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Glossary M...


M ("megg") Abbreviation for Mega.
Mb ("meggabit") Abbreviation for Megabit often used incorrectly instead of MB.
MB ("meggabite") Abbreviation for Megabyte.
MACHINE CODE The language of the computer chip itself, generally in the form of binary numbers which the computer can understand. Closely aligned to assembler language which is an English like mnemonic version of it.
MACRO Technically a routine or a block of instructions recalled by a single word or a single key stroke. Some programs require you to set up macros using a special entry screen, while others simply record your movements and then play them back in response to a single keypress.
MAINFRAME COMPUTER The large "big box" computers typically too big to put on a desktop, that are used by many companies to run their businesses. They generally have a large number of terminals or personal computers connected to it. Although some personal computers may appear to have equivalent "compute" power, PC's do not have equivalent levels of multi-tasking, I/O throughput, or the ability to handle the vast quantities of data normally processed by a mainframe computer.
MALE CONNECTOR Any connector which contains pins rather than sockets or holes, and must therefore connect to a female connector.
MANDELBROT (pronounced "man-dell-bro") Benoit Mandlebrot was a French mathematician who in the early 1970's used chaos theory to generate what he called "fractals" using a computer, and created images now known as Mandelbrot sets - those colourful psychedelic images of swirls and patterns that can be magnified infinitely, and still produce different images.
MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION PROTOCOL (acronym "MAP") For a while it was fast becoming the standard in many major factories for token passing on Local Area Networks but did not have any formal acceptance.
MAP (pronounced "map") Acronym for Manufacturing Automation Protocol.
MARY CHIP A custom chip responsible for all of the sounds generated from Classic Amigas fitted with the AAA chipset. It provided eight 16-bit audio channels with nine octaves over a range of complex waveforms, and uses both amplitude and frequency modulation. It also handled many of the input/output tasks such as disk and interrupt control, the mouse, joystick and serial ports. It superceded Paula in earlier chipsets.
MCA (pronounced "M-C-A") Acronym for MicroChannel Architecture.
MCI (pronounced "M-C-I") Acronym for Microsoft's Media Control Interface.
MEAN TIME BETWEEN FAILURES The average length of time you can expect a component to operate without going faulty. Hard drives are currently being offered with an MTBF rating of 150,000 power-on hours (that's over 17 years at 24 hours per day).
MEBIBYTE
(abbreviation "MiB")
1,048,576 (220) bytes, and is the unambiguous name for 'Megabyte to denote the true binary value.
MEDIA CONTROL INTERFACE (acronym  "MCI") Microsoft's facility for controlling the audio and video hardware from an MS-DOS machine.
MEGA ("M") Roughly a million (105) or 1,048,576 (220) to be precise. Often thought of as "a thousand thousand", or a thousand kilo (actually 1024 * 1024).
MEGABIT ("Mb") 1,048,576 (220) bits to be precise, but frequently used to mean roughly a million bits, or 1024 kilobits. However it must be noted that there are 8 Megabits in a MegaByte.
MEGABYTE ("MB") 1,048,576 (220) bytes to be precise, but frequently used to mean roughly a million bytes, or 1024 kilobytes. Most commonly used when referring to file sizes or disk space less than 1000 Megabytes. Over this, the term Gigabytes is generally used instead. The unambiguous name 'Mebibyte' can be used for the true binary value.
MEMORY The working storage area inside the computer which ultimately determines the size and number of application programs that can be running within a computer at the same time, as well as the amount of data that can be processed. It is often confused with space on the hard drive due to a concept known as "virtual memory".
MEMORY MANAGEMENT UNIT A memory management unit is used to control memory access and usage, and is built into the 68030 and 68040 processors, although not in the 68EC0x0 chips like the one found in the A4000/030. Among other things it allows a user program to trap illegal memory writes, and is used by Enforcer for example to show the programmer where he has gone wrong and what state the processor was in when it happened. A handy tool for those who need it.
MENU A list of choices you can select from in a program.
