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Words that make help files hard to understand

Some of us have been exchanging e-mails, asking each other how to carry out various computer tasks, and often one of us has asked, “What does that word mean?” or “How do you do that?”
We decided to compile all the queried words with the briefest explanations we could manage. We hope they may be useful to other people as well.

Clicking on an underlined letter in the list just below will take you to a definition or explanation of the first word beginning with that letter. Those letters which are not underlined have as yet no words under them. Clicking on any underlined word in the text will take you to that word's definition or explanation. The back arrow on your browser will take you back one step.



A   B   C   D   E   F   G    H   I    J   K   L   M   N  O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W    X  Y   Z


>

“Greater than” sign. This is often used as a shorthand to indicate opening one menu that leads off from another.
Thus, “Tools > Options > File Locations” means “Open the Tools menu, then open the Options menu, then click the tab labelled File Locations”.


 
A

Applet

A “program” or module that only works from within another program. Equation Editor, Word Art and Graph are all Microsoft Office applets.
Some tiny programs that do work alone, such as Cardfile and Calculator, may also sometimes be referred to as applets.

Java Applets are used to create effects. Web page designers should take care though. Because Java Applets call complex scripts, it's possible for the creator of that script to hide a call to some form of malware.


 
Application

Same as “Program”. See notes under program.


 
Association

Many file types are associated with a particular program. The program with which the file is associated will open any file of that type when it is double clicked. Microsoft Word, for instance, is usually associated with files having the extension “.doc”.


 
Attributes

Files may have attributes of Read Only, Hidden, System, or Archive.
It’s a bad idea to allow any files to be hidden. See read only for dealing with unchangeable documents.


 
B

  ALPHABET
Back out

Various programs and windows can be closed by one of these:
Enter, Escape, q, Alt+q, Alt+F4, Control+q
The + means you hold the first while tapping the second. The comma isn't part of the command.


 
Back up

Make a copy. It is advisable to copy all new data onto a floppy or CD as often as possible. This is normally done conscientiously until about two intensive writing weeks before a grand crash.
There are back up programs which do everything automatically. Then, if you lose such a program, or it loses its records of your work, you have lots of disks full of cryptic data in an unknown language, readable by nothing you can find.
It’s better by far to copy data files in their ordinary form and label them with actual physical stick-on paper labels and words that mean something to you.


  ALPHABET
Bitmap

A picture made by a paint program, or able to be edited in such a program. The individual pixels are available for editing.
Once items are painted (made in a bitmap program), they are “stuck”. You can’t move or resize them easily, as you can with items in a vector drawing.
Photographs become bitmaps. The formats jpg, gif and bmp are all bitmap formats.
Icons are drawn as bitmaps on a 32x32 or 16x16 pixel grid.


 
Box

I sometimes say “box” when I should say “folder”. I also sometimes say it for “window”.
“Box” is also a commonly used name for the computer itself, minus the peripherals (printer, keyboard, monitor, etc).


 
Build

The version of your operating system. Mine is Windows 98 SE, 4.10.2222A. If you ring a computer service person with a problem, they may ask for this information.


 
Burn

Make a copy on CD.
A CD holds 600-700 MB of data. You can usually fit all of your personal data—documents, pictures, spreadsheets, Word templates and configuration files belonging to various programs—onto a CD with room to spare.
It is also possible to copy whole programs or a whole CD full of a program or, for instance, a lot of songs, but this is very naughty (unless it’s just a safety back up). Most software vendors advise that you should make one back up copy of a program in case of damage to the original.


 
C

   ALPHABET
Cat

Small furry quadruped. Demanding, self centred, but soft and nice to cuddle.


 
CD

Compact Disc. Holds lots of data. May be “read only” or able to be written to.
If you have a succession of “buffer underrun” errors, consider buying different software. Nero is very reliable.
Damaged compact discs are useful for making mobiles. Some people suggest coasters, but CDs are not absorbent and have a hole in the middle, so stick to mobiles.



 
Checked

Containing a tick or a black dot.


 
Checkmark

A tick or dot entered into a small white field to indicate a choice you’ve made.


 
Command

Something you tell the computer or a program to do.


