Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
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Jargon Buster





404 error - An error message received when you try to access a web page that either doesn't exist or is unavailable at the address you gave.

802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11i, 802.11n - Different standards for operating wireless networks (Wi-Fi). Loosely the higher the letter, the faster the speed.

80286, 80386, 80486 (or 286, 386, 486) - Three generations of PC processor, now pretty much obsolete, the ancestors of Intel's Pentium. The 286 was the earliest processor able to run (just about) a version of Windows, although the 386 was really the minimum to run it properly. The 486 was the earliest processor able to run Windows 95 - just about. Machines of this vintage cannot run modern versions of Windows at all, but many are still in use as basic word-processors or where a dedicated machine is required which doesn't need to be powerful.

ActiveX - A Windows technology which allows programmers to do various things on your computer. The early versions had security issues which hackers could exploit.

ADOBE - a company who supply Adobe Reader which is an application which converts documents into the format which is used with the EDM System for displaying patient health records.

ADSL - (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A method of connecting a to the internet over an ordinary phone line using ethernet office networking technology instead of an ordinary modem, which produces a much faster (broadband) connection.

Adware - Software which displays advertisements on your computer. Sometimes installed as part of a "free" application, sometimes by stealth. See also Malware, Spyware.

AFAICS, AFAIK, AFAIR - (As Far As I Can See/Know/Recall) Internet slang.

AGP - (Advanced Graphics Port) A special slot on the PC motherboard for graphics cards, and the format of the cards themselves. Standard on new PCs from 1998. "AGP x 2" runs at twice the speed of the original AGP, AGP x 4 at four times the speed etc. Was replaced by PCI Express.

AI - (Artificial Intelligence) A program designed to respond "intelligently" to various situations, for example the computer opponent(s) in a game.

AIUI - (As I Understand It) Internet slang.

Always-on - An internet connection which remains on 24/7 such as ADSL or cable, rather than only connecting on demand like a dialup.

Android - A popular operating system for smartphones and tablets, owned by Google.

Antispam - An antispam program is used to filter out email spam.

Antivirus - Software which protects computers from viruses and the suchlike. Has to be updated frequently to keep up with the latest threats, so is usually sold with a subscription which enables you to download updates from the Internet.

APEX Pathology System - This is a hospital system that allows the user to access results across the following disciplines; Microbiology, Haematology, Blood Transfusion, Biochemistry and Cellular Pathology including Cytology. It is a view only system to access the results.

App - (APPlication) Any software used to carry out a particular task, such as office programs or games, particularly on smartphones. Usually downloaded to the device from an online store. Essentially another word for program.

Apple - The Apple Corporation makes the only successful mass-market personal computer which doesn't use Microsoft Windows, the Mac, and the phenomenally successful iPhone (smartphone), iPod (music player) and iPad (tablet).

Applet - A small program used to carry out a particular task, often on a webpage.See Java.

Application - Software used to carry out a particular task, such as word processing or desktop publishing. Essentially another word for program.

Architecture - The basic design of a computer's hardware. Computers with different architecture, such as the PC and the Mac, cannot run each others' programs.

Aria - Chemotherapy e-prescribing system used at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

ASCII - (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) An early and very basic format for text files, standard across pretty much all computers and mail systems. It only includes upper and lower case letters, numbers, and standard punctuation marks, but more sophisticated text formats still tend to be based on it. An ASCII file is a basic text-only file generated by a program like Notepad.

ATAPI - (ATtAchment Packet Interface) An upgrade to EIDE which allows the hard disk controller to control CD drives as well. Almost all CD and DVD drives are controlled this way.

ATB - (All The Best) Internet slang.

ATM - (At The Moment) Internet slang.

Attachment - A file sent by email is attached to the email.An attachment can be a picture, a word processor document, a program or any other type of file. You should never open an attachment if you are not sure what it is, because some viruses propagate as email attachments; but they can't infect your machine if you don't open the attachment.

AUP - (Acceptable Use Policy) A document setting out what an Internet Service Provider deems an acceptable use of their services, usually published on their website. Typically it will forbid the publication of obscene or defamatory material, and sending email or newsgroup spam. If you violate your ISP's AUP, they will usually close your account down immediately.

Autocorrect - A feature in many programs which automatically corrects your spelling, and even your grammar, as you type. Better switched off if you use obscure technical terms, or prefer your own interpretation of the rules of grammar, or else you are likely to find that it's "corrected" your text to something you didn't intend.

Avatar - A picture or figure representing a person in an online environment.

Backup - An extra copy of your work, e.g. documents, pictures, etc., saved onto floppy disk/CD/tape, so that if your computer is stolen or breaks down you don't lose everything.

Backwards-compatible - A program (or system) designed to work with data generated by earlier versions of itself, even though the format may since have changed completely.

Bandwidth - The maximum amount of data that can be transferred in a specified period of time. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) typically quote in Mbps (mega-Bits per second), e.g. 2Mbps.

Beat-'em-up - A computer game in which you control one or more characters fighting onscreen using karate, kung-fu and so forth. Derives from shoot-'em-up.

Biometric - A system that examines biological things like fingerprints or retinas, usually for security purposes.

BIOS - (Basic Input/Output System; pr. "by-oss") A program built into every PC for setting up very basic things, like how many hard and floppy disks you have and what type they are; the first thing that loads when you start your PC. You usually only need to access the BIOS if you are upgrading your hardware, eg adding more RAM or an extra disk drive, or setting a power-on password. BIOS settings are stored in a special type of memory called CMOS.

Bit - The smallest unit of information in a computer, can either equal 0 or 1.

Blue Screen of Death - slang for a Windows crash, where the computer locks up and shows a blue screen with the error message.

.bmp - (Bitmap) A standard type of graphics file. An uncompressed format, so the files tend to be fairly big.

Boot, boot up - Usually used to mean start up the computer. Literally, the process of loading up the operating system and getting the computer ready for use. See Reboot. A "boot password" is a password you have to give to start up the computer.

Boot disk - A CD pr DVD which holds a copy of the operating system, or enough of it to start the computer, useful if the computer won't start up properly from the hard disk.

Bot - (roBOT) An automated program, usually performing a function on the internet such as indexing webpages or sorting email.

Bps - (Bits Per Second) A measure of how quickly information is being transferred, usually via a modem or network. Divide by ten to get an approximation of the number of characters per second (cps). See also Kbps, Mbps.

BRB - (Be Right Back) Internet slang.

Broadband - Internet access over a connection much faster than an ordinary modem, such as ADSL or cable.

