Online Support Centre

Jargon buster

  • Access
    Or making a connection to the Internet. You would normally do this via an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Madasafish, but you may also have access to the Internet through an office network.
  • Account
    When you sign up for Madasafish you are given a username and a password. This is your account and each time you go online it allows Madasafish to check that you are authorised to access the Internet.
  • Acrobat
    Also known as the Acrobat Reader. This program allows you to read documents that are stored in the PDF format (Portable Document Format). There are versions of Acrobat available for PC, Macintosh and Linux computers, which means that documents stored as PDF files can be opened and read by anyone, regardless of what type of computer they use.
  • ADSL
    Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a technology that provides high-speed Internet access (also known as 'broadband') over an ordinary telephone line. Connection speeds can be up to 20 times faster than ordinary modems and provide a permanent link to the Internet. However you can still make ordinary voice calls over the telephone line while you are connected to the Internet. The Madasafish ADSL service is called Madasafish Broadband. See also: Broadband, ISDN
  • Anytime
    Madasafish Anytime is the Internet access service from Madasafish which gives you free Internet calls all day and all night, every day of the week. This is subject to a fair usage policy of 200 hours per month.
  • Attachments
    These are files that are sent with an e-mail message. They can be text, graphics, sound, video, spreadsheets, databases, or even an entire application. However, attachments can also come in the form of computer viruses that can damage your computer. Be wary of attachments and don't open any attachment unless you know and trust the person that sent it to you.
  • AVI
    This stands for Audio-Video Interleave - a file format invented by Microsoft for storing video clips. Video files in this format have .avi as their filename extension - for example, starwars.avi. The software needed to play AVI files is already installed on all PCs running Microsoft Windows.
  • Bandwidth
    Bandwidth refers to the amount of data or information that your Internet connection can cope with. The more bandwidth you have the faster you can receive data from the Internet. A simple text-only e-mail message doesn't need much bandwidth, but audio and video clips require a lot of bandwidth. See also: Broadband
  • Banner
    Also known as 'banner ad' - an advert in the form of a graphic image, normally situated right at the top of a web page.
  • Baud Rate
    This is the technical term for the speed at which you connect to the Internet via your modem, and is measured in kbps (kilobits per second). Most modems have a maximum baud rate of 56kbps - often shortened to just 56k - but the actual connection speed may be somewhat lower because of factors such as interference on the phone lines.
  • Bookmark
    Web browsers allow you to add 'bookmarks' that store the address of your favourite Internet sites. This allows you to visit the site whenever you want to, without having to type in the site's full address each time.
  • Broadband
    The term 'broadband' refers to a high-speed Internet connection that is much faster than an ordinary 56K modem. At the moment you can get a broadband connection using either cable modems or ADSL.
  • Browser
    A web browser is a program that allows you to enter and explore the World Wide Web. You are probably using a browser right now to read these Help files. Internet Explorer is the most popular browser at present and comes pre-installed on all PCs and Macintosh computers.
  • BT
    Stands for British Telecom.
  • BT Answer 1571
    An answering service from BT that takes messages while you are away from the phone, on another call or when you are connected to the Internet.
  • BTW
    'By the way' - abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Cable modem
    As well as providing telephone and television services, some cable companies can install a 'cable modem' for your computer. A cable modem provides a high-speed broadband connection that is faster than an ordinary modem.
  • Caller Line Identification (CLI)
    Caller Line Identification (also known as CLI or simply 'Caller ID') is the system by which your phone line presents your phone number when you make outgoing calls. And when you dial 1471 to find out who just called you, CLI is what allows you to get their phone number. Madasafish packages will only work if CLI is enabled.
  • Chat
    Chatting online is a bit like sending a text message to a mobile phone user. You can type messages on screen and send them to someone else using a chat program, or you can visit a 'chat room' on the Internet where you can chat with many people all at the same time.
  • Chat Room
    A place on the Internet where online 'chat' takes place.
  • Connection
    Your computer connects to Madasafish's computers over the telephone line in order to gain access to the Internet.
  • Cookie
    A cookie is a small piece of software, usually left by a website and stored on your computer's hard drive, which records information about you and your browsing habits on the Internet. For example, if you are a regular user of online stores such as, a cookie will allow the shop to remember your name and details of all your purchases.
  • Cursor
    A blinking line or shape on the screen that tells you where the next character will go while you are typing.
  • Cybercafe
    A cafe or bar that has its own computers or Internet access. Customers can explore the World Wide Web or check their e-mail whilst having a drink or snack. You normally pay for Internet use by the hour or half-hour.