MENU BAR The list of menu headings that appear across the top of the display on the Amiga when the right mouse button is held down.
MENU BUTTON The right mouse button. This can also be substituted for using the right `Amiga key' and right `Alt' key together.
MENU ITEM An option that appears in a menu. For example, the menu items in the Work Bench menu include Open, Close, Duplicate etc.
MiB ("mebbybite") Abbreviation for Mebibyte.
Micro A1 ("µA1") The name for the PPC based ITX-sized motherboard machines marketed by EyeTech. Two models were developed, model "C" as the Consumer machine, and model "I" as the Industrial machine. More info.
MICROCHANNEL ARCHITECTURE A design strategy invented by IBM that enabled an MS-DOS system to handle more data and to support more devices. It was expensive and unpopular and really only appeared on machines manufactured by IBM.
MICROCOM NETWORKING PROTOCOL (acronym "MNP") A Networking Protocol, named after the company that developed the protocols. MNP 2 gives the most basic of error correction protocols; MNP 3 and MNP 4 were soon discarded; MNP 5 - is a data compression protocol that offers a compression rate of up to 2:1 ("throughput" to 19,200bps (V.32), or 38,400bps (V.32bis)). MNP 5 connections also use MNP error correction; MNP 10 - allows cellular communication, providing an extreme level of error correction on adverse connections.
MICROSOFT DISK OPERATING SYSTEM (abbreviation "MS-DOS") Better known simply as MS-DOS, it refers to the operating system originally supplied with IBM PC systems. Originally called QDos and developed by a company in Seattle, it was revamped after it was bought by Bill Gates of Microsoft, before being licensed to IBM. It is this operating system which made Bill Gates a multi-billionaire, and it is this operating system which the vast majority of PC's are now lumbered with. Lumbered because it is inelegant. Lumbered because of its dated architecture and inherit limitations. Lumbered because there are so many programs written for it that it cannot easily be upgraded without serious repercussions. Hence the popularity of the Windows environment which sits on top of MS-DOS and gives users a chance to break free in the future.
MIDI (pronounced "middy") Acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
MIPS (pronounced "mipps") Acroynm for Million Instructions Per Second, which used to be the method of measuring the power of a computer. However, modern computers have much more complicated processing paths, and these days should be read as being a Meaningless Indicator of Processing Speed.
MMU (pronounced "M-M-U") Acronym for Memory Management Unit.
MNP (pronounced "M-N-P") Acronym for Microcom Networking Protocol.
MOD FILES More correctly called Module Files or simply Modules, they get their name from the "mod." prefix often used in their names, e.g "MOD.EXAMPLE". The files are created by one of the many music programs which use samples for the construction rather than internal Amiga sounds or external midi sound devices such as keyboards, sound synthesisers and drum machines. Popular programs in this category include SoundTracker, NoiseTracker, ProTracker, OctaMed and many others.
MODEM (pronounced mo-dem) A device for communicating with other computers over the phone lines, and derives it name from MOdulator/DEModulator. In effect it converts digital signals to analog for transmission and back to digital on receipt.
MODEM GAMES Multi-player games where one or more machines are connected by modem, and players interact or compete with each other. Popular for role-playing and adventure games, and even some racing games.
MODULA-2 A compiled language originally developed for the Macintosh at ETHZ, that has been ported over to other computers and is popular with utility writers.
MODULATOR See RF Modulator.
MONICA CHIP The custom chip responsible for the video output on Classic Amigas, and was used to maintain the display on the VDU. It controlled the resolution, colours, sprites, and text lines, etc. It was also capable of handling a variety of planar and chunky display modes as well as compressed-video modes, with a wide range of resolutions due to its variable pixel clock which meant it could be just about anything you wanted, assuming the system could provide that clock. This chip was part of the AAA chipset and superceded Denise and Lisa in earlier chipsets.
