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CTS Geek Speak Technology Glossary

At Carolina Technical Support, we speak your language!

Sometimes it takes a little digging to find out what you mean by “that thingy”! But by asking the right questions, we are able to give you the help and education you deserve.

Please see our Geek Glossary (link to glossary below or sub-page) for some common terms and their definitions. Be warned: you might have fun!

We love humour. So do our customers, so what better way to brighten your day? Here (link to humorous anecdotes, to come) we present a few examples of newbie customer questions that (of course!) always resulted in our understanding and resolution of the problem. Enjoy!

CTS Technology Glossary


AltAlt is your Alternate key, which acts like a control key. You use it by holding it down while you press another key. Holding down the Alt key while pressing another key creates different results depending on the program you are using.

Alt is also short for altitude. Silver Star Mountain, the popular ski resort in Vernon, is 1,890 meters (6,280 ft.) at the summit.


Not a tiny apple, although apple and other fruit growers do comprise a thriving industry in the Okanagan. In Geek Speak, when we say “applet” we really mean a small application. Often created using Java (an object-oriented programming language), applets can be sent to you along with a Web page. Java applets are used for animations, calculations, or other computer tasks.


Carolina Tech Support is always accepting applications…we’re growing fast so if you want to join our fun team, see our Careers section.

In Geek Speak, applications are software programs designed for end users like you. They are programs that you commonly use, such as word processors, spreadsheet programs, database software and so on.

Bells And Whistles

In technology, bells and whistles refer to all the extra non-essential and often fun features you get with your software or technology equipment.

The phrase bells and whistles appeared in the nineteenth century referring to streetcars, railways and steamships. Before modern electronics, there were just two ways to make a warning sound—you rang bells or you tooted whistles!


BluetoothBluetooth is a short range wireless technology designed to simplify communications, especially among Internet devices, used also for data synchronization between Internet connected devices. Products with Bluetooth technology must be qualified and pass special testing by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Bluetooth's founding members are Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba.

Please note: if you or someone you know notices a tooth that has turned blue, a trip to your dentist is in order immediately!


If we tell you to “bookmark” that page don’t go hunting for your latest bookstore purchase that may have included a free promotional bookmark!

When you are using your Web browser, you can “bookmark” your favourite web sites or pages, for quick reference later on. Some Web browsers use different terms for bookmarks: Netscape and others use “bookmark” while Microsoft's Internet Explorer uses "favourite."


In Geek Speak, a bridge connects two local area networks (LANs) or even two areas of the same LAN using the same protocol, such as Ethernet or Token-Ring.


Not to be confused with “cash”, a commodity we really love to have in our wallets. When we ask you to check your cache, don’t go reaching for your wallet. In Geek Speak, your computer’s cache is the memory built right into the microprocessor or hard drive. It uses a small amount of high speed dedicated memory so that the important parts of your computer can work at full speed without having to constantly request information over and over again.

Computer Software Component (CSC)

A computer software component is a component of a computer software system, sometimes known as a module or software module, but it may also be a software agent. Synonym for software component.


DebugIf your home is infested with ants, stink bugs or other pesky insects, it is time to de-bug.

In Geek Speak, debugging is the process of finding and removing errors from software programs. Many application software companies offer regular patches that catch and correct any found bugs in their code. At Carolina Tech Support, we’re very good at helping to identify bugs (the computer kind) and finding the right patches to get you up and running again smoothly.

Escape Key

This computer key on your keyboard, labeled Esc, is used to cancel or abort the current operation or status. It does not allow you to escape your present office or home, transporting you in Star Trek-fashion to say Hawaii; however it is a useful button nevertheless.


FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol, a standard Internet based protocol that offers a simple method for exchanging files between computers over the Internet. It could also be shorthand for Lincoln’s famous phrase “For the People” which is what Carolina Tech Support is all about; helping people first. Oh, and we happen to be great technicians as well!


In Geek Speak, hosting is a term used for domain and Web site hosting, the method of housing, serving up, and maintaining the files for your web site. Many companies offer web site hosting services. Some even provide free hosting space for smaller, personal web sites. Check out our partners at


IT is an acronym for Information Technology. Generally, this is the technology you use to process information or data, such as computers, PDAs, software, and others. The term is often used with “IT Department”, which is a company’s in-house technology staff. Carolina Tech Support is like having your own personal IT department!


