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Return to Viasat Satellite Internet Glossary

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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

P2P:

A Peer to Peer (P2P) network consists of all the computer systems or the “peers” that are connected to each other via the internet. Files can be shared directly between systems on the P2P network without the need of a central server. In other words, each computer on a P2P network becomes a file server as well as a client.

The only requirements for a computer to join a peer-to-peer network are an internet connection and P2P software. Common P2P software programs include qBittorrent, Vuze, Deluge, uTorrent & BitTorrent. These programs connect to a P2P network, which allows the computer to access thousands of other systems on the network. Once connected to the network, P2P software allows you to search for files on other people’s computers. Other users on the network can also share and search for files on your computer, but typically only within a single folder that you have designated to share with other members of the P2P network. While P2P networking makes file sharing easy and convenient, is also has led to a lot of software piracy and illegal music downloads. Therefore, it is best to be on the safe side and only download software and music from legitimate websites.

Packet:

A small amount of data sent over a computer network. Any time you receive data from the internet, it comes to your computer in the form of small packets. Each packet contains the address of its origin and destination, as well as information that connects it to the related packets being sent. The process of sending and receiving packets is known as “packet-switching”.

Packets from many different locations can be sent on the same lines and be sorted and directed to different routes by various computers along the way. It works a lot like the post office, except billions of packets are transferred each day, and most packets take less than a few seconds to reach their destination. Even FedEx same-day delivery cannot compete with that.

Page View:

Every time a user visits a web page, it is called a page view. Page views are tracked by website monitoring applications to record a website’s traffic. The more page views a website has, the more traffic it is receiving. However, since a page view is recorded each time a Web page is loaded, a single user can rack up many page views on one website. Therefore, unique page views are commonly tracked to log the number of different visitors a website receives in a given time period.

Page views are commonly confused with website hits. While people often use the term “hit” to describe a page view, technically a hit is recorded for each object that loads during a page view. For example, if a Web page contains HTML, two images, and a JavaScript reference, a single page view will record four hits. If a page contains over two hundred images, one page view will record over two hundred hits.

Page views are more similar to impressions, which are commonly tracked by online advertisers. Page views and impressions may be identical if one advertisement is placed on each page. However, if multiple ads are positioned on each page, the number of ad impressions will be greater than the number of page views.

Pandora:

A music streaming and automated music recommendation internet radio service. Pandora gives subscribers a personalized music-on-demand experience that continually evolves based on the listener’s personal preferences and music choices. Users can create stations from their favorite songs, artists or genres via the Pandora website or mobile app. Pandora subscribers can chose from the free ad-supported streaming service or upgrade to a premium paid Pandora subscription option, which offers ad-free music streaming, unlimited personalized stations, unlimited skips and replays and features higher quality audio for a small monthly fee. This service available to use via the internet at the Official Pandora.com website or as a mobile app.

Parallel Port:

This interface is found on the back of older PCs and is used for connecting external devices such as printers or a scanners. It uses a 25-pin connector (DB-25) and is rather large compared to most new interfaces. The parallel port is sometimes called a Centronics interface, since Centronics was the company that designed the original parallel port standard. It is sometimes also referred to as a printer port because the printer is the device most commonly attached to the parallel port.

The latest parallel port standard, which supports the same connectors as the Centronics interface, is called the Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP). This standard supports bi-directional communication and can transfer data up to ten times faster than the original Centronics port. However, since the parallel port is a rather dated technology, don’t be surprised to see USB or Firewire interfaces completely replace parallel ports in the future.

Path:

Also known as a “file path” or “directory path” the path defines the location of a file or folder. Paths can either be relative or absolute. Relative paths describe file and folder locations from the current directory, such as “pdfs/instructions.pdf.” Absolute paths define locations of files and folders from the root directory, such as “/Users/[username]/Documents/pdfs/instructions.pdf.” Both relative and absolute paths are useful in describing the location of files and folders within a computer’s file system.

Example: “The path to the Mac OS X iTunes Library is ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library.”

Payload:

When data is sent over the Internet, each unit transmitted includes both header information and the actual data being sent. The header identifies the source and destination of the packet, while the actual data is referred to as the payload. Because header information, or overhead data, is only used in the transmission process, it is stripped from the packet when it reaches its destination. Therefore, the payload is the only data received by the destination system.