Browser - A program used for viewing World Wide Web pages on the Internet. A program used for viewing World Wide Web pages on the Internet. Usually available free for download. Popular browsers include Internet Explorer (IE), which is built in to Windows, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. The most popular browser on Apple devices is Safari.

BTW - (By The Way) Internet slang.

Buffer - A temporary storage area for data, often used to "smooth out" incoming audio or video streams. Several seconds worth of material is stored in the buffer and it is then played back from there, so that if there is a brief interruption in the stream your music or video doesn't stop.

Bug - Error, especially in a program, that has been missed in testing. The story goes that the original bug was an insect that got itself cremated inside an electrical circuit in an early computer, causing it to fail (and I don't suppose the insect enjoyed it much, either). It took them ages to figure out what was causing the problem, and when they eventually found the bug the story passed into legend.

Bulletin Board - A semi-public area which computer users can connect to using a modem, to read and post messages and/or exchange files. Now largely replaced by websites.

Burn - Create a CD.

Byte - A basic unit of measurement for pieces of information; the space required to store one character. See also Bit, Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte.


Cable - 1) Any insulated wiring used to connect computer equipment together. 2) An always-on high speed internet connection similar to ADSL but using cable TV technology instead of a phone line.

Cache - A temporary storage area for frequently or recently used data, either in memory, on your hard disk or the internet. For example, if you go back to a webpage you have recently visited, your PC will usually be able to display it from a cache on your hard disk, so it won't need to be downloaded from the internet again.

CAD - (Computer Aided Design) Software used to produce complex technical drawings by designers and engineers.

CCD - (Charge Coupled Device) The component of a scanner or digital camera which actually takes the pictures. The quality of image it is capable of is usually measured in Megapixels - the higher the number, the more detailed the image.

Casenote(s) - A patient’s record of care/treatment within the Trust. A patient’s casenote number is unique to that patient and care record.

CD Burner - A CD drive that can create (burn) CDs.

CD-ROM, CD-R - (Compact Disk - Read Only Memory) A misnomer, as strictly speaking it is not memory but storage.Identical to standard music CD's. A popular medium for releasing programs on. Now being replaced by DVD, which has a much higher capacity.

CD-RW - (Compact Disk - ReWriter) A CD drive which can create CD's, either audio or data, using special rewriteable CD's which are also often called CD-RW's. A CD-RW drive can also create ordinary CD's, though not rewrite them.

Character - A letter of the alphabet, number, space or punctuation mark is a character.

Chatroom - A website where you can meet and chat live (via the keyboard) with other internet users. Most such websites have multiple "rooms", each dedicated to a particular topic or theme.

Chip - A silicon wafer with millions of tiny circuits engraved on it - what computers are made of.

Choose and Book - Will allow patients, in partnership with health and care professionals, to book first outpatient appointment at the most appropriate date, time and place for the patient.

Chrome - A popular internet browser, free from the Google Corporation.

Clipboard - A temporary storage area in Windows. When you cut (Ctrl-X) or copy (Ctrl-C) highlighted text, documents or whatever in Windows they are sent to the clipboard; when you paste (Ctrl-V) they are copied from the clipboard to the cursor position. Sending something to the clipboard automatically overwrites its previous contents.

Cloud, the - Remote storage via the internet, or sometimes just the internet in general. Called "the cloud" because you don't know where your data is physically located, it's just out there somewhere.

Cluster - 1. Data stored on a disk is spread across a number of clusters, small physical areason the disk. How big they are depends on the way the disk is formatted – generally a few kilobytes each. 2. Within the NHS, a group of strategic health authorities working together by region to implement the new technology and information systems.

Cluster board - Endorses the reasons for and objectives of the local programme at senior management level and promotes and supports any changes. It also ensures that benefits and desired outcomes are achieved, and sorts out any disagreements that may arise

CMOS - (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor; pr. "see-moss") A special type of memory which retains its data when the PC is switched off, used to store settings for things like what type of hard disk you have, and how much memory. The settings are accessed via the BIOS.

CMYK - (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Keystone black) The standard four colours used by most printers - almost any colour can be created out of these. See also RGB.

CNT (Casenote Tracking) - A function within PAS (Patient Administration System) that allows the user to send and keep track of a patients’ records (casenotes) around the Trust.

Codec - (COmpressor/DECompressor) A small piece of computer code that tells the computer how to decode particular types of information, usually video files. If your video player won't play a particular format, you can usually download and install a codec which will tell it how from the internet.

Compatible - Compatible pieces of equipment can work together; incompatible ones can't. PC Compatible or 100% Compatible, said of a computer, means that it is built to the PC standard and so can run any PC programs and use any standard PC peripherals.

Compression - A way of making files smaller, either to fit into restricted storage space or to speed up transmission over the Internet. Popular compression standards include JPEG and GIF for pictures, MP3 for music files, MPEG, MP4, AVI and MOV for movie footage, and zip for just about everything else.

Console - Nowadays usually refers to a dedicated gaming computer such as the PlayStation or X-Box. Originally meant a terminal connected to a mainframe computer.

Cookie - A small data file stored on your computer by a website, in theory to allow it to remember your preferences, but in practice mostly used to track which adverts you have seen. You can set most browsers to reject all cookies, or to ask your permission before storing them, but this can generate multiple error messages on some websites and is generally more hassle than it's worth - they are pretty harmless.

Cps - (Character Per Second) A measure of how quickly information, particularly text, is being transferred over a modem link or network.

CPU - (Central Processing Unit) The nerve centre of the computer: everything flows through it. Often just called the processor. The best known PC processors are Intel's Pentium and AMD's Athlon.

Crack, cracked - A crack is a small program intended to defeat software's copy protection, thus allowing unlicensed copies to be made - stealing it, in effect. Software that is distributed with it's copy protection disabled or bypassed has been. Use of these is illegal as are any cracked programs.

Crash - When a computer program or operating system stops working completely or almost completely it (or the computer) is said to have. When a computer crashes it usually needs to be rebooted before it can be used again. See also lockup.

Crawler - A program that indexes pages on the World Wide Web for search engines.

CRT - (Cathode Ray Tube) The imaging technology used in older desktop monitors. Provides an excellent colour display, but is extremely bulky and is widely being replaced by flatscreens.

CSS - (Cascading Style Sheets) A set of HTML commands used to control the style of web pages, much more complex than the <FONT> tag-set it is intended to replace, but also more powerful and particularly useful for retaining a uniform style across a large website. Generally only used by professional web designers.

Cyberspace - Loosely speaking, the internet, and virtual places thereon. Cyber is used as a prefix meaning related to computers or the internet.

Cybersquatter - Someone who buys up internet domain names in order to sell them on at a profit.


