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COMMON TERMS

   

Apache - A product of the Apache Software Foundation. One of many available web servers which runs on UNIX and Windows NT servers. At present, Apache is  the most popular Web server platform for UNIX servers.

ASP - Active Server Pages - A proprietary scripting/programming language developed by Microsoft and found almost exclusively on IIS Web servers (with some commercial knock-offs available for other platforms). ASP allows Website developers to include programming code within the HTML documents, typically with a file extension of *.asp, to be executed by the Web server anytime the document is requested. ASP is somewhat similar to Visual BASIC programming. Since the program is actually part of the HTML document, there are some similarities between scripting languages like ASP, SSI, PHP and JavaScript.

C/C++ - A commonly used programming language for developing server-based website applications (see CGI). C/C++ is typically used in instances where maximum speed and/or memory efficiency is a must such as especially complex programs or for servers that must handle many thousands or millions of hits each day.  This language is often chosen in instances where Perl, PHP,  JAVA or JavaScript can not do the job adequately.

CGI - Common Gateway Interface - A standardized method for passing information from the user to the web server and then to a special application. Afterwards, this information can be used to generate and return a new customized web page to the user. Often used to create dynamic web pages. Also see "SSI".

CSS - Cascading Style Sheets - Cascading Style Sheets represent a relatively recent attempt towards a standard that will allow for more uniform display of a Web page independent of a visitor's [graphical] Web browser. This approach offers some hope that it will one day be possible to create Web pages which have identical (or nearly identical) layouts and styles across various Web browsers and allows for much finer control of fonts, character and line spacing, paragraph and image positioning, etc., than is possible with HTML alone. However, at this time CSS does have drawbacks in that the CSS information will be ignored by browsers which do not support CSS, the additional information that must be encoded in HTML documents for CSS to work makes the document significantly larger, and, ironically, this proposed standard threatens to destroy the very thing that made the Web popular -- that is that any browser, even text-only browsers, presented with a well-designed website should be able to display a standard HTML document regardless in a meaningful manner, something which will be lost if CSS becomes common place as CSS defines a page entirely in a graphical, rather than textual, sense -- at a time when text-only browsers are beginning to regain popularity in such applications as cellular phones and Personal Digital Assistants (e.g. 3Com's Palm™ family).

Dialup Service - or Dialup Access - A company, individual, or organization which provides access to the Internet which you can connect to via a modem and a computer with appropriate Internet software. Over the years this term has also been applied to dedicated connections, cable modems, and xDSL services by some, although such use of the phrase is a corruption of the term -- the phrase "dialup" is intended to mean a phone number must be dialed to connect to the service.

DNS - Domain Name Server - An Internet server responsible for converting textual domain names into their equivalent numeric IP address. (e.g. www.interact2day.com is converted to 209.144.184.169)

Domain - The last two parts of a "dotted" Internet address. (e.g. interact2day.com is the domain for www.interact2day.com). Often considered somewhat prestigious and a sign of greater permanence than a non-domain URL. All domains must be registered with an authorized registrar of domain names (e.g. Network Solutions [aka "Internic"], Dotster, et. al.).

Dynamic - Something which changes. (e.g. a web document that is generated on-the-fly based upon information provided by the user)

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions - pronounced "fack" - A helpful list of "Questions & Answers" to frequently asked questions. These are often an essential resource on the Internet. You are reading a FAQ right now.

FreeBSD - One of many flavors of UNIX. FreeBSD is less popular than Linux and is typically used by some small businesses and as a platform for Web servers. (See www.freebsd.org)

FTP - File Transfer Protocol - An Internet standard which permits users to upload files to an FTP server and download files from an FTP server. FTP itself is a command line driven interface; however, many GUI (graphical) interfaces are available which make FTP much easier to use by both the novice and professional.

GUI - Graphical User Interface - pronounced: "gooey" - Any application (or operating system) which is controlled by a graphical screen rather than a text-based command line (like old-fashioned DOS or UNIX). Windows™, X-Windows and the Macintosh family are examples of operating systems and applications with GUI interfaces.

HTML - Hyper-Text Mark-up Language - The method used to encode formatting information for Web Pages. This document is encoded in HTML to provide bold, italicized, underlined text, index various definitions, format paragraphs, and provide links to both internal (moving around within this document) and external (to take you to other documents) Web resources.

IIS - Internet Information Server - A Microsoft product. One of many available web servers which runs on Windows NT™ and Windows 2000™. At present, IIS is the most popular Web server platform for Windows NT platforms. IIS contains a number of other Internet server related applications including FTP.

Internet Presence - An "Internet Presence" typically refers to the combination of a website, DNS service if a domain name is used, and email service. Internet dialup access may or may not be provided by the company -- those which provide Internet service are typically referred to as ISPs and those which focus on Web-hosting service are often referred to as WPPs.

