PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol)

A protocol that provides a method for transmitting packets over serial point-to-point links. PPP is one of the most popular methods for dialup connections to the Internet, since it allows you to use other standard protocols (such as IPX, TCP/IP, and Netbeui) over a standard telephone connection, but it can also be used for LAN connections.


A bundle of data. On the Internet, data is broken up into small chunks called packets that each traverse the network independently.

Page down key (PgDn)

Key that moves down one page in a word processor.

Page preview

Function in a word processor or other application that lets you view the way a page will look before it is printed.

Page setup

Options in an application that let you define the margins, paper orientation and paper size for the document.


Tiny computers that contain keyboard, screen and storage.

Parallel port

Socket at the back of your PC that lets you connect it to a printer. A parallel port sends data to the printer over eight parallel wires.


A setting for a modem or communication software.

Parent folder

A folder that contains other sub-folders.


A way of dividing a hard disk into chunks that can be addressed by separate disk drive letters. If you buy a large 800Mb hard disk, you might find it convenient to split it into four 200Mb partitions called C:, D:, E: and F:.


A setting of a terminal or modem related to the type of error correction system used when connected to a network.


A secret word or phrase that is associated with your user name and confirms your identity. If you subscribe to an online service, such as CompuServe, you will have a public user name and number and a secret password that only you know.

Password Authentication Protocol (PAP)

One of the many authentication methods that can be used when connecting to an ISP. PAP allows you to login automatically, without having to use a terminal window to type in your username and password. One warning about PAP: passwords are sent over the connection in text format, which means there is no protection if someone is "listening-in" on your connection.


Stands for Personal Computer. Normally refers to an IBM-compatible computer that uses an Intel processor. Originally, the term referred to an IBM PC that used an 8088 processor with 512Kb or 640Kb of memory. Things have moved on and it means any computer that runs MS-DOS or Windows.

PCX file

Method of storing a graphic image file. The standard is widely used and is a good way of moving graphic files between paint programs .


A processor developed by Intel and used in high-performance PCs. It replaced the 80486 and is compatible with all the older 80x86 processor range .


Anything extra or added on for your computer, such as a modem, a mouse, or a fax adapter. Peripherals can be added on externally or installed inside the machine.

Personal Computer (PC)

The name is usually applied to IBM compatible microcomputers which use the Intel family of microprocessors (or compatibles such as IBM/Cyrix) and, in particular, run MS-DOS or Windows. IBM produced the first PC in the early 80s. Other main types of PC found in schools are Apple and Acorn.

Photo CD

A standard of storing mm photos in digital format on a CD-ROM. The PhotoCD is normally created at the same time as the photographic film is developed by digitising each frame at a resolution of 2,048 x 3,072 pixels with 24-bit colour (together wiyh a lower resolution preview image file). One PhotoCD can hold 100 photographs. To read a PhotoCD disc, the CD-ROM drive must confirm to the CD-ROM XA standard. If all the images are recorded on the PhotoCD at the same time, then the disc can be read by a single-session drive. If further images are recorded at a later date, then the disc can only be read by a multi-session CD-ROM drive .

If you want to display photographs on your PC, the simplest and cheapest way is to use the PhotoCD system. Take photographs with a normal colour film and ask for a PhotoCD disc when you take the film in to the chemist. A few days later, you should receive your pictures as normal together with a CD-ROM which has graphic files of the pictures and can be accessed from your CD-ROM drive.


A computer image that has almost the same quality and clarity as a photograph. Images on PhotoCDs are photorealistic since they are scanned at a resolution of 2,048 x 3,072 pixels in 24-bit colour.


A device that can produce very high resolution text on photo-sensitive paper or film. The phototypesetter, rather like a large laser printer, normally uses the PostScript page description language and can generate type at 2,540dpi. If the device is capable of outputting text and half-tone images, it is normally called an image setter. If you want to produce a professional-looking newsletter or brochure, you should send a disk of the files to a bureau that has a phototypesetter machine. The bureau will produce a printed version that you can then give to a printer.


1) Measurement equal to 12 points (0.166 inch)

2) Width of characters in a typeface- usually 12 characters per inch.

PING (Packet Internet Gopher)

The simplest way to test or time the response of an Internet connection. A PING sends a request to an Internet host and waits for a reply called (yep, you guessed it), a PONG. When you PING an address, you get a response telling you the number of seconds it took to make the connection. PING clients exist for a number of platforms, or you can use a UNIX or Windows 95 prompt to issue a PING command directly.


Some people give to their family and friends software they have purchased, so the other people won't have to pay for it. This practice of giving commercial software is known as "pirating" and the people involved are known as "pirates". When you buy a software program, you do not own the program, you only own a license to use the program. The program is owned by the company that developed it. Thus, giving the program to others is stealing. Instead of being called pirates, these people should be called thieves!


The smallest single unit or point on a display or on a printer whose colour or brightness can be controlled. A monitor normally has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch, whereas a laser printer has a resolution of 300 to 600 pixels (also called dots) per inch.

Play back

To run a multimedia title or view a video clip or listen to a recorded sound.

