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ADN (Advanced Digital Network) -- Usually refers to a 56Kbps leased-line.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) -- A method for moving data over regular phone lines. An ADSL 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. An ADSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.

A commonly discussed configuration of ADSL would allow a subscriber to receive data (download) at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and to send (upload) data at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. Thus the │Asymmetric▓ part of the acronym.

Another commonly discussed configuration would be 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.

ADSL is often discussed as an alternative to ISDN, allowing higher speeds in cases where the connection is always to the same place.

See Also: bit , bps , ISDN

Anonymous FTP

See: FTP

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.

See Also: HTML , Java

Archie A tool (software) 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 60╣s and early 70╣s by the US Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking that would survive a nuclear war.

See Also: Internet

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.

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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.

See Also: Network

Bandwidth 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.

See Also: 56k Line , Bps , Bit , T-1

Baud 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).

See Also: Bit , Modem

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 (millions?) of BBS╣s around the world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.

Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal) -- A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet e-mail can only handle ASCII.


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.

See Also: Bandwidth , Bps , Byte , Kilobyte , Megabyte

BITNET (Because It╣s Time NETwork (or Because It╣s There NETwork)) -- A network of educational sites separate from the Internet, but e-mail is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs, the most popular form of e-mail discussion groups, originated on BITNET. BITNET machines are usually mainframes running the VMS operating system, and the network is probably the only international network that is shrinking.

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.

See Also: Bandwidth , Bit

Browser A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources.

See Also: Client , URL , WWW , Netscape , Mosaic , Home Page (or Homepage)

BTW (By The Way) -- A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum.

See Also: IMHO , TTFN

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.

See Also: Bit

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Certificate Authority An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.

See Also: Security Certificate , SSL

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.

See Also: cgi-bin , Web

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 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.

See Also: CGI

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.

See Also: Browser , Server

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 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.

See Also: Browser , Server

Cyberpunk Cyberpunk was originally a cultural sub-genre of science fiction taking place in a not-so-distant, dystopian, over-industrialized society. The term grew out of the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and has evolved into a cultural label encompassing many different kinds of human, machine, and punk attitudes. It includes clothing and lifestyle choices as well.

See Also: Cyberspace

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.

Client/server--Computer technology that separates computers and their users into two categories: clients or servers. When you want information from a computer on the Internet, you are a client. The computer that delivers the information is the server. A server both stores information and makes it available to any authorized client who requests the information. You may hear this one frequently, especially if someone says, "You can't contact us today because our Web server is down."

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The digital version of literati, it is a reference to a vague cloud of people seen to be knowledgeable, hip, or otherwise in-the-know in regards to the digital revolution.

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 ( 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.

See Also: IP Number

dial-in--An Internet account that can connect any stand-alone PC directly to the Internet. The account is used by having a PC-based (most often, Windows-based) software application dial-in to an Internet service provider (ISP). The software connects with the ISP and establishes a TCP/IP link to the Internet that enables your software to access Internet information. The PC that accesses a dial-in connection needs either a modem to connect via a regular phone line or a terminal adapter (TA) to connect via an ISDN phone line.


E-mail (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). can carry with it files of any type as attachments.

See Also: Listserv , Maillist

Ethernet 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.

See Also: Bandwidth , LAN


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FAQ (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.

FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) -- A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3).

See Also: Bandwidth , Ethernet , T-1 , T-3

Finger An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.

Fire Wall A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes.

See Also: Network , LAN

Flame Originally, flame meant to carry forth in a passionate manner in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude.

See Also: Flame War

Flame War When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks against the debators, rather than discussion of their positions. A heated exchange.

See Also: Flame

FTP (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.

FAQs--(Frequently Asked Questions) Files that commonly are maintained at Internet sites to answer frequently asked questions so that experienced users don't have to bear the annoying burden of hearing newbies repeatedly ask the same questions. It's good netiquette to check for FAQs and read them. It's extremely poor netiquette--and a good way to get flamed--to post questions that already are answered in the FAQ.