Internet Presence Provider - A company or organization which provides its clients with an Internet Presence (see Internet Presence).

Internet Service Provider - A company or organization which provides its clients with dialup access or dedicated (i.e. 24/7 connection) connections [such as ADSL, SDSL, T1, T3, OC3, OC12, etc.] to the Internet.

IP Address - A unique numerical address which identifies a specific host (e.g. server) or client (e.g. your machine). The standards currently in effect call for a 4-octet (equivalent to four bytes) identifier which consists of four dotted values each of which range from 0 to 255. An example would be "100.222.3.72".  A new standard known as "ipv6" has been proposed and would increase this address to 16 octets (i.e. 16 bytes) to help alleviate the growing shortage in 4-octet addresses.  This change will increase the total address pool by about 3.4028x1038 (yes, that really is 38 zeros!) -- 4.29-billion cubed -- times it's current size of 4,294,967,296 individual addresses!

IPP - Internet Presence Provider - See Internet Presence Provider.

ISP - Internet Service Provider - See Internet Service Provider.

Java - pronounced: "jahvah" - Java™ is a platform-independent programming language most often encountered as JavaScript or a Java Applet. Java has gained popularity over the years largely because it is one of the few platform independent methods currently available to Web developers for executing simple applications on a visitor's Web browser rather than on the Web server. Interestingly, Java's strength is also its weakness. Because Java is run by a visiting client's Web browser, the ability to execute the application is entirely dependent the visitor's Web browser. While more and more Web browsers have been incorporating support for Java into their capabilities, Java is still far from universally available and many browsers still do not, and some likely never will, support Java. To complicate issues further, there are two common flavors of Java: JavaScript and Java Applets. Java was developed and is licensed to developers by Sun Microsystems (Sun: www.sun.com Java: java.sun.com).

Java Applets - Java™ code which is precompiled and downloaded by the visitor's Web browser for execution as an independent program. This method is used primarily in instances where a program is too large to be reasonably included in the HTML code or where the author wishes not to make their Java source code visible to others. There are a number of security mechanisms built into modern browsers which work to insure the integrity and security of the visitor's Web browser and computer and prevent malicious code from being executed.

Java Servlets - This is a lesser common, but gaining in popularity, form of Java™ very similar to Java Applets except that Java Servlets are run on the server rather than the client side.  Java Servlets are often used in the same instances CGI scripts would.

JavaScript - Java™ source code which has been embedded in a document's HTML code for compiling and execution by the visitor's (client's) Web browser. There are a number of security mechanisms built into modern browsers which work to insure the integrity and security of the visitor's Web browser and computer and prevent malicious code from being executed.

Linux - pronounced: "lie-nuhks" or "lih-niks" - One of many flavors of UNIX. Linux is very popular among home power users and in some small businesses. It is also a very popular platform for many Web servers. There are many different flavors of Linux to choose from (See www.linux.org).

NT - See Windows NT.

Perl - pronounced: "pearl" - A commonly used programming language for developing server-based website applications (see CGI). Perl is often the language of choice for CGI development where the developer's time and/or the project timeline is more critical than server's processor and memory resources. Most Perl applications are more than fast enough to handle hundreds of thousands of hits each day on a modern server.

PGP - Pretty Good Privacy - PGP is a widely used public-key encryption method. With PGP anyone wishing to send a protected  email, document, file, etc., encrypts it with your known public encryption key. However, only the protected private key (typically known only by yourself) can decrypt the message. This approach allows you to publicly post your public key for use by anyone without compromising the security of your communications since only the private key can easily decrypt the communication.

Request For Comment - Requests for Comment (RFCs) are the standards documents of the Internet. Nearly every public standard and even many proprietary standards can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection to insure that the software one develops complies with the proper Internet standards. Not every RFC is a standard, nor is every standard an RFC. RFCs also include proposed, but never adopted, standards. Some standards have never made it to the RFC stage and still exist as "Drafts" with the intent that they will one day be submitted for consideration as an RFC. (See www.faqs.org)

RFC - Request For Comment - See Request For Comment.

Router - A specialized computer whose job it is to relay packets between other nearby routers so as to facilitate the end-to-end transmission of IP [Internet Protocol] packets [data]. Routers employ various strategies to learn and maintain lookup tables of optimal paths to move data between points efficiently. If the usual path should fail, a router will attempt to query other nearby routers for a new path to circumvent the downed path. Without routers, the Internet as we know it could not exist.

