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Welcome to our Glossary.

Here you can find the meaning of words and expressions commonly used by computer-users.

Use the query form below to enter a word or part of a word you are looking for. Click the "Search" button to start the search.

Search for: Click here to start the search

You can also take a look at all the words starting with a particular character, select one below:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 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

We are looking for more words here, so please mail me any words you don't know and I'll try to find out what they mean. Or send me words you do know and their meaning, so we can add them too and get an even better glossary (either in Dutch or English is fine).

Words in our glossary starting with "P" ...

Glossary ...


P2P (Peer to Peer)
This is a method of distributing files over a network. Using P2P client software, a client can receive files from another client. Some P2P file distribution systems require a centralized database of available files (such as Napster), while other distribution systems like Gnutella are decentralized.

P54C
This is the official part number for the Pentium processor from Intel.

P55C
This is the official part number for the Pentium processor with MMX technology from Intel.

PABX (PBX)
Private Automatic Branch eXchange. Basically this is an PBX . There used to be a difference since a normal PBX was not automated. Now-a-days all PBX are automated.

Packet
A piece of information. It's often used to refer to the chunks of information sent over computer networks. The packet usually contains additional information like sender, receiver, protocol, error-correction, etc.

Packet Filter
This is anything that filters out network traffic based on sender's address, receiver's address, and the type of protocol being sent. Some routers support packet filtering, all firewalls do, and some proxy servers will as well.

Page
This is some regular amount of memory that is accessed by a program or hardware. Memory is split into pages in order to be dealt with more easily. The "Invalid Page" error is related to this: the software tried to access a non-existing memory page.

Page Fault
This is not an error. It means that the computer had to resort to using the swap file as memory.

Paging
Systeem for sending brief text messages to a device called "pager" ("beeper", "buzzer"). A different name is Semaphone. Currently services like SMS replace paging in Europe. This also refers to the act of moving pages of memory from RAM to virtual memory on a hard drive. Excessive paging is caused by a lack of actual system memory when the system has to use the hard drive as memory frequently.

PAL
European TV-system, using 576 horizontal lines, displaying a half image 50 times a second.

Palmtop
Small pocket computer that fits in the palm of your hand. A kind-a mini PC. Well known brands/models are PalmPilot, PocketPC and Psion.

PANS
Pretty Amazing New Stuff.

Pantone
Standard set of colors with each color specified by a number. The Pantone colors can be further broken down into a color separation used by professional printers to calibrate color reproduction.

Parallel
Meaning in unison, or many things at the same time. Most commonly refers to a computer with multiple processors that can execute multiple instructions at the same time. Another example is the use of a parallel cable (used with printers) where 8 bits are transmitted simultaniously instead of sequential (serial).

Parallel Port
The parallel port is found on just about all PCs. It's a 25-pin interface cable (DB-25) that is designed for connection to a printer. Normally, it will take up IRQ 7. In addition to printers, you can connect many other devices such as scanners, programmers and storage. Of course, the parallel port is slow. It can transfer data at a maximum speed of 512 Kbps. More often, USB replaces this port.

Parity
Meaning that there is an equality. Usually for the purpose of safety, so that if one goes bad there is still the other.

Parity Memory
Not quite memory that has a twin, but instead, more like a summary. The parity does not exactly have a copy of the original, but rather enough information to verify the integrity of the original.

Parse
This is the act of separating data into more easily understood chunks.

Parser
Strictly speaking, this is something that separates data into more easily understood chunks. More practically, a parser is the part of a compiler that goes through a program and cuts it into identifiable chunks before translation.

Partition
This is a section of a hard drive. You must create at least one partition to begin using a new hard drive. You can create multiple partitions and keep chunks of your data separate. Each partition get's it's own drive letter in Windows and behaves as if it was a separate harddisk.

Partitioning
You can partition your hard drive by breaking it up into one or more pieces, or "partitions."

