CAB A type of file called a "cabinet" file that contains several compressed files. Many application CD-ROMs contain CAB files. When you install the application, the files within the CAB files are decompressed and copied onto your computer's hard disk.
Cable modem A high-speed modem used to connect a computer to a cable TV service that provides Internet access.
Cache Memory High-speed random access memory used by a computer processor for temporary storage of information to boost performance by keeping the most frequently used data and instructions physically close to the processer, where they can be retrieved quickly.
CAD Computer-aided design.  A kind of software used by architects and engineers to design three-dimensional objects, like cars, houses, etc.
CAE Computer-aided engineering.  A class of software that lets engineers analyse engineering designs created with a CAD application. For example, an engineer can use a CAD program to draw a bridge and then use a CAE program to see if the bridge holds up under various stresses and conditions.
Card A circuit board that fits into an expansion slot of a desktop computer or the PC Card slot on a notebook.
Card cage Many computers have an internal area where new electronic circuit boards can be plugged in. Because those circuit boards are also known as "cards", and because the internal area often has protective metal grillwork around it, the name "card cage" seems a natural.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) HTML files that define the look, feel and layout of a site's Web pages. By separating the page style from the content, CSS gives Web page designers more consistent control over the appearance of the pages.
CBT Acronym for Computer-Based Training. Training delivered via a computer, usually from a CD or DVD.  Most CBT programs will monitor the users progress so that the user can return to the point at which they last finished.
CC CC is short for courtesy copy. The name you enter on the CC of a memo or an e-mail message line isn't the primary recipient of your message (that's the address in the To line). You CC someone when you want that person to get a copy of the message.
CERN CERN stands for "Conseil European pour la Recherche Nucleaire." In English this translates to "European Laboratory for Particle Physics," which yields a more inappropriate acronym of ELPP. The CERN, headquartered in Geneva, is where the World Wide Web was born as a result of a CERN initiative to improve the way scientists exchanged data over the Internet.
Character A letter (A-Z), a number (0-9) or a special symbol (@ or #).
Check box A component of a dialogue box or database that acts like switch, representing an option that you can turn on or off. Sometimes a check box will be grayed out or dimmed. This indicates that this option can be changed or selected.
Chip Also known as a microchip. It is a piece of semiconductor material (usually silicon) onto which is etched a microscopic printed circuit.
Chipset A chipset is when two or more microchips work together as a single unit. This is done to make things run smoother and more efficiently by optimising communications between components. Common chipset uses include PCI controllers, network interfaces and processor support.
CIO Chief Information Officer
Clickstream The path a user takes as he/she navigates a Web page or the Internet in general.
Client-server A technique that separates the user interface (ie. the front-end or client) of an application from the part which does the actual work (ie. the back-end or server), such as performing database lookups. This dramatically reduces network activity when many users are accessing a central database, since only the required data is ever transmitted to the user's workstation.
Clip art A collection of graphic images, usually provided on a CD or installed to the hard drive. These images can be used in documents of all types (eg. word processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc).
Clipboard A buffer area in memory where data is stored when being cut, copied or pasted within Windows.
Clipping path In graphics, a boundary created to designate where an image or layer will be trimmed.
Cluster Two definitions:
a) The basic storage unit for a disk which is comprised of one or more sectors. Disk space is allocated to files in whole clusters.
b) Two or more interconnected computers sharing memory, storage and/or processing power  to function as a single, unified system.
CMOS Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. Specially designed circuit that consumes very little power. CMOS memory in a computer keeps track of the computer's setup, date, time, etc.
CMS Acronym for Content Management System. A Content Management System is a collection of scripts and programs that you can use to create and manage your web site. In the past CMS has been an expensive custom programming solution, however now there are many free and low cost systems available for anyone to use.
COBOL COBOL stands for "Common Business Oriented Language." COBOL's popularity probably peaked in the mid to late '80s, when it was one of the languages of choice for writing mainframe business applications. Many large corporations--especially those in the insurance and financial industries--still have major COBOL applications in use and teams of COBOL programmers on hand to maintain them.
CODEC Abbreviation for encoder/decoder. In its simplest form, it is a program or algorithm. For example, MP3 files are a CODEC because it encodes the sound into a binary file and decodes it back again into an analogue sound during playback.
Cold Boot You perform a "cold boot" by turning the computer off and then back on again--and losing all unsaved work in the process. As a result, you usually perform a cold boot only in dire circumstances.
Command Line A command line is the screen location where you type in a command. If you ever entered a DOS command into a computer, you did so by typing the command at the DOS command line. Windows has made command lines a not so warmly remembered anachronism for most PC users. UNIX users, however, still spend the bulk of their days typing at a command line.
Compare The process that a backup or copying program performs to ensure that the copied files are identical to the original files.
Compiler Program that translates each command into a series of instructions in machine language suitable for a specific computer type.
Compression To compress something means to make it smaller. In computers, it has the same meaning. Large files on your PC can be compressed to reduce their size and help free hard drive space. It also makes sending files via e-mail easier (and quicker) to do. ZIP is one example of a "compression" format.
Computer Vision Syndrome Name given to a condition which affects a computer user's health caused by working at a computer screen for too long a period.
Control Panel A Windows application that lets you modify the Windows environment, such as adding printers or fonts, or adjusting video or mouse characteristics.
Cookie A cookie is a text file that a Web server passes to your Web browser when you visit a certain Web site and that your Web browser passes BACK to the Web server the next time you visit the same Web site. In theory--and most often in practice--Web servers use cookies to collect information that they can later use to customise the site, for your benefit, the next time you visit.
CPU Acronym for Central Processing Unit. Also known as 'processor'. The part of the computer that controls arithmetic and logic functions. It also controls the trasnfer of internal data.
Crawler A program used by Internet Search Sites that finds and indexes information found on the Internet so that when you do a search it can present the necessary links to the information requested by you.
Cross-over cable Typical computer cables carry particular signals on each of 4 to 25 or more wires inside the cable. Those wires are arranged so that they'll make sense to the receiving sockets on peripherals. If you want to feed a set of signals directly from one computer to another, you need a "crossover cable"--one where the key signal wires are swapped halfway.
To get an idea of how a crossover cable works, imagine that two people call you simultaneously on two phones, and you want them to speak directly to each another. You can't just hold your two phone handsets up to one another. You have to turn one handset upside down--that is, cross it over--so that its speaker is against the other phone's ear piece and its ear piece is against the other phone's speaker.
CRT Cathode Ray Tube. The most common picture tube found in televisions and computer monitors. A gun fires an electron beam onto the screen where they strike coloured phosphors which then glow. The direction of the electron beam emitted from the gun is controlled via magnetic coils, resulting in the painted picture which is displayed to the observer.
Cursor A movable (sometimes blinking) marker on the video monitor that points to the position where the next change or action will occur.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Computer applications used by businesses to manage all aspects of any contact with its customers, ranging from collecting information from cold calls made by field staff to Web sites hosting data about the companies products, etc.


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This page was last updated on Thursday, 14 July 2005