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Glossary B...


B2000
("B-two-thousand")
The name given to the 16-bit Amiga that replaced the original A1000, in a somewhat larger box, with a different & more powerful set of custom chips and increased expandability. Generally referred to by Commodore as the A2000.
BACKSPACE A key marked either "Back Space" or "Backspace" with a large arrow pointing to the left situated at the top right of the main keyboard area, not to be confused with the left cursor key located to the right of the main keyboard with the other cursor keys. When pressed it will move the cursor backwards one character position and delete the character that was there.
BACKUP Copies on disk or tape of the latest files or databases which can be used to recover data if a system fails, or the original storage medium becomes unreadable for any reason. Many software program supplied on floppy disk suggest that you backup the software and use the backup instead, leaving your original disk in safe place as the backup.
BANK SWITCHING A concept used by some early computers to provide more memory than could be addressed by the processor chip at any one time. However it meant that only one bank of memory could be addressed at any one time.
BANDWIDTH The bus speed of digital devices and is measured in bits or bytes per second.
BARCUS BERRY ELECTRONICS A company that invented a treble enhancement facility available on some stereo systems such as Aiwa.
BASELINE The imaginary line on which the base of all letters rest.
BASIC Acronym for "Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code".
BAT AND BALL GAMES A style of game that dates from one of the first electronic games "Pong", where the aim is to ound an object around the screen using a moveable bat or some other device.
BATTERY BACKED-UP Where a battery is required to maintain operation. Some semi-conductors, such as clocks, require a battery to maintain the clock at the correct time once a computer is powered off. Some users may also have a UPS which uses power from a battery when the mains power is disconnected.
BATCH FILE A file of DOS commands, and a few other specialised commands, which when run enables you to execute several DOS commands in sequence by typing the file name. They are predominantly but not exclusively used on MS-DOS PC's where they are recognised by their file extension of '.BAT'. On the Amiga they are more commonly known as script files.
BAUD RATE The speed at which a computer receives or transmits information, and is the number of signal elements (generally referred to as bits) per second. Communication using analog modems initially only supported 75, 110, 300, 600 and 1200, but with advances in technology this was increased to 2400, 4800, 9600, 14400 (14.4), 28800 28.8), 33600 (33.6) and 57600 (57.6). Direct connections which do not require a modem or ADSL can support much higher baud rates up to 4,200,000.
BBE Acronym for "Barcus Berry Electronics".
BBS
("B-B-S")
Acronym for "Bulletin Board System".
BCPL The forerunner to C and was the language in which AmigaDOS was originally written in 1984. It has been the bane of the Amiga's life ever since then because even though later versions of AmigaDOS were written in C they needed to remain compatible with older DOS versions.
BEAT-EM-UP GAMES A style of game where the aim is to punch, kick, or otherwise mame, your computer opponent, and seem particularly popular in the Arcades.
BEGINNERS ALL-PURPOSE SYMBOLIC INSTRUCTION CODE BASIC, as it is better known, is a programming language popular on personal computers, and although many may rubbish it's use, there is still a lot of life left in it, especially when you realise the power of some of the later derivations, such as:
• Amiga: AMOS and Blitz Basic
• PC:Visual Basic.
BELL Used in reference to the AT&T Bell Labs communications protocols, used in the USA and Canada, but few other places. Commonly encountered codes were:
- Bell 103 - communication protocol for 300 bps
- Bell 212A - communication protocol for 1200 bps
BEZIER CURVE
("bay-see-eh curve")
A mathematically defined smooth curve (defined as a cubic equation) which is used to define the path of a line between two points.
BIN A file extension found on PC's and Mac's denoting a binary file. On the Macintosh it is even more significant in that the file will usually be in compressed format for transmission of the Internet and must be uncompressed using Stuffit Expander before it can be used.
BINARY FILE A term often found in Public Domain software listings, and simply refers to an executable program, otherwise known as "object code", as distinct from the "source code" used to create the executable program, that is often included with PD programs. It would probably less confusing if it simply said "source code not included".