Pascal
This is a programming language that was designed to teach computer science students the concepts of programming, by N. Wirth. It's almost like C. However, where C allows the programmer to be 'flexible' (i.e. make an incredible mess), Pascal is more strict in rules. See also Turbo-Pascal and Delphi.

Passive Matrix
LCD panels that are passive matrix have a duller, dimmer image than those with active matrix screens. Visibility and clarity decrease at greater angles off of central viewing.

PAT
Port Address Translation is used to reroute incoming data for a specific port to another port (see also Port).

PATA / P-ATA
Parallel ATA, the older 40 pins harddisk connection, also known as ATA, EIDE, ATAPI. (versus SATA - Serial-ATA)

Patch
Program that adapts existing software in order to remove a bug or to add new functionallity.

Patch cable
This is the common name for any 10/100BaseT network cable that is used to connect, or "patch," any two network ports.

Patch panel
This is a group of network ports stuck together for easy accessibility. Usually, this panel resides in a wiring closet or server room. Connections are made between this panel and ports on a hub to enable a network connection at a remote port. Each port on the patch panel is connected by a long patch cable to a remote port anywhere in an office that needs a computer hooked up to the network.

Patches
Patches are minor updates to programs that are distributed with only the changes and not the whole program. Imagine an instruction manual that has an extra page stapled in it with a correction of some text for that page. That is what would be considered a patch.

Path
In DOS this refers to the group of directories that are searched every time a command is entered in a command line, if that command is not found in the current working directory. You can specify additional directories to be added to the path to make your command line contain additional directories. Now-a-days this is also the name used for the complete directory path of a file. Suppose you have a file in "C:WindowsTemp123", then "C:WindowsTemp123" is the path to that file.

PB (Petabyte)
This is 2^50 bytes. One thousand terabytes / one million gigabytes / one billion megabytes / one trillion kilobytes / one quadrillion bytes (approximately).

PBX
Private Branch Exchange. A telephony switchboard (automated).

PC
Personal Computer. The PC used to be a calculator, became a wordprocessor and is now a multifunctional device.

PC (Personal Computer)
This is slang for IBM Personal Computer, or IBM-PC. This is the class of computers the work on the x86 instruction set, and were first developed by IBM as a means to put a computer in your home. Before that, IBM computers were only used in business. After the PC was developed, many clone PC makers began developing them as well, and that's led to the large amount of components that are PC compatible, but it has also caused some problems with cheap components working properly with each other.

PC100 SDRAM
This is the standard that SDRAM makers adhere to in order to be sure that SDRAM running at 100MHz works properly. PC100 SDRAM normally works fine in 66MHz SDRAM motherboards.

PC133 SDRAM
This is a type of SDRAM that is designed to be run at 133MHz operation. It is pin compatible with PC100 SDRAM, and 66MHz SDRAM, and comes in a DIMM form factor.

PC1600 (PC1600 DDR SDRAM)
This refers to DDR SDRAM running at 100MHz, and double-pumped to an effective speed of 200MHz. It has a maximum data transfer rate of 1.6GB/second for one PC1600 channel.

PC200 DDR SDRAM
This refers to the DDR memory chips used to assemble PC1600 DDR memory modules.

PC2100 DDR SDRAM
This is a type of DDR SDRAM running at 133MHz, and double-pumped to an effective speed of 266MHz. It is referred to as PC2100 because systems featuring DDR SDRAM at 266MHz have a maximum data transfer rate of 2.1GB/second.

PC2600 DDR SDRAM
This is a type of DDR SDRAM running at 166MHz, and double-pumped to an effective speed of 333MHz. It is referred to as PC2600 because systems featuring DDR SDRAM at 333MHz have a maximum data transfer rate of 2.6GB/second.

PC266 DDR SDRAM
This refers to the DDR memory chips used to assemble PC2100 DDR memory modules.

PC600 RDRAM
This refers to Rambus RDRAM that runs at a speed of 266MHz double-pumped to an effective speed of 532MHz. Memory throughput in systems featuring this type of DRAM is about 1.06GB/second.