Spam - The email and Usenet equivalent of junk mail. Unfortunately, whereas normal "snail" mail (what you receive from the US Postal Service) is paid for by the addressee, junk emails are essentially free to the addressee and postage-due (in terms of download time and any connection fees) for the unfortunate receiver. Because this method is so inexpensive for the sender, individuals engaged in spamming frequently send out tens-of-millions of email messages at a time. This surge of email can quickly overload mail servers and congest portions of the Internet leaving one or both disabled for the legitimate, often paying, customers. This practice is very strongly frowned upon by the Internet community. Interact2Day strictly forbids its clients from spamming others for these, and other, reasons.  As a demonstration of the magnitude of the Spam dilemma, InteractDay's corporate email accounts are averaging more than 5,000 spam messages per day!  This overwhelming volume of Spam frustratingly means we occasionally lose legitimate client communications simply because there exists no universally reliable means of identifying desirable messages from Spam short of opening and reading each and every email!  If it took us a mere 10 seconds to open and read each incoming email, we would have to spend nearly 14 hours per day reading email that is 99.5% junk!

SSI - Server Side Include - A method available on some Web servers which permits the author to allow scripts to insert portions of text or HTML transparently each time a page with embedded SSI directives is retrieved by a visitor.  Multiple SSI directives may appear in a single document. This is somewhat similar to CGI, except that SSIs are called whenever an HTML page (usually with a ".shtml", ".shtm" or ".stm" file extension) is called and inserted into the existing document whereas CGI scripts and applications must generate the entire document and only one script may be called. SSI directives can be used to add dynamic content to an otherwise static Web page.

SSL - Secure Socket Layer - A standardized method for encrypting Internet (primarily Web documents) communications to provide a secure connection for transactions between visitors and Web servers. All of the major Web browsers currently support at least one version of the SSL standard to protect sensitive information such as credit card numbers and bank account information.

Static - Something which does not change. (e.g. the typical web page is static in that it does not change until the webmaster physically alters the document.)

Traceroute - The term traceroute refers both to a utility and the output of that utility. Traceroute is a utility which traces the network route between the local host computer and any other host computer connected to the Internet. The output of the traceroute utility, which is also referred to as a "traceroute", shows each "hop" (an Internet router or another host computer) between the two end-points and the round-trip time it took for a packet to be bounced off of that hop. Traceroutes can be very useful for locating and detecting network congestion, failures, and other various other troubleshooting issues. On Windows machines, this utility is available from the command line as "tracert.exe".

UCE - Unsolicited Commercial Email - Spam by another name.

UNIX - pronounced: "you-nicks" - A family of operating systems with similar interfaces and core design influences. UNIX is best known for its command line interface and was one of the more popular early operating systems for business servers. The Internet as we know it today got much of its start on various UNIX servers.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator - pronounced "earl" - The full path to a Web page, including the type (typically "http://"). Example: "http://www.interact2day.com/index.shtml".

Usenet - A valuable Internet resource consisting of tens of thousands of discussion forums each dedicated to a specific topic or category of topics. Usenet servers are often referred to as "news" servers and Usenet clients are more commonly known as "news" readers. You can ask questions, answer other people's questions, and browse Usenet groups, many of which have worldwide participation.

VBA - Visual BASIC for Applications - VBA is a watered-down version of Visual BASIC included with many Windows™ applications which permits the user to develop simple to relatively complex programs which automate various tasks within the application and even between different applications. Examples of applications where VBA may be used are: customized data-entry screens for databases and automated formatting of spreadsheet and word processor documents. VBA is typically not suited for development of CGI and Web server applications although a closely related programming and scripting language called ASP, available on IIS Web servers, is available for such purposes.

Visual BASIC - A Microsoft programming language descended from earlier versions of BASIC. Visual BASIC is a Windows-specific version of BASIC with many added "bells and whistles" to allow developers to create GUI Windows™ applications. BASIC and Visual BASIC are good languages for novices and occasional developers to learn as it is relatively straightforward to learn and has numerous built-in tools to assist in debugging applications. Visual BASIC can be used to develop CGI applications for Web servers although Perl, PHP, C/C++, Python, and other such non-GUI programming languages are frequently better suited for developing CGI and Web server applications.

W3C - The WWW Consortium - The WWW Consortium is the standards body for all HTML and accepted HTML extensions. (www.w3.org).

Web Presence Provider - A company or organization which provides its clients with services which create a "Web Presence" for the client. The services which typically constitute a "Web Presence" are a Web server, DNS service, and email service. This term does not typically encompass actual Internet access for the client, only that the client will have a presence on the Web in the form of a Website which is accessible by those who are connected to the Internet. Actual Internet access is usually left to an ISP, which you may need to contract with separately.

Windows NT - A popular Microsoft Windows™ operating system for business and enterprise computing workstations and servers. Windows NT™ is also a very popular platform for Web servers. Many ISPs and WPPs offer Web hosting on Windows NT servers due to their intuitive GUI interface, ease of management, and ready availability of many user-friendly applications.

WPP - Web Presence Provider - See Web Presence Provider.

WWW - World Wide Web - This term refers to content which has been defined in HTML. This content is then viewed by your Web browser and, depending on your choice of web browsers, may be displayed with a graphical interface (a "GUI") or a text-only interface. This term is often mistakenly used to describe any content available on the Internet.

 

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