 
Configuration

The way a program is set, most often by the user. This may include window size and position, appearance on loading, usual font, background colour, anything.
In Word, settings made in Tools > Options add to the configuration of the program.


  ALPHABET
Context
sensitive

“According to what you are doing or what you are using”.
If you right click on your work in Word, a context sensitive menu will pop up and offer Cut, Paste, Numbering, Paragraph Formatting, etc.
Right clicking on a file icon or shortcut icon will give you a list of things that you may wish to do with the shortcut or the file to which it points.
Right clicking on an unoccupied area of the desktop will enable you to open the desktop properties settings, where you can change colours, fonts, screen resolution, wallpaper and screen savers.


 
Copy

Copy a file or folder from one location to another. This is the default action when you drag from any place on drive C: to any other drive.
Always use the right button if you actually want to make a copy of the file or folder in a different location on the same drive. Otherwise, Windows will MOVE it.


 
Count Words

see word count. See also fields.


 
Crop

Most graphics editors allow you to SELECT (draw a rectangle around) part of a picture and choose CROP from a menu. (Which menu varies from program to program.) You then save the cropped image with a different name, and you still have the original picture unchanged.
You may also wish to crop an image and discard the original.
An excellent and fast opening program for making basic changes to images is Irfan View. It is freeware for home users.
You can also crop an image after you have positioned it in a word processing document. If you wish to cut down on file size, this doesn’t work, because the word processor holds the original picture in its memory.


 
Customise
(or customize)

Make the program behave more to your liking. This is often just a matter of adding available commands and buttons to your toolbars.
In Word, for instance, there are many more commands available than those offered.
If you right click on the toolbar area in Word, you get a list of toolbars, with the word “Customise” at the bottom. Click on that and you get a little grey box with the TAB labelled “Toolbars” in front. There’s a scrollable window with the names of various toolbars. Scroll down and you will come to “All Commands”.
Click on “All Commands” and a second window opens, showing all the commands available. If there is one you want, press with your left button and drag it to a toolbar. You will be offered a choice of buttons, or you can choose to have the name of the command instead, but that takes a lot of space.
My favourite extra command is Tools Calculate. I have a little calculator on my toolbar, and can highlight some figures, click the calculator, click where I want the answer, press control+v, and have the answer appear on the page. It won’t work if you type an = sign. You have to put that in later.


  ALPHABET
D

   
Data
(personal)

Any original material that you put into the computer, as well as pictures, tables, lists or whatever that you find and save. “Data” really means everything on the computer, including program files. However, your own data needs special attention. Personal data may be stored in any way that you choose, in any directory that you choose. Files belonging to programs can’t be treated so freely. Personal data is what you should back up, and it’s what you ask the repair man to try to save if something goes horribly wrong. Programs can be re-installed. The material that you write or draw yourself is unique.


 
Database

A collection of records.
The records can be manipulated in various ways, eg, “Find all of the people who haven’t paid their electricity bill,” “Find all of the books by Terry Pratchett,” “Add $20 to the amount owed by all persons registered before 1999,” “Calculate the total amount owed by all customers”.
An address book is a simple database. Access seems to me a rather overweight and over-rated database program. There are those who disagree.


  ALPHABET
Date

To preserve the date inside a document, either insert with no checkmark in the “Update Automatically” box, or read the entry called fields.


 
Default

The settings or configuration of a program before the user changes any options.


 
Dialogue Box

A typical grey box in which you are meant to write something, change “Files of Type“, or do any of various other things before clicking OK.
This is how the computer elicits information and instructions from you. With any luck, it will then proceed to do what you want it to.


 
Directory
see folder.
 
Document

Sometimes this can mean a drawing or other file that you wouldn’t think of as a document. Broadly, something you’ve made yourself or something you have edited or are able to edit.
See also file.


  ALPHABET
DOS

Disk Operating System. The operating system before Windows. DOS wouldn’t let you run more than one program at a time, so you couldn’t keep switching between two or three windows.
Programs written for DOS have all of their files together in one directory. They do not add files to the system. This makes them easy to install and delete with confidence. You can drag a DOS directory onto your hard drive and it will usually work first go. It will not interfere with other programs by overwriting files.
Some DOS programs will not work in 95 and 98. Many of those that do work are useful or fun, and they are very small, as many were written when a 20MB hard drive was state of the art.
You can run some DOS programs in conjunction with Windows programs. For instance, if you were trying to make up a crossword puzzle, a little program called Wordfind would show you all the possible words to fit in a space that had three letters entered and two needed.