PC700 RDRAM
This refers to Rambus RDRAM that runs at a speed of 356MHz double-pumped to an effective speed of 712MHz. Memory throughput in systems featuring this type of DRAM is about 1.42GB/second.

PC800 RDRAM
This refers to Rambus RDRAM that runs at a speed of 400MHz double-pumped to an effective speed of 800MHz. Memory throughput in systems featuring this type of DRAM is 1.6GB/second.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board)
This refers to the normally green plastic board that is imprinted with one or more layers of circuitry. Examples of common PCBs include motherboards, PCI cards, and AGP cards. The boards can hold microchips and other components and are a way to link such components together.

PCI Express (PCI-Express)
PCI Express (formerly known as 3GIO for 3rd Generation I/O) is an implementation of the PCI computer bus that uses existing PCI programming concepts and communications standards, but bases it on a much faster serial communications system. It is being supported primarily by Intel, AMD, etc. Note that this bus is mainly used for advanced 3D graphics cards, and is NOT compatible with AGP.

PCI-bus (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
PC-card interface for faster (32 bit) data exchange.

PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended)
This is an extension to the PCI interface developed by IBM, HP and Compaq. The extension allows data to be transferred at 1GB per second using a 64-bit bus running at 133MHz. PCI-X peripherals are fully compatible with PCI and vice-versa, but will not run faster than the chipset or peripheral allows.

PCL (Printer Control Language)
This is a set of commands used to communicate with Hewlett Packard printers. Each printer company has their own language, but PCL has become a generic term to describe these languages. See also Postscript.

PCM
Pulse Code Modulation. Technique to convert analog data (audio) to digital data.

PCMCIA
Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, a common expansion slot for portable devices like laptops and PDA's.

PDA
Personal Digital Assistant. A small computer, see Palmtop. PDAs are basically beefed-up organizers. They have small LCD screens, some form of pen or keyboard input, and software for organization, OCR, and contact management. Some have even more features, such as Web browsing or Internet e-mail. The first real PDA is the Apple Newton.

PDC (Primary Domain Controller)
In Windows NT, this machine is the main machine that responds to security authentication requests, such as logging in, within its domain. The PDC may be backed by one or more backup domain controllers that can also handle security authentication.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
This is a format originally developed by Adobe. Adobe makes a freeware Adobe Acrobat Reader that is available for a variety of platforms. Thus, using a variety of operating systems, you can download and read a PDF document with very little hassle. In addition, the PDF format strives for easy printing, viewing and compact storage. On PC's, .pdf is the file extension for this type of file. PDF is based on Postscript.

PDF (Protable Document Format)
A file format, definied by Adobe Systems, for content storage (text and images) in files. The file format is related to the Postscript format and can be read on most Operating Systems using the so called "Adobe Acrobat Reader" (free downloadable at Adobe). The big advantage of PDF is that on all of the OS'es, the layout and printout of the document remains the same.

Peering Relationship
This is an agreement where one ISP agrees to exchange some level of traffic with another ISP. Sometimes, based on the level of traffic mismatch, one ISP pays the other ISP.

Peltier Junction
When electrical current is applied to a thermocouple, a temperature difference is created with one side of the thermocouple being hotter than room temperature, and the other being cooler. Peltier Junctions (Peltiers for short) can be used to cool microprocessors, where the cool side contacts the microprocessor, and the hot side contacts a heatsink. Peltier Junctions are rated in watts. If you do not use the appropriate wattage, a Peltier Junction will be ineffective.

Peripheral
Any device that is not part of the motherboard, aside from memory and the CPU. For example, video card, sound card, modem, hard drive.

PERL (Practical Extraction and Report Language)
Created by system admin Larry Wall in the mid 1980's, this programming language was originally intended to fill a gap and help out with administration tasks. From those meager beginnings, PERL has become a programming language often associated with the Web and UNIX. PERL is the most common programming language used to program CGI scripts. It is a very powerful language that can be used to easily modify large amounts of text files with hardly any programming required. PERL aficionados use it for doing everything.