Finger--An Internet function that enables one user to query (finger) the location of another Internet user. Finger can be applied to any computer on the Internet, if set up properly. For example, the most famous finger site of all was a Coke machine at Carnegie-Mellon that students wired to the Internet so they could finger it and track such important information as how many bottles of which beverage remained and how long the bottom bottle in each stack had been in the machine--so they wouldn't walk all the way to the machine and find it empty or purchase a warm soda. You won't use this, but it was fun while it lasted. Most sites on which you could use Finger are shutting it down because it helps hackers crack a system.

firewall--A combination of hardware and software that protects a local area network (LAN) from Internet hackers. It separates the network into two or more parts and restricts outsiders to the area "outside" the firewall. Private or sensitive information is kept "inside" the firewall.

flames--Insulting, enraged Internet messages. The equivalent of schoolyard brawls in cyberspace. Unfortunately, a good schoolyard brawl would be preferable because at least then the only people who suffer are the dummies who fight. On the Internet, everyone suffers as resources are squandered on ridiculous, infantile behavior. As a representative of a business organization, you won't be using flames, of course.

FQDN--(Fully Qualified Domain Name) The "official" name assigned to a computer. Organizations register names, such as "" or "" They then assign unique names to their computers, such as "" or ""

FTP--(File Transfer Protocol) The basic Internet function that enables files to be transferred between computers. You can use it to download files from a remote, host computer, as well as to upload files from your computer to a remote, host computer. (See Anonymous FTP).


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Gateway 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.

Gigabyte 1000 Megabytes

See Also: Byte , Gigabyte

Gopher A widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.

See Also: Client , Server , WWW , Hypertext

gateway--A host computer that connects networks that communicate in different languages. For example, a gateway connects a company's local area network to the Internet.

GIF--(Graphics Interchange Format) A graphics file format that is commonly used on the Internet to provide graphics images in Web pages.

Gopher--A searching tool that was the primary tool for finding Internet resources before the World Wide Web became popular. Gopher now is buried under mountains of WWW pages--don't bother learning how to use this directly. You sometimes will find a Web link that takes you to a Gopher site, but at that point, if you're using Netscape, its usage will be obvious and actually will look a great deal like the Web.

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hit 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.▓

See Also: Browser , Web

Host 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.

See Also: Node , Network

HTML (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.

See Also: Client , Server , WWW

HTTP (HyperText Transport 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).

See Also: Client , Server , WWW

Hypertext 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.

host--A computer that "hosts" outside computer users by providing files, services or sharing its resources.

HTML--(Hypertext Markup Language) The basic language that is used to build hypertext documents on the World Wide Web. It is used in basic, plain ASCII-text documents, but when those documents are interpreted (called rendering) by a Web browser such as Netscape, the document can display formatted text, color, a variety of fonts, graphic images, special effects, hypertext jumps to other Internet locations and information forms.

HTTP--(Hypertext Transfer Protocol) The protocol (rules) computers use to transfer hypertext documents.

hypertext--Text in a document that contains a hidden link to other text. You can click a mouse on a hypertext word and it will take you to the text designated in the link. Hypertext is used in Windows help programs and CD encyclopedias to jump to related references elsewhere within the same document. The wonderful thing about hypertext, however, is its ability to link--using http over the World Wide Web--to any Web document in the world, yet still require only a single mouse click to jump clear around the world.

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IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) -- A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion. One of may such shorthands in common use online, especially in discussion forums.

See Also: TTFN , BTW

Internet (Upper case I) The vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60╣s and early 70╣s. The Internet now (July 1995) connects roughly 60,000 independent networks into a vast global internet.

See Also: internet

internet (Lower case i) Any time you connect 2 or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.

See Also: Internet , Network

Intranet A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use.

As the Internet has become more popular many of the tools used on the Internet are being used in private networks, for example, many companies have web servers that are available only to employees.

Note that an Intranet may not actually be an internet -- it may simply be a network.

See Also: internet , Internet , Network

IP 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.

See Also: Domain Name , Internet

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) -- Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls.

ISDN (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.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) -- An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.

See Also: Internet

IP--(Internet Protocol) The rules that provide basic Internet functions. (See TCP/IP).

IP Number--An Internet address that is a unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, sometimes called a "dotted quad." (For example: Every Internet computer has an IP number and most computers also have one or more Domain Names that are plain language substitutes for the dotted quad.

IRC--(Internet Relay Chat) Currently an Internet tool with a limited use that lets users join a "chat" channel and exchange typed, text messages. Few people have used IRC, but it is going to create a revolution in communication when the Internet can provide the bandwidth to carry full-color, live-action video and audio. Once that occurs, the IRC will provide full video-conferencing. Even today, while limited for all practical purposes only to text, the IRC can be a valuable business conferencing tool, already providing adequate voice communication.

