A Glossary of Technology

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Technology is an ever-changing world, replete with acronyms, port manteaus and shorthand. The jargon can be intimidating and complicated to a novice but everyone needs to know the basics in the world of business. In this digital age, the lines between Analyst, Marketer and Coder are becoming ever more blurred. So, we've brought together the most common terms with layman definitions to help you understand the wonderful world of tech.

A/B Testing

Trying out two strategies which are identical but for one difference - so if one strategy does better, you know why.

Analytics 

Discovery of meaningful patterns in data.

Android

An operating system for mobile devices.

App 

Mobile application - software which is downloaded to the portable device.

Bandwidth

The amount of information which can be sent through a connection.

Binary

A numbering system which has 2, rather than 10 as a base. As in, instead of the decimal system using multiples of ten (1, 10, 100, 1000 etc), binary uses multiples of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16 etc). While the decimal system may need the digits 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and 9, binary only needs 0 and 1.

Therefore, in the same way the digits 10 represents 1 lot of "tens" in the decimal system, or 82 represents 8 lots of "tens" and 2 "units", or 123 represents 1 lot of "hundreds", 2 lots of "tens" and 3 "units", binary notation has 10 as being 1 lot of "twos", or 11 being 1 lot of "twos" and 1 "unit", which in practice means that if you are given 11 bananas in binary notation, you have three bananas: 2+1. So, in binary 1 is 1 banana, 10 is 2 bananas, 100 is 4 bananas and 1000 is 8 bananas. If you have 101 bananas, you have 5 bananas in practice (4+1), likewise 1001 represents 9 bananas(8+1). Binary is used instead of the decimal system in computer systems.

Data and calculations are performed in binary. 1 bit contains a single binary value, 0 or 1. A byte contains 8 bits, which means it can have 28 different values. Whether a file has a few bytes, or trillions, it all boils down a collection of 0s and 1s.

Browser

Software application which lets you view webpages on the internet.

Bug

An error or fault in a computer programme which causes an incorrect or unexpected result.

Byte 

A unit of digital information. It normally consists of 8 bits, which was enough to make one character of text only, so it is often used as the smallest unit of memory in computing.

C 

C is a general purpose programming language developed in the 70s, it has become one of the most widely used languages of all time. It has influenced other languages such as Java, Javascript, C#, PHP, Python and C++.

C#

C Sharp (not Hashtag) is a programming language developed by Microsoft and is based on C++.

C++

A general purpose programming language developed from C. It is used in desktop applications, servers, web search, e-commerce, space probes and video games.

Cache

An auxiliary memory from which high speed retrieval is possible.

Client

The computer which receives information from a server.

Cloud

Internet based computing - software and data are stored online and accessible anywhere on demand.

CMS

"Content Management System" - a user friendly system to edit a webpage's content, so edits can be made by non-techie users and not by coders.

Command key

A key on a Mac keyboard which is used to access commands, instead of a menu.

Control key

"CTRL" - A key on a Windows keyboard which is used to access commands, rather than a menu.

Cookie

A cookie stores information on the user's computer (often their preferences or login details) but they are also used to track a referrer of a product or determine their behaviour in order to target display advertising to them.

CPU

"Central Processing Unit" - the hardware in a computer which takes instructions from software and makes calculations.

CRM

"Customer Relationship Management" - a software or system which helps a company organise its customer relations.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets. This is the skin which covers the HTML bones and describes the look and formatting of a website.

Data Capture

Capturing the details of users, for example, contact details and preferences.

Desktop

The background behind all your windows and menus and shortcuts.

Domain

A group of computers/devices on a network which are administered as a unit. On the internet, domains are defined by their IP address.

Ethernet

A system of connecting computers to form a local network.

Facebook

Social network.

Firewall

A system which prevents unauthorised access to a private network. It can be implemeted in hardware and software and examines each message entering or leaving the intranet to block those which do not meet the security criteria.

Fortran

Originally developed by IBM, Fortran has been in use for over 50 years. Its main use is as a programming language for scientific computing or engineering applications. Its invention was one of the great innovations propelled by the laziness of a programmer who felt the existing assembly language was too time consuming.

GIF

"Graphic Interchange Format" - pronounced with a soft g,  it is an image format which requires very little memory.

Google+

Pronounced Google Plus, it is a social network.

Great Firewall of China

Actually named "The Golden Shield Project", it is a project operated by the Chinese Government to prevent unauthorised access to censored content.

Hard disk

A disk which stores computer data.

Hard drive

A device which stores information on your computer on a hard disk.

Hex codes

"Hexadecimal codes" are 6 digit-and-letter-long colour codes which convert RGB (red, green and blue) values in to something HTML can understand.

Host

Any computer which is connected to the internet.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language. This is a computer language used to write webpages. It is also the tool used to make emails and newsletters which have formatting such as images.

Hypertext

Any text which contains a clickable link, for example to a webpage. The hyperlinked text is often blue and underlined.

Impressions

The number of times an online advert is seen by a user.

