Net - The Net is a common term for the Internet. Netiquette - The ethical and cultural rules of using the Internet, such as not posting advertisements to Usenet discussion groups (unless they allow them), not posting the same message to several newsgroups, avoidance of 'shouting' in e-mails (using nothing but capital letters), avoiding sending unsolicited e-mails, etc. Networking - A network is nothing more than two or more computers joined together by a cable and software. They can then share information, like a customer database, and peripherals, like printers and CD-ROM writers. They can share software programs, such as work processing packages, and communicate using e-mail. Network card - A wafer-shaped piece of hardware that enables a computer to be linked up, via cabling, to other machines in the network. Newsgroups - General discussion forums, rather like global electronic blackboards, covering every subject imaginable. There are more than 45,000 such groups. Palmtop - A palmtop (or PDA, personal digital assistant) is basically a computer in the form of an electronic organiser. They are becoming increasingly powerful and can be used as an alternative to laptops, though their keyboards and displays are much smaller. Password - A string of digits or characters providing confidential authentication information. Payment Gateway - A system that provides online e-commerce facilities to merchants on the Internet that links directly into a bank's financial system. PC - Personal computer. PCN (personal communications network) - A digital network technology operated by some of the mobile phone operators. PDA - See palmtop. Peer-to-peer (P2P) - One of the simplest network arrangements, involving linking a series of computers together without the use of a server. Peripheral - A peripheral is anything that is not part of the main computer unit, such as the keyboard, monitor or printer. PERL ( Practical Extraction and Reporting Language) - A popular language for web scripting (used to create web pages and web sites). Although Perl can be used on any system, it is usually associated with Unix/Linux. PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) - A popular scripting language supported by Unix/Linux and Windows systems. Plug and play - A Windows option that allows multimedia peripherals, such as a CD-ROM drive, to be automatically recognised and set up by the operating system. Portal - A web site that is used to get to another site and a range of services. Scottish-Enterprise.com is a portal site. POP - It is important, when use a dial-up connection to the Internet, that you do so though a local Point-of-Presence (POP). This means that all your connections are charged as local rate calls. If you had to call long-distance, your phone bill would soon mount up. Most internet providers now charge a flat monthly fee and waive call charges (within limits). Portal - A website that acts as a comprehensive information source covering a specific sector or subject, and which is used to get to another site and a range of services. Scottish-Enterprise.com is a portal site. Proxy server - An intermediary application that sits between a client and a server, and which stores and forwards requests and information. Often used in conjunction with a firewall to monitor Internet traffic and activity. Proprietary - A proprietary operating system is one that can only be used on one brand of computer and uses software especially written for that system, for instance Apple OS can only be used on Apple Macintosh computers. Protocol - The set of rules governing the format and control of messages being sent around a network. RAM (Random Access Memory) - The main memory of a computer. Upgrading the available RAM will often dramatically improve a PC's performance. 128 MB of RAM is often standard for new PCs, although double this figure is much better. RAM is now very cheap. Real Time Transaction - An Internet payment system in which credit card details are authenticated and verified within a matter of seconds. Reciprocal Link - When two (or more) websites exchange URLs by mentioning each other on their own sites. ROM (Read Only Memory) - Where PCs store important information that they need to run the operating system and other software. Unlike RAM, ROM is permanent and its contents cannot be changed, replaced or deleted. Scanner - A scanner is a device that captures text or images from a document for storage in a computer system. Scanners can be used to grab photographs for desktop publishing or to store copies of incoming letters, invoices and so on. Once you have digital copies of documents, you can cut the amount of paper you need to store, access their contents from anywhere on your network an, with the right software, search for information faster and more accurately. Script - A program which is executed by the web server. ASP and PHP are two popular scripting languages as they allow program instructions to be mixed with HTML. SCSI - Pronounced 'scizzy', a SCSI (small computer system interface) port is a specification for connecting hard disks, CD-ROMs, printers and other devices to a computer. Search engines - Search engine software (on sites such as Google, Yahoo! Alta Vista or Lycos) helps you find what you are looking for on the World Wide Web. When you type in a word or phrase to describe what you are looking for, the search engine matches this against its index, to offer a list of likely matches. Getting an e-commerce site listed on the major search engines is vital for attracting visitors and business. Secure server - A web server offering e-commerce facilities via a secure web site by use of technologies such as encryption and digital certificates. Shareware - Shareware software is distributed free, usually via the Internet. You can use it for evaluation purposes, but are trusted to send money to the authors if you want to use it regularly. Sometimes sending a payment brings a more powerful version of the software, together with access to technical support and future upgrades. For small software firms, shareware can provide access to markets without the need to invest heavily in marketing and distribution. Shopping Basket - A software system