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127 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
application programming interfaces (APIs)
Blocks of code in the operating system that software applications need to interact with it.
application software
The set of programs on a computer that helps a user carry out tasks such as word processing, sending e-mail, balancing a budget, creating presentations, editing photos, taking an online course, and playing games.
The process that takes place after a user types in his or her login name and password and the computer system determines whether the computer is an authorized user and what level of access is to be granted on the network.
Backup utility
Autility that creates a duplicate copy of selected data on the hard disk and copies it to another storage device.
basic input/output system (BIOS)
Aprogram that manages the data between the operating system and all the input and output devices attached to the system. BIOS is also responsible for loading the operating system (OS) from its permanent location on the hard drive to random access memory (RAM).
boot process (or start-up process)
Process for loading the operating system into random access memory (RAM) when the computer is turned on.
command-driven interface
An interface in which the user enters commands to communicate with the computer system.
As its name implies, your computer's desktop puts at your fingertips all of the elements necessary for a productive work session that are typically found on or near the top of a traditional desk, such as files and folders.
device driver
Software that facilitates the communication between a device and the operating system.
Hierarchical structures that include files, folders, and drives, used to create a more organized and efficient computer.
Disk Cleanup
AWindows utility that cleans unnecessary files from your hard drive.
disk defragmenter utilities
Utilities that regroup related pieces of files together on the hard disk, enabling faster retrieval of the data.
Every keystroke, every mouse click, and each signal to the printer creates an action, or event, in the respective device (keyboard, mouse, or printer) to which the operating system responds.
extension (or file type)
In a filename, the three letters that follow the user-supplied filename after the dot (.) ; the extension identifies what kind of family of files the file belongs to or which application should be used to read the file.
A collection of related pieces of information stored together for easy reference.
file compression utility
Aprogram that takes out redundancies in a file to reduce the file size.
file management
Providing organizational structure to the computer's contents.
file path
Identifies the exact location of a file, starting with the drive in which the file is located, and including all folders, subfolders (if any), the filename, and extension. (Example: C:\My Documents\Spring 2005\ English Comp\Term Paper\Illustrations\ EBronte.jpg)
The first part of the label applied to a file, similar to our first names; it is generally the name a user assigns to the file when saving it.
A collections of files stored on a computer.
graphical user interface (or GUI, pronounced "gooey")
Unlike the command- and menudriven interfaces used earlier, GUIs display graphics and use the point-and-click technology of the mouse and cursor, making them much more user-friendly.
Pictures on the desktop that represent an object such as a software application or a file or folder.
Asignal that tells the operating system that it is in need of immediate attention.
kernel (or supervisor program)
The essential component of the operating system, responsible for managing the processor and all other components of the computer system. Because it stays in random access memory (RAM) the entire time your computer is powered on, the kernel is called memory resident.
An open-source operating system based on UNIX. Because of the stable nature of this operating system, it is often used on Web servers.
Mac OS
Apple Computer's operating system. In 1984, Mac OS became the first operating system to incorporate the user-friendly pointand- click technology in a commercially affordable computer. The most recent version of the Mac operating system, Mac OS X, is based on the UNIX operating system. Previous Mac operating systems had been based on Apple's own proprietary program.
menu-driven interface
A user interface in which the user chooses a command from menus displayed on the screen.
Lists of commands that appear on the screen.
Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS)
A single-user, single-task operating system created by Microsoft. MS-DOS was the first widely installed operating system in personal computers.
Microsoft Windows
The most popular operating system for desktop computers.
When the operating system allows a user to perform more than one task at a time.
multiuser operating system (or network operating system)
Enables more than one user to access the computer system at one time by efficiently juggling all the requests from multiple users.
New Technology File System (NTFS)
A file system in Windows XP that differs from File Allocation Table (FAT). NTFS was developed with the Windows NT version and has been used in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
open-source program
Aprogram that is available for developers to use or modify as they wish; it is typically free of charge.
operating system (OS)
System software that controls the way in which a computer system functions, including the management of hardware, peripherals, and software.
If the data and/or instructions that have been placed in the swap file are needed later, the operating system swaps them back into active random access memory (RAM) and replaces them in the hard drive's swap file with less active data or instructions.
path separators
The backslash marks (\) used by Microsoft Windows and DOS in file names. Mac files use a colon (:), and UNIX and Linux use the forward slash (/) as the path separator.
The combination of a computer's operating system and processor. The two most common platform types are the PC and the Apple Macintosh.
Plug and Play (or PnP)
Technology that enables the operating system, once the system is booted up, to recognize automatically any new peripherals and configure them to work with the system.
power-on self-test (POST)
The first job the basic input/output system (BIOS) performs, ensuring that essential peripheral devices are attached and operational. This process consists of a test on the video card and video memory, a BIOS identification process (during which the BIOS version, manufacturer, and data are displayed on the monitor), and a memory test to ensure memory chips are working properly.
real-time operating system (RTOS)
Aprogram with a specific purpose that must guarantee certain response times for particular computing tasks, or the machine's application is useless. Real-time operating systems are found in many types of robotic equipment.