Data - Any information created by a user, such as documents, pictures or sound recordings.

Database - A program used for organising any kind of information on a computer into a searchable form, anything from a list of contacts to a complex stock control system.

DDR - (Double Data Rate) A fast type of RAM for a PC. DDR2 is a yet faster version.

Default - A default setting is one you haven't changed - what a program will do (or use) if you don't tell it any different. Accept the defaults means leave any settings as they are.

Desktop - In Windows, it means the screen you see when you aren't running any programs, with My Computer, Recycle Bin, etc. Also means a computer designed to sit on a desk (as opposed to a laptop).

Dialup - An early kind of internet connection, using a phone line and a modem. Much slower than broadband, it has to make a phone call to the server and establish a connection before you can use it.

Digital - Literally to do with numbers. Often used to describe a device using computer technology to replace older, traditional technologies, e.g. a digital cameras is one that stores images electronically rather than on chemical film.

DIMM - (Dual In-line Memory Module; pr. "dim") A module of RAM (memory) for a PC, replacing the older SIMM specification.

Directory - An area on a disk for storing files, particularly in DOS. Usually called a folder in Windows.

Disk - Generic term for a type of storage device, such as a hard disk or a floppy disk (diskette). So called because the important part, where the information is actually stored, is circular, although you can't see it because it is hidden away inside a protective shell.

Diskette - Also known as a floppy disk. Called a diskette because it was smaller than the original huge floppy disks, now long obsolete.

(Directory of Medicines and Devices) - The source of terminology and a common health language for medicines.

DNS - (Domain Name Service/System) An internet service that converts a human web address such as www.jonstorm.com into the numeric address that computers use, called the IP address. "Can't resolve DNS" usually means that this conversion has failed and therefore the website can't be found.

Domain - An internet address owned by a company, organisation or individual, such as .co.uk, .gov, .nhs.uk, .org etc.

Dongle - A small hardware device used for copy protection with some software. The dongle must be plugged in to a port on the computer, often the printer port, or the software won't function. They are unpopular with users because if the dongle gets lost or broken, the software won't function.

DOS - (Disk Operating System; pr. "doss") Usually refers to MS-DOS, which was the standard operating system for PCs until Windows 95 came out, now pretty much obsolete. Controlled by typing in text commands and has several serious limitations, but requires a much less powerful computer than Windows 95.

DoS - (Denial of Service) - A form of attack on (usually) an internet service, which aims to prevent the service from operating properly, often bombarding it with more information than it can process.

Download - To transfer information (files) from a network (such as the Internet) onto a user PC.

Dpi - (Dots Per Inch) A measure of picture quality, often used to measure printer capabilities or picture quality for digital cameras.The higher the number, the better the quality.

Dreamweaver - A superb graphical editor for websites, widely used by professional web designers.

Driver - A small program used by the operating system to control hardware such as a sound or video card.Often downloading the latest driver for a device from the manufacturer's website will improve it's functionality.

DRM - (Digital Rights Management) Software intended to prevent the unauthorised duplication of copyrighted audio, video or software. Unpopular with users because if there is ever a problem with it, such as the rights management company folding, your legally-purchased content becomes unplayable. Following a lot of problems of this kind it has largely been abandoned by the music industry.

Dual core, dual-core - PC processors which have two complete processors on the same chip, allowing computers to handle multiple tasks faster. See also quad-core.

Dual layer - A technology allowing two layers of data to be written to a DVD instead of the usual one, thus increasing its capacity.

DVD - (Digital Versatile Disk) A more advanced version of the standard CD which can hold far more information (4.7Gb), now standard on most new PC's. Widely used for high-quality digital movies.DVD drives can usually also read ordinary CD's.

DVD RW, DVD Writer - (Digital Versatile Disk ReWriter) A DVD drive that can create rewriteable DVD's.There are several competing formats at the moment, largely incompatible with each other, though some drives support more than one format.It is likely that one of these formats will become standard in time, but at the moment it is not clear which.To add to the confusion,they tend to have very similar names - e.g. DVD+RW and DVD-RW (note the + and -) are completely different formats, and incompatible with each other.

DVI - (Direct Video Interface) A special type of connector for computer monitors, particularly flat panels.


ECDL - (European Computer Driving Licence) A training course in basic IT skills available to all NHS staff to help them prepare for new ways of working and increase confidence in their use of IT. ECDL is an internationally recognised qualification that has been adopted as the NHS standard.

E-commerce - Conducting business over the internet, and particularly the World Wide Web.

EDM - Electronic Document Management system - a system accessed through the web browser and used to store and display patient health record.

EIDE - (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) A popular hard disk format. As its name implies, an upgraded version of IDE.

EISA - (Extended Industry Standard Architecture; pr. "ee-icer") An upgraded version of ISA, now obsolete; usually used with reference to expansion cards.

Email (or e-mail) - (Electronic Mail) A way to send messages between computers, and their Users, either over a network or the Internet.Almost anything can be sent via email, although it is important to check as some systems won't accept messages over a certain size, and even the longest text message is tiny compared to a picture.

Emoticon - (EMOTion ICON) A group of symbols used to indicate emotions in email or newsgroups. The most popular is the smiley :-) or :) (look at it sideways), but there are lots of variations including the sad face :-( , the wink ;-) , and the astonished face :-0 .

Encrypt, encryption - Coding data so that it can't be read by hackers etc. when transmitted over the Internet.E.g. any reputable website selling goods by credit card will encrypt your credit card number and personal details.

EPI (Episode Enquiry) - A function within PAS (Patient Administration System) that allows the user to enquire about an individual’s episode of care(s).

Ethernet - The most popular system used to connect a computer to a network, including most broadband internet connections. The computer needs to be fitted with a suitable expansion card, usually called an Ethernet card (set of network protocols).

ETP - Enables GPs/Prescribers to send prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.

Excel - The most popular spreadsheet program for PC's, part of the Microsoft Office suite.

EXE (or .exe) - (EXEcutable) A file which is usually the main part of a program.A program may consist of just an .exe file and nothing else, or there may be dozens of files, including more .exes.

Expansion card (or board) - A circuitboard which can be inserted into an expansion slot on the PC's motherboard, to give the PC extra capabilities.E.g. sound cards, graphics cards, and network cards.

Expansion slot - A socket on a PC motherboard into which you can insert expansion cards to increase the PC's capabilities.Most PC's have several PCI slots, plus an AGP slot for a graphics card.

Extension - The part of a filename after the dot (.), often used to tell the operating system what type of file it is.E.g. .doc = Word document, .xls = Excel spreadsheet, .jpg = a picture/graphics


FAQ - (Frequently Asked Questions). A document on a website or in a newsgroup which gives answers to common problems and questions. Look for an FAQ if you have a problem with something, before you email or phone support.