  • Desktop
    The desktop is the area on your computer screen that you can see when no other files or applications are open. If you are on a computer with the Windows operating system you should see the My Computer, My Documents and Recycle Bin icons on your desktop.
  • Dial-up
    Most people connect to the Internet by using their computer and modem to dial the telephone number of their ISP (Internet Service Provider) over an ordinary telephone line. This is known as a 'dial-up connection'.
  • DNS
    Domain Name System. A system housed on a number of servers on the Internet that converts domain names to a unique number known as an IP (Internet Protocol) address.
  • Domain Name
    A domain name on the Internet is rather like the street name in an ordinary postal address. Each site on the Internet has its own domain name, such as ''.
  • Dotcom
    A generic term describing companies such as or that operate on the Internet.
  • Download
    When you transfer any document or information from the Internet onto your own computer, this is known as a 'download'. See also: Upload
  • Driver
    A small piece of software that allows your PC to control another piece of computer equipment, such as a modem, printer or scanner.
  • Electronic mail or e-mail
    A method of electronically sending messages from one computer to another.
  • Emoticons
    Short for 'emotion-icons' - these are symbols used in e-mail to indicate emotions. For example :) would indicate a smile and :( would indicate a frown! (Look at them sideways to see the facial expression.)
  • FAQ
    An FAQ is a list of 'Frequently Asked Questions' - along with the answers to those questions. There are thousands of FAQs on the World Wide Web, covering a vast range of subjects. Whatever subject you're interested in there's an FAQ somewhere that can answer your questions for you.
  • Filter
    Also known as a microfilter. These are little gadgets that you need if you are using a broadband/ADSL modem on a phone line that is shared with ordinary telephones. It makes sure that the digital ADSL signals do not interfere with ordinary voice signals - and allows you to chat on the phone while simultaneously surfing the Internet at high speed.
  • Firewall
    A firewall is a computer program that acts like a barrier, protecting a person's computer from unauthorised external access (most commonly in the form of Internet hackers).
  • Flame
    An insulting or derogatory message usually sent via e-mail or posted on Internet message boards. These sometimes turn into 'flame wars', when lots of other people join in the heated exchanges. It's good manners (netiquette) to try to avoid 'flaming' other people. See also: E-mail, Netiquette
  • Flash
    Flash is a popular program used to create eye-catching animations for Web sites. However, over-use of Flash can be annoying as you may have to spend ages waiting for the animation files to be downloaded.
  • Freeware
    Freeware is computer software that has been released free of charge by its author. However, there may be certain conditions attached to its use, such as a time limit of 30 days, after which you have to start paying for the software. See also: Shareware
  • FTP
    FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is one of the main methods used to transfer files quickly across the Internet. Many companies set up FTP sites that act like a library, containing all kinds of files for people to download. See also: Download
  • FWIW
    'For what it's worth' - an abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Gif
    Gif, pronounced 'jiff', stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a popular file format used to store graphics and other types of images on the Internet.
  • Gigabyte (GB)
    One gigabyte is a thousand megabytes. See also: Megabyte
  • Hacker
    A skilled programmer who breaks into other computers or networks. Some hackers are harmless and just do it for a challenge, but others are just plain crooked - sometime known as 'crackers'.
  • Header
    At the beginning of all e-mail messages there is a line of text called a 'header' that contains information such as the subject of the message and the e-mail address of the person who sent the message. See also: Attachments, E-mail, Signature
  • Hit
    Strictly speaking, the term 'hit' specifically refers to the number of files that you download when you visit a website. A web page with a picture on it would count as two hits - one for the page itself and another for the picture. However, some people use the word 'hits' less accurately to refer to the number of people that visit a particular website each month - for example, 2000 hits per month.
  • Home Page
    All sites on the World Wide Web consist of a series of 'pages'. The 'home page' is the first page you see when you visit a website, and acts as the main entry point that leads to all the other areas within the site.
  • HTML
    Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the computer programming language used to create web pages. It allows pictures and text to be combined to create web documents that can be viewed by browsers. Its most important feature, though, is 'hypertext' - the ability to create links that take you from one page to another. See also: Gif, Jpeg, World Wide Web
  • HTTP
    This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol - the computer 'language' used to link together all the HTML pages found on the World Wide Web.