 
Drag

With the cursor on the item you want to move, copy, resize or make a shortcut to, move the mouse while holding a button down.


 
Drawing

The type of picture made by a vector drawing program. It doesn’t involve individual pixels. It says, rather, “a line from this particular gridpoint, at such and such an angle and of such and such a length, thickness and colour”. Items can be moved, sized, brought to the front etc at any time. These drawings are very smooth, but harder to learn to make than bitmaps.
Adobe Illustrator is a drawing program. The Word drawing bar makes vector drawings.


 
Drop down

A sort of list box in which only one item shows, but there are hidden items from which you may choose an alternative. At the end of the white slot with the item typed in, there is a downward pointing black triangle. This is called a drop down arrow. The instruction “Click the drop down," refers to this arrow.
This sort of box is also called a “Combo Box”.


  ALPHABET
DTP

Desk Top Publishing. Programs for use by those intending to send work off to a real printer, or for the self publishing of brochures, fliers, etc.
Gives the user (provided they’ve spent hundreds of hours learning the program,) full control of layout, including how many pages in each folded section of a book, words to be printed at top and bottom of pages and heaps of other stuff. Adobe PageMaker is probably the best known DTP program. Publisher has many of the basic features of one, and is fun and easy to use.


 
E

   ALPHABET
Edit

Change. Alter the size or colours of a picture, add words to a document, change the figures on a spread sheet, etc.


 
Editor

A program which makes it possible for you to edit something. Graphic editors include painting and drawing programs. Word processors are very fancy text editors. NoteTab Light is a useful editor for writing html files (like this one) very easily, and it’s free!
However, I’m now editing this file with NoteTab Pro, which costs very little and has, amongst heaps of other great features, a multi-language spell checker.


 
Embed

Put a picture or other object into a file in such a way that it becomes part of the file. This can be done by direct pasting, or by leaving “Link to File” unchecked, or by checking “Save with Document”. Embedding is quicker than linking, and ensures that the file will keep its pictures or other objects at all times, no matter in which directory or computer it is opened.
Embedded objects add hugely to file size.


 
Escape

Various programs and windows can be closed by one of these:
Enter, Escape, q, Alt+q, Alt+F4, Control+q
The + means you hold the first while tapping the second. The comma isn't part of the command.


  ALPHABET
Exe

Program file. The file that makes the program go into action. Some programs actually consist of only an exe, most have many additional files.
If an exe file appears on your desktop, or arrives unexplained in an e-mail, always right click it and choose the name of your virus checking program from the pop-up menu before you even think of double clicking it. And don't let your anti-virus program get to be out of date. New viruses are written and released every day.


 
Extension

The letters after the dot in a file name. These letters give you an idea of the nature of the file, and may suggest which program, if any, might open it.
Many files are simply not meant to be opened by humans.
Don't allow Windows to hide the extension on “known files”; this can lead to confusion and even make virus infection more likely.


 
F

   ALPHABET
Field

One part of a record in a database, eg the address of the person whose record it is. It can be easily changed.
Something that you ask a program to enter, not as once and forever text, but as something that will change according to its environment. If, for instance, you insert the field NumPages in a Word document, it will change according to the number of pages in the document. Add more pages and the number increases.
Fields update automatically when printing, provided that you’ve checked this option in Tools > Options.

more


 
File

On a computer, a virtual entity with a name, a dot and an extension. It may be a document (as we think of a document), a picture, a set of instructions to the computer, a record of actions carried out by a program—such as a *.log file. It may be something that you are not meant to open, in which case it won’t display a familiar icon.



 
Filter

A file or program that reads data in one format and outputs it in another. In the “Save as” box of many programs there is a drop down list box with the present format showing and a list of other possible formats from which you may choose.
RTF is a common word processing filter. dBASE is used to filter data between different and incompatible database programs.


  ALPHABET
Fly out menu

A menu that opens off another menu, eg, the Find, Settings and Document menus that open from the Start menu.