PC:

Stands for “Personal computer.” PCs are are what most of us use on a daily basis for work or personal use. A typical PC includes a system unit, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Most PCs today also have a network or Internet connection, as well as ports for connecting peripheral devices, such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, speakers, external hard drives, and other components.

Personal computers allow us to write papers, create spreadsheets, track our finances, play games, and do many other things. If a PC is connected to the Internet, it can be used to browse the Web, check email, communicate with friends via instant messaging programs, and download files. PCs have become such an integral part of our lives that it can be difficult to imagine life without them!

While PC stands for “personal computer” the term can be a bit ambiguous. This is because Macintosh computers are often contrasted with PCs, even though Macs are also technically PCs. However, Apple itself has used the term “PC” to refer to Windows-based machines, as opposed to its own computers, which are called “Macs.” While the Mac/PC dilemma remains, PCs can always contrasted with other types of computers, such as mainframes and server computers, such as Web servers and network file servers. In other words, if you use a computer at home or at work, you can safely call it a PC.

PCI:

Stands for “Peripheral Component Interconnect.” It is a hardware bus designed by Intel and used in both PCs and Macs. Most add-on cards such as SCSI, Firewire, and USB controllers, use a PCI connection. Some graphics cards use PCI, but most new graphics cards connect to the AGP slot.

PCI slots are found in the back of your computer and are about 3.5″ long and about 0.5″ high. So before you go buy that Firewire expansion card, make sure you have at least one PCI slot available.

PDF:

Stands for “Portable Document Format.” PDF is a multi-platform file format developed by Adobe Systems. A PDF file captures document text, fonts, images, and even formatting of documents from a variety of applications. You can e-mail a PDF document to your friend and it will look the same way on his screen as it looks on yours, even if he has a Mac and you have a PC. Since PDFs contain color-accurate information, they should also print the same way they look on your screen.

To view a PDF file, you need Adobe Reader, a free application program distributed by Adobe Systems. Adobe also makes an Acrobat Plug-in for Web browsers that enables PDF files to be viewed inside a browser window. For more information on PDFs, visit Abobe’s PDF Page.

PeaZip: 

A free open-source WinZip alternative, but with a few more features in a considerably larger package than most freeware zip programs (around 10MB compared to 7-Zip’s 1MB). PeaZip is compatible with most compressed file formats and prioritizes security over compression, with optional integrity check and authenticated encryption. Unlike 7-Zip, PeaZip can repair damaged archives. Added features include the ability to convert archive formats and test archives for errors.

Peak Period:

Also known as “Internet Rush Hour” peak period refers to the time of the day when there are a large number of people using the internet. Typically this is in the evening hours from 5 or 6 PM up to 2 AM.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Programs (P2P):

These are programs that allow users to share music, files, books, software, etc. Use of these sites can be problematic, not only because they often consume large amounts of data but because the files being shared are often copyright protected. Viasat’s Acceptable Use Policy prohibits the use Viasat service to download intellectual property belonging to third parties without authorization.

Peer to Peer Network:

A Peer to Peer (P2P) network consists of all the computer systems or the “peers” that are connected to each other via the internet. Files can be shared directly between systems on the P2P network without the need of a central server. In other words, each computer on a P2P network becomes a file server as well as a client.

The only requirements for a computer to join a peer-to-peer network are an internet connection and P2P software. Common P2P software programs include qBittorrent, Vuze, Deluge, uTorrent & BitTorrent. These programs connect to a P2P network, which allows the computer to access thousands of other systems on the network. Once connected to the network, P2P software allows you to search for files on other people’s computers. Other users on the network can also share and search for files on your computer, but typically only within a single folder that you have designated to share with other members of the P2P network. While P2P networking makes file sharing easy and convenient, is also has led to a lot of software piracy and illegal music downloads. Therefore, it is best to be on the safe side and only download software and music from legitimate websites.

Peripheral:

A computer peripheral is any external device that provides input and output for the computer. For example, a keyboard and mouse are input peripherals, while a monitor and printer are output peripherals. Computer peripherals, or peripheral devices, are sometimes called “I/O devices” because they provide input and output for the computer. Some peripherals, such as external hard drives, provide both input and output for the computer.