Perspective Correction
This correctly alters the textures in a scene to give a sense that all the images on the screen converge on one central point way out in the distance. It's why things far away look smaller.

Petaflop
This is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating point operations in a second. See also teraflop, gigaflop, and megaflop.

PGA (Pin Grid Array)
This is a form of chip with a group of pins in concentric rectangles, designed to fit into a PGA slot. x86 compatible chips that fit into socket 7, socket 370 and Super 7 are designed in this format.

PGA slot
This slot accepts a PGA chip. See Pin Grid Array.

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)
This is a freeware program that secures e-mail messages by encrypting and / or adding a digital signature to them. There are also commercial versions of PGP available that encrypt data and offer a wider variety of options.

Pharming
Similar to Pishing, however in this case the link prvided looks exactly like what it shuld be. The trick here is that applies so called -DNS cache poisoning-. This means that the DNS cache on your computer is being modified, so wehn you manually enter the link, it will still go to a different website as what it should be doing. The DNS links a name (for example www.weethet.nl) to an IP address. Mofiying the local DNS on your comuter, can link this address to a different IP address. This is VERY hard to identify for a regular person. Even experts might need a bit of an effort to identify this. See also: Pishing and DNS cache poisoning.

Phising
A scam where you receive an email from a seemingly trusted company, commonly your bank or other financial institute. In the email they mention that you need to login to your account by clicking the link. What actually happens is that it will bring you to a fake website that looks very similar to what you are used to. However, they use this website to rip your account login information ... to clean out your account later. Be aware! ALWAYS manually type those kind of links in to your browser! NEVER click the link in the email!

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)
Created in 1994, this is an versatile embedded scripting language that can be placed into HTML documents, and as long as the Web server supports it, it can be used to generate HTML pages by contacting accessing a database. PHP code is executed on the server, and offers an alternative to CGI.

Phreak
This term refers to a person that breaks into phone systems, generally to get free phone or voicemail service - thus the "ph" at the beginning of the term, similar to "phone."

PIC
Programmable Interrupt Controller. Kinda like a very small computer, with limited yet programmable possibilities.

PIM (Personal Information Manager)
This refers to a program that you can enter your personal information such as your schedule and important contacts. Often, PIMs run on PDAs and allow for synchronization between the PDA and a desktop computer running the same program (for example Microsoft Outlook).

Pin
This is an exposed and rigid metal wire. A group of pins make up a "male" connector, and you can plug it into a compatible female connector. On motherboards and add-on cards, you can often connect pins electrically with a jumper to change features on the boards. Pins are also found on cables with male connections.

Pin-compatible
Pin-compatible refers to the fact that two connectors match (ie. you can plug them together) and/or that the signal type on the pins of the connector are compatible (ie. the same voltage level, the same datatype, etc. - even if the connectors do not fit).

Pincushioning
This is one form of image distortion on a monitor. Good monitors have controls to deal with this problem. Basically, the top and bottom of the screen are wider than the middle (convex), or vice versa (concave). When corrected properly, the left and right side of the monitor screen are straight vertical lines.

Ping (Packet InterNet Gopher)
Sending a puls over a network to another computer to see if the connection is usable. The receiveing computer will reply to confirm reception. The time it takes to get a reply is called ping-time. The lower this number is the better. PING is a part of the TCP/IP specification.

PIO (Programmed Input/Output)
This refers to IO standards on IDE hard disk drives. If you have a hard drive that supports one PIO mode, you need your interface to support it as well for maximum performance. The data transfer rates for the various PIO modes are: PIO mode 0 - 3.3 Mbps; PIO mode 1 - 5.2 Mbps; PIO mode 2 - 8.3 Mbps; PIO mode 3 - 11.1 Mbps; PIO mode 4 - 16.6 Mbps. Ultra IDE doubles the data transfer rate of PIO mode 4.