LAN is the acronym for local area network, a network of 2 or more computers covering a local area, such as in your home, your office and even across a group of computers in different buildings.

The most common wiring technologies for LANs are Ethernet and Token Ring. Ethernet connected computers use a “hub” or a “switch” for transferring data.

It may interest you that LAN is also an acronym for Local Apparent Noon, which means it is noon at the very instant that the sun is right over your head. Local Apparent Noon is based on your exact location, so you can set your watch to 12:00 based on Sun Time.

Microsoft Windows

All recent Microsoft Windows systems are complete operating systems. They were first introduced by Microsoft in 1985 and have now come to dominate the world of personal computers.

It is estimated that Windows is installed on about 90% of all personal computers, mainly because Windows comes pre-installed on most computers sold today. Also, there are so many software applications available for the Windows operating system.

However, it is important to know that there are other operating systems that you may want to consider.


No, not the spare tire around one’s torso! Middleware is software that connects two separate applications together. Some middleware products link databases to Web servers, so visitors to your web page can request info via forms that they fill in.


This term means modulator-demodulator. It is a device that enables your computer to transmit data over telephone or cable lines, in the form of analog waves. There is a standard used by modems for connecting to computers, so any external modem can be attached to your computer with a standard port. Some modems are expansion boards that you can insert into a vacant slot on your computer. These are onboard or internal modems. Many modems can send and receive faxes. Carolina Tech Support is especially helpful when it comes to setting up, troubleshooting, and helping you with your modem.


The motherboard is the main circuit board in your computer. It contains the central processing unit (CPU), memory, ports, and controllers for your peripheral devices like your screen and disk drive. Usually, with most PCs today, you can add memory directly to your motherboard, or even upgrade to a faster PC by replacing the central processing unit.


A small, furry rodent best suited to the outdoors and not in your kitchen cupboards.

In Geek Speak, a mouse is a device that controls the movement of your onscreen cursor or pointer, by rolling it along a flat surface, preferably a mouse pad (not to be confused with the abode of above mentioned furry rodent). Your computer mouse does not need to be fed cheese, but try to keep it clean and free of crumbs and dust. Your mouse may have up to three buttons with various functions, and a scroll wheel for scrolling through documents. The newer optical mouse uses a laser, with no mechanical parts, and it operates more quickly and precisely than mechanical mice.


You could, we suppose, use this term to describe when your spouse nags you for wearing that 20-year old rag of a tee with badly-faded rock band name on chest and honestly it just doesn’t fit you anymore!

Really, nagware is software that presents you with a pop-up window asking you to register for a product or to purchase something. Nagware is like shareware or freeware which offers you a free-trial period to use the application. As the term implies, the software will nag you repeatedly to take action.

Call Carolina Tech Support if you are getting nagged (by Nagware that is!).

Operating System

Your operating system is the computer software that controls and manages your hardware and all of the basic functions of your computer. It is like the foundation on which your applications run, such as web browsers, email clients, and word processors.

In general, the operating system is the first layer of software loaded into computer memory when it starts up. As the first software layer, all other software that is loaded depends on the operating system to provide them with various core services.

Examples of operating systems are Windows XP, Windows 2000, Apple Macintosh, OS/2, Windows NT and the freely available Linux.


PDAs are personal digital assistants, or handheld communications devices designed to help you organize, schedule, and plan. PDAs now offer many bells and whistles and are increasing in popularity. Advanced models include address books, calculators, memo pads, and can even allow you to synchronize data with your PC. Some PDAs integrate media players, video games, photo browsers, and more.

PDA is also an acronym (really!) for Public Display of Affection. Some of our Carolina Tech Support customers have been quite open in their affectionate displays, and have been known to hug-a-geek after a particularly nasty computer problem was happily resolved.


When your galoshes are wet, soggy, or just plain worn out you gotta “re-boot”. In Geek Speak however, we don’t mind what you wear on your feet. When we ask you to “reboot”, we want you to restart your computer. Sometimes this is necessary after new programs have been installed or when programs are not responding as they should. The saying is: “when in doubt, reboot!” We would like to change that to: “when in doubt, call Carolina Tech Support!”