ISDN--(Integrated Services Digital Network) A set of communications standards that enable a single phone line or optical cable to carry voice, digital network services and video. ISDN is intended to eventually replace our standard telephone system.

ISOC-- (Internet Society) Based in Herndon, Virginia, the Internet Society promotes the Internet and coordinates standards. You can visit their Web site to learn more or to become a member.

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Java 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.

See Also: Applet

JDK (Java Development Kit) -- A software development package from Sun Microsystems that implements the basic set of tools needed to write, test and debug Java applications and applets

JPEG--(Joint Photographic Experts Group) The name of the committee that designed the photographic image-compression standard. JPEG is optimized for compressing full-color or gray-scale photographic-type, digital images. It doesn't work well on drawn images such as line drawings, and it does not handle black-and-white images or video images.

See Also: Applet , Java


Kilobyte A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.

See Also: Byte , Bit

kbps--(kilobits per second) A speed rating for computer modems that measures (in units of 1,024 bits) the maximum number of bits the device can transfer in one second under ideal conditions.

kBps--(kilobytes per second). Remember, one byte is eight bits.

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LAN (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

See Also: Ethernet

Leased-line Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7 -days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

See Also: 56k Line , T-1 , T-3

Listserv The most common kind of maillist, Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.

See Also: BITNET , E-mail , Maillist

Login 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.

See Also: Password

leased line--A leased phone line that provides a full-time, dedicated, direct connection to the Internet.

listserv--An Internet application that automatically "serves" mailing lists by sending electronic newsletters to a stored database of Internet user addresses. Users can handle their own subscribe/unsubscribe actions without requiring anyone at the server location to personally handle the transaction.

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Maillist (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.

Megabyte A million bytes. A thousand kilobytes.

See Also: Byte , Bit , Kilobyte


MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) -- The standard for attaching non-text files to standard Internet mail messages. Non-text files include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc.

An email program is said to be MIME Compliant if it can both send and receive files using the MIME standard.

When non-text files are sent using the MIME standard they are converted (encoded) into text - although the resulting text is not really readable.

Generally speaking the MIME standard is a way of specifying both the type of file being sent (e.g. a Quicktimeü video file), and the method that should be used to turn it back into its original form.

Besides email software, the MIME standard is also universally used by Web Servers to identify the files they are sending to Web Clients, in this way new file formats can be accommodated simply by updating the Browsers╣ list of pairs of MIME-Types and appropriate software for handling each type.

See Also: Browser , Client , Server , Binhex , UUENCODE

Mirror Generally speaking, │to mirror▓ is to maintain an exact copy of something. Probably the most common use of the term on the Internet refers to │mirror sites▓ which are web sites, or FTP sites that maintain exact copies of material originated at another location, usually in order to provide more widespread access to the resource.

Another common use of the term │mirror▓ refers to an arrangement where information is written to more than one hard disk simultaneously, so that if one disk fails, the computer keeps on working without losing anything.

See Also: FTP , Web

Modem (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.

MOO (Mud, Object Oriented) -- One of several kinds of multi-user role-playing environments, so far only text-based.

See Also: MUD , MUSE

Mosaic The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX all with the same interface. Mosaic really started the popularity of the Web. The source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic, most notably, Netscape.

See Also: Browser , Client , WWW

MUD (Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension) -- A (usually text-based) multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others are used for serious software development, or education purposes and all that lies in between. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact with in their absence, thus allowing a world to be built gradually and collectively.

See Also: MOO , MUSE

MUSE (Multi-User Simulated Environment) -- One kind of MUD - usually with little or no violence.

See Also: MOO , MUD

mailing list--An e-mail based discussion group. Sending one e-mail message to the mailing list's list server sends mail to all other members of the group. Users join a mailing list by subscribing. Subscribers to a mailing list receive messages from all other members. Users have to unsubscribe from a mailing list to stop receiving messages forwarded from the group's members.

MIME--(Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) A set of Internet functions that extends normal e-mail capabilities and enables computer files to be attached to e-mail. Files sent by MIME arrive at their destination as exact copies of the original so that you can send fully-formatted word processing files, spreadsheets, graphics images and software applications to other users via simple e-mail.

modem--An electronic device that lets computer communicate electronically. The name is derived from "modulator-demodulator" because of their function in processing data over analog phone lines. These days, some people have begun to confuse them with Terminal Adapters.

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