Pipeburst Cache
See Pipeline Burst Cache.

Pipeline
This refers to the technique of processing multiple parts of an instruction at the same time. Many processers have two or more instruction pipelines.

Pipeline Burst Cache
This is a form of L2 cache that uses pipelining to speed data access by being able to feed data to the CPU at the same time it pulls data from memory. The burst mode also allows the cache to fetch additional data from main memory before the CPU requests it.

Pishing
A way to steal your personal information. Commonly a pisher sends you an email, which looks like it's from an outfit you know or have a membership of (for example: Bank, online store, etc). They claim that your information is outdated or corrupt, and that you need to login (using the provided links) to update your information. Usually including information like creditcard, social security number, address etc. The trick is that the provided link is NOT pointing to that particular outfit, but instead pointing to one of their servers, so they can collect the info. Pishing can be identified by viewing the sourcecode of an email. You will notice that they display a familair link, for example www.paypal.com, but the link (a so called a href) is pointing to something completely different. In general: NEVER use links provided in emails! Rather enter them by hand! See also: Pishing and DNS cache poisoning.

Pishing
“Phishing” is a form of Internet fraud that aims to steal valuable information such as credit cards, social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. A fake website is created that is similar to that of a legitimate organisation, typically a financial institution such as a bank or insurance company. An email is sent requesting that the recipient access the fake website (which will usually be a replica of a trusted site) and enter their personal details, including security access codes.

Pixel (picture element)
The smallest dot that a computer can display at a particular resolution. Screen size is often referred to in pixels: 800 x 600, for example. This means that the screen is 800 pixels across and 600 pixels vertically.

Pixel Pitch
The distance, typically in millimeters, from the center of one pixel to the center of an adjacent pixel. The lower the pixel pitch, the sharper the image. This can (!) be used as an indication of how big a pixel is and how far away they are apart.

PKI (Public Key Infrastructure)
This is the infrastructure needed to support public key encryption. It requires a certificate authority to issue and verify the public keys, a registration authority that verifies the identity of a person or organization before a key is issued, a certificate directory of the public keys and a certificate management system. Public key encryption can be used to verify an identity or to encrypt data or messages.

Platform
This is a means of generically grouping like computers. Macintosh computers are a platform; so are PCs running DOS. It's not very specific, and multi-platform support can mean many things. If someone says to you "this application supports multiple platforms," ask them which ones they are talking about.

Platter
One of the rigid disks inside a hard drive used to store information. Hard drives typically contain between 1 and 5 platters apiece, but can contain more. Platters are typically made out of aluminum, and more recently, glass.

PLD (Programmable Logic Device)
This is an integrated circuit that consists of an array of AND and OR gates whose operation can be modified. The programming of the devices is done by blowing fuses on the PLD.

PLMN
A Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) is any wireless communications system intended for use by terrestrial subscribers in vehicles or on foot. Such a system can stand alone, but often it is interconnected with a fixed system such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The most familiar example of a PLMN end user is a person with a cell phone. However, mobile and portable Internet use is also becoming common.

Plotter
A plotter is a device, similar to a printer, to transfer computer data to paper. The difference with printers is that real pens (pencil) are used for drawing the information. The advantage here is that a technical drawing (blueprint for example) becomes much nicer and more colorfull. Colors used to be nearly impossible with regular printers. Often plotters are capable of dealing with much larger paper sizes. The pens are controlled with assignments like "Draw a line from point A to point B". Today, most plotters use inktjet cardtridges, since these offer better and constant quality compared to pens. Plotters sometimes are used for cutting too. The pen is then replaced with a special "knife" that cuts for example stickers.

Plug & Play
Plug and play is supposed to automatically identify added hardware and should automatically setup the Operating System for proper use.