If you are using a Windows based PC you can simply turn off your computer by selecting "turn off computer" from the start menu on the left bottom of your display screen, or "restart". This is considered a soft or warm reboot when compared to shutting down your computer by turning off its power (via power button, unplugging, removing battery, etc.). It is always best to use the soft reboot method before trying a harder reboot. When in doubt, call Carolina Tech Support and we will help you through it.

Return Key

This key on your keyboard is labeled and referred to as either Enter or Return (we think this is a small attempt at irony or perhaps designed to confuse newbies, we aren’t sure). In any case, this key moves your cursor to the beginning of the next line in a document or email message for example, or returns control to whatever program you are currently running. Sometimes a program will prompt you for input or information, which you will duly provide, and then you will need to press your return key, or Enter. In word-processing programs, pressing the Return/Enter key will insert a “hard return” or paragraph marker into your document.


For the culturally aware crowd, the ROM is the Royal Ontario Museum located in downtown Toronto, Ontario. However, in Geek Speak, ROM is the acronym for Read-only memory.

ROM is the storage system in your computer. Because it cannot (easily) be written to, it is mainly used in the distribution of firmware.


A scanner is a device that reads (digitizes) text and graphics or pictures from paper documents to translate the information into a form the computer can use. The result is a bit map which you can save as a file in your computer or use within other programs. It is important to remember that optical scanners do not distinguish text from images; to them, all information is a bit map, so you cannot edit text that has been scanned. There are programs available to allow you to do this however, such as OCR (optical character recognition). Scanners vary considerably in quality of output. Look for a higher resolution and denser bit map; they run from 72 to 600 dpi (dots per inch). Plus, the greater the bit depth, the more colours and grayscales you will get. You can even buy handheld scanners that you move across the paper yourself, sufficient for only small job, and more difficult to use.

Shift Key

This is a key on your keyboard that gives the other keys alternate meanings. For example, when pressed at the same time as an alphabetic key, you will create a capital letter. The Shift key can also be pressed with other keys to produce other results, depending on the program you are using.

Smart Client

Smart clients are people like you, who choose Carolina Tech Support to help solve your technology related challenges.

Also, a smart client in Geek Speak is an Internet connected device that allows your applications to interact with other server-based applications by using Web technology. So, a smart client running a word processing application can interface with a database somewhere else over the Internet. Most smart clients can let you work offline, even when not connected to the Internet. And they are so smart they can run on multiple platforms and devices, like your personal computer, laptop/notebook, PDA and even mobile phones.


Did you know that the Okanagan region has over 7,319 companies operating in transportation & warehousing, in large part due to the growing self-storage sector?

In Geek Speak, the term storage is often used in the same way as the word "memory". These words refer to the parts of your computer that retain the physical data, just like your own long-term memory. Typically, your storage or memory is in the form of a hard disk inside your computer, which holds all of your files and programs. You may also come across the term “RAM” which is an acronym for “random access memory”. Your RAM stores data temporarily (it is like your own short-term memory) while in use for fast access (you won’t notice it being used!) and it stops storing data when your computer is shut down or turned off. And that’s ok, because that is what it is designed to do.

A Ram is also a male sheep, like Aries, the first sign in the astrological zodiac.


The term server has many uses in computer speak but most often means the physical computer on which shared or accessible software runs. There is file serving, where users can store and access their files on a common computer, and application serving. For example, when you are using an email service such as yahoo, you are retrieving your email messages from a yahoo server. A web server may host and “serve up” your web site pages.

Restaurant servers comprise a very important profession as part of our economy and the vast majority performs a very fine job indeed. Tip them well!

Windows Security

Protecting your home with secure window fasteners and latches, and even home security alarm systems, is a very good idea.

But in Geek Speak, all users of the Microsoft Windows operating systems should be aware of security patches that Microsoft makes generally available through its Windows Update service. Check in often. Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems offer automatic updates.

For more information about security issues call Carolina Tech Support to schedule a security education session!


In Geek Speak worms are not so esteemed: a computer worm is a self-replicating program like a computer virus. It is a malicious program that does not need to be part of another program to propagate.

The first computer worm to attract wide attention was the Morris Worm, released in 1988, that infected countless computers over the Internet. The writer was convicted under the US Computer Crime and Abuse Act.

A worm may do a number of harmful things, such as delete files on a your system or send documents using email. If you suspect a worm has invaded your system don’t wait, call Carolina Tech Support now!

Call us for a FREE consultation!