Pharming:

Pharming is yet another way hackers attempt to manipulate users on the Internet. While phishing attempts to capture personal information by getting users to visit a fake website, pharming redirects users to false websites without them even knowing it.

While a typical website uses a domain name for its address, its actual location is determined by an IP address. When a user types a domain name into his or her Web browser’s address field and hits enter, the domain name is translated into an IP address via a DNS server. The Web browser then connects to the server at this IP address and loads the Web page data. After a user visits a certain website, the DNS entry for that site is often stored on the user’s computer in a DNS cache. This way, the computer does not have to keep accessing a DNS server whenever the user visits the website.

One way that pharming takes place is via an e-mail virus that “poisons” a user’s local DNS cache. It does this by modifying the DNS entries, or host files. For example, instead of having the IP address 17.254.3.183 direct to www.apple.com, it may direct to another website determined by the hacker. Pharmers can also poison entire DNS servers, which means any user that uses the affected DNS server will be redirected to the wrong website. Fortunately, most DNS servers have security features to protect them against such attacks. Still, they are not necessarily immune, since hackers continue to find ways to gain access to them.

While pharming is not as common as phishing scams are, it can affect many more people at once. This is especially true if a large DNS server is modified. So, if you visit a certain website and it appears to be significantly different than what you expected, you may be the victim of pharming. Restart your computer to reset your DNS entries, run an antivirus program, then try connecting to the website again. If the website still looks strange, contact your ISP and let them know their DNS server may have been pharmed.

Phishing:

Phishing is similar to fishing in a lake, but instead of trying to capture fish, phishers attempt to steal your personal information. They send out e-mails that appear to come from legitimate websites such as eBay, PayPal, or other banking institutions. The e-mails state that your information needs to be updated or validated and ask that you enter your username and password, after clicking a link included in the e-mail. Some e-mails will ask that you enter even more information, such as your full name, address, phone number, social security number, and credit card number. However, even if you visit the false website and just enter your username and password, the phisher may be able to gain access to more information by just logging in to you account.

Phishing is a con game that scammers use to collect personal information from unsuspecting users. The false e-mails often look surprisingly legitimate, and even the Web pages where you are asked to enter your information may look real. However, the URL in the address field can tell you if the page you have been directed to is valid or not.

If you receive an e-mail that asks that you update your information and you think it might be valid, go to the website by typing the URL in your browser’s address field instead of clicking the link in the e-mail. For example, go to “https://www.paypal.com” instead of clicking the link in an e-mail that appears to come from PayPal. If you are prompted to update your information after you have manually typed in the Web address and logged in, then the e-mail was probably legitimate. However, if you are not asked to update any information, then the e-mail was most likely a spoof sent by a phisher.

Most legitimate e-mails will address you by your full name at the beginning of the message. If there is any doubt that the e-mail is legitimate, be smart and don’t enter your information. Even if you believe the message is valid, following the guidelines above will prevent you from giving phishers your personal information.

Phreaking:

Phreaking refers to experimenting with or exploiting a telephone system and is often considered to be the predecessor of computer hacking. Early phreaking techniques allowed users to bypass telephone company switches and make free long distance calls. This activity later evolved into using modems to gain unauthorized access to computer systems. Phreaking is much less common today than in past decades since cell phone companies offer free long distance service and digital telephone systems are more secure.

Ping:

A test to see if a system on the Internet is working. “Pinging” a server tests and records the response time of the server. Pinging multiple computers can be helpful in finding Internet bottlenecks, so that data transfer paths can be rerouted a more efficient way. A good way to make sure you do not get disconnected from your dial-up ISP for being idle is to send a ping every 5 minutes or so. There are a number of shareware Ping programs that will do this for you.

Pinterest:

A social media platform originally created for women, but has since evolved for the whole family to use and enjoy. Pinterest allows users to share photos about favorite topics of interest such as cooking, clothing and home decor. With Pinterest you can discover arts & crafts, recipes, home improvement & decorating ideas, new products, style inspiration, workouts and many other ideas to try. This is a free social media networking service available to use via the internet at the Official Pinterest.com website or as a mobile app.

Piracy:

When someone installs and uses commercial software without paying for the program, it is called “pirating” the software. This name comes from the traditional meaning of the word “pirate,” which is a sea-faring criminal that steals and loots belongings from others. But far from the stereotypical sea pirate, a software pirate can be anyone who owns a computer. Software piracy is committed by simply downloading or copying a program that a user has not paid for.

