or a software program. Most users don't even realize their computers have been compromised since the botnet activity is typically hidden from the user. Therefore, it is smart to make sure your system firewall is turned on and to install antivirus software, which checks your computer for unusual activity on a regular basis.

Bounce

The term "bounce" has several different IT related meanings, yet none of them include bouncy balls. The most common definition of bounce used in the computer world refers to e-mail messages.

1. Returning E-mail
When you send an e-mail message to another person, the mail server processes the message and delivers it to the appropriate user's mailbox. For example, if you send a message to "mrman@mail.com," the mail.com server looks for a user named "mrman" to deliver the message to. If the user does not exist, the mail server may bounce the message back to the sender, saying "Sorry, that user does not exist." These messages often come from "Mail Delivery Subsystem" and have a subject line that reads "Returned mail: see transcript for details."

If you receive a bounced message, you may want to check the e-mail address you sent the message to and make sure it was typed correctly. If the address is correct, it may help to read the body of the bounced message for more details. The transcript may say something like "User quota over limit," which means the recipient has reached his or her e-mail quota and must delete some messages and/or attachments in order to receive new mail. If this is the case, you may want to call the person or use an alternative e-mail address to let the person know he or she has some Inbox maintenance to do.

2. Restarting a Computer
The term "bounce" can also describe the process of rebooting or restarting a computer. For example, a workstation may need to be bounced after installing new software. Similarly, a Web server may be bounced if websites hosted on the server are not responding correctly.

3. Exporting Audio
"Bounce" can also describe the process of exporting several tracks in an audio mix to one mono track or two stereo tracks. This helps consolidate audio tracks after they have been mixed. Bouncing audio tracks limits the need for processing power since the computer only has to process one track instead of all the tracks individually. Digital Performer is the primary audio software program that uses bouncing to export audio.

4. Hiding a Network Connection
Finally, "bouncing" can also be used in networking to describe a method of hiding the source of a user's network connection. This type of bouncing is often abbreviated "BNC." Someone who bounces his network connection is called a "bouncer," though this is not the same person who checks your ID at the bar.

bps

Stands for "Bits Per Second." (The "b" is lowercase because it stands for bits, not bytes.) Bits per second is the standard way of measuring how fast data moves across a network or phone system. For example, a 56K modem can hypothetically transfer data at 56,700 bits per second.

Bridge

When a road needs to extend across a river or valley, a bridge is built to connect the two land masses. Since the average car cannot swim or fly, the bridge makes it possible for automobiles to continue driving from one land mass to another.

In computer networking, a bridge serves the same purpose. It connects two or more local area networks (LANs) together. The cars, or the data in this case, use the bridge to travel to and from different areas of the network. The device is similar to a router, but it does not analyze the data being forwarded. Because of this, bridges are typically fast at transferring data, but not as versatile as a router. For example, a bridge cannot be used as a firewall like most routers can. A bridge can transfer data between different protocols (i.e. a Token Ring and Ethernet network) and operates at the "data link layer" or level 2 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) networking reference model.

Broadband

This refers to high-speed data transmission in which a single cable can carry a large amount of data at once. The most common types of Internet broadband connections are cable modems (which use the same connection as cable TV) and DSL modems (which use your existing phone line). Because of its multiple channel capacity, broadband has started to replace baseband, the single-channel technology originally used in most computer networks. So now when you see companies like AT&T and SBC pushing those fancy "broadband" ads in your face, you'll at least know what they are talking about.

Browser

You are probably using a browser to read this right now. A Web browser, often just called a "browser," is the program people use to access the World Wide Web. It interprets HTML code including text, images, hypertext links, Javascript, and Java applets. After rendering the HTML code, the browser displays a nicely formatted page. Some common browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator, and Apple Safari.

Buffer

A buffer contains data that is stored for a short amount of time, typically in the computer's memory (RAM). The purpose of a buffer is to hold data right before it is used. For example, when you download an audio or video file from the Internet, it may load the first 20% of it into a buffer and then begin to play. While the clip plays back, the computer continually downloads the rest of the clip and stores it in the buffer. Because the clip is being played from the buffer, not directly from the Internet, there is less of a chance that the audio or video will stall or skip when there is network congestion.