FAT - (File Allocation Table; pr. "fat") A sort of index of where data is stored on a hard disk, used by the operating system.

FDD - (Fixed Disk Drive, Floppy Disk Drive). The slot on the PC which accepts floppy disks, almost always referred to as "Drive A:" by the computer. Now obsolete.

File - All information on a computer is stored in files, whether it is part of a program, a document created by a user, a picture, or anything else.Most software is made up of dozens, sometimes hundreds of different files.

File server - A type of computer used on networks to provide files and other services to other computers.

Filter - 1) A device which allows you to use an ordinary phone over a telephone line set up for an ADSL internet connection. Also called a micro-filter. 2) A program or set of programs that automatically removes spam from your email.

Firefox - A popular alternative browser, available free from Mozilla, which you can use instead of Internet Explorer.

Firewall - A program or dedicated computer which sits between you and the internet, preventing hackers, spammers and similar undesirables from taking over your PC. Absolutely essential if you have an always-on internet connection such as ADSL or cable.

Firewire - A standard for a very fast data transfer, becoming popular for applications that use very large files, particularly video editing.Requires special hardware, generally added to a computer as an expansion card.

Flame - Internet slang for an email or newsgroup post insulting or telling someone off.

Flamewar - A public trading of insults in a newsgroup or forum. Sometimes flamewars get so out of hand that there are hundreds of flames in the newsgroup and almost nothing else.

Flash - A technology for displaying animations (mostly) on webpages, created by the Macromedia Corporation. The Flash Player is a plugin which enables internet browsers to display the animations.

Flash drive - A removable data storage device, usually thumb sized and plugged into a PC's USB port.

Floppy disk - Also known as a diskette.Originally called floppy disks because they were round and non-rigid, but modern floppies might as well be called rigid squares, as the actual floppy disk is enclosed inside a rigid, almost square protective casing.Standard floppy disks have a capacity of only 1.44 Megabytes, but a floppy drive is still standard on virtually all PC's.

FOAD - (<bleep> Off And Die) Internet slang. Pretty self-explanatory really.

Folder - An area on a disk for storing files in.Folders can also contain other folders, which in turn can contain more folders, and so on almost to infinity.Also called a directory, especially by people used to DOS.

Forum - An area for discussions involving multiple users, either on the internet or in a program.

FPS - 1 (Frames Per Second) A measure of the smoothness and quality of animations, particularly in computer games. The more frames per second, the better the quality. 2 (First Person Shooter) A computer game where you shoot things, played from a first person perspective, ie with you standing behind the gun(s). Also known as a shoot-'em-up.

Frag - Shoot someone in a computer game.

FTP - (File Transfer Protocol). A way of transferring files to or from an internet server. Often how you upload webpages to the internet.


GB - See Gigabyte.

GHZ - Gigahertz - billions of cycles per second. Often used a s a measurement of a PC processor chip's speed and power, with bigger numbers meaning a bit more speed, and a higher price. 1000 MHz = 1.0 GigaHertz. See also MHz.

GIF - (Graphics Interchange Format) A popular type of compressed graphics (picture) file, widely used on the WWW. Best for pictures with 16 or fewer colours. See also jpg, compression. The GIF format allows for multiple frame pictures to create short animations (known as an animated GIF).

Gigabyte(or Gig) - Unit of measurement for pieces of information: approximately 1 billion bytes, 1 million kilobytes, or 1000 megabytes. The gigabyte is the largest measure in common use today. Often shortened to GB;Gig; or just;G

GIGO - (Garbage In Garbage Out; pr. "guy-go") A fundamental principle of computing, that if you feed a computer bad data, you will get bad results, even if the program is working perfectly.

Google - Started out as search engine and rapidly became so much better at it than everyone else that "to google" was (and is) widely used to mean "to look up via the internet". Now a huge, rich and influential corporation with fingers in many pies, owners of the Android operating system. Its headquarters are in California and it has offices and data centers all over the world.

GPF - (General Protection Fault) An common error message in early versions of Windows, seen when a program tried to do something Windows thought it shouldn't, often locking up the PC.

Graphics - A catch-all term for anything involving drawing images on a PC screen.

Graphics card - An expansion card which the PC uses to control the monitor's graphics.Modern PC's have a dedicated slot for graphics cards known as an AGP Accelerated Graphics

GUI - (Graphical User Interface; pr. "gooey") means that a program's controls are represented pictorially, with symbols, buttons and so forth, and mostly controlled by pointing and clicking with a mouse rather than having to type in text commands. Almost all modern software is GUI controlled. (see also Windows).


Hacker - Person who uses computers to access systems they are not supposed to have access to, e.g. other people's financial details, personnel files, military secrets, etc. Hacking can get you arrested.

HAND - (Have A Nice Day) Internet slang, often used ironically.

Hard disk - A computer's main (and fastest and most convenient) storage for programs and data. Originally named to distinguish it from floppy disks. All PC's are fitted with hard disks, sometimes more than one. The hard disk is usually called C: drive on a PC.

Hardware - The physical parts of a computer.

HCWS - (Healthcare Wide Scheduling) This is a function within PAS (Patient Administration System). It is very similar to OP2 (Outpatients) the main difference being that it was designed to deal with clinician lead outpatient treatment.

HD, HDD - (Hard Disk Drive) The main data storage unit in a computer. See hard disk.

Homepage - A page on the World Wide Web. Confusingly homepage is used indiscriminately to describe several slightly different things: an amateur's hobby site; the front or main page of any website; or the page which your browser first goes to when you start it up.

Hotspot - A location where a computer can connect to a wireless network.

HTH - (Hope This Helps) Internet slang, often added at the end of an email or newsgroup post answering a question.

HTML - (HyperText Markup Language) The system used for creating World Wide Web pages, ordinary text with commands for special effects like pictures, colour and links enclosed between symbols known as tags.

HTTP - (HyperText Transfer Protocol) The protocol or language computers use to send web pages over the internet. Almost every www address starts http://, though many browsers understand if you omit it.

Hub - A basic device for connecting computers together to form a network.

Hung - If a computer (or sometimes just a program) gets completely stuck and refuses to do anything, it has hung. See also lockup.

Hyperlink - Any kind of link on a webpage. Unless you typed in a page's URL by hand, you got there by clicking on a hyperlink.

Hypertext - A way of presenting text so that you can click on a link within it, say a cross-reference, and instantly be transported to the relevant text, whether it is elsewhere in the current document or in another document entirely. The most obvious examples are World Wide Web pages and Windows helpfiles.