MONITOR The screen that you look at, with which you can monitor what is going on. It is capable of processing display requests in RGB or CVBI formats only, as opposed to an RF or television type signal. However, it is similar to a TV set, in that it works by shooting streams of electrons precisely and rapidly at the phosphor on the inner surface of the screen, causing it to emit light briefly. Basic monitors, such as the 1084 and 1084S, have a horizontal scan rate of only 15.625 KHz, while multi-scan or MultiSync® monitors generally range from 31 KHz to as high as 79KHz depending on the brand and the price. As LCD monitors became cheaper and larger, they have rapidly taken over fromn the CRT devices.
MONOCHROME A term used to describe a single colour image, normally black and white, although there may be any number of shades of grey in between.
MORPHING A graphics technique, where two images gradually change from one image to the other over a number of frames.
MOTHERBOARD The major circuit board at the base of the computer, to which every other board or device is connected. On IBM machines, this is called the Planar board. Occasionally the motherboard is updated to fix a fault or simply make manufacturing easier, and this is identified by a change of Revision number printed on the board. It should be noted that some Amiga upgrades, such as utilising 1Mb of chip RAM on the A500, are very easy on the later revisions, not so easy on earlier revisions, and very difficult on older revisions. Usually it is cheaper to replace the motherboard.
MOTION PICTURE EXPERT GROUP Normally refers to the standards that have been defined by this group for inter-platform image compression of moving images only (not individual or static images which use JPEG instead). MPEG uses a picture size known as Source Input Format (SIF) which is defined by the CCIR-601 standard, that for NTSC represents a frame size of 720 x 480, at a rate of 30 frames per second, and for PAL is 720 x 576 at 25 frames per second. The MPEG system actually allows for frame sizes up to 4095 x 4095 at 60 frames per second but the term "MPEG" is commonly used to refer to the subset of the MPEG-1 standard known as Constrained Parameters Bitstream (CPB) optimised to run at 1.5 Mbits per second - the speed of a CD.
MOUSE A small palm-sized device used to control the pointer on the screen in response to the movements of a ball on the underside of the mouse, and buttons to communicate with your computer, and should be cleaned regularly otherwise it will not function correctly.
• Amiga: the mouse generally has two buttons; the left button is used to select icons, drag icons, windows and screens, or to simply position the cursor while the right button is used to display menus.
• Apple: the mouse has a single button for all functions.
• PC: the mouse can have two or sometimes three buttons, while there is a special wheel between the buttons that can be used for vertical scrolling. Some can also be moved from side to side for horizontal scrolling and some have extra button along the side to provide backward and forward scrolling when using the Internet.
• UNIX: the mouse can have two or sometimes three buttons, while the wheel between the buttons may not necessarily work.
MPC (pronounced "M-P-C") Acronym for Multimedia Personal Computer.
MPC LEVEL ONE STANDARD The original MPC standard set by the MPC Marketing Council which was outdated almost before it was released and had to be improved to MPC Level Two. The Level One Standard was as follows: 386SX or higher processor, 2Mb RAM, 30Mb hard drive, VGA or SVGA display, Two button mouse, 101-key keyboard, CD-ROM drive with 150Kb/sec transfer rate (single speed) without consuming more than 40% of CPU time during the process; 1 second maximum average seek time; CD-DA output; Sub-channel Q support (for interleaved audio); MSCDEX 2.2 driver or equivalent.
MPC LEVEL TWO STANDARD The updated MPC standard that in some respects sets unnecessary and over-ambitious specifications, while continuing to ignore the requirements of the evolving software development leaving little room for future growth, and as with the Level One Standard technology by the time the specification was agreed the base technology had evolved beyond the standard to the point where it became laughable. The Level Two Standard was as follows: 25MHz 486SX or higher processor, 4Mb RAM (8Mb recommended), 160Mb hard drive, 3.5-inch high density (1.44Mb) floppy disk drive, VGA colour monitor with a display resolution of 640 x 480 pixels with 65,536 colours (16-bit colour), Two button mouse, 101-key keyboard, 2 serial ports, 1 for mouse and 1 free for communications, joystick port, CD-ROM drive with 300Kb/sec transfer rate (double speed); average seek time of 400 milliseconds (0.4 sec) or better; 10,000 hours MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures); CD-ROM XA Ready; Multi-session capable; CD-DA outputs (RCA audio outputs); Sub-channel Q support (for interleaved audio); Volume control on front panel. 16 bit soundcard with microphone input; internal synthesiser capability (multi-voice, multi-timbral, 8 channels comprising 6 simultaneous melody notes plus two percussion notes);internal mixing capability (for combining CD-DA with computer generated audio and sending both to the speakers); MIDI Input/Output port for musical instruments.
