Stands for File Allocation Table. A special data file that's stored on a disk and contains the name, size, date and location of all the files that are stored on the disk. When you open a document, the word processor asks DOS to open the file. It does this by looking through the file allocation table to find the position on the disk where the file is stored. The FAT is hidden, so you cannot see it. But without it you cannot retrieve any of the information stored on your disk. Sometimes the FAT can get corrupted. To remedy this problem run ScanDisk or one of the disk recovery programs such as Norton Disk Doctors .


A network user who is responsible for a particular conference.


A heading in a record used to identify a piece of data. e.g. the field COUNTRY could indentify the piece of data "India".


A named group of characters or data bits in your computer or on the network. Files in a computer are similar to file folders in a filing cabinet. Such a file is made up of records.

File Format

The type of file, such as picture or text; represented as a suffix at the end of the filename.

Examples: text = .txt
Word = .doc
Excel spreadsheet = .xls
Excel chart = .xlc
Excel workbook = .xlw
Bitmap file (e.g. Paint) = .bmp


Your PC can send and receive normal faxes, just like an office fax machine. To do this, you'll need a special modem that can handle fax data. If you want to send hand written notes, you will also need a scanner, so letters and graphics created on your PC can be sent directly via the fax modem. If you have a modem that can send and receive faxes, you can control it through Windows. Both Windows 3.1x and Windows 95 can send and receive faxes. If your computer receives a fax, it'' stored as an image, which you can then view on screen or print out. If you want to send a fax, there are several ways of doing this. The easiest is to install the fax modem as a type of printer. If you want to fax a letter to someone, type the letter in your word processor and select the File/Print. You'll see your normal printer listed together with the fax modem. Choose the fax modem and you'll be asked to type in the fax telephone number of the recipient.

Federal Networking Council (FNC)

A collection of federal agencies that have heavy interests in federal networks using TCP/IP and the Internet. Representatives from DoD, DOE, DARPA, NSF, NASA and HHS are the major members of the FNC.

File format

The way the data is stored in a file. For example, every document created in Word for Windows is stored as a Word file with special codes to tell Word how the margins are set up, the fonts that are used, and whether any images are included. Each program stores information in its own format. This means it's difficult to read a file that's been created by a different program from the one you are using. To get around this you can either use the Import function, or one of the standard file formats that let you exchange data between program.

File Manager

A program supplied with Windows 3.x that lets you manage the files stored on a disk. With File Manager you can copy files, move files from one directory to another, create new directories, and rename or delete files. To start File Manager, open the Accessories group and double-click on the icon. Windows 95 users have a more sophisticated utility called Explorer.

File Server

A computer designated to store software, courseware, administrative tools, and other data on a local- or wide-area network. It "serves" this information to other computers via the network when users enter their personal access codes.

File sharing

If you have two or more PCs linked together in a network, then you can share files between users. Sometimes only one user will use a file at any particular time, in other cases several users might be looking at a file at the same time. In these cases, the network software needs to be able to allow more than one user to access the same file. To do this there is a special file attribute bit called Shareable. When this is set to 1, the file can be shared by more than one user. To set a file attribute bit use the Attrib command from DOS or display the file's Properties window. If you are not connected to a network, you don't need to worry about file sharing.

Find                                                                                                          images/up.gif (270 bytes)

A useful feature of Windows 95 that will search any disk drive-on your PC or, of you are on a network, on any other PC on that network --- for a particular file.


A UNIX command that shows information about a user or group of users on the Internet. When executed, the Finger command usually returns the user's real name, whether or not they have unread mail, and the time and date of their last login. Finger also displays two files (if they exist) located in the home directory of the user you fingered. These two files (the .PLAN and the .PROJECT files.) are simply ASCII text files that can be entered by the user to display any information upon being fingered.


A negative response to an email message or newsgroup posting. If you post an article or send an email to an audience that deems your message inappropriate, expect to get flamed. The most common recipients of flames are users who post commercial messages in public forums, those who post adult material in non-adult areas of the Internet, and users who post or send make racial or gender-biased comments. The worst sort of flame is known as a mail-bomb, which occurs when the user being flamed open his or her email and receives a flood of letters with unusually long file attachments that make his or her computer crash.

Flat screen

Older monitors had a curved front to the display which meant that the image could appear distorted at the edges-especially if you were trying to display lines or drawings. To provide a clearer, sharper image that is not distorted, monitors are now made with a flatter front. This is not quite as easy as it might sound, and requires complex glass-blowing equipment and electronics. If you want to view graphics or drawings as accurately as possible, try to choose a monitor with the flattest screen .

Flatbed scanner

A type of scanner that looks like a small photocopier, you open the lid and place the image face down on a sheet of glass. Close the lid and the scan-head is moved across the entire sheet by accurate motors, converting the image into a graphics file that you can view on your PC. Flatbed scanners are more accurate than hand-held scanners and are normally more expensive.

Floppy disk

A portable storage device that stores information on a thin, flexible disk. The disk is coated with a magnetic material. The information is stored on the disk as a series of magnetic signals using a disk drive. The flexible disk is protected from grubby fingers in a rigid plastic case with a sliding window on one side to allow the disk drive access to the surface of the disk. There are two standard sizes of floppy disk: the larger 5.25in disk can store 1.2Mb of data and is now pretty much obsolete. The more robust and smaller 3.5in disk can store 1.44Mb of data and disk drives of the size are fitted to almost every new PC .


In Windows 95, the new name for a directory. A folder can contain files or other folders .


A set of characters in the same typeface. For example, labels in Windows are normally displayed in a font called Helvetica or Arial. The characters do not have serifs ( the pointy bits on the edges of letters). Windows has True Type fonts that can be printed and displayed in almost any size, and printer fonts that can be printed in predefined sizes.


To arrange text, define margins and columns, and include special fonts in a word processor or DTP program.

Format a disk

To prepare a new disk so files can be stored on it. You need to format any disk before you use it: use Format from File Manager or Explorer.


Software that is distributed for free, with no license fee.


A network system made up of community-based bulletin board systems with email, information services, interactive communications, and conferencing. They are usually funded and operated by individuals or organizations much like public television. Freenet providers are part of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), a Cleveland-based organization that works to make computer networking services as freely available as public libraries.

Front end

The part of a software program that a user sees and interacts with. The front end has to be carefully designed to be clear and straightforward to use.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

The most widely-used way of downloading and uploading (getting and putting) files across an Internet connection. The File Transfer Protocol is a standardized way to connect computers so that files can be shared between them easily. There is a set of commands in FTP for making and changing directories, transferring, copying, moving, and deleting files. Formerly, all FTP connections were text based, but graphical applications are now available that make FTP commands as easy as dragging and dropping. Numerous FTP clients exist for a number of platforms.

Full Duplex

Communication providing simultaneous sending and receiving. See also half duplex.

Full text search

To carry out a search for a word or item through the entire text of a database or a multimedia application rather than limit the search to a particular chapter or field.

Function Key

PCs all have at least 12 function keys that run along the top of the keyboard. These have different uses according to different applications. However most use the F1 key to display on-screen help.