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PAL: PHASE ATTENUATION BY LINE. This is a television transmission standard used throughout Europe.
Palmtop: A palmtop (or PDA, personal digital assistant) is basically a computer in the form of an electronic organiser. They are becoming increasingly powerful and can be used as an alternative to laptops, though their keyboards and displays are much smaller.
PARALLEL PORT: Also known as LPT1. The parallel port is a 25 pin female port at the back of the notebook. In this port the most common peripheral to attach is a printer. In addition, Zip drives, CD-ROM’s, scanners and other computers can all (with the correct cable, hardware and software combination) use the parallel port. They are faster than the serial ports, because they have eight data lines, so can transmit eight bits (one byte) simultaneously, serial ports can only send one bit at a time.
PARTITION: Before a hard drive can be used on a PC, the drive must be partitioned. A hard drive can be split into multiple partitions (each is assigned a different letter). If the drive is larger than 2Gb and you are using FAT 16 i.e. DOS, then you will need to split the drive in two. If you are using Windows NT and using a hard drive larger than 4Gb then again you will have to split the drive. Once a disk has been partitioned it must be formatted before it can be used.
PCI: PERIPHERAL COMPONENT INTERCONNECT. This is the latest 32-bit architecture commonly used in Pentium and above PC’s.
PCMCIA: PERSONAL COMPUTER MEMORY CARD INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION. Also known as PC Cards, as PCMCIA is a bit of a mouthful. A Committee has produced the standard format for the credit card-sized, plug-in memories, modems, network cards, sound cards and other devices that are used with notebook computers.
PENTIUM: This is the most recent CPU from Intel. It has a 64-bit internal design and 3.1 million transistors. Similar processors from Intel's competitors are called 586 and 686.
PERIPHERAL: any hardware device attached to a PC: printer, modem, monitor, etc.
PERL (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language): A popular language for web scripting (used to create web pages and web sites). Although Perl can be used on any system, it is usually associated with Unix/Linux.
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor): A popular scripting language supported by Unix/Linux and Windows systems.
PIXEL: PICTURE ELEMENT: All notebook displays are made up of a grid of small dots (pixels). By changing the colour of specific pixels, images are created.
PLUG & PLAY: a Microsoft / Intel specification that allows for self-configuration of computers and peripherals. It is part of Windows 95 and requires a PnP motherboard to accommodate it. We do not recommend using PnP peripherals with Windows 3.X or non-PnP motherboards.
POP: It is important, when use a dial-up connection to the Internet, that you do so though a local Point-of-Presence (POP). This means that all your connections are charged as local rate calls. If you had to call long-distance, your phone bill would soon mount up. Most internet providers now charge a flat monthly fee and waive call charges (within limits).
PORT REPLICATOR: Similar to a docking station, but does not add any hardware. It allows the user to slot their notebook into a unit, automatically plugging in the cables and thus preventing wear and tear of port connectors.
POWER SUPPLY UNIT: PSU. This converts 230VAC mains into 5 and 12V DC required by the notebook. The PSU’s supplied with the notebook are auto-sensing and are compatible worldwide.
PROCESSOR: Also known as the ‘chip’. This is the brain of the computer, obeying the instructions that make up a program. Types of processor include Pentium II, AMD K6 and Cyrix MX.
Protocol: The set of rules governing the format and control of messages being sent around a network.
Proxy server: An intermediary application that sits between a client and a server, and which stores and forwards requests and information. Often used in conjunction with a firewall to monitor Internet traffic and activity.
PS/2 PORT: An external type of port, which allows you to connect your mouse or keyboard to the computer. It is a small round, six-pin connector.
RAM: RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY. It is known as “random” because every byte of RAM can be individually addressed for instant access. They are volatile memory chips, which store data while power is applied to them. It forms the main memory inside PC’s and stores data in a binary form once it has been read from, or before it is written to disk. While a PC runs a program it is stored in RAM. The main drawback with RAM is that when the computer is turned off, everything in RAM is lost, so if it has not been saved to disk it has been permanently lost. RAM comes in various configurations, and is available in various types-DRAM, EDO, SDRAM, VRAM, SGRAM and ECC.
REBOOT: restarting a computer. You can do this by hitting the CTRL-ALT-DEL keys together (warm boot) or by pressing RESET or turning off/on (cold boot.) A cold boot is essential during virus removal.
RESOLUTION: The fineness of detail produced on a printer or monitor. A printer’s resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). The image on a monitor is measured by the total number of vertical and horizontal dots that make it up.
ROM: READ ONLY MEMORY. This form of memory holds their programming contents permanently. For instance, the BIOS information your PC needs to start up is stored in ROM. It is a special type of non-volatile memory that (once it has been initially written to) cannot be written to, only read from.