  • Hyperlink
    On World Wide Web pages, hyperlinks are highlighted text or images which, when selected (usually by clicking the mouse button), follow a link to another page. Hyperlinks can also be used to automatically download other files as well as audio and video clips. See also: Download
  • Icon
    An icon is a small picture that computers use to represent an area, function or an application to provide a visual target for your cursor to click on. So a picture of a computer accompanies the functions that apply to your computer, and can be found above the words 'My Computer' on the Windows desktop.
  • ICQ
    Stands for 'I seek you'. This is a chat program that can also search the Internet to see if any of your friends are online at the same time as you.
  • Image Map
    An image map is an image on a web page that is divided into a series of 'hot spots'. Each hot spot acts as a link that will take you to another page with additional information. For example, the image could be a weather map that covers a number of cities. Each city on the map would be a separate hot spot, and clicking on a city would take you to another page that had a detailed weather forecast for that area.
  • IMHO
    'In my humble opinion' - abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Instant Messaging
    A form of high-speed chat that lets you instantly exchange messages with friends or colleagues. Popular messaging programs include Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger.
  • Internet
    Often referred to just as 'the Net', the Internet is a kind of mega-network that links together all the smaller networks in the world. When you connect to Madasafish your computer becomes part of Madasafish's own network, which, in turn, is connected to the wider Internet.
  • Internet Explorer
    Internet Explorer is the world's most popular web browser. It was developed by Microsoft and is installed on all PCs.
  • IP
    Internet Protocol (IP) is the main protocol - or computer 'language' - used to connect computers across the Internet.
  • IP Address
    An IP address is a bit like a telephone number. Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP address in the form of a four-number code such as However, these codes can be difficult to remember, so each IP address can also be linked to a 'domain name' that is easier to remember, such as See also: Domain Name
  • IRC
    Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an electronic chat program that allows you to communicate with other Internet users who are online at the same time as you. See also: ICQ
  • ISDN
    Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a digital telephone line that provides faster Internet connection speeds than ordinary analogue lines. ISDN allows simultaneous transfer of voice, data and video information, but it may soon be made obsolete by ADSL and cable modems, which both provide even faster 'broadband' connections.
  • ISP
    An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company or organisation, such as Madasafish, dedicated to providing home users and businesses with access to the Internet.
  • JPEG
    A JPEG file is a way of storing high-quality photographics on the Internet. The file format was developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), and provides a way of compressing images so that they can be downloaded more quickly. You can recognise a JPEG file by the filename extension .jpg (for example, myface.jpg). See also: Download
  • Kilobyte
    One kilobyte is 1024 bytes.
  • LAN
    A LAN is a 'Local Area Network' - a network that consists of a group of computers in one particular location, such as an office. If you are using the Internet at work you are probably connecting to the Net via your company's LAN.
  • Leased Line
    A rented, high-speed Internet connection for private use, available 24 hours a day. Leased lines can cost companies (and some very rich individuals) more than £100,000 a year - the price depends on the amount of bandwidth the customer wants.
  • Link
    Short for 'hyperlink', links are the connections between hypertext pages (also known simply as web pages). Every time you click on highlighted text to go to another page you're following a link.
  • Log On
    When you connect to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider such as Madasafish, you must first log on with your username and password.
  • LOL
    'Laughs out loud' - an abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Lurker
    A lurker is someone who reads the messages in a chat room or newsgroup but never joins in with their own comments.
  • Mailserver
    A computer - and the software running on it - that allows the sending, sorting and retrieval of e-mail messages.
  • Megabyte (MB)
    The unit of measurement for computer files - a megabyte is a thousand kilobytes or a million bytes. A 1MB file takes about five minutes to download from the Internet using a typical 56k modem. See also: Gigabyte, Kilobyte
  • Microfilter
    Also known simply as a filter. These are little gadgets that you need if you are using a broadband/ADSL modem on a phone line that is shared with ordinary telephones. It makes sure that the digital ADSL signals do not interfere with ordinary voice signals - and allows you to chat on the phone while simultaneously surfing the Internet at high speed.
  • MIME
    Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions - a format designed originally to include images, sounds, animations and other types of documents within Internet mail messages.