  
Folder

or Directory. A virtual container holding together a group of files and folders (or subdirectories) that have something in common. They may be all of the same nature, as a set of family photographs or a set of letters to a particular person, or they may be all, or almost all, of the files used by one program.


 
Format

This can be something that you do to a disk to make it ready to receive new data. Let’s leave that out for now.
If you format some text, you give it a particular font face, font style, font size, alignment, indentation, line spacing and paragraph spacing.
You may then choose to record all of this as a “style” for future use.
Format also has a meaning a bit like “language”. It is used to say which program saved a file or can read or edit it. Some programs can read a certain format but will not save in that format.
Filters are used to change the format of a file generated in one program to a format able to be understood by another program.


 
Function keys

Keys F1 through F12. They are used much less in Windows programs than in DOS programs, but it’s worth checking the help menu of each program to see if there are some that will speed up your work.
F1 is the almost universal “Help” key. Tapping F1 will often bring up a context sensitive Help screen. Otherwise it will almost cerainly invoke the Help menu.


  ALPHABET
G

   
Glossary

In computer terms, a list of words, phrases or other items that one may wish to enter many times. The list may be alphabetic from start to finish, or may be arranged in logical groups. Items may be inserted into a document by typing a prearranged nonsense word, such as “myname”, or be clicked on a visible list. The method depends on the program. Some programs call their glossary “AutoCorrect”.


 
Graphic

A picture, or having to do with pictures. Drawing and painting programs. Pictures used instead of words, such as toolbar buttons.


 
Greyed out

If an option is not available for your current operation, it will be dimmed or greyed out. You can see it, but you can’t use it.
This is often because the button represents a command that isn't appropriate to what you’re doing.
Some trial shareware programs have greyed out options that will be available in the registered version.


 
GUI

Graphic User Interface. With the same sort of arrangement and workings as Windows and Windows programs, where pictures are clicked to issue commands.
In DOS, by contrast, the user must type commands on a black screen.


 
I

   ALPHABET
Icon

A little picture, 32x32 pixels square, which is used to identify and decorate a file or a shortcut.
Windows supplies many icons in “libraries”. Apart from the default library that appears when you click “Change Icon”, there are at least two others. C:\Windows\progman.exe, and C:\Windows\moricons.dll. Users can also make their own icons in ico format or use those supplied by programs.
Some applications will allow only their own icon or icons to be used on the shortcuts to their program (exe) file.


 
Image
Picture.
 
Input device

Any device by means of which you put information into the computer.
Keyboard, mouse, microphone, read only CD drive and scanner are exclusively input devices.
Read and write CD drive, modem and floppy drive are input/output devices.
See also output device, peripherals.


 
L

 
Link

Include a picture or other object in a document’s printing or viewing without actually making it part of the document. This is much the preferred method, provided that the linked objects are not moved or deleted. Linked objects add minimally to file size.
The places where you click underlined text or pictures on an Internet page to go to a different page or a different part of the same page are also called links. On this page, the green underlined words are links.


  
M

   ALPHABET
Macro

If there’s something that you do over and over again, you can make a “macro”, which is a recording of your actions. You then assign a toolbar button or a key combination that will replay the recording.
Say you frequently want to print just the current page of whichever document you’re working on. You make a macro that goes “File > Print > Current Page > OK”. After that, you just have to click the button you’ve assigned to the macro and the page you’re working on will be printed.
Macros can be much more complicated than this example.


 
Menu
A list of options.
 
Module

Part. A program may have, within it, sections that carry out particular functions, such as making graphs. One might refer to these sections as modules or applets.


 
Move

Actually move a file or folder from one location to another. This is the default action when you drag from any place on drive C: to any other place on drive C:. However, there are some files that Windows thinks you couldn’t bear to have removed from your desktop, and it will make a shortcut instead. To avoid this rot, right drag and choose an option.
When you drag from, say, drive C: to drive A:, the default is “Copy”. I’d still use the right button, though, just in case.


  ALPHABET
MSDOS

MicroSoft Disk Operating System. The operating system before Windows. See DOS.


 
O

   ALPHABET
Object

A picture, sound, graph or even another document, which is embedded in or linked to a file. If you open the "Insert > Object" box, you will get a list that will make your head spin. A careful scan of the list will reveal that there are several that you (a) have a clue as to their identity and (b) might like to use. There will be some objects listed that no longer exist in your computer, because the registry didn’t update correctly when the program concerned was uninstalled. The easiest thing to do, honestly, is put up with it.


