Computing terms explained in plain English
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The official International Telecommunications Union (ITU) modem standard capable of receiving data at 56Kbits/sec.
A device for electrically amplifying the power of an electrical signal.
Video Compact Disc, a lesser-known video disc type that stores highly compressed video content on a standard CD rather than a DVD.
Vector graphics are described (eg 'a line from x to y') rather than being made up of a finite number of dots. Because they are rendered as smooth lines, they can be enlarged to any scale without a loss of quality, unlike bitmapped images which will become jagged when blown up.
Midi notes have an initial volume related to how fast the note was played. A higher velocity will be louder, and a lower one quieter.
Video Electronics Standards Association. A standard for mounting monitors on walls and small computers on the backs of monitors created by that organisation.
Video Graphics Array. Standard socket for connecting a monitor to a computer.
A compact video cassette standard used in camcorders. It offers lower picture quality than S-VHS-C and is more common in low-band camcorders.
A lower-quality version of the Hi-8 video standard used in low-band camcorders.
An expansion card for PCs that allows them to record full-motion video sequences to disk from TV receivers, VHS recorders, camcorders and other video-recording equipment.
A compact disc format that contains low-quality video on a par with VHS tape.
Links two or more PCs to capture and display video and audio in real time so distant people can see as well as talk to each other.
There are several types of computer video file available, each of which is called a format. Some devices and software can only play certain formats.
Memory installed on your PC's graphics card and used to generate the on-screen image. The more memory on the card, the higher the possible graphics resolution and the more colours that can be displayed. 256MB should be considered the minimum standard today, with 1GB common in high-end gaming systems.
A phone that includes a camera and screen to combine your conversation with moving video images of the person you're talking to.
The amount a viewer can move left or right and still see a clear picture on a flat-screen television or monitor.
A set of files seen by Windows as a separate hard disk.
Running a second 'virtual' operating system on a PC, leaving the main system unaffected.
A reserved area of hard disk space that your PC can use as 'virtual' memory, or Ram, whenever it is running short of the genuine article. Also called a swapfile, this allows you to have more programs open at once but will be slower than having an equivalent amount of real Ram.
A Windows tool that enables you to run a second 'virtual' operating system on a PC, such as running a version of XP in a Windows 7 computer to use older programs.
An artificial environment created using a computer. Virtual realities are usually 'explored' using such things as 3D goggles to give the impression that the user is 'inside' the virtual world.
A computer-based simulated environment intended for users to inhabit and interact with each other using two- or three-dimensional characters called avatars.
A malicious computer program designed to cause at best annoyance and at worst damage to computer data. Viruses usually spread from computer to computer by email.
A software program designed to scan files, such as those on a CD or received via email, for viruses that may damage your PC. Most virus scanners will warn you of viruses as well as attempting to remove or at least neutralise them. Beware that for full effectiveness you must update your virus checker frequently.
Video Object. A file format that is used on DVDs.
An answerphone service that records callers' messages when you're unavailable. This may be in the office or provided by your mobile phone network.
Software that can recognise spoken words. It may be able to interpret these as commands it can obey (voice control), or turn them into text to save you typing (dictation).
Voice over IP. The routing of voice conversations over the internet, which is cheaper than the telephone network.
Virtual Private Network. A technology for keeping all internet communication safe and private even on insecure networks.
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