BINARY NUMBER The binary number system works to the base 2, and therefore uses only two digits (0 and 1), and is the way that computers count. Counting from 1 to 16 in binary would be 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111.
BIOS
("bi-oss")
Acronym for Basic Input/Output System that is a collection of routines to work between the program instructions and the various peripherals such as screen, disk drive, printers etc. Many of these routines are referred to as drivers, most of them specially written for specific devices.
BIT A single digit in a binary number (0 or 1). Typically refers to a memory cell within the computer, which is the smallest unit a computer can work with, but normally addressed in groups of eight called a "byte".
BIT-MAP A rectangular array of PIXELS that represents an area of memory and which is the basis of the screen graphics.
BIT-MAPPED FONTS Fonts where each character is stored as a series of pixels, and separate font files are required for each character size. They can be resized but since the matrix of pixels must be enlarged or compressed to fit the next size, the program must interpolate or extrapolate from the original data. This usually creates a jagged staircase appearance. Many programs today support the use of Outline fonts as well as bit-mapped fonts.
BIT-MAPPED GRAPHIC A graphic image created with pixel representation.
BIT-PLANE KEYING Uses a bit-plane mask to impose computer graphics onto an external video signal. See also Keying.
BITS PER SECOND
(acronym "BPS")
A measurement of the speed of data transfer along a wire or bus.
BLITTER From "BLT" or "BLock Transfer", part of the Agnus chip which can manipulate lines and rectangular parts of graphic images. Moves BOBS or Blitter Objects.
BLITZ BASIC A development of the "BASIC" programming language from Acid Software in NZ, which took the power of BASIC on the Amiga to new heights. It came with its own compiler and debugger, as well as a special "BLITZ" mode which by passed the Amiga's operating system for increased speed.
BLOCK A group of records, bits or characters treated as a single unit. Certain forms of data transfer, such as from a hard disk, occur one "block" at a time, and do not provide for any smaller units of transfer. The number of bytes transferred as a block is known as the "blocksize". It can also be used to refer a segment of text selected for an editing operation.
BMP The image file standard under Microsoft Windows 3.0 (& above) that comes in 1, 4, 8 and 24 bit-plane varieties and may be compressed using RLE but few applications use it. Furthermore the design of BMP's compression with respect to 24 bit-plane images virtually assures that compressed images will be larger than the original versions. It is not commonly used on the Internet.
BOARD Although technically it refers to the thin insulation material on which electronic components are mounted, it is used to describe any of circuit boards inside your computer, and even have names such as the Motherboard, Daughterboard, Planar board, etc.
BOBS Graphic elements which are moved as a unit by the Blitter on the Amiga, and are not limited in size like sprites, but are slower to move because they are not independent of the background.
BODY TEXT Also called "body copy", it is the main text of a document, not including headings.
BOLD Letters with a heavier, blacker appearance.
BOMB There's a distinction between a program crashing and one bombing. With a crash the program stops working while others carry on; with a bomb it wipes out all programs that are running and makes it very diffult to ascertain what has happened.
BOOT or BOOT UP An odd expression meaning to start up the computer from scratch and often used as in "boot up the computer". Allegedly derived from the expression "to pull yourself up by the bootstraps", in some twisted way it means the computer needs to find a particular program to run, to tell itself how to get going. See also COLD BOOT, WARM BOOT, and BOOT BLOCK.
BOOT BLOCK Used to describe a special area on a disk that contains information about the disk, and what to do when asked to execute using that disk. On floppy disks it is the first sector on the disk, and is always reserved for this purpose even though it may not contain anything. A newly formatted disk contains an empty boot block, and it is not until the Install command is used, or another boot block is copied to it, will it contain executable code. The boot block is one of the places that viruses frequently live.
BOX A container for text, graphics or structured drawings within a Word Processing or Desk Top Publishing program.
BPS
("B-P-S")
Acronym for "Bits Per Second".
BRIDGE A combination of hardware and software used to link two or more LANs.
BRIDGEBOARD An type of expansion card used by the Amiga, which is capable of running as an MS-DOS machine and generally has an Intel processor on the card.