Buffering is used to improve several other areas of computer performance as well. Most hard disks use a buffer to enable more efficient access to the data on the disk. Video cards send images to a buffer before they are displayed on the screen (known as a screen buffer). Computer programs use buffers to store data while they are running. If it were not for buffers, computers would run a lot less efficiently and we would be waiting around a lot more.

Bug

In the computer world, a bug is an error in a software program. It may cause a program to unexpectedly quit or behave in an unintended manner. For example, a small bug may cause a button within a program's interface not to respond when you click it. A more serious bug may cause the program to hang or crash due to an infinite calculation or memory leak.

From a developer perspective, bugs can be syntax or logic errors within the source code of a program. These errors can often be fixed using a development tool aptly named a debugger. However, if errors are not caught before the program is compiled into the final application, the bugs will be noticed by the user.

Because bugs can negatively affect the usability of a program, most programs typically go through a lot of testing before they are released to the public. For example, commercial software often goes through a beta phase, where multiple users thoroughly test all aspects of the program to make sure it functions correctly. Once the program is determined to be stable and free from errors, it is released the public.

Of course, as we all know, most programs are not completely error-free, even after they have been thoroughly tested. For this reason, software developers often release "point updates," (e.g. version 1.0.1), which include bug fixes for errors that were found after the software was released. Programs that are especially "buggy" may require multiple point updates (1.0.2, 1.0.3, etc.) to get rid of all the bugs.

Burn

When you "burn a disc," you write data on it. If you were taking an SAT test, the analogy would look something like this:

Hard Disk : Write ::
CD/DVD : Burn

The reason the term "burn" is used is because the CD-writer, or burner, literally burns the data onto a writable CD. The laser in a CD-writer can be cranked up to a more powerful level than an ordinary CD-ROM laser. This enables it to engrave thousands of 1's and 0's onto a CD.

So that is why people talk about "burning" songs or files to CDs. They could just say they are "writing" the data to a CD, and it would make sense, but people seem to think "burning" sounds cooler.

Bus

While the wheels on the bus may go "round and round," data on a computer's bus goes up and down. Each bus inside a computer consists of set of wires that allow data to be passed back and forth. Most computers have several buses that transmit data to different parts of the machine. Each bus has a certain size, measured in bits (such as 32-bit or 64-bit), that determines how much data can travel across the bus at one time. Buses also have a certain speed, measured in megahertz, which determines how fast the data can travel.

The computer's primary bus is called the frontside bus and connects the CPU to the rest of the components on the motherboard. Expansion buses, such as PCI and AGP, allow data to move to and from expansion cards, including video cards and other I/O devices. While there are several buses inside a computer, the speed of the frontside bus is the most important, as it determines how fast data can move in and out of the processor.

Byte

A byte is a set of 8 bits that represent a single character in the computer's memory. Do not confuse this term with "bite," as in taking a bite of a cookie, because that is totally different. While bits are often used to measure data transfer speeds, bytes are used to measure file sizes, hard disk space, and computer memory. Larger amounts of data are measured in units such as megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. For example, one kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes.

SNC Location Map
Our Address:
16913 Amy Drive
Sonora, CA 95370
Mailing Address:
PO Box 281
Standard, CA 95373
Hours of Operation:
Mon. to Fri. 8am to 5:00pm

Tuolumne County Service Area: Cable TV, high speed internet, and VoIP telephone service areas include the Hwy 108 communities of Sonora, Columbia, Jamestown, Soulsbyville, Twain Harte, Strawberry, Longbarn, Cold Springs and Pinecrest, and the Hwy 120 communities of Big Oak Flat, Groveland, and Pine Mountain Lake. Not all services available everywhere

Customer Service

Sonora:
209-588-9601

Groveland:
209-962-6373

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