 
Open

To open—or sometimes “log”—a file or folder, you double click it. An alternative is to highlight the folder and hit the ENTER key.

When you open a folder or file, its contents are revealed. Simply highlighting a folder or file will not show you its contents.


 
Options

Lists of things from which you may choose one or more.


 
Output device

Any device by means of which you can get information from the computer.
Monitor, speakers and printer are exclusively output devices.
Read and write CD drive, modem and floppy drive are input/output devices.
See also Input device. See also peripherals.


  ALPHABET
P

   ALPHABET
Paint

The process of producing or editing bitmaps. A program that uses these techniques.


 
Paragraph

In Word and other word processing programs, this doesn’t mean what it means in ordinary English. It means a group of words or sentences formatted in a particular way. A heading, in this context, is a paragraph. A paragraph’s formatting is recorded in the back-to-front P at the end of the paragraph.
See also format and style.


 
Paste

In a graphics program, “stuck down”. In some programs pasting is not reversible, while in others pasted items can later be moved, brought to the front, rotated and so on.
In programs dealing with text or figures, pasted material has been copied or cut from one location and has been made to appear in another. Long passages of text which need to appear many times in a document can be repeated in this way, thus dispensing with a lot of extra typing. Most word processors have a feature variously titled “glossary” or “autocorrect” in which long passages of text can be stored. Later, typing a prearranged nonsense word such as “mybibentry” will cause the text to be pasted into the document.


 
Peripherals

All those parts of the computer that are added on or plugged in. Modem, monitor, keyboard, printer, scanner, speakers, mouse and digital cameras are all peripherals.
When taking a computer for service, it’s usual to enquire which, if any, peripheral devices you should bring.


 
Pixel

“Each of the small areas of uniform illumination of which the image is formed on a television or computer screen.”
Excerpted from The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia. Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved.
As a TV screen has a much coarser resolution than a computer monitor, you can see the pixels if you look closely. It’s harder to see them on the computer.
When you are doing fine editing in a painting program, you can zoom in to see and change the individual pixels.


  ALPHABET
Pop up menu

A menu that appears, usually in response to a right button drag or click, and which offers a list of context sensitive options.


 
Port

Where you plug something into your computer. Each port is connected to a particular part inside your computer. There’s a great deal about ports that I don’t know or understand.
A Universal Serial Bus (USB) port is a little slot instead of a lot of pins or holes for pins to go into.
The places where you plug speakers and microphones are tiny little holes like the ones in a portable wireless. They’re in the back of your sound card. I suppose they’re called ports, but I’m not sure.
It’s not a bad idea to use black texta to label ports before you unplug things. There’s almost always only one port into which a particular device can be plugged, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to see at a glance.


 
Powerful

Does lots of things.


 
Program

Application. All of the files that go together to make something happen. Word is a collection of files that work together to help in the production of a formatted text document.
Most of a program’s files reside in that program’s own folder. Some, however, reside in the Windows System folder, and sometimes also, as in the case of Microsoft programs, in the Microsoft Shared folder. This is purportedly so that several programs may refer to or use these files, thus cutting out duplication.
In fact, though, this may well be intended as a means of making it exceedingly difficult for one user to copy all of the files belonging to a particular program and pass them to another user.
An unfortunate side effect of this arrangement is that important files are occasionally overwritten by older files with the same name. This can happen when an older program is installed. For this reason it is wise to back up Windows before installing unknown programs.


  ALPHABET
Push

This is not a proper computer word. If you see the direction “Push it onto the C: drive”, it means the same as drag.


 
Q

 
Quit

Various programs and windows can be closed by one of these:
Enter, Escape, q, Alt+q, Alt+F4, Alt F4, Control+q
The + means you hold the first while tapping the second. If I've just written two keys with nothing between them, tap them in succession. The comma isn't part of the command.


 
R

   ALPHABET
Radio buttons

Small white circles, only one of which you check to indicate a choice.