BROADBAND A transmission facility having a bandwidth capable of carrying multiple voice, video or data channels simutaneously using different frequencies. Normally associated with high speed Internet connections using either ADSL or via an encoded wireless network such as Woosh.
BRUSH Whenever you draw a line in a paint package you use a brush. The brush is one or more pixels wide and can be any shape and you can even create your own brushes using the cut option.
BTLZ
("B-T-L-Z")
A data compression protocol used in CCITT V.42bis that offers compression of up to 4:1 ("throughput" to 38,400bps (V.32), or 57,600bps (V.32bis)). BTLZ connections can use either MNP or LAPM error correction.
BUBBLEJET
(abbreviation "BJ")
A type of printer manufactured by Canon that literally squirts ink at the page using very fine nozzles, producing up to 360 dpi characters. Works in a similar manner to an ink jet printer, but instead of electronically forcing ink through nozzles onto the page, bubble jets use tiny elements to heat the ink in the nozzles. At a certain temperature bubbles form and force out the ink.
BUFFER A temporary storage area, for example when data is read from a disk it is first read into a buffer before the required information is extracted and transferred somewhere else.
BUG An error in the hardware or application program. Computer mythology, if there is such a thing, claims that it is so called because the very first mainframe computer got a valve fused because a moth flew inside it, and a programmer put the dead moth on the computers log book with a note saying "de-bugging".
BULLET A large dot often used to add emphasis to parts of text or to designate a list of points.
BULLETIN BOARD SYSTEM
(acronym "BBS")
A dial-up facility which pre-dated the Internet and provided access to the public or registered subscribers which can be accessed from your computer using a modem. Once connection was made the user could read/write messages, and even transfer files to/from the BBS and their computer. Some bulletin boards were simply an electronic notice board, while others specialised in particular topics ranging from help for the disabled, to technical reference data on any subject imaginable, and even games, some of which could be played by a number of users at the same time, especially adventure type games. Largely replaced by the Internet.
BUMP MAPPING A painting term to describe the process of shading a 2D image, to make it appear as a 3D image.
BUS Hardware that lets various components of the system exchange data, connecting the CPU, memory, any co-processors, the disk drives and other devices.
BUSTER A special chip that was originally introduced on the A3000 to perform BUS management, but it developed a few contention problems on the early A4000 machines when SCSI-2 support was introduced. The problem was fixed with an upgraded chip, although early A4000's may still contain the old chip and give problems if the optional SCSI-2 card is installed.
BUZZWORDS Words invented to supposedly simplify conversation about emerging technologies, such as the many acronyms found in this glossary.
BYTE A storage unit that consists of eight bits. A byte is capable of storing one ASCII character or equivalent.
BYTE MULTIPLES While the decimal system uses tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, etc for handling multiple repetitions, the binary system has its own naming convention for counting bytes, and while 1024 (or 2^10) is the correct multiplier, 1000 (10^3) is often used instead, leading to some confusion. In recent years an unambiguous form of the name has been used for the true binary value instead:
Kilobytes (kB) 10^3 (or 2^10) bytes. Unambiguous form 'kibibyte' (KiB)
Megabytes (MB) 10^6 (or 2^20) bytes. Unambiguous form 'mebibyte' (MiB)
Gigabytes (GB) 10^9 (or 2^30) bytes. Unambiguous form 'gibibyte' (GiB)
Terabytes (TB) 10^12 (or 2^40) bytes. Unambiguous form 'tebibyte' (TiB)
Petabytes (PB) 10^15 (or 2^50) bytes. Unambiguous form 'pebibyte' (PiB)
Exabytes (EB) 10^18 (or 2^60) bytes. Unambiguous form 'exbibyte' (EiB)
Zettabytes (ZB) 10^21 (or 2^70) bytes. Unambiguous form 'zebibyte' (ZiB)
Yottabytes (YB) 10^24 (or 2^80) bytes. Unambiguous form 'yobibyte' (YiB)

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Revised: September 23, 2005.