IBM - (International Business Machines) The company that designed and built the first PC's , and still a giant of the industry. Standard PC's were originally referred to as "IBM compatible", although IBM no longer control the PC standard.

Icon - Small picture or logo either representing a file, or providing shortcuts for carrying out common tasks such as saving and printing inside an application.

IDE - (Integrated Drive Electronics ) A type of PC hard disk, now obsolete, the foreunner of EIDE.

IE - (Internet Explorer) Microsoft's web browser, included free in Windows. If followed by a number (IE9, IE8 etc), it refers to a particular version of that browser.

IIRC - (If I Recall Correctly) Internet slang.

IM - (Instant Messenging) A program that allows you to "chat" live via keyboard over the internet. Both parties must be running the same IM software - there are several different brands, mostly incompatible with each other.

IMO, IMHO - (In My (Honest) Opinion) Internet slang.

Inkjet - A very popular printer technology, which works by squirting tiny jets of ink onto paper with great precision.

Install - To transfer a program(s) from a CD ROM onto a PC's hard disk. Most programs need to be installed before they can be used, though a few can be run directly from the CD.

Intel - The Intel Corporation is a leading manufacturer of processor chips for PC's, including the Pentium and Celeron chips.

Internet - A vast worldwide network of computers, accessible to anyone with a computer, a modem, and a phone line. Provides access to e-mail and the World Wide Web. Anything can be placed on the World Wide Web from anywhere and is instantly available everywhere in the world, hence it is virtually impossible to censor.

Intranet - A private miniature internet which allows no or only limited access from the internet proper, e.g. to allow easy sharing of confidential files within a company's own network.

IP - (Internet Protocol) A protocol (computer language) which computers use to communicate with over the internet.

IP address - (Internet Protocol address) A unique number assigned to any computer connected to the internet. Most ISP's assign them when you connect to the internet.

iPad - A popular tablet computer from Apple.

iPhone - An extremely popular smartphone from Apple.

iPod - The Apple Corporation's massively successful portable music player. See also iTunes.

ISA - (Industry Standard Architecture; pr."icer") A once-common type of PC expansion card, now obsolete; see also EISA, PCI.

ISDN - (Integrated Services Digital Network) An early high speed (for its time) internet connection system mainly aimed at business, now largely obsolete. Requires a special type of modem called a Terminal Adaptor.

ISP - (Internet Service Provider) A company which provides a connection to the internet, or internet services, e.g. BT, Tiscali, AOL, Freeserve, etc.

ISTM - (It Seems To Me) Internet slang.

ISTR - (I Seem To Recall) Internet slang.

IT - (Information Technology) What computers are all about - using technology to manage information.The computer industry is often called the IT industry, and computer departments often refer to themselves as the IT department.

iTunes - The Apple Corporation's online music store, where you can download millions of music tracks to an iPod or computer - for a fee, of course. As with many Apple products, it is only compatible with Apple hardware and software.


Java - A programming language used to create small programs called applets, often to produce special effects on web pages.

JavaScript - A set of program instructions, vaguely similar to Java but not actually related, written straight into the HTML of a webpage instead of as an applet.

JPEG, jpg - (Joint Picture [Experts] Group) A standard type of compressed graphics file, widely used on the WWW. Particularly good for photographs. See also compression.


Kbps - (KiloBits Per Second) A measure of speed of information flow (Bitrate), usually over a modem. A KiloBit is a thousand bits. See also Bps, Mbps.

Killer app - (Killer application) A program that is so obviously massively useful to someone that they will rush out and buy it immediately, and a computer to run it on.

Kilobyte - Unit of measurement for pieces of information: actually 1024 Bytes (Characters), but usually rounded down to 1000.Often written as just K. See also Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte.


LAN - (Local Area Network) A network of computers connected together, usually in a single department or building.

Laptop - A portable PC, with a system unit, screen and keyboard crammed into one small package. They can do pretty much everything a desktop PC can do, but are substantially more expensive because of the miniaturisation required. Also called a notebook.

Laser printer, laserprinter - A high speed printer intended mainly for office use, usually better for text than graphics, especially in colour.

LCD - (Liquid Crystal Display) A type of computer screen, originally used only on laptops but now increasingly used for desktop PCs and even televisions.

Legacy systems suppliers - These are the commercial companies that supply the current/existing IT systems and software in use in the NHS. Also known as existing systems suppliers, e.g. Isoft of PHT's P.A.S. System.

Linux - A rival PC operating system to Microsoft Windows, but unlike Windows it is open source&, which means that anyone can create their own version of it without having to pay royalties. Initially required a lot of technical savvy, but is rapidly being made much more user-friendly and may start to challenge Windows' dominance.

List (PMI List) - This is a function within P.A.S. (Patient Administration System). LIS is the function you use to search for a patient.

LMAO - (Laughing My Ass Off) Internet slang.

Local implementation - A NPfIT management group and individual project teams have responsibilities for implementation in each SHA.They co-ordinate and manage the progress of the programme by dealing with a variety of issues, including progress monitoring, problem solving, risk management, planning, good practice and allocating resources.

Lockup, locked up - An event which causes a computer to get stuck and refuse to do anything, is a lockup. The computer is then said to be hung or locked up.

Log On/Log Off - To access a PC you may need to use a username and password, this is called logging on. To end the access you will need to click on the Start Button and select either the 'Shut Down' or 'Log Off' option, this is called logging off.

LOL - (Laughing Out Loud) Internet slang.

LSPs - (Local Service Providers) Responsible for making sure the new systems and services delivered through the NPfIT meet local requirements and are implemented efficiently.


Mac - (Macintosh) The Apple Corporation's alternative to the PC, much loved by it's devotees but completely incompatible with PC's, though some popular software is also released in Mac format.

Mac address - The unique serial number of a device that has networking capabilities, required for connecting a device to a network. (Nothing to do with Apple Macs, despite the name)

Macro - A small program used to automate repetitive or complex tasks.

Mailbomb - One or more very large emails, sent to someone maliciously to stop them being able to use their mailbox and/or internet connection, because all the available bandwidth is being used up downloading the mailbomb(s). Most ISP's will close down any account responsible for mailbombing. See also DoS (Denial of Service).

Malware - A catch-all term for software installed by stealth onto a PC for malevolent purposes (hence the name). These may include displaying unwanted ads (adware), installing software you didn't ask for, or spying on your activities (spyware) and reporting them back to the culprit so that he can steal your bank account, address book etc.

Mbps - (MegaBits Per Second) A measure of speed of information flow over a network (and if it's measured in Mbps, it's reasonably quick). A Megabit is one million bits.See also bps, Kbps.