Plug-In
This most commonly refers to a program of which the functionality can be expanded by adding modules. For example a module that can be called from within a Web browser when a particular type of data is encountered on an HTML page. If you don't have the proper plug-in program, the data will not be represented properly.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG is an image format that uses lossless compression, similar to the GIF format. How the PNG format differs however, is that the GIF format involves licensing LZH compression standard from Unisys. PNG is a public domain format that was designed to replace GIFs. Support for PNG is currently included in the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Navigator, and the Opera browser.

PnP (Plug and Play)
This is a standard that was supposed to make adding peripherals to your system as easy as plugging them in and using them. Its biggest contribution, aside from headaches, is the removal of jumpers from many devices.

Podcast / Postcasting
Podcasting, a combo of Apple >iPod< and the word >broadcasting<. It is a method of publishing files to the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription, usually at no cost. RSS is one of the techniques to push music to subscribers.

Point to Point
This refers to a type of network communication where information is sent from a single source to a single destination, eliminating any extraneous data transmission. See also broadcast.

Pointer
(1) Think of a pointer as an address. The address can point to just about anything, including another pointer. Ultimately, if you follow the trail of pointers, you'll probably find some data. Pointers are most often used to point to data. The purpose of pointers is so that when you are programming, you can pass around a small address that points to some data, instead of passing the actual data around. (2) Pointers can also refer to the little arrow or hand on the screen that you move around with a mouse or other pointing device. In a GUI environment, you need a pointer to point to things so that you can select them.

Poll
(1) This is when one computer, device or program asks for an answer to a query from another computer or device, over a period of time, until a condition is met. For example, a program may poll an IP address to see when it is available. (2) A poll can also be a question on your opinion, where you can only answer in multiple choice.

POP (Point Of Presence)
This is a local telephone number through which you can access your ISP. The largest national ISPs have POPs all over the country. Do not confuse this with POP3 for e-mail!

POP / POP3 (Post Office Protocol)
POP3 protocol is used mostly by email client software to pick up the email from mailboxes at the POP3 compliant mail server. The POP3 protocol is a TCP/IP protocol, usually using port 110.

Port
A port is a 16-bit number (range 1 through 65535) used by the protocols of the transport layer - the TCP and UDP protocols. Ports are used to address applications (services) which run on a computer and use the network.

Port
To port something, you translate the code for a program from one platform to another. You could port a program you wrote on a PC over to a Macintosh, for example.

Port Replicator
This is a device that is used to provide laptops with limited ports and expansion options with a larger amount of ports and expandability. Most port replicators are proprietary devices that work with one particular model of laptop and add extra ports such as additional USB and PS/2 ports and sound line-in and line-out ports.

Portable Computer
Technically, any computer that is self-contained to allow easy moving. Most often refers to a computer that can work away from an outlet.

Portal
A popular website used as a starting point to visit other websites. For exmaple www.yahoo.com.

POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface)
This is a set of operating system interface standards based on UNIX. The standards were developed so that programs could be written more easily that would work on multiple versions of UNIX from different manufacturers.

POST
Power On Self Test. Meaning that the system, for example your computer, runs a diagnostic test at startup of the machine. In a computer this is usually handled by the BIOS.

PostScript
A standard language for telling printers how to print text and graphics. Most Macs use PostScript to print, while PCs normally default to PCL. The NeXT operating system even uses PostScript to define the display on the monitor!

POTS
Plain Old Telephony Service.

Power Calibration (CDR/W)
Power Calibration Area, which is a "test area" so that the recorder can determine the laser power needed. This area can be used up to 99 times. If a recorder fails to access Power Calibration Area, then the recording process cannot be initiated and this is a serious indication that there is something wrong with the recorder or the media used.

Power Supply
A device attached to the case that converts 110, 120, 220 and/or 240 Volt AC to DC at voltages that a computer needs to run. They come rated by wattage (= Voltage x Amps). The higher the Wattage, the stronger the power supply is.

PowerNow!
This is AMD's power saving technology used in some of their mobile processors. It allows the OS and power management to tune down the speed of the processor in order to conserve power.

