Glossary

Machine cycle The sequence of events in the CPU corresponding to a memory cycle, or I/O cycle.  Can be represented mathematically as the sum of i-time and e-time (instruction time and execution time).
Macro A macro is a program or automated sequence of events that can be run or scheduled to eliminate the need for a computer user to carry out complicated or repetitive tasks.
MAE Stands for "Metropolitan Area Exchange" which is a point on the Internet where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can connect with each other. The first MAE was built in Washington, D.C.; the second, built in the Silicon Valley.
Magneto Optical Drive An MO drive is just what it sounds like: a disk drive that uses both magnetic storage technology (as does a hard or floppy drive) and optical storage technology (as does a CD-ROM drive). The combination yields what is, in effect, a better floppy disk: a removable, writable disk that holds more data and is faster than a typical floppy.
Mail merge A function of a word processor and other programs that enables a standard form letter to be created and sent to many recipients but personalised with each person's name, address, etc.
Mainframe A large computer capable of serving applications and data to thousands of users at the same time. Whereas a supercomputer is designed to use all of its colossal power to run a single application as quickly as possible, a mainframe is designed to run many applications at the same time.
MAPI MAPI stands for "Messaging Application Programming Interface." Built into Windows, MAPI lets different Windows e-mail programs--such as Microsoft Exchange, Eudora, cc:Mail, and so on--send e-mail to each other without conflicts.
Mask In graphics programs, a selection tool that conceals part of an image, isolating the area to be modified.
MBR Master Boot Record. The first sector on your hard drive and the one the BIOS reads to boot the system.
Megabyte 1,048,576 bytes or 1024 kilobytes.
Memory Board An expansion board that is installed into a computer or other device to increase its memory capacity.
Memory Effect If you have a notebook computer or mobile phone, you probably have a nickel-cadmium, or NiCad, battery to go with it. And you've probably noticed that if you ever make the mistake of not fully recharging your NiCad battery once, it seems like you can never fully recharge it again. This is called "the memory effect", the battery's seeming ability to "remember" a partial recharge and accept no more.
Memory Leak The gradual deterioration of system performance that occurs over time as the result of a computer's RAM due to porrly designed or programmed applications that fail to free up memory when the application doesn't need it anymore.
Menu A list of options displayed on a video screen from which a user selects an action to be performed.
Menu bar A component of a window that contains the available menus. You can usually find options such as File, Edit and View (amongst others) on this bar.
Meta Tags Meta tags are included in the HTML code of a Web page. They tell search engines what your site is all about. The meta tags most often used are "keywords" and "description." You can use an unlimited amount of keywords for your site, although the first ten are probably the most important. Some words will work better than others, depending on what kind of market your site covers.
Microcomputer A small desktop computer.
MIDI Acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A method for encoding the pitches, tempo, and instrumentation of a musical piece so that computers and synthesizers can recreate it.
MIME Acronym for "Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions." It's an extension that allows you to exchange pretty much any type of data file across the Internet via email; like video, audio, images, programs, etc.
Minicomputer A class of computer that falls somewhere between a personal computer and a mainframe computer. A minicomputer typically has multiple processors (say, four Pentium chips) and can simultaneously support several hundred workstations. And it isn't "mini" at all: It typically requires its own space on the floor rather than on a desk.
Mirror site A Webmaster can make an exact copy of his web site and upload it to a separate server. This kind of copy is known as a "mirror site." It helps make the site's content more accessible when it receives a ton of traffic. These mirror sites also come in handy for geographical reasons (e.g., you have a site in Germany and you want to make it accessible to users in the United States).
Modem Acronym for MOdulator-DEModulator. It is a device that converts digital data into high frequency communication signals that can be transmitted over a telephone line.
Monospace font A monospace font is one in which each character, including each blank space, is exactly the same width.
Morph A "morph" is a digital picture that someone has altered with a software program.
Motherboard In your computer, the motherboard is the main board, the one that contains the circuits connecting the computer's processor to its hard disk, memory, and other components. Motherboards also contain slots into which you can add other components, such as an internal modem, a scanner card, and so on.
MPEG Acronym for Motion Picture Experts Group. A standard for compressing video that comes in several versions based on bandwidth requirements. MPEG1 is a bit-stream standard for compressed video and audio optimised to fit into a bandwidth of 1.5Mbps. MPEG2 is for higher quality video-on-demand applications and runs at data rates between 4 and 9 Mbps. MPEG4 is a low-bit-rate compression algorithm for 56Kbps to 1Mbps connections.
MTBF Acronym for Mean Time Between Failure. It is the anticipated time between consecutive failures of a unit during the anticipated life of the unit.
Multitasking Multitasking refers to an operating system's ability to have more than one program running at a time.

 


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This page was last updated on Sunday, 14 December 2008