Since computer programs are stored in a digital format, they are easy to copy and reproduce. For example, a game may be burned to a CD and transferred to the computer of an individual who has not paid for the program. Software programs can also be illegally downloaded from the Internet from unauthorized sources. Since pirating software does not require many resources, it has grown into a major problem for the computer industry.

While it may seem like an innocuous act, pirating software is the same as stealing. Software companies often invest thousands or even millions of dollars into creating the programs they sell. The income from selling these programs is what allows companies to produce the software and to continue improving the programs we use. Just because it is possible to copy a software program does not mean it is OK. Installing a commercial program from an illegal copy is the same thing as walking out of a store with the program and not paying for it.

While there are some programs that are free to use (such as shareware and freeware programs), it is important to pay for commercial software. You can avoid software piracy by only downloading software from authorized sources and making sure that you have valid software licenses for all the programs you use. Remember that paying for software programs supports the software industry, which is good for all of us!

Pixel:

The term “pixel” is actually short for “Picture Element.” These small little dots are what make up the images on computer displays, whether they are flat-screen (LCD) or tube (CRT) monitors. The screen is divided up into a matrix of thousands or even millions of pixels. Typically, you cannot see the individual pixels, because they are so small. This is a good thing, because most people prefer to look at smooth, clear images rather than blocky, “pixelated” ones. However, if you set your monitor to a low resolution, such as 640×480 and look closely at your screen, you will may be able to see the individual pixels. As you may have guessed, a resolution of 640×480 is comprised of a matrix of 640 by 480 pixels, or 307,200 in all. That’s a lot of little dots.

Each pixel can only be one color at a time. However, since they are so small, pixels often blend together to form various shades and blends of colors. The number of colors each pixel can be is determined by the number of bits used to represent it. For example, 8-bit color allows for 2 to the 8th, or 256 colors to be displayed. At this color depth, you may be able to see “graininess,” or spotted colors when one color blends to another. However, at 16, 24, and 32-bit color depths, the color blending is smooth and, unless you have some kind of extra-sensory vision capability, you should not see any graininess.

Platform:

In the computer world, a “platform” typically refers to a computer’s operating system. For example, a Dell computer running Windows XP would be considered to be running on a Windows platform. An iMac, on the other hand, runs on the Macintosh platform. It is a more generic way of referring to a computer’s operating system than having to specify, for example, Windows XP Professional SP 2, or Mac OS X 10.3.5. The term platform is often used when referring to what kind of computer systems a certain software program will run on.

Playback Settings:

These are settings on websites like YouTube and Netflix that determine the quality of your video. The faster your internet service, the higher the playback quality these services can support. You can control the settings to limit the amount of data you consume with video. Oftentimes, a medium setting works just fine and can save you a lot of data. Here’s an article about how to make these changes.

Plug and Play:

Sometimes, abbreviated PnP, is a catchy phrase used to describe devices that work with a computer system as soon as they are connected. The user does not have to manually install drivers for the device or even tell the computer that a new device has been added. Instead the computer automatically recognizes the device, loads new drivers for the hardware if needed, and begins to work with the newly connected device.

For example, if you connect a Plug-and-Play mouse to the USB port on your computer, it will begin to work within a few seconds of being plugged in. A non plug-and-play device would require you to go through several steps of installing drivers and setting up the device before it would work.

While Plug and Play usually refers to computer peripheral devices, such as keyboards and mice, it can also be used to describe internal hardware. For example, a video card or hard drive may be a Plug and Play device, meaning the computer will recognize it as soon as it is installed. The only difference is that internal components usually require the computer to be turned off when they are installed, while external devices can typically be installed while the computer is running.

Plug-in:

A plug-in (also “plugin”) is software add-on that adds extra features and capabilities to an application. Typically, plug-ins are stored within a subdirectory of the application folder. When the application is opened, the plug-ins are loaded into the program.

Plug-ins are available for a wide variety of programs, including Web browsers, graphic editors, and audio and video applications. Web browser plug-ins often enable specific types of media to be viewed directly in the browser. Plug-ins for graphics, audio, and video applications may add extra editing tools or filters to the program. While some programs include preinstalled plug-ins created by the developer, many plug-ins are developed by third-party companies.