PowerStep
This is an Apple / Motorola power management technology that allows PowerPC processors to be tuned down in speed when not plugged in so that power can be conserved.

PPGA (Plastic Pin Grid Array)
The PPGA form factor, also referred to as socket 370, was created by Intel to offer a lower cost alternative to their Slot 1 packaging.

PPM (Pages Per Minutes)
Speed indicator for printers. The amount of pages a printer can print per minute. See also CPS.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
The mode of transport used to connect a computer to the Internet via a dial-up adapter (a/k/a a modem).

PPTP
Point To Point Tunnelling Protocol - is a VPN protocol used by Microsoft operating system to create the encrypted connection between two computers

PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol)
This is a remote access protocol that allows people to make a connection to easily connect to their local network through the Internet or some other large network. Conversations are kept private through encryption. See also Virtual Private Network.

PQA (Palm Query Application)
This is a small applet that can be downloaded onto a Palm OS based PDA that allows for the retrieval of information from the Web. PQAs are intended to minimize the flow of information over a slow wireless connection.

PR (Performance Rating)
This is a measure of processing power. The term was coined by Cyrix to compare their 6x86 processor to Intel's Pentium processor that ran at faster processor speeds. The 6x86 was a more complex chip that could perform as well as Pentium chips at faster clock speeds in some operations. Cyrix continued to use their Performance Rating on future chips until they were bought out by Via. AMD is using this principle also in the Athlon XP series.

Precision
Precision is how well you define a value. For example, if the value you are representing is 4.321 and you say it's 4.3, you are precise to two places. Numerically, precision is the amount of decimal digits that you are capable of measuring. See also Accuracy.

Preemptive Multitasking
This is a type of multitasking that allows tasks to be given priority levels. The operating system can them allocate resources to these tasks based on priority level - thus, preempting one task from running, if a more important task is waiting for a particular resource.

Preferences
Guess what: prefered settings basically.

Primary partition
Primary partitions are partitions that are bootable. You cannot have more than four primary partitions per drive.

Print Server
This is the interface between a printer and a network that allows network clients to connect to the printer and send their print jobs to it. Print servers can be computers, separate hardware devices, or even hardware that resides inside of the printer itself.

Printer
This is any device that makes an impression on media, usually paper, and is connected to a computer. The invention of the computer with printer has almost made the typewriter obsolete. The simplest printers are located in cash registers printing out receipts, while more advanced printers are capable of magazine quality photo images. Printers come in several types, including: daisy-wheel, dot matrix, inkjet, laser and dye sublimation.

Printerserver
A printerserver can be any device enabling access to a printer over the network. In larger companies, this can be a dedicated computer which is connected to a printer. In SOHO environments this can also be a personal computer which is sharing a printer or a little box (standalone, as an addon for the printer or as a part of a router), allowing multiple users to use this printer. This way only a limited number of printers is needed instead of one printer for each user. Specifically the addons or the printerservers built into a router can be very attarctive to use, as one does not need a complete computer to be switched on, in order to share.

Procedure
A procedure is similar to a function, a defined sequence of instructions. The difference compared to a function, is that a procedure does not return a value. For example the procedure DrawCircle, draws a circle on the screen, but does not return a result value.

Processor
The centre of your PC also called CPU handling all calculations, cotrols etc. in your computer. See CPU.

Processor Clock
The processor is regulated by a crystal that vibrates at a regular frequency when an electrical current is applied to it. Each vibration counts as one tick of the clock.

Processor Cycle
This is what occurs during one tick of the processor clock.

Program(ming)
This is the act of putting together instructions that a computer will follow. The result will be a program.

Progressive Scan
To improve video, sophisticated front- and rear-projection TVs have used and continue to use line doublers. Line doublers turn an interlaced movie into a progressively scanned image by effectively doubling the number of lines on the screen. As a result, the scan lines that make up the picture are less visible, and the images appear more solid. Downside is that images might apear less real.