  • Mirror site
    Some websites are so popular that they can become congested by all the people trying to download files from the site, sort of like an online traffic jam. To relieve this congestion, the owners of the site may create several 'mirror' sites around the world. The mirror site contains all the same files as the original site. If you find a mirror site that is close to you - in the same country or continent - you will probably be able to download sites more quickly than using the main site. See also: Download
  • Modem
    Short for MODulator/DEModulator, a modem is the device that connects your PC to the telephone network so that it can communicate with other computers on the Internet. Modems these days are often built into your PC, but you can also buy external modems if you have an older computer that doesn't have one built in. See also: Baud Rate
  • MP3
    MP3 files are used to store music or audio information on the Internet. The full name is actually Motion Picture Expert Group: Layer 3, but that has thankfully been compressed down to MP3. And, in the same way, the audio content of an MP3 file is compressed so that it is smaller and easier to download than the original audio file.
  • MPEG
    Motion Picture Expert Group - a video compression format used for movie or animation clips on the World Wide Web. MP3 is a spin-off from this standard. The filename extension for MPEG movies is .mpg or .mpeg.
  • Net-savvy
    An experienced netizen - someone who's familiar with all the ins and outs of the Internet.
  • Netiquette
    Short for 'net-etiquette'. This is an informal set of guidelines for polite behaviour on the Internet.
  • Netizen
    A netizen is a 'net-citizen' - in other words, anyone that uses the Net.
  • Netscape
    Netscape was the world's first really popular web browser. The company that originally made it, Netscape Communications, is now owned by AOL, the American Internet Service Provider, while the software itself has been eclipsed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
  • Network
    A network is simply two or more computers that are connected together so that they can share information.
  • Newsgroup
    A newsgroup is a kind of discussion group devoted to a specific topic. There are thousands of newsgroups on the Internet, covering everything from aardvarks to zoology. To use a newsgroup you need a program called a newsreader - although Outlook Express has one built in.
  • Newsreader
    A program that allows the user to read and create newsgroup messages. Some e-mail programs, such as Microsoft's Outlook also include options for reading newsgroups.
  • NNTP
    Network News Transport Protocol (NNTP) is the protocol - or computer 'language' - that computers use to connect to newsgroups. The NNTP address for Madasafish is . Enter this address into your newsreader, or Microsoft Outlook, and you will be able to connect to Madasafish's 'news server' - the computer that Madasafish uses to store newsgroup messages.
  • Online/Offline
    When your computer is connected to the Internet it is 'online'. When the Internet connection is turned off, you are 'offline'.
  • OTOH
    'On the other hand' - abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Outlook Express
    This is the free Microsoft e-mail application that is supplied with Internet Explorer.
  • Page
    All websites consist of a series of linked 'pages'. This document that you are reading right now is a web page.
  • Password
    Your password is the key to your Madasafish dial-up and e-mail account so choose something that is unique but also memorable. If your password is not accepted check that the Caps Lock key has not been accidentally pressed - as passwords are case sensitive.
  • Plug-In
    Web browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer are primarily designed for viewing pages that contain simple text and graphics. In order to view more complex types of data - such as audio, video and animation - you need a 'plug-in'. The plug-in is a small program that bolts onto the main browser program and allows it to view these new types of data.
  • POP
    This stands for 'Post Office Protocol'. A POP server is a central computer that stores your e-mail for you and allows you to collect your e-mail whenever you connect to the Internet.
  • Portal
    A portal is a website that is designed to lead you to other websites that contain information you are interested in.
  • PPP
    Point to Point Protocol (PPP) is the language that allows a computer to connect to the Internet using a telephone line. A PPP connection requires a modem, a standard telephone line and an account with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Madasafish.
  • Protocol
    A protocol is simply a set of guidelines that allow computers to communicate with each other. Unfortunately there are lots of different protocols designed for different tasks. There are protocols for e-mail, newsgroups, websites and lots of other things. Wherever you see a bunch of letters ending with 'P' you know there's a protocol in there somewhere. See also: FTP, HTTP, IP, NNTP, POP, PPP, SMTP, TCP
  • QuickTime
    A popular video and audio format developed by Apple Computer, but which works on both Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers. QuickTime files have .mov as their filename extension - for example, You can download the QuickTime software free of charge from
  • RealAudio/RealVideo
    Real Networks was one of the first companies to develop new audio and video formats for use on the Internet, and many websites now carry material in either RealAudio or RealVideo format. You need the RealPlayer program to play these files, but you can download this from free of charge.
  • ROFL
    'Rolls on the floor laughing' - abbreviation used in chat or e-mail.
  • Search Engine
    A special website that lets you search for specific information, such as the Search feature on You type the words or phrase that you are looking for into the Search Engine and it will attempt to locate web pages that contain relevant information.
  • Self-extracting archive
    Compressed files are sometimes referred to as 'archives'. A self-extracting archive can decompress itself without the need for a separate decompression program.