used by websites that allows visitors to place their goods and products in an electronic shopping cart. Items can be added and removed very easily before proceeding to the 'checkout' at the website to pay for the goods purchased. Signatures - When a file is passed through a message digest, the resulting output number is encrypted with your private key to create a digital signature. This can then be attached to the original file so recipients can decrypt your signature and check the message digest number to ensure the file has not been tampered with in transit. Software - Software is the program, or set of instructions, that tells a computer what to do. There are two basic types of software. The 'operating system' - such as Windows XP - controls the basic workings of a computer, while 'application software' - such as Microsoft Word, Sun's Star Office and Adobe Photoshop - allows you to do particular jobs. There are also other types of software - for example, network software, which enables a group of computers to communicate with one another, and language software, which helps programmers to write other software. Sound card - A device that allows a computer to play sophisticated audio files. Spam - Unsolicited email advertising which targets many recipients simultaneously. Spider - Search engine software that automatically scans the Internet, collecting information as they go, which is then indexed and stored on the search engine's query database. Spreadsheet - Software that allows you to store, compare and analyse large amounts of numerical data. Spreadsheets are commonly used for budgets, forecasting and accounts. One distinctive feature of a spreadsheet is its ability to project possibilities and answer 'what-if?' questions. SSL (Secure Socket Layers) - Netscape's de facto standard for encrypting TCP/IP applications, but used mainly for encrypting communications over the web. Surfing - Slang term for the process of moving around the web. Now out of favour, because of its implications of directionless wandering. Tags - Elements within web pages that describe how the information in that web page should be structured and displayed. TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - the fundamental communication mechanism used on the Internet. Invented by Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf. Teleworking - What happens when people use technology such as video and data conferencing to work with each other at a distance. Telnet - An application allowing remote login between computers located anywhere on the Internet. Terminal Adapter - A device allowing data to be sent over an ISDN line, much like a conventional modem does over a telephone line. Topology - A network's topology is a description of the kind of layout that has been used to cable the computers together. Twisted pair - Twisted pair is a networking cabling system that uses the same kind of cabling as ordinary phone wires. UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) - A system which allows computers to keep running for a limited time during a power failure. It gives you the chance to save data before your system crashes. URL (uniform resource locator) - is the address of a file accessible on the Internet, such as a website address. The unique identification of a web site or web resource, such as VAN - Companies using EDI (electronic data interchange) usually exchange transactions through a third party VAN (value added network). These VANs enable their customers to send electronic messages to any number of trading partners, whenever they choose. Video and data conferencing - Video and data conferencing lets you see and speak to a customer anywhere in the world, work on documents together, present your products or discuss new ideas. It can save fares and travel time, improve customer relationships, allow quicker decision making and cut time to market. Visitors - The number of people arriving at your website. Can be measured over an hour, day, week, month, etc. Voicemail - Voicemail is effectively a personal answering machine, which allows callers to leave you messages that can then be stored, copied or forwarded. WAN (Wide Area Network) - WANs offer ways of linking computers at different office sites, perhaps hundreds of miles apart, so that they can share information and specialised peripherals. Web - The web is the common shorthand term for the World Wide Web. Web browser - A software program that enables someone to surf the web. The two most common browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape. Web server - A software program that manages a web site, fulfilling user requests, monitoring web site usage, checking access controls, etc. Web page - A web page is a 'page' of information - though it can be almost any length - made available via the Internet. Website - A website is an organised and structured collection of web pages. A clear, interesting, well-planned website is the cornerstone of any e-commerce operation. WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) - A radio frequency standard that is used to connect devices, such as computers, together using a wireless connection. Instead of computers being connected with network cables, signals are sent over radio frequencies using wireless network cards and hubs. World Wide Web - The web gives you user-friendly access to millions of pages of business information and thousands of sources of supply you never knew about before. It also offers the opportunity to access customers and markets you could never have hoped to reach in the past. Having your own website lets you promote and sell your products and services to the world. Customers can potentially look through your catalogue, place orders and pay by credit card - all on-line, 24 hours a day. The web can also provide cheap, effective ways to beef up your after-sales service and to work more closely with all your trading partners. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) - A modern, very flexible language that is increasingly being used to send all kinds of data across the Internet. XML's uses include the exchange of critical financial data, as well as serving Web pages in a similar way to HTML.