Megabyte - Unit of measurement for pieces of information: approximately 1 million bytes or a thousand kilobytes. Often shortened to Meg or just M. See also Gigabyte, Kilobyte, Byte.

MegaHertz - See MHz.

Megapixel - A million pixels. Often used to measure the quality of digital cameras: the higher the number, the higher the picture definition.

Memory - Also known as RAM. Where the computer holds whatever you are currently working on. The contents of the memory are lost when the computer is switched off.

MFD - (Multi Function Device). A combined printer, photocopier, scanner and possibly fax machine.

MHz - (MegaHertz). Millions of cycles per second. Most often used as a measurement of a PC processor chip's speed and power, with bigger numbers meaning more speed and a higher price. See also GHz.

Micro - (Microcomputer) When desktop computers first appeared in the 1970's, they were often called microcomputers, later shortened to micro, to distinguish them from the so-called minicomputers of the day, which far from sitting on a desk were a good deal larger than it! There was also a popular home computer called the BBC Micro, now long obsolete.

Micro-filter - A device which allows you to use an ordinary phone over a telephone line set up for an ADSL internet connection. Sometimes just called a filter.

Microsoft - By far the largest software provider for PC's, they created Windows, Microsoft Office (which includes Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint), Internet Explorer and many other widely used programs.

MIDI - (Musical Instrument Digital Interface; pr. "middy") A very popular standard for controlling musical instruments connected to computers. Many soundcards have a built-in synthesizer which can play back MIDI files, though if it's a cheap one they probably won't sound very good. A MIDI file is a set of instructions to play particular notes at particular intervals in particular styles, not a recording.

MIME - (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension; pr. "mime") An encoding system used in email, mainly for sending attachments. Email was originally designed to just use plain text, so programs, graphics etc have to be sort of disguised as text for email systems to be able to handle them. MIME is more powerful than its predecessor, UUENCODE (pr. you-you-encode), but not all systems accept it.

Misys Radiology System - A view only results system for the Radiology Department (now replaced).

MLM - (Multi-Level Marketing) A scam similar to pyramid selling, much in evidence on the internet, particularly in spam.

MMORPG - (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). An online role-playing game (RPG) designed to played by thousands of players simultaneously, such as Everquest or Warcraft.

Modem - (Modulator/DEModulator) A device for allowing computers to communicate over a phone line. May be either an expansion card, or an external device plugged into one of the serial ports.

Monitor - The screen of a PC.

MOS - Microsoft Office Specialist - This is a level of certification provided by Mircosoft for users of Microsoft Office Applications.

Motherboard - The main circuitboard in the computer - all the other bits and pieces are plugged into it.

Mouse - The mouse is a piece of hardware that is used to navigate the computer screen. It is essential to get the most out of Windows.

Mouse Mat - A portable smooth flat surface that the mouse moves around on.

MP3 - (Mpeg-1 audio layer 3) A very popular standard for compressing audio and particularly music files down to a reasonable size with little or no perceptible loss of quality, and the files created using it - an MP3 is an audio file. See MPEG, Compression.

MPEG - (Motion Picture Experts Group) A set of standards for compressing video and audio files, and the committee that came up with them. Also, often used to mean movie files created to the MPEG standard


N3 - (The National Network)The new fast, broadband communications network for the NHS. N3 is delivered by BT and replaces the existing private NHS network, NHSnet.

Nameserver - An internet server which translates the alphabetic web addresses favoured by humans into the numeric ones used by computers.

Napster - A pioneering peer-to-peer internet file-sharing system. Because much of the data shared was copyrighted, and thus being distributed illegally, the operators of Napster were hit with a number of large lawsuits by the music industry, and later closed down. The name was bought and is now used by a legal pay-to-download service.

NASPs - (National Application Service Providers) Groups of commercial suppliers who are contracted to deliver national services such as Choose and Book and the Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions.

Netbook - A smaller version of the popular laptop computer format.

Network - A way of linking several computers together so that their users can share resources such as documents and printers, often via a server. See also LAN, WAN, Ethernet.

Network card, Network Interface Card - An expansion card which lets the PC communicate with a network, required for broadband Internet access. See also Ethernet.

Newbie (Noob) - (New beginner) Internet slang for someone who hasn't been using computers or the internet long.

Newsgroup (or just News) - A public area where you can read and post messages on a particular topic or theme, allowing public discussion, either on the Internet or a Bulletin Board. Largely replaced by internet forums.

NHS CRS - (NHS Care Records Service) Currently under development. This will be an electronic store of over 50 million health and care records which can be accessed by health professionals where and when they are needed. It will also give patients secure internet access to their own health record.

NHS mail - NHS mail is a secure national email and directory service. It was developed specifically to meet NHS and BMA (British Medical Association) requirements for clinical email between NHS organisations.

NIC - (Network Interface Card) An Expansion card which lets a PC communicate with a network or use a broadband internet connection. See also Ethernet.

Notebook - A portable PC, with system unit, screen and keyboard crammed into one small package. They can do anything a desktop PC can do, but are more expensive because of the extra miniaturisation required. Also called a laptop.

NPfIT - (National Programme for IT) Responsible for procurement and delivery of the multi-billion pound investment in the new information and technology systems to improve the NHS (Discontinued).


OCR - (Optical Character Recognition) A program which attempts to convert a scanned image (i.e. a picture) of text into text that can be edited in a word processor. The result is rarely 100% accurate.

OEM - (Original Equipment Manufacturer) A company that actually builds computers, as opposed to just retailing them. "OEM software" is ordinary software bought in bulk at a discount by the OEM and pre-installed on a new machines, usually without printed manuals. OEM software cannot legally be sold separately from a computer, so when offered for sale at huge discounts is either pirated, or not what it claims to be.

Office Suite - A related group of programs for business use, usually including a word-processor, spreadsheet, database and a number of other programs. The best known is Microsoft Office.

Off-topic - A message which is not relevant to a particular newsgroup or forum on the Internet is said to be "off-topic". Posting off-topic messages in newsgroups annoys people intensely, as they make it harder to follow the discussion properly.

Online - Connected to the internet.

OP2 / OP3 - (Outpatients Module) This is the Outpatients function within PAS (Patient Administration System). All Outpatient activity can be recorded in this function.

Open Source - Software (usually) that is created and distributed with either relaxed or no copyright restrictions.

Operating System - Every computer has an operating system, which is a sort of master program that runs automatically when you switch the computer on, and continues running until you switch it off. It is responsible for the many routine tasks required to keep a computer running: moving the pointer when you move the mouse, providing icons and menus, running other programs such as a word processor or a game, controlling the various disk drives, the screen,etc. The most widely used operating system is Microsoft Windows.