PNG:

Stands for “Portable Network Graphic.” This format was designed as an alternative to the GIF format (which has been plagued by copyright issues). Like GIFs, PNG files are lossless, meaning they don’t lose any detail when they are compressed. They support up to 48-bit color or 16-bit grayscale and typically compress about 5% to 25% better than GIF files. However, they do not support animations like GIFs do. A format similar to PNG, called MNG, is currently under development, and will support animations.

Podcast:

The name “podcast” combines the terms iPod and broadcast into a single catchy word. As the name suggests, podcasts are audio and video broadcasts that can be played on an iPod. However, because podcasts are downloaded using Apple iTunes and can be played directly within the program, you don’t actually need an iPod to listen to a podcast.

Podcasts are distributed by both professional organizations as well as amateur audio producers who want to share their content with others. News organizations such as NPR and CNN offer podcasts of their news stories, while other types of podcasts can be downloaded from Comedy Central, G4 TV, VH1, and many other broadcasting companies. Podcasts can be browsed within the iTunes Music Store or found directly on an organization’s website, which often provides links to current podcasts.

Amateur podcasts can be created by anyone who has a microphone or digital video camera and a computer with recording software. In fact, recent versions of Apple’s GarageBand include special options for creating and exporting podcasts. Amateur podcasts are not always available through the iTunes store, but can be distributed on the Web. A simple link to the podcast will open the file in iTunes, making it possible for anyone with a website to publish podcasts.

Podcasts are often distributed in “episodes,” meaning new podcasts are made available on a regular basis. Users can subscribe to these podcasts, which iTunes can automatically download as they become available. Once podcasts are downloaded, the files are saved in the iTunes Library and can be viewed within the Podcasts section. They can be played within iTunes or transferred to an iPod, so users can watch or listen to podcasts while they are on the go.

Pole Mount:

Typically Viasat installers mount the Viasat satellite Dish on your house or with a pole mount, which is considered standard installation. Sign up for your Viasat internet service now, and receive FREE slope-roof mount standard installation!

Pop-Up:

The term “pop-up” has two computer-related meanings. One refers to a window and the other is a type of menu.

1. Pop-Up Window A pop-up window is a type of window that opens without the user selecting “New Window” from a program’s File menu. Pop-up windows are often generated by websites that include pop-up advertisements. These ads are produced with JavaScript code that is inserted into the HTML of a Web page. They typically appear when a user visits a page or closes a window. Some pop-up ads show up in front of the main window, while others show up behind the main browser window. Ads that appear behind open windows are also called “pop-under” ads.

Regardless of where pop-up advertisements appear on your screen, they can be pretty annoying. Fortunately, browser developers have realized this and most Web browsers now include an option to block pop-up windows. If you are noticing pop-up windows appear on your computer when your browser is not open, you may have an adware program running on your computer. The best solution to this problem is to run an anti-spyware program that will locate and remove the malware from your system.

2. Pop-Up Menu A pop-up menu is a type of menu that pops up on the screen when the user right-clicks a certain object or area. It can be also called a contextual menu since the menu options are relevant to where the user right-clicked on the screen. Pop-up menus provide quick access to common program functions and are used by most operating systems and applications.

POP3:

Post Office Protocol (POP3) sometimes referred to as just “POP,” is a simple, standardized method of delivering e-mail messages. A POP3 mail server receives e-mails and filters them into the appropriate user folders. When a user connects to the mail server to retrieve his mail, the messages are downloaded from mail server to the user’s hard disk.

When you configure your e-mail client, such as Outlook (Windows) or Mail (Mac OS X), you will need to enter the type of mail server your e-mail account uses. This will typically be either a POP3 or IMAP server. IMAP mail servers are a bit more complex than POP3 servers and allow e-mail messages to be read and stored on the server. Many “webmail” interfaces use IMAP mail servers so that users can manage all their mail online.

Still, most mail servers use the POP3 mail protocol because it is simple and well-supported. You may have to check with your ISP or whoever manages your mail account to find out what settings to use for configuring your mail program. If your e-mail account is on a POP3 mail server, you will need to enter the correct POP3 server address in your e-mail program settings. Typically, this is something like “mail.servername.com” or “pop.servername.com.” Of course, to successfully retrieve your mail, you will have to enter a valid username and password too.