Intranet

A local or restricted computer network normally used internally in an organisation. It is like a private version of the internet.

IP address

"Internet Protocol" - a unique string of numbers separated by full stops which identifies each computer using an IP to communicate over the network.

Java

Java is a computer programming language completely unrelated to Javascript. It is used to make programmes interactive and is much more powerful than Javascript. For example, while Javascript can be used to pop up new windows on a browser, Java is used for mobile phone games. Java is named after the coffee the programme's inventors drank in copious amounts during its creation.

Javascript

A computer programming language which is used to make web browsers interact with the user, for example, by altering the content displayed, through the use of scripts.

JPG/JPEG

A graphic image format which uses more memory than a GIF but is of a higher quality as well, hence its use for photography.

Kilobyte

A "thousand" bytes. In practice, a kilobyte refers to two different numbers of bytes, depending on the context. It can mean 1000 bytes, or it can mean "2 to the power ten" bytes which is 1024 bytes. The latter number is derived from the binary system. Generally speaking, a kilobyte is 1000 bytes for storage media and DVDs, but 1024 bytes for computer memory such as Microsoft Windows.

Landing page

A webpage which is designed as an entry point for a website or particular section on a website - home pages are landing pages, but not all landing pages are home pages.

Linux

An operating system, like iOS or Windows, which is open source, meaning anyone can improve and add to it.

Maple

Maple is a computer alegbra system which can compute mathematical expressions in a similar way to humans.

Matlab

"Matrix Laboratory" - a computing environment which enables various functions such as data plotting and matrix manipulations, as well as interfaces with programmes written in other languages such as Java or Fortran.

Meme

An idea which spreads from person to person. They are cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selectivity. On the internet, memes are typically funny images or phrases. The word itself derives from the Ancient Greek for imitation, like mime.

Motherboard

A computer's circuit board which contains the CPU, support chips and RAM.

MySQL

"My S Q L" or "My Sequel" - is an open source relational database management system. It is used widely, for example by WordPress, Drupal, Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter. It is named after the co-founder's daughter: My.

Objective C

A general purpose programming language which is the main language used by Apple for their OS X and iOS systems.

Open source

In computing, open source denotes software where the original code is available for anyone to see or change. Linux is one example - anyone can change or contribute to the code for free.

Page views

The number of times a webpage is visited, including repeated visits by unique users. It is the most basic statistic in digital analytics.

Photoshop

A software used to manipulate images.

PHP

PHP is  web development programming language which can also be used for general purpose programming. It differs to Javascript in that its scripts are server-side, not client-side, which allows it to keep databases and valuable code private.

PING

"Packet Internet Gopher" - An application which sends a message to another computer, receives a reply and times the transmission. This can measure what computers are on the network and how fast the network is working.

Pixel

The smallest area of illumination on a screen. The word is derived from "picture element".

Plain text

Text which is not coded into formatting such as font size, colour or hypertext.

Plug-in

A small piece of software which adds features to an existing software, for example internet browsers.

Python

A general purpose, high level programming language whose aim is to have very readable code. It is named after Monty Python, to reflect the goal of its creators to make it fun to use.

QR code

"Quick Response code" - a type of barcode which can be read by phones. The information is normally a URL, but can be other data. It is normally a square pattern.

R

A programming language used for statistical computing and graphics.

RAM

"Random Access Memory" - memory which can be accessed without touching preceding bytes. It is the most common type of memory. There are two types, DRAM ("Dynamic RAM") is slower than SRAM ("Static Random Access Memory") as DRAM needs to be refreshed every millisecond, but SRAM does not.

RGB

The RGB colour model mixes together red, green and blue light to produce the colour spectrum on an electronic device.

Relational database management system

"RDBMS" - a system to store information.

Responsive design

A website which changes according to the device it is being viewed on, e.g. a tablet or PC.

Ruby

A general purpose programming language whose philosophy is to be fun, enjoyable and productive for the programmer.

Ruby on Rails

Sometimes known as Rails, this is an open source web application framework which runs via Ruby, so it can help support web applications construction.

Scripts

A list of commands that can be executed without user interaction and so are used for automation.

Server

A computer which stores and delivers files or information to a client. For example, the Google servers deliver you information.

Social Media

Media which allows users to create and share content, and network socially.

Swift

Apple's new language which will replace Objective-C and is characterised as "Objective-C without the C".

Unique visitors

The number of distinct visitors on a website, not the number of times they visit. A basic statistic in digital analytics.

URL

"Uniform Resource Locator" - the address for an online piece of information such as a webpage or image, e.g. www.brightnetwork.co.uk.

Usability

The noun to describe whether a website is easy to use - one of the most important considerations in website design.

UX

"User Experience" - the term covers a person's behaviours, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service.

Viral

A marketing activity is shared exponentially on social media.

Virtual memory

Memory temporarily stored on a hard drive.

Zipped file

A file or folder of files which has been compressed into a smaller amount of data, normally to ease the transferring process.

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