 
Read only

Cannot be altered. Files copied onto a CD become read only. You can mark your own files as read only to protect them from accidental or thoughtless changes.
If you want to make changes to a read only file, open it, click “Save as” on the file menu, use a different name and work on the copy.
You can also, if you’re sure, right click on a file, choose “Properties”, and uncheck the read only box.
To do this to a whole bunch of files, select them all, right click on any one of them, once again choose “Properties”. You can then uncheck the box for all of them at one time.
You can’t change the read only attribute of a file on a CD.
Windows fusses when you’ve copied files back from a CD and are rearranging them. Don’t be fazed.


  ALPHABET
Record

In a database, a form on which is recorded data about one of many similar things.
This could be title, author, publisher, publication date etc of a book, or name, address, phone number, date of birth, medical history and occupation of a person.
The data you enter when you fill in a form usually becomes a record.


 
Resize

In Windows generally, to drag the edges or corners of a window to make it bigger or smaller.
In a graphics program, to have the size adjusted down automatically when you click either “Resize” or “Resample”. You can ask to have the size adjusted up, but the results may not be crash hot.


 
Right button

Many of Windows’ capabilities are offered only when you drag with or click the right mouse button. Get into the habit of dragging with the right button, so that Windows offers you choices and does what you want.


 
S

   ALPHABET
Scroll bar

Narrow strip on the right of many windows and along the bottom of some windows. It consists of several parts.
At top and bottom, black triangle “arrows” move the screen up or down one line at a time.
Clicking on a blank part moves the screen up or down one screenful at a time.
The scroll box, the part that looks three dimensional when compared with the blank part, can be dragged up or down. In Word and Excel, page or row number will show in a tool tip as you drag the scroll box. See also thumb.
In Page Layout view in Word, at the bottom of the scroll bar, there are two extra symbols. Each of these has two black triangles, pointing either up or down. Clicking these moves the screen up or down a page at a time.
In some programs and places, if all the data fits into the window there won’t be a scroll bar showing, or else it will be dimmed.


 
Select

Mark for action. You can select a set of adjacent files by clicking the first, holding shift, and clicking the last.
You can select non-adjacent files by holding the control key while you click each one. You can also deselect by holding the control key and clicking a selected file.
In a graphics program, you can draw a rectangle or other shape around part of a picture and apply changes to just that area.
In your word processor, you can select a word by double clicking it, or a paragraph or table row by clicking from the extreme left of the window.
There are many more ways of selecting text.


 
Shortcut

Directions to the computer for finding a file. What the user sees is an icon, and clicking or double clicking (depending on its location) this icon will open the file.


  ALPHABET
Shortcut keys

Keys which, when pressed in combination, give fast access to a command. Control+s for “save” is an example.
If you type “shortcut keys” or “keys” into a help menu, you will often be given a useful list.


 
Slot

Not a computer word. I use this to describe a white space for one line of text in a dialogue box.
There are also slots inside the computer, where strange devices are seated by those who know how.


 
Spam

Unsolicited bulk e-mail, usually advertising doubtful and sometimes unsavoury products and schemes, sometimes testing to see if your e-mail address will yield a response. Never respond to spam in any way, and never click a link that says “click here if you do not want more mail from us”. Just delete the mail immediately.
Spamming is illegal, and internet service providers are obliged to terminate service to spammers. How to deal with spam, and how to guard against it.


 
Spreadsheet

Basically a table containing rows and columns of figures, which can be set to carry out mathematical functions automatically. If you have a column of 20 different numbers with a total at the bottom, for instance, you can set up a spreadsheet so that when you add a new number half way down a column the total at the bottom of that column will alter to include the new number.
You can add pictures (and sounds, by jingo) to a spreadsheet. You can write a few lines of text, do fancy headings, colour cells and borders and so on. You can make a simple but effective database.
Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 are the best known spreadsheets.


 
Style

If you are working on a longish document, you can control the appearance of your work by formatting one paragraph as you want it and then telling the program that that is normal style, or special style, or whatever. You do this for each different style you want to use. Later, if you decide that you want to use a different font, or different spacing, or different indents, you just change the style and it’s changed throughout the document.
This is an oversimplification for the sake of brevity. Just accept that styles, once conquered, make your work faster and easier.
It’s essential to use proper paragraph styles if you’re sending a document electronically. A document “shaped” by having multiple tabs and spaces added may go horribly out of shape.
See also format.