OPM3 - P.A.S. Outpatient Module, Referrals & Waiting Lists, run by the IT Training Department.

OPM5 - P.A.S. Outpatient Module, Managing Appointments, run by the IT Training Department.

OPM7 - P.A.S. Outpatient Module, Clinic Management, run by the IT Training Department.

OS/2 - (Operating System 2) A rival PC operating system to Microsoft Windows, produced by IBM in the 1990s. It still has a small, dedicated core of supporters, but didn't catch on and for most purposes is obsolete.

Overwrite - Replace a computer file such as a document or picture with a newer version, destroying the earlier version. If you make changes to a document and save it with the same filename, the previous version is overwritten and usually cannot be restored.


P2P - See peer-to-peer

PACS - (Picture Archiving and Communication Systems) A system enabling images such as X-rays and scans to be stored and sent electronically so that doctors and other health professionals can access the information with the touch of a button.

Palmtop - A small computer which fits into the palm of your hand. They run similar software to conventional PC's, but unlike notebook PC's are more limited in what they can do than desktop PC's, because of the constraints of miniaturisation. See PDA.

Parallel Port - A socket for plugging devices into the computer. Originally intended just for printers, but is also sometimes used for add-on devices, such as scanners.The computer usually refers to the parallel port as LPT1.

PAS - (Patient Administration System) This is the application that Portsmouth Hospitals uses to record all their patient’s demographics and episodes of care. PAS also links into other systems, such as Protos Maternity System, Apex Pathology, ICE Desktop, etc.

Patch - A program which makes updates to computer software, usually to fix bugs not detected when the software went on sale. The best place to look for a patch is on the software manufacturer's website.

PAYG - (Pay As You Go) A cellphone network connection where you add credit to the phone manually, rather than having a contract billed monthly.

PC - (Personal Computer) Originally just short for personal Computer, PC is now an industry standard.

PCI - (Peripheral Component Interconnect) A standard for PC expansion cards, currently the most popular in desktop PCs. A "PCI slot" is a socket on the motherboard for such cards.

PCI Express - A special type of PCI slot for graphics cards, replacing AGP in most new computers.

PCMCIA - (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) A type of PC expansion card, the size of an ordinary credit card, mainly intended for use with notebooks.

PCT - (Primary Care Trust) Responsible for commissioning all health care in their community.

PDA - (Personal Digital Assistant) A small handheld computer used for taking notes on the move, keeping contact information and so on. See also palmtop.

PDF - (Portable Document Format) A popular document format used mainly for online manuals, which retains the look of a printed book onscreen. PDF's are created using Adobe Acrobat, but can be read and displayed by many different programs, the most popular being Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Peer-to-peer - A type of network where computers are connected together directly, rather than via a server, allowing them to access each other's hard disk, etc.

Pentium - The best known PC processor (or CPU), manufactured by Intel.

Peripheral - Anything that plugs into the computer, such as keyboard, printer, etc.

Pixel - (Picture cell) All computer screen or printed images are made up of pixels, small square dots - the smaller the pixels, the higher the image quality.

Pixelated - A picture that has been compressed so much that the pixels that make it up are large and visible to the naked eye, making the image look like it is made out of square blocks (which it is, but they shouldn't be visible).

Plasma - A type of very large screen, either TV or computer monitor. At present plasma screens aren't very suitable for computing because the images, although bright and colourful, aren't very sharp especially when depicting motion.

Platform-independent - If something is platform-independent, you don't need a particular type of computer or particular software to use it. Perhaps the best example is the internet, which you can access from a PC, Mac or just about any other type of computer, and using a huge range of different software.

Plug'n'Play - (Plug and Play) a system where Windows automatically detects any new hardware that is plugged into the PC and adjusts to it without human intervention. Sometimes it even works.

PMI - (Patient Master Index) A function within P.A.S. (Patient Administration System) that allows the user to add or revise a patients’ details. The PMI (Patient Master Index) is also a huge database that holds demographic and episodes of care information about every individual that has received treatment within the area.

Podcast - An audio file that can be downloaded to a portable audio player or computer, usually speech.

POP3 - (Post Office Protocol version 3) A protocol for transmitting and receiving email, but mostly used just for receiving.(Transmitting is still mostly handled by it's less powerful predecessor, SMTP).

Pop-up - A form of online advertising where the advert pops up in a separate browser window when you go to a particular webpage. Many people find it intensely irritating, and some browsers now have the ability to block pop-ups from opening.

Port - A socket on the back (usually) of a computer which allows you to plug in extra hardware such as a printer or modem.

Portal - A virtual gateway between computer systems, or a website that provides links to lots of useful sites on a particular theme, e.g. shopping, news, etc.

POST - (Power On Self Test) A routine PC's go through when first switched on, before loading the operating system, to ensure the hardware is working properly.

Power-on password - A password which the computer will prompt you for whenever the computer is switched on, a good security measure provided you don't forget the password. Power-on passwords can usually only be bypassed by taking the computer apart. This is not the same as the network log in screen.

PowerPoint - A very popular program for creating graphical presentations, mostly for business use. Available separately or as part of Microsoft Office, Microsoft's Office Suite.

PPA - (Prescription Pricing Authority) A national provider of managed services to the NHS. Its main functions are to calculate and make payments for amounts due to pharmacists and GPs for supplying drugs and appliances prescribed under the NHS.It also produces information for NHS organisations and stakeholders about prescribing volumes, trends and costs and manages a range of health benefits, e.g. the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Processor - The nerve centre of the computer, also called the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The most important specification on any PC is the speed of it's processor, usually measured in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz).

Program - A program is essentially a list of instructions that tell a computer how to do something. Any word processor, spreadsheet, database, game or any other tool you may use on a computer is a program. Also referred to as software.

Protocol - Any language used by computers to communicate with each other for particular tasks.

Protos Maternity System - This is the system used to record all maternity activity in the Trust.

Proxy server - A computer used to store copies of popular webpages at an ISP and provide them on request, to save having to fetch them from the website each time. Proxies can also be used to filter out unwanted content (i.e. Adult sites), and/or prevent users from downloading certain file types (i.e. executable programs on company networks).

PS/2 - The type of connector used to plug in mouse and keyboard on most modern PC's. PS2 (without the /) is often used to refer to Sony's PlayStation 2, a popular games console.

PVR - (Personal Video Recorder) A TV video recorder which records to a hard disk. Typically a standalone unit, but you can also get software which allows you to use your PC's hard disk for this purpose.