  • Server
    A server is a computer on a network that stores files and delivers them to other computers when requested. The pages that make up a website are stored on a 'web server', and an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Madasafish will also have news and mail servers for storing newsgroups and e-mails sent to its users.
  • Service Provider
    Also known as an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The role of an ISP is to provide its users with a connection to the Internet.
  • Shareware
    Shareware is software that can be distributed freely, but with certain conditions applying to it. Many programs are released as shareware on a trial basis, but you are expected to pay for the software if you decide to keep it and use it regularly. See also: Freeware
  • Signature
    A 'signature' is a few lines of text that can automatically be added on to the end of your e-mails. A signature may contain details such as your e-mail address, full name and other details, but people often include jokes or quotations to add a personal touch to their e-mails. Beware, though, because long signatures that are full of irrelevant information are considered an annoying waste of time by many Internet users. See also: E-mail, Header
  • Smileys
    Characters often used in news messages, e-mails and on web pages to offer some degree of character or emotion. For example :-). Also known as emoticons.
  • SMTP
    You've probably heard or seen these initials used quite often on the Internet and within the set-up pages of your e-mail software. For the record, SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is a system that allows e-mails to be sent between computers connected to the Internet. The Madasafish SMTP setting is
  • Snail mail
    An e-mail message can go around the world in a matter of seconds. In contrast, delivery of an ordinary posted letter can take days - that's why they call it 'snail mail'.
  • SoHo
    Short for 'small office/home office'. Refers to small companies or individuals that work from home.
  • Spam
    Spam is junk e-mail. The term comes from an old Monty Python sketch where the characters keep nonsensically repeating the word spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...
  • Streaming
    Streaming audio or video files start playing as soon as you start to download them, rather than having to download the entire file first. You need a high-speed broadband connection to stream audio and video properly as an ordinary modem isn't fast enough.
  • Surfing
    Exploring the World Wide Web by following a series of links on web pages is known as 'surfing the net'.
  • Task bar
    The bar in the Windows operating system that typically runs across the bottom of the screen. It displays the Start button, any programs or windows that are active, plus tiny 'shortcut' icons as well as the time.
  • TCP/IP
    Stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - the two most important protocols that form the basis of the Internet. See also: Protocol
  • Telecommuting
    Someone who works at home and communicates with a main office over the Internet is known as a 'telecommuter'.
  • Telnet
    Telnet is another Internet protocol (computer language) for creating a connection with a remote machine. It gives the user the opportunity to be on one computer system and do work on another, which may be across the street or thousands of miles away. It uses a text-driven interface that may be a bit off-putting for people used to menus and mouse pointers.
  • Terabyte
    1000 gigabytes. See also: Kilobyte
  • Thread
    A thread is a series of messages in a newsgroup that all relate to one particular topic. A newsgroup will generally contain many different threads simultaneously.
  • Timeout
    The often-annoying function which automatically disconnects you from the Internet after a set period of inactivity.
  • Upload
    The opposite of download - an upload takes place when you send a file from your own computer to another computer on the Internet. See also: Download
  • URL
    A website's URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is simply its address on the Internet. The URL for the Madasafish website is
  • Username
    Your Madasafish username is the name that you chose when you signed up for our service. It is also your e-mail address. For example:
  • Virus
    A virus is a computer program - but it's a program that is designed to damage your computer by destroying files or damaging your hard drive in some way. Sometimes viruses are attached to e-mails, but they can also be hidden on floppy disks and CD-ROMs, so it's a good idea to use an anti-virus program to scan your e-mails and any disks that you may insert into your computer.
  • Wan
    A Wan is a 'Wide Area Network' - a network of computers that are located a long distance apart. A company that has offices in different countries around the world will use a Wan to link those offices together.
  • Wap
    Wireless application protocol - the computer 'language' that allows wireless devices such as a mobile phone to connect to the Internet.
  • World Wide Web
    The World Wide Web - also known simply as 'the Web' - is a vast, worldwide collection of sites containing all sorts of information. Websites can be created by any organisation or individual that has an Internet connection. Each site consists of a series of pages that contain text, graphics and other types of information, and each page contains links that lead you to other pages or other sites on the Web. Many people think that the Web is the same as the Internet, but the Web is actually just one part of the Internet. E-mail and newsgroups are other parts of the Internet that are separate from the Web. See also: Browser, Internet
  • Zip
    Files that have been compressed using programs such as WinZip have this filename extension.


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