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Network Chico Computer terms glossary

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Fast Ethernet: The 100-Mbps implementation of standard Ethernet.

FAQ: "Frequently Asked Questions" FAQ can be pronounced "fak" or simply "F-A-Q." An FAQ is a text file that is created to answer common questions a user may have about a certain software program or that a newcomer to a web site might have regarding the site. Web sites will often refer visitors to an FAQ before asking them to e-mail their questions, which helps cut down on tech support. While FAQs are common for software programs and web sites FAQs can be written for other topics such as company information, computer hardware, technology standards, and video games.

FAT32: This term refers to the way Windows stores data on your hard drive. "FAT" stands for "File Allocation Table," which keeps track of all your files and helps the computer locate them on the disk. Even if a file gets fragmented (split up into various areas on the disk) the file allocation table still can keep track of it. FAT32 is an improvement to the original FAT system since it uses more bits to identify each cluster on the the disk. This helps the computer locate files easier and allows for smaller clusters, which improves the efficiency of your hard disk. FAT32 supports up to 2 terabytes of hard disk storage.

Fault tolerance: A feature of a system which allows it to continue working after an unexpected hardware or software failure.

Fault-tolerant disk configuration: An arrangement of physical or logical disks such that if one disk fails the data remains accessible without requiring restoration from backups.

Fax server: A specialized network server that can send and receive faxes on behalf of the user community that it supports; receive incoming faxes from phone lines and direct them to users across the network as well as accept outgoing faxes across the network and redirect them over a telephone line.

FCC: "Federal Communications Commission" Among other responsibilities the FCC regulates access to broadcast frequencies throughout the electromagnetic spectrum including those used for mobile computing and microwave transmissions. Where these signals cover any distance more than half a mile and require exclusive use of a particular frequency the FCC requires a broadcast license. Many wireless networking technologies make use of so-called unregulated frequencies set aside by the FCC. These frequencies do not require licensing but they must be shared with others. For more information you can visit the FCC web site.

FDDI: "Fiber Distributed Data Interface" A limited-distance linking technology that uses dual counter-rotating fiber-optic rings to provide 100-Mbps fault-tolerant transmission rates.

Fiber-optic: A cabling technology that uses pulses of light sent along a light-conducting fiber at the heart of the cable to transfer information from sender to receiver. Fiber-optic cable can send data in only one direction so two cables are required to permit any two network devices to exchange data in both directions.

Fiber-Optic Cable: This is a cable made up of super-thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials that can carry beams of light. Because a fiber-optic cable is light-based data can be sent through it at the speed of light. Using a laser transmitter that encodes frequency signals into pulses of light representing ones and zeros sent through the cable. The receiving end of the transmission translates the light signals back into data which can be read by a computer. Because fiber-optics are based entirely on beams of light they are less susceptible to noise and interference than than other data-transfer mediums such as copper wires or telephone lines. However, the cables are fragile and are usually placed underground, which makes them difficult and expensive to install. Some fiber-optic cables are installed above ground but if they break, they often need to be completely replaced, which is not cheap. While copper wires can be spliced and mended as many times as needed it is much harder to fix glass fiber-optic cables.

File and print server: The most common type of network server (not considered a specialized server). It provides file storage and retrieval services across the network and handles print jobs on behalf of its user community.

Firewall: A computer firewall is used to protect a networked server or client machine from damage by unauthorized users. A firewall can be either hardware or software based. A router is a good example of a hardware device that often has a built-in firewall. Software programs that monitor and restrict external access to a computer can also serve as firewalls. A network firewall allows only certain messages from the Internet to flow in and out of the network. Can also be defined as a special Internet server that sits between an Internet link and a private network which filters both incoming and outgoing network traffic, limits the Internet resources that in-house users may access and severely or completely limits incoming requests for access to the firewall's private network side.

Firewire: This high-speed interface has become a hot new standard for connecting peripherals (no pun intended). Created by Apple Computer in the mid-1990's, Firewire can be used to connect devices such as digital video cameras, hard drives, audio interfaces, and MP3 players, such as the Apple iPod, to your computer. A standard Firewire connection can transfer data at 400 Mbps, which is roughly 30 times faster than USB 1.1. This blazing speed allows for quick transfers of large video files, which is great for video-editing professionals. If 400 Mbps is still not fast enough, Apple Computer released new PowerMacs with Firewire 800 ports in early 2003. These ports support data transfer rates of 800 Mbps -- twice the speed of the original Firewire standard. You may see Firewire referred to by its technical name, IEEE 1394, since it was standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Both terms refer to the same technology. If your computer doesn't have Firewire and you wish it did, fear not. As long as your computer has PCI slots you can purchase a PCI Firewire card to add Firewire ports to your computer.

Flash: When you see the term "Flash" on the web, it most likely refers to Macromedia's web animation technology. Flash allows web developers to incorporate colorful animations with text, shapes, and images into their web pages. Because the technology is mainly vector-based Flash animations typically don't take up a lot of disk space. This means large animations can be downloaded relatively quickly. To view Flash content in your web browser, you need to have the Flash plug-in. Fortunately, it comes standard with most browsers today. If you don't have the Flash plug-in, you can get it directly from Macromedia.