Playback head

An electronic device that reads the signals recorded on a storage medium and usually converts them to an electrical signal.

Plug and Play

A development that is a combination of hardware and software. The way it works is complex, but the result is simple. When you plug a new adapter card- or a new disk controller, network adapter or graphics adapter- into your computer, you don't have to configure it or set any switches. When you next switch on the computer and run Windows it will automatically configure and set up the new adapter for you. This works with Windows 95 and adapters that conform to the Plug and Play standard.

POP (Post Office Protocol)

A protocol designed to allow single users to read mail from a server. There are three versions: POP, POP2, and POP3. When email is sent to you, it is stored on the server until accessed by you. Once you are authenticated, the POP is used to transmit the stored mail from the server to your local mailbox on your client machine.

Pop-up menu

A menu that can be displayed on the screen at any time by pressing the appropriate key, usually displayed over material already on the screen. Once you have made a choice from the menu, it disappears and the original screen is restored.

Pop-up window

A window that can be displayed on the screen at any time on top of anything that is already on the screen. When the window is removed, the original screen display is restored. These are most often used to display warning messages or to confirm a choice. For example, if you try to save a file with a name that is the same as an existing file, you'll see a pop-up window that asks if you want to overwrite the existing file or change the name. These pop-up windows are often called dialogue boxes.


The plug to enable interface from computer to other pieces of hardware, via a cable. Also used as a verb, "to port", meaning to move a file from one computer system, network, or conference to another.


The act of placing a message in an on-line conference. The noun "posting" is sometimes used to refer to a conference message.

Power user

A user who needs the latest, fastest model of computer because she or he runs complex or demanding applications.


A feature of many flatbed scanners that carry out a quick, low-resolution scan to allow you to reposition the original or mark the area that is to be scanned at a higher resolution.


To display the text or graphics on a screen as it will appear when it is printed out. Word processors, such as Microsoft Word, have a standard view which allows you to type and edit rapidly. However, if you want to see the effect of margins, tables or columns, you would switch to preview mode which shows exactly how the page will look when printed.


To produce characters on paper using ink or toner.

Print preview

A function of a software product that lets you see how a page will appear when printed.

Print screen key

A key at the top right of the keyboard that under DOS will send the characters on screen to the printer. Under Windows, its function has changed. It now copies the screen image to the Clipboard. If you want to print part of the Windows screen, press the Print Screen key. Now start the Paint program and choose the Edit/Paste menu option. A copy of the image that was displayed on screen is copied into the Paint file and can be printed or edited. If you want to copy an image of the active window (the window that has a dark blue title bar), rather than the whole screen, press the Alt and Print Screen keys at the same time. If you want to see what you have captured, use the Clipbook Viewer.


A device that produces text or an image on paper using ink or toner under the control of a PC.


The final printed page.


Also called the central processing unit (CPU). It's an electronic device that contains millions of tiny components designed for basic arithmetic and control functions. A CPU can add or subtract numbers, move numbers from one location to another, or control an external device. This is enough to do everything you see on your screen. Each of the actions of a CPU is controlled by an instruction. These are the machine-code used to create software programs. A CPU's speed (for example, 66MHz), roughly defines the number of instructions that it can process each second- 66 million in this case. The power of a CPU is also defined in its data-handling capabilities. A 32-bit CPU can add, subtract or manipulate numbers that are 32 bits wide. A 16-bit processor can only handle 16-bit numbers .


1) Complete set of instructions which direct a PC to carry out a particular task. A word processing package is thousands of separate instructions that respond to various actions. These instructions are written by a programmer. A program file normally has an extension of .EXE.

2) In MIDI, data that defines a sound in a synthesiser.

Program Disk

A disk containing software programs.

Program icon

An icon that represents a program file. To start the program, move the pointer over the icon and double-click.

Program Manager

In Windows 3.1x, the name of the part of Windows the user sees. When you start Windows you'll see a background and a main window with icons and smaller windows. This is the Program Manager and it allows you to format a disk, run an application or carry out similar basic housekeeping commands. In Windows 95, Microsoft scrapped Program Manager. Instead, the screen is now taken up by the Desktop.


A message that appears on the monitor while a network system is waiting for you to enter a command or option.


In Windows 95, the attributes of a file or object. To view or edit all the properties of a file, select the file with a single click to highlight the name, and click once on the right-hand mouse button. This displays a small menu of options. Select the Properties menu option and you will see the various properties for the object. If the object is a file, you can view or edit the attributes to make the file read-only or hidden. You can also change the name or location of an object.


Simply, the "language" spoken between computers to help them exchange information. More technically, it's a formal description of message formats and the rules that two computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (like the order in which bits and bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between allocation programs (the way in which two programs transfer a file across the Internet).


Stands for Print Screen on an IBM PC keyboard. Key that sends the contents of the current screen to the printer or copies a Windows screen to the Clipboard.

Pull-down menu

A set of options displayed below an entry on a menu bar. If you click on the Start button in Windows 95 you'll see an example of a pull-down menu.


To empty the contents of the Recycle Bin in Windows 95. To do this, click once on the bin to highlight it, then click on the right-hand mouse button and choose the empty option.