QMAS - (Quality Management and Analysis Subsystem) To support the Quality and Outcomes Framework. NPfIT has commissioned British Telecom to develop and implement a new IT system called the Quality Management and Analysis Subsystem. It will provide reporting, forecasting and payment information for improving services within the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

Quad-core - PC processors which have four complete processors on the same chip, allowing computers to handle multiple tasks faster. See also dual-core.

Quicktime - A video compression standard created by Apple for use on both Mac's and PC's, and the program which displays such movies.


RAID - (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) A way of connecting multiple hard disks together so that a computer sees them as one very large, very fast disk, instead of many smaller ones.

RAM - (Random Access Memory) The computer's main memory, which it uses to hold whatever you are currently working on. The contents of RAM are lost when the computer is switched off. Adding more RAM is often considered the most cost-effective upgrade for an ageing computer.

Readme - An electronic document, usually distributed with software, containing additional information that didn't make it into the printed guides, often giving tips about troubleshooting installation problems, and last minute changes to the software. It is usually entitled "readme.txt".

Read-only - A read-only file has been set so that it cannot be altered or deleted. Also called write-protected. You can make a file read-only in Windows by right-clicking on it and checking the read-only box under attributes. Floppy disks can be write-protected by moving a small plastic square in the top left corner. Files on CD ROM are always read-only because you can't change the contents of a CD ROM.

Real Audio, Real Media, Real Video - An audio video compression system from RealMedia Inc which produces files small enough to play back in real time over an ordinary modem, although it does lose a lot of the sound and vision quality.

Reboot - Restart the computer, either by shutting it down properly and restarting it (a soft reboot), or just switching it off and on again (a hard reboot - this should only be used as a last resort.

Registrar - An organisation which retail a register of internet domain names, who owns them, and where they can be found. Domains under the most popular TLDs (Top Level Domains) such as .com, .net and .org can be registered with a number of different competing registrars but you only need to register with one of them. The national domains such as .uk usually only have one registrar.

Registry - A file on Windows PCs which contains all the settings for the PC and it's software. Can be edited by the user, but this should only be done as a last resort as it is possible to trash the operating system completely if you don't know what you are doing.

Resolution - The quality of an image. When printing or working with images, the resolution is usually measured in Dots per Inch (dpi) - the more dots per inch the higher the quality of the image, but the larger the file needed to store it. In Windows, the screen resolution is how many pixels fit on the desktop, the most popular being 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768 - the former makes images, icons, etc. look bigger, but the latter means you can fit more of them on the screen.

Rewriteable - A reusable CD or DVD which you can write to, delete the contents, and write to again, theoretically forever.(A conventional CD or DVD's contents cannot be changed once they have been written).

RGB - (Red, Green, Blue). The three colours used by a computer screen - all the other colours can be made up by mixing red, blue and green. A few printers use this system but most use the alternative CMYK system instead.

Ripper - Program which copies (rips) tracks from music CDs onto a computer often as a MP3.

ROFL (or ROTFL) - (Rolling On the Floor Laughing) Internet slang for laughter. Also LOL (Laugh Out Loud).

ROM - (Read Only Memory) Memory whose contents are preset and cannot (usually) be changed by the user.

Router - A device used to connect networks together, e.g. so that several PCs can share one internet connection. A relative of the hub, but more powerful.

RPG - (Role Playing Game) A computer game in which you control a character and interact with other characters, explore virtual worlds, undertake quests, etc.

RSS - (Really Simple Syndication) An automated system for gathering information, usually news, from multiple sources and bringing it together in one place, usually a website. If any of the information is changed at the source, it is automatically updated at the target.

RTFM - (Read the Flipping Manual) Internet slang.

RTS - (Real Time Strategy) A computer game where you command armies (usually) of animated figures, direct their development, fight their battles and so on. It is called Real Time because the game runs continuously rather than waiting for your orders, although you can usually pause the game when you like.


Safe Mode - A cut-down version of Windows which you can launch instead of the full version for troubleshooting purposes.

SAS - (Supplier Attachment Scheme) The Supplier Attachment Scheme is a new opportunity for NHS professionals to have a direct influence on the future of healthcare by working in one of a range of roles with a Local Service Provider.

SATA - (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) A high speed standard for connecting hard disks to your computer, replacing EIDE on most new computers.

Save - Copy whatever you are working on from memory, which is lost when you switch off the computer, to permanent storage usually the hard disk. It is a good idea to save frequently when you are working on something important - in case of a sudden power cut or mistake that trashes your document. Many programs have 'autosave' options.

S/B Compatible - (SoundBlaster compatible) A common Soundcard format, now obsolete. In practice anything which is described as "S/B compatible" should work with almost all sound cards.

Scanner - A device which makes high-resolution copies of printed images and text to use on a computer.

Screensaver - A program that blanks the computer screen or displays images if you do not do anything for a few minutes. Mostly used for security (with a password to return to normal mode), and to prevent screen-burn (a still image on screen for a very long period of time can permanently burn into the screen itself).

Scroll, scroll-bar - To scroll something is to move it up or down the screen, this enables you to see what is above or below what is currently displayed on the screen. Sometimes you will see scroll-bars across the screen which will enable the user to see what is to the left and/or right of what is currently displayed.

SCSI - (Small Computer Systems Interface - pronounced scuzzy) A fast system for controlling hard disks, tape drives and various other add-ons. Sometimes used for a PC's main hard disk, but more often the main hard disk is controlled by an EIDE controller built into the motherboard. A SCSI controller would usually be installed as an expansion board. SCSI is a bit faster than EIDE, but more expensive.

Search Engine - A website directory which indexes as many websites as it can and allows you to search its database for sites on particular subjects. Because of the immense size and rate of growth of the world wide web, no-one has a complete directory of all sites which exist. The most popular is Google.

Security Suite - A set of programs designed to protect a computer from malware and similar threats. Usually consists of a firewall, antivirus program, anti-spyware program, and often an anti-phishing program.

Serial ATA - See SATA.

Serial Port - A socket for plugging devices into the computer, now replaced by USB.

Server - A computer at the centre of most networks which provides files and other services to other computers, also known as a file server.

SHAs - (Strategic Health Authorities) The headquarters of the local NHS. Their role is to ensure that the Primary Care Trusts are both effective and efficient in managing the delivery of services.

Shockwave - Technology form Macromedia Inc for making animations, games, sound and all kinds of special effects on a webpage.

Shoot-'em-up - A computer game in which you control a character, vehicle, etc. and shoot lots of on-screen enemies. Also called an FPS (First Person Shooter).

Shortcut - In Windows (from 95