Flash Memory: Flash memory is a type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). The name comes from how the memory is designed; a section of memory cells can be erased in a single action or in a "flash." A common use of flash memory is to store the BIOS settings in a computer's ROM. When the BIOS needs to be changed, the flash memory can be written in blocks, rather than bytes, making it easy to update. Most modems use flash memory for the same reason. Though flash memory was originally used inside computers, it has invaded many other areas outside the box. Flash memory cards used for digital cameras, cellular phones, networking hardware, and PC cards. Though the memory's read/write speed is not lightning fast, it is nice to be able to tote around a little card rather than a cumbersome hard drive.

Flow control: An action designed to regulate the transfer of information between a sender and a receiver. Most often flow control is necessary when a speed differential exists between sender and receiver.

Format: In order for storage media, such as a hard drive, to be recognized by your computer, it needs to be formatted. Formatting a disk involves testing the disk and writing a new directory structure, or "address table," onto the disk. If you would like to erase or initialize a hard drive you can use a disk utility program to reformat it. This will create an blank, empty disk for storing your files. While the disk appears to be empty most of the files on the disk are actually untouched by the formatting process. When you format a disk it creates a new address table making the entire disk available for writing. However the files are still on the disk, they just don't show up since the are no longer part of the directory structure. So if you accidentally format a disk (which is pretty hard to do) you can still retrieve most of your files using an advanced disk utility such as Norton Disk Doctor or DiskWarrior. The term "format" can also be used to describe the layout or style of text in a text document. When you format the layout you choose the page margins and the line spacing. When you format the text you choose the font, the size, and the styles, such as bold, italic, and underlined.

FPU: "Floating Point Unit" The first computer processors were far better at dealing with integers than with real numbers (a.k.a. floating point numbers). So a separate FPU processor was developed to handle the floating point calculations. That way, when the CPU encountered a floating-point expression (ie. 1.62 * 0.87359), it would send the calculation to the FPU. Since the FPU is specifically designed to handle floating-point math, it computes expressions involving real numbers more efficiently. While the first floating point units used to be manufactured as individual chips they are now typically integrated into the CPU.

Fractional T1: A segmented T1 line where a customer uses or leases one to 23 channels of a T1 to achieve transmission rates in increments of 64 Kbps.

Fragmentation: The process of breaking a long PDU from a higher layer into a sequence of shorter PDUs for a lower layer ultimately for transmission as a sequence of data frames across the networking medium.

Frame: In the computer world, a frame can be several different things. Used interchangeably with "data frame" it is the basic package of bits that represents a PDU sent from one computer to another across a network. In addition to its contents a frame includes the sender's and receiver's network addresses plus control information at the head and a CRC at the tail. Some different definitions of "frame" are listed below:

Some Web sites use HTML frames, where the pages are broken up into various areas. Each area consists of an independent Web page. Frames allow the multiple Web pages to all show up in the same page.

Graphics and desktop publishing programs also use frames. In these programs, frames are rectangular areas meant for inserting graphics and text. They allow users to place objects wherever they want to on the page.

In video and animation, frames are individual pictures in a sequence of images. For example, a Flash movie you see on the Web may play 12 frames per second, creating the appearance of motion. Most video is shot at 24 or 30 frames per second, or FPS. FPS is often measured in 3D games as a way of checking the speed of the graphics processor of a computer.

Frame relay: A WAN technology that offers transmission rates of 56 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps. Frame relay uses no error checking.

Frame type: One of four standards that defines the structure of an Ethernet packet; Ethernet 802.3, Ethernet 802.2, Ethernet SNAP or Ethernet II.

Freeware: Like shareware, freeware is software you can download, pass around, and distribute without any initial payment. However, the great part about freeware is that you never have to pay for it. No 30 day limit, no demo versions, no disabled features; it's totally free. Things like minor program updates and small games are commonly distributed as freeware. Though freeware does not cost anything it is still copyrighted so other people can't market the software as their own.

Frequency-hopping: The type of spread-spectrum data transmission that switches data across a range of frequencies over time. Frequency-hopping transmitters and receivers must be synchronized to hop at the same time and to the same frequencies.

Front end: A client in a client/server networking environment.

FTP: "File Transfer Protocol" FTP is a common method of transferring files via the Internet from one computer to another. Some common FTP programs are "Fetch" for the Mac and "WS_FTP" for Windows. However, you can also use a web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer to access FTP servers. To do this, you need to type the URL of the server into the location field of the browser. For example: "ftp://ftp.servername.com/" will give you a listing of all the directories of the FTP server, "ftp://ftp.servername.com/directory/" will give you a listing of all the files available in that directory, and "ftp://ftp.servername.com/directory/filename" will download the actual file to your computer. Many FTP servers are "anonymous FTP" servers which means you can log in with the user name "anonymous" and your e-mail address as the password. Other FTP servers require a specific login in order to access the files. FTP is a TCP/IP-based networked file transfer application with an associated protocol widely used on the Internet to copy files from one machine on a network to another.

Full backup: A copy of data that resets the archive bit on all copied files.

Full-duplex communications: A type of network communication in which a pair of networked devices can send and receive data at any given time providing two-way communications. Full-duplex usually increases effective utilization of bandwidth between the pair and usually requires special network interfaces and equipment.

Network Chico Computer terms glossary

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