MPEG (pronounced "M-peg") Acronym for Motion Picture Expert Group.
MPEG-1 (pronounced "M-peg-1") The original MPEG standard for high-quality quarter screen (and smaller) CDROM-based desktop video clips.
MPEG-2 (pronounced "M-peg-2") The current MPEG standard for high-quality digital video (generally speaking) both broadcast and DVD-based.
MPEG-3 (pronounced "M-peg-3" or more often "M-P-3") An abandoned MPEG standard originally slated to include HDTV, then folded into MPEG-2.
MPEG-4 (pronounced "M-peg-4") An MPEG standard for so called "multi-media applications" targeted for the Internet.
MPEG-7 (pronounced "M-peg-7") A "content representation" MPEG standard for information searches that is still deep in development.
MS-DOS (pronounced "M-S-doss") Acronym for Microsoft Disk Operating System.
MS-DOS PC (pronounced M-S-doss-P-C") A term used to describe one of the many machines that use MS-DOS, and are often referred to as IBM or MS-DOS compatibles.
MTBF (pronounced "M-T-B-F") Acronym for Mean Time Between Failures.
MULTI-SCAN MONITOR A computer monitor that's capable of operating over a range of horizontal and vertical scanning frequencies. You need a monitor of this type if you want to use a flicker fixer or one of the productivity or VGA modes which are available under Workbench 2 and above.
MULTI-SYNC® A registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc for the multi-scan monitors that they, and many other companies, produce although it is often used as a generic term to describe multi-scan monitors.
MULTI-TASKING The ability to run more than one task, or program, at the same time. This is particularly useful in a GUI environment where programs can be started from pull-down menus or by clicking on icons, and each one opens its own window on the system. For instance, you may want to use a word-processor, and then part-way through your document, include some information created using another program, such as a spreasheet, paint program etc. At this point you can simply start up a second or third program, create whatever it is that you want to include, and then pass it across either by file or simply using the clipboard, and then continue with the word-processor. At any time later, you can return to any of the other programs. However, all multi-tasking comes in two forms, known as co-operative multi-tasking and pre-emptive multi-tasking, and these work quite differently.
MULTI-TIMBRAL A musical device that is capable of producing the sounds of more than one instrument at once in response to MIDI messages received on multiple MIDI channels.
MULTIMEDIA A buzzword coined by the computer fraternity to encapsulate the ability to combine animations, graphics, sound, music, and video within a single environment.
MULTIMEDIA PERSONAL COMPUTER More commonly known by its acronym "MPC", it was Microsoft's attempt at a hardware standard for multimedia PC's and subsequently adopted by the MPC Marketing Council. The original MPC standard, now known as MPC Level One, was soon outdated, and an updated MPC Level Two Standard was adopted. The object was to set a hardware standard for which software developers could aim their programs, to minimise confusion for end-users. Whether it will succeed will depend more on the speed at which technology evolves judging by the relatively short life of the Level One Standard, and the fact that the Level Two Standard specifies components that are no longer made..
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT DIGITAL INTERFACE (acronym "midi") An international standard developed in 1982, to connect electronic instruments digitally, that rapidly established itself as the only real standard for linking up synthesisers, drum machines, etc.
• Amiga: The Paula chip can drive a MIDI interface but the MIDI hardware is not built into the Amiga and must be connected externally via the serial port.
Apple: Some models have a midi port while others require an adaptor..  
PC: Most add-on sound cards have some form of midi connection.
• UNIX: unknown

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