Port:

As if computer terms weren’t hard enough to understand, there are three different meanings of the word “port.”

1. An Internet port. This is a number that indicates what kind of protocol a server on the Internet is using. For example, Web servers typically are listed on port 80. Web browsers use this port by default when accessing Web pages, but you can also specify what port you would like to use in the URL like this: http://www.excite.com:80. FTP uses port 21, email uses port 25, and game servers, like a Quake server or Battle.net use various other ports. It is good to know what a port is, but you seldom have to specify it manually, so don’t worry if this is new to you.

2. A hardware port. This refers to any one of the ports that are on the back of a computer where devices can be hooked up (like a keyboard, mouse, printer, digital camera, etc). Some common ports found on modern computers are USB, Firewire, and Ethernet.

3. The verb, “port.” This refers to the editing of a software program’s code so that it can run on another platform. For example, to get Final Fantasy VII to run on a PC, programmers needed to port it to the PC from the Playstation. Popular Windows games are often ported to macOS as well.

Portal:

While this term can also refer to a matterless vortex used to travel between different dimensions, an Internet portal is a Web site that acts as a starting point for browsing the Web. Portals typically include search engines and large directories of websites. Some popular portals are Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, Netscape, AltaVista, MSN, and AOL.com. are also many smaller portals, known as “niche portals,” for specific interests. These sites include C|net (for computers and technology), Fool.com (for investors), and Garden.com (for gardeners).

Most large portals have millions of Web pages indexed for visitors to search though. They also have large directories of Web sites, which are categorized by topic. Though the primary purpose of a portal is to find other sites for you, many now include a lot of information within their own sites.

Power Supply:

A power supply is a component that regulates and provides power to an electrical device. It receives power from a wall outlet, battery pack, or other electrical source and converts the current and voltage to the correct amount required by the connected device. Most computers have internal power supplies, while other devices may use external power supplies that are attached directly to the power cable.

PPC:

Stands for “Pay Per Click,” and is used in online advertising. PPC advertisements generate revenue for Web publishers each time a visitor clicks on an ad. Banner ads, Flash ads, and textual ads can all be used to generate pay per click revenue for publishers. Many search engines also use the pay per click model, showing sponsored results along with other relevant results for searches. PPC is an attractive model for advertisers because they only have to pay for actual traffic generated by their ads.

PPI:

Stands for “Pixels Per Inch.” The resolution of a printed photo is often measured in DPI, or “dots per inch.” The DPI describes how many dots of ink the printer prints per line per inch. Therefore, the higher the DPI, the greater the detail of the printed image. However, even if a photo is printed with a high DPI, the detail represented in the photo can only be as high as the PPI.

PPI measures the number of pixels per line per inch in a digital photo. This number is directly related to the number of megapixels a digital camera can capture. For example, the original Canon Digital Rebel is a 6.3 megapixel camera and captures 2048 vertical by 3072 horizontal pixels. Therefore, when printing a 4×6 image, the PPI would be 3072 px. / 6 in. = 512 PPI. That is high enough to print a very detailed 4×6 photo. However, if you were to print a large 20×30 poster image from a 6.3 megapixel image, the PPI would be 3072 px. / 30 in. = 102.4 PPI.

Most modern printers print images with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. Therefore, if you print a photo with a PPI of less than 300, you may notice the image is not as sharp as you would like. Of course, the detail in a 20×30 image may not need to be as clear as a 4×6 photo. But a good rule of thumb is to keep your PPI above 300 so your prints will look nice and clear.

PPP:

Stands for “Point to Point Protocol.” It is the Internet standard for dial-up modem connections. PPP is a set of rules that defines how your modem exchanges packets of data with other systems on the Internet. If you connect to your ISP with a dial-up modem, you are most likely using PPP.

PPPoE:

PPPoE is short for “Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet” and is pronounced “P-P-P-oh-E.” It is a protocol commonly used by DSL providers for establishing a PPP connection over an Ethernet network. PPPoE is often seen as an alternative to DHCP, which is the standard network configuration used by cable Internet providers.