PROM (Programmable Read Only Memory)
This is a memory device. Once data is written to a PROM it is there forever, unlike with an EPROM. See also EPROM and EEPROM.

Promiscuous Mode
As it relates to networking, promiscuous mode implies that a network card is able to recognize all network traffic that it comes in contact with.

Protocol
This is the behavior that computers must follow in order to understand one another. Think of it as a language. If two computers don't use the same network protocol, then they cannot communicate.

Provider
See ISP.

Proxy
Proxy is a method of sharing of Internet access. The proxy uses a cache for saving often visited webpages, therefor improving access time (see also cache).

Proxy
This is the use of one computer or device to make requests in place of another over a network. Proxies are often used for Internet security or control of connections. You can use a proxy or proxy server to pass data between your internal network and the Internet. A machine on your network sends a request to the proxy. The proxy sends the request to a server on the Internet. Thus, it stands in for the computer on your network. The server on the Internet never knows that the request is coming from anywhere but the proxy. Thus 100 machines on your network could all access an Internet server and it would look like the proxy was making all of the requests. Some proxies have caching and site filtering built in.

PrtScr (Print Screen)
This button is intended to print whatever is on your screen. If you are using DOS, or in your BIOS, and have a printer set up, the Print Screen button should do just that. In Windows OS's, hitting the Print Screen button will copy your current desktop, so that you can paste it into a graphics program, or a program that will support graphics, such as many word processors today. Additionally, hitting Alt-Print Screen will copy just the window that is active at the time.

ps (Picosecond)
This is 1/1000 of a nanosecond, or one trillionth of a second. The individual transistors and logic gates on modern microchips flip in lengths of time measured in picoseconds.

PS/2
IBM PC PS/2, successor of the IBM PC/AT series.

PS/2 mouse
A mouse that uses the smaller 6-pin connector instead of your computer's serial port. Also referred to as a PS/2 mouse because of its early adoption by the IBM PS/2 series of computers.

Pseudo
not genuine but having the appearance of. For example a pseudo programming language. It is not a real programming language, but it makes it easier for us to understand how the program works - it is more readable than real code. This then can be converted relatively easy to a real programming language.

PSK Demodulation
Phase-shift keying (PSK) is a modulation process whereby the input signal, a binary PCM waveform, shifts the phase of the output waveform to one of a fixed number of states. It is considered an efficient form of data modulation because it provides the lowest probability of error for given received signal level. Often used with Terrestrial microwave radio links and satellite communication systems. Variants are: DPSK (Differential Phase Shift Keying), BPSK (Binary Phase Shift Keying), OQPSK (Offset Quadriphase Shift Keying) and QPSK (Quadriphase Shift Keying).

PSN (Processor Serial Number)
This is an embedded serial number in Intel Pentium III microprocessors. It allows software manufacturers and web sites to identify individuals more precisely. Intel caught a lot of flack for this "feature" and there is no benefit to home users as web sites are not using this technology. Network management could use the software to identify systems, but AMD and other brand microprocessors do not support the PSN - neither do earlier Intel processors.

PSTN
Public Switched Telephony Network. A public analog telephony network.

Purge
This is synonym for deleting something. It is used in several contexts, including the deletion of print jobs from a print queue and the final deletion of files. Usually to free up some space.

Push Technology
This technology was first popularized by Pointcast, a company offering a client that would allow data to be "pushed" into it from an external server. Push technology has lost popularity due to bandwidth requirements and the general undesirability of having data pushed into corporate networks. Now, the same services are offered through web pages.

PWL (PassWord List)
This is a type of file, ending in the ".pwl" extension. Windows 3.x/95/98 use encrypted .pwl files to save the local users system passwords. PWL translates fairly directly into PassWord List, or Listing.

PWS (Personal Web Server)
A small, but usefull, webserver (HTTP Daemon) by Microsoft, that came with particular Windows version. As of Windows 2000 (app.mid 2001) PWS has been cancelled and replaced by IIS which comes only with specific Windows versions.


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