Computer Basics (Continued)



Meg-- refers to the amount of memory or space, when used to describe data storage. 1 MB is equal to 1,048,576 bytes. Megabyte is frequently abbreviated as M or MB. (One Gig or gigabyte is equal to 1,024 megabytes. Gigabyte is often abbreviated as G or GB.)

Modem-- is a device that plugs into a standard telephone jack and allows a computer to transmit and receive information over commercial telephone lines. There are also different kinds of modems that use other delivery systems instead of a phone line, like cable modems. Another type of device is a NIC or Network Interface Card, which is used for networks like LANs and WANs.

Monitor-- the screen on which you see your work, whether in color, grayscale, or black-and-white. Color monitors can show from 16 to over a million different colors. The other important setting in monitors is the resolution. The resolution of a monitor indicates how densely packed the pixels (colored dots that make up an image) are. In general, the more pixels, the sharper the image will be. Most modern monitors can display 1024 by 768 pixels. Some high-end models can display 1280 by 1024, or even 1600 by 1200. Color and resolution can be changed on a computer. Changing factory settings may seriously impact how small icons and other things look on your desktop. Make sure you know what you are doing before you change these settings.

Mouse-- a small tool that duplicates the movements of your hand on the computer's screen, allowing you to rearrange items, perform actions, select things, etc.

MP3-- this stands for "MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3" and is a digital, compressed music file (these files always end with a .mp3). MP3 files are often downloaded or exchanged between people online. To hear these files you must use a player. Most newer Windows operating systems come with an MP3 player pre-installed, otherwise there are free players available online for download. There was some controversy in the music industry over downloading copyrighted music and companies such as Napster who once provided free downloads, now often require a fee to download music, unless otherwise expressed.

Network-- a group of computers spread out over a large area that are connected with each other, whether by telephone lines, fiber-optic cables or some other linkage. Once connected, computers on a network can share files, send large amounts of information very quickly, and enable multiple users to communicate at the same time. These are usually further defined as a LAN or a WAN. LAN stands for a Local Area Network (LAN) and WAN for a Wide Area Network (WAN). WANs are usually created for large geographical areas and typically consist of two or more LANs.

NIC-- an abbreviation for Network Interface Card, this is a card inserted into your computer or laptop that allows it to communicate with a network, usually a LAN or a WAN. A type of NIC that is specifically made for LAN's is called an Ethernet card and it comes in several different connection speeds. A NIC is connected to a special network outlet with a cord that looks like a little bit like a fat phone cord. (This cord is called a CAT5 or category 5 cable).

Operating System or Platform-- these terms refer to the operating software your computer uses (otherwise known as your OS), not to the manufacturer. Windows 2000, Windows XP, and OSX (Mac) are common platforms.

NEXT (Glossary)



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