Since most DSL modems connect to a computer or router via an Ethernet cable, computers cannot connect to an ISP directly via PPP (like a traditional dial-up modem). Therefore, the network configuration must be set to PPPoE, which allows both the Ethernet and PPP protocols to work in tandem. This option is available in the Network control panel in Windows and the Network system preference in Mac OS X. In order to configure a PPPoE connection, you typically need to enter username and password, as well as a service name, which is provided by your ISP.

PPTP:

Stands for “Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.” PPTP is a networking standard for connecting to virtual private networks, or VPNs. VPNs are secure networks that can be accessed over the Internet, allowing users to access a network from a remote location. This is useful for people who need to connect to an office network from home or access their home computer from another location.

The “point-to-point” part of the term refers the connection created by PPTP. It allows one point (the user’s computer) to access another specific point (a remote network) over the Internet. The “tunneling” part of the term refers to the way one protocol is encapsulated within another protocol. In PPTP, the point-to-point protocol (PPP) is wrapped inside the TCP/IP protocol, which provides the Internet connection. Therefore, even though the connection is created over the Internet, the PPTP connection mimics a direct link between the two locations, allowing for a secure connection.

Processor:

This little chip is the heart of a computer. Also referred to as the “microprocessor,” the processor does all the computations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. In PCs, the most popular microprocessor used is the Intel Pentium chip, whereas Macintosh computers use the PowerPC chip (developed by Motorola, IBM, and Apple).

The speed of a computer’s processor is measured in megahertz, or cycles per second. But higher megahertz doesn’t always mean better performance. Though a 600-MHz chip has a clock speed that is twice as fast as a 300-Mhz chip, it doesn’t mean that the computer with the 600-Mhz chip will run twice as fast. This is because the speed of a computer is also influenced by other factors, such as the efficiency of the processor, the bus architecture, the amount of memory available, and the software that is running on the computer. Some processors can complete more operations per clock cycle than other processors, making them more efficient than other processors with higher clock speeds. This is why the PowerPC chip is typically faster than Pentium chips at that are clocked at higher megahertz.

Protocol:

When computers communicate with each other, there needs to be a common set of rules and instructions that each computer follows. A specific set of communication rules is called a protocol. Because of the many ways computers can communicate with each other, there are many different protocols — too many for the average person to remember. Some examples of these different protocols include PPP, TCP/IP, SLIP, HTTP, and FTP. Can you guess what the last “P” in each acronym stands for? If you guessed “protocol,” send yourself a congratulations email.

Progressive Scan:

Video signals are generated using horizontal lines. An interlaced picture draws every other line and alternates between drawing odd lines and even lines. A progressive scan picture draws every line in sequence. Therefore, a progressive scan video signal sends twice as much data than an interlaced signal each time it draws an image on the screen.

Before DVDs and HDTV became popular, interlaced video was the norm for television. Standard definition broadcasts were interlaced, since it was a more efficient way to send video data. Since the human eye has a hard time detecting video interlacing, an interlaced signal that refreshes at 60 Hz (times per second) is easier on the eyes and produces less flicker than a progressive scan signal that refreshes at 30 Hz.

Still, if a progressive scan and interlaced image are both projected at 60 Hz, the progressive scan image will usually appear slightly smoother. Video that contains fast motion makes this difference more noticeable. For this reason, the DVD and HDTV standards were developed to support progressive scan video signals.

When you see video formats described as 480p or 720p, the number indicates how many horizontal lines of resolution the video signal uses, while the “p” indicates it is a progressive scan signal. Similarly, the 1080i format contains 1080 lines of resolution, but is interlaced. Both 720p and 1080i are used by HDTV.

Protocol:

When computers communicate with each other, there needs to be a common set of rules and instructions that each computer follows. A specific set of communication rules is called a protocol. Because of the many ways computers can communicate with each other, there are many different protocols — too many for the average person to remember. Some examples of these different protocols include PPP, TCP/IP, SLIP, HTTP, and FTP. Can you guess what the last “P” in each acronym stands for? If you guessed “protocol,” send yourself a congratulations email.

Proxy Server:

A proxy server, also known as an “application-level gateway”, is a computer that acts as a gateway between a local network (for example, all the computers at one company or in one building) and a larger-scale network such as the internet. Proxy servers provide increased performance and security.

Public Connection:

A public connection (like a Wi-Fi connection at a cafe) allows you to access the internet. However, it is less secure than a private network.

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