 
Subdirectory
see folder.
  ALPHABET
System unit

The “box”. The actual computer, not including peripherals.
When taking a computer for service, it’s usual to enquire which, if any, peripheral devices you should bring.


 
T

   ALPHABET
Tab

In many programs, when you go into Options, you see what looks like a stack of cards with headings sticking up at the top. Each heading is on a “tab”. If you click the tab, its page will come to the front.
This has nothing to do with the tab key on the keyboard.


 
Thumb

Sometimes used of the scroll box, the darker, rounded section of the scroll bar. This can be used to pull a document up or down the screen. In some programs, page numbers or row numbers will appear as you drag.
The size of the scroll box gives an indication of the size of the document. The smaller the scroll box, the longer the document.


 
Thumbnail

A small version of a picture. Several programs will generate these on request. PaintShop Pro does it if you click “Browse”. Irfan does it if you click “Thumbnails”. This is useful if you’re trying to locate a picture in a directory.


 
Tool tip

A tiny yellow box that gives information when you rest your cursor in a certain place, eg, over a tool bar icon, without clicking or dragging.


 
Tweak

Adjust. Tweaking programs allow the user to change the behaviour of Windows or its programs to make them behave as the user would wish. TweakUi is one of the best known and is extremely useful.


  ALPHABET
U

   
UI

User interface. See GUI.


 
Unchecked
Blank. See checked.
 
Unzip

Extract compressed files so that they can be viewed, used, or edited. see ZIP.


 
V

   ALPHABET
Vbrunxxx.dll

There are several of these little files, which are needed to run some Windows programs. They can be either in the Windows system or in the directory with the game. I prefer the latter, because you can then put the whole game onto a floppy disk.
The games in the WEP directory won’t work without Vbrun100.dll and Weputil.dll.


 
Vector drawings

Pictures produced by a drawing program, such as Adobe Illustrator. Later versions of PaintShop Pro employ some vector drawing as well as bitmap editing. See drawing.


 
Virus

A computer virus is a tiny program intended to do something you won’t like, up to and including making your computer utterly unusable. They're called viruses because they spread—they infect any unprotected computer with which they come into contact.

You can pick up a virus from a floppy disk or CD, from a downloaded program, sometimes from a website and especially through email.

If you don’t have ant-virus software, or if you haven't updated it today, please read this article.


 
W

   ALPHABET
Word Count

Most word processors can give a count of words in a document. Some text editors, such as NoteTab, will also give a frequency of use for each word. Sometimes it might be worth making the initial draft of a document in a program that has this function. Then, with the text edited and finalised, the document could be opened in a word processor and formatted in the usual way.
See fields.


 
Word Processor

A program whose main function is to produce actual documents in the normal sense. Most word processors incorporate small versions of other program types, in that you can do some basic drawing, make a simple table of figures with totals etc. or make a list of records.
For calculations of any complexity, it’s much easier to use a proper spreadsheet program, such as Excel.
Word, Word Perfect and Lotus WordPro are well known word processors.



 
X

 
Z

   ALPHABET
Zip

A method of compressing files for easier transport or storage. Such files can be “unzipped” by any one of several specialised programs.
If using Winzip, make an unzipping directory on your computer, and tell the program to put unzipped files in that directory.
If using Free_zipper, put the zip file into a new directory or subdirectory named appropriately. For instance, if you are going to unzip “Triffic Pix.zip”, make a new directory and call it “Terrific Pictures”. Drag the zip file into that directory and then double click it.
You may then wish to rename the directory “Ho Hum”. Put it inside your main picture directory or throw it away.
There is no need to keep zips once you’ve extracted the files, unless you wish to do so. The names of some zip files are vague or ambiguous. If you plan to keep such a file, either change the name to something that makes sense, or make a note (in a Notepad file called “Identify zips,” perhaps) and keep it in the directory where the zip files are stored. Changing the name of the zip file doesn't affect the files inside. The zip file name is just like the wrapping on a birthday present—you can use newspaper or something more appropriate. The letters “zip” after the dot must not be changed, of course.


  ALPHABET

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Fay Johnston and Trina Rule March 2002

Last edited Sunday, 21 July 2002