Recycle Bin
Afolder on a PC's desktop where deleted files from the hard drive reside until permanently purged from the system.
Contains all the different configurations (settings) used by the operating system (OS) as well as by other applications.
restore point
The snapshot of the entire system's settings that Windows XP creates every time the computer is started, or when a new application or driver is installed.
root directory
The C drive, which is the top of the filing structure of the computer system.
Safe mode
Aspecial diagnostic mode designed for troubleshooting errors that occur during the boot process.
AWindows utility that checks for lost files and fragments as well as physical errors on the hard drive.
screen savers
Animated images that appear on a computer monitor when no user activity has been sensed for a certain time.
On the desktop, bars that appear at the side or bottom of the screen that control which part of the information is displayed on the screen.
single-user, multitask operating system
An operating system that allows only one person to work on a computer at a time, but the system can perform a variety of tasks simultaneously.
single-user, single-task operating system
An operating system that allows only one user to work on a computer at a time to perform just one task at a time.
swap file (or page file)
A temporary storage area on the hard drive where the operating system "swaps out" or moves the data or instructions from random access memory (RAM) that have not recently been used; this process takes place when more RAM space is needed.
system files
The main files of the operating system.
System Restore
A utility in Windows XP that lets you restore your system settings to a specific previous date when everything was working properly.
system software
The set of programs that enables a computer's hardware devices and application software to work together; it includes the operating system and utility programs.
Task Manager
AWindows utility that checks on a program if it has stopped working and exits the nonresponding program when you click End Task.
Task Scheduler
AWindows utility that enables you to schedule tasks to run automatically at predetermined times, with no interaction necessary on your part.
Acondition of excessive paging in which the operating system becomes sluggish.
On the desktop, groups of icons collected together in a small box.
An operating system originally conceived in 1969 by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie of AT&T's Bell Labs. In 1974, the UNIX code was rewritten in the standard programming language C. Today there are various commercial versions of UNIX.
user interface
Part of the operating system that enables you to interact with your computer.
Utility Manager
Autility in the Accessories folder of Windows XP that enables you to magnify the screen image; you can also have screen contents read out loud or display an on-screen keyboard.
utility programs
Small programs that perform many of the general housekeeping tasks for the computer, such as system maintenance and file compression.
virtual memory
The space on the hard drive that the operating system stores data to if you don't have enough random access memory (RAM) to hold all of the programs you're currently trying to run.
In a graphical user interface, rectangular boxes that contain programs displayed on the screen.
Windows Explorer
The program in Microsoft Windows that helps a user manage files and folders by showing the location and contents of every drive, folder, and file on the computer.
3-D sound card
Enables a computer to produce a sound that is omnidirectional, or three-dimensional.
access time
The time it takes a storage device to locate its stored data.
arithmetic logic unit (ALU)
Part of the central processing unit (CPU) that is designed to perform mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and to perform comparison operations such as greater than, less than, and equal to.
bit depth
The number of bits the video card uses to store data about each pixel on the monitor.
Technology that uses radio waves to transmit data over short distances.
central processing unit (CPU)
The part of the system unit of a computer that is responsible for data processing (or the "brains" of the computer); it is the largest and most important chip in the computer. It controls all the functions performed by the computer's other components and processes all the commands issued to it by software instructions.
A portable, read-only optical storage device.
clock speed
The steady and constant pace at which a computer goes through machine cycles, measured in hertz (Hz).
CD-RW (Compact Disc-Read/Writable) disc
A portable, optical storage device that can be written and rewritten to many times.
CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable) disc
A portable, optical storage device that can be written to once and can be used with either a CD-R drive or a CD-RW drive.
control unit
A component that controls the switches inside the central processing unit (CPU).
CPU usage
The percentage of time a central processing unit (CPU) is working.
data transfer rate (or throughput)
The speed at which a storage device transfers data to other computer components, expressed in kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps).
DVD drive
A drive that enables the computer to read digital video discs (DVDs). A DVD±R/RW drive can write DVDs as well as read them.
Ethernet port
A port that is slightly larger than a standard phone jack and transfers data at speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). It is used to connect a computer to a cable modem or a network.
expansion hub
A device that connects to one port, such as a universal serial bus (USB) port, to provide additional new ports, similar to a multi-plug extension cord for electrical appliances.
File Allocation Table (FAT)
An index of all sector numbers that the hard drive stores in a table to keep track of which sectors hold which files.
