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Glossary of Internet & Computer Terms

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Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary or type the term on which you want to search.


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online service
the term has come to have a somewhat broad meaning. 1. a company that, for a fee, provides Internet users with a wide variety of services such as news, weather, stock quotes, search engines, chat and message forums, email services, as well as various subscriber benefits possibly including special rates on mortgages or credit cards, and various other commercial offers. America Online (AOL) and CompuServe are online service providers.
2. a company that provides one of several services to Internet subscribers such as Web hosting or providing the connection for users to access the Internet. For example, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) would supply its customers with access to the Internet, email, and in some cases, the space to publish a Web page or two. Often, but not always, a company outlined in the first definition will provide many of the services mentioned in the second.


open
to access an item such as a file or program.


operating environment
the configuration and type of equipment under which computer programs run. see environment.


operating system
(OS) the underlying software that interfaces with a computer’s hardware and virtually all other software applications allowing a user to perform a wide variety of tasks. In the early years of personal computers DOS was the dominant operating system. Then Microsoft Windows came along. In general terms, Windows was the logical user-friendly evolution of DOS, utilizing the graphical user interface concept modeled after the Apple Macintosh. Simply stated, any operating system provides an environment for a user to run other programs.


optical button
see radio button.


optical character recognition
see OCR.


optical disk
a data storage medium that utilizes laser technology to read information. CD-ROMs and WORM (Write Once Read Many) are examples of optical disks.


optical scanner
often simply called a scanner, a device that reads images and text, allowing a user to input and utilize the data in various applications. A scanner digitizes the image. This means it divides the entire image into tiny boxes and assigns a value to each isolated unit using 0s and 1s. Essentially, this is what a bitmap is. The scanned image, whether text or a graphic, therefore, becomes a bitmap. Consequently, the scanned data cannot be directly altered unless optical character recognition technology is used. see OCR.


optimize
the term has several common uses. 1. to structure and arrange hardware devices for maximum efficiency.
2. to tune up a computer system, as in running defragmentation software and eliminating unwanted data to free up disk space.
3. to make adjustments to an operating system or software application so it runsmore efficiently.


opt-in mail
email that usually contains a commercial offer of some kind. The difference between opt-in mail and spam, is with opt-in mail, the user has requested information or updates on a particular type of product or service. Once an individual has submitted his name and email address for virtually any online offer, the data is freely traded among both brick and mortar businesses and online merchants, unless such use of the name was forbidden when the subscriber submitted the information.


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