FireWire port (previously called the IEEE 1394 port)
A port based on a standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), with a transfer rate of 400 megabits per second (Mbps). Today, it is most commonly used to connect digital video devices such as digital cameras to the computer.
flash drive
Drives that plug into a universal serial bus (USB) port on a computer and store data digitally. Also called USB drives.
flash memory card
A form of portable storage. This removable memory card is often used in digital cameras, MP3 players, and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
floppy disk
Aportable 3.5-inch storage format, with a storage capacity of 1.44 megabytes (MB).
gigahertz (GHz)
One billion hertz.
hard disk drive (or hard drive)
Holds all permanently stored programs and data; is located inside the system unit.
head crash
A stoppage of the hard disk drive that often results in data loss.
IrDA port
A port based on a standard developed by the Infrared Data Association for transmitting data. IrDA ports enable you to transmit data between two devices using infrared light waves, similar to a TV remote control. IrDA ports have a maximum throughput of 4 megabits per second (Mbps) and require that a line of sight be maintained between the two ports.
kernel memory
The memory that the computer's operating system uses.
latency (or rotational delay)
Occurs after the read/write head locates the correct track, then waits for the correct sector to spin to the read/write head.
machine cycle (or processing cycle)
The steps a central processing unit (CPU) follows to perform its tasks.
magnetic media
Portable storage devices, such as floppy disks and Zip disks, that use a magnetized film to store data.
megahertz (MHz)
One million hertz; hertz is the unit of measure for processor speed, or machine cycles per second.
memory bound
A system that is limited in how fast it can send data to the central processing unit (CPU) because there's not enough random access memory (RAM) installed.
memory card reader
An external device for reading flash memory cards.
memory modules (or memory cards)
Small circuit boards that hold a series of random access memory (RAM) chips.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) port
A port for connecting electronic musical instruments (such as synthesizers) to a computer.
Moore's Law
A mathematical rule, named after Gordon Moore, the cofounder of the central processing unit (CPU) chip manufacturer Intel, that predicts that the number of transistors inside a CPU will increase so fast that CPU capacity will double every 18 months.
A special circuit board in the system unit that contains the central processing unit (CPU), the memory (RAM) chips, and the slots available for expansion cards. It is the largest printed circuit board; all of the other boards (video cards, sound cards, and so on) connect to it to receive power and to communicate.
nonvolatile storage
Permanent storage, as in read-only memory (ROM).
optical media
Portable storage devices that use a laser to read and write data, such as CDs and DVDs.
page file
The file the operating system builds on the hard drive when it is using virtual memory to enable processing to continue.
parallel port
A port that sends data between devices in groups of bits at speeds of 92 kilobits per second (Kbps). Parallel ports are often used to connect printers to computers.
physical memory
The amount of random access memory (RAM) that is actually available on memory modules in a computer.
Thin, round metallic plates stacked onto the hard disk drive spindle.
Plug and Play (or PnP)
Technology that enables the operating system, once the system is booted up, to recognize automatically any new peripherals and configure them to work with the system.
An interface through which external devices are connected to the computer.
random access memory (RAM)
The computer's temporary storage space or shortterm memory. It is located as a set of chips on the system unit's motherboard, and its capacity is measured in megabytes, with most modern systems containing around 256 megabyte (MB) to 512 MB of RAM.
read/write heads
The read/write heads move from the outer edge of the spinning platters to the center, up to 50 times per second, to retrieve (read) and record (write) the magnetic data to and from the hard disk.
A section of a hard disk drive platter, wedge-shaped from the center of the platter to the edge.
seek time
The time it takes for the read/write heads to move over the surface of the disk, between tracks, to the correct track.
serial port
A port that enables the transfer of data, one bit at a time, over a single wire at speeds of up to 56 kilobits per second (Kbps); it is often used to connect modems to the computer.
sound card
An expansion card that attaches to the motherboard inside the system unit that enables the computer to produce sounds.
A special type of speaker designed to more faithfully reproduce lowfrequency sounds.
system evaluation
The process of looking at a computer's subsystems, what they do, and how they perform to determine whether the computer system has the right hardware components to do what the user ultimately wants it to do.
Concentric circles on a hard disk drive platter.
universal serial bus (USB) port
A port that can connect a wide variety of peripherals to the computer, including keyboards, printers, Zip drives, and digital cameras. USB 2.0 transfers data at 480 megabits per second (Mbps) and is approximately 40 times faster than the original USB port.
video card (or video adapter)
An expansion card that is installed inside a system unit to translate binary data (the 1s and 0s your computer uses) into the images viewed on the monitor.
video RAM (VRAM)
The random access memory included with a video.
virtual memory
The space on the hard drive that the operating system stores data to if you don't have enough random access memory (RAM) to hold all of the programs you're currently trying to run.
volatile storage
Temporary storage, such as in random access memory (RAM); when the power is off, the data in volatile storage is cleared out.
Zip disk
A portable storage medium with storage capacities ranging from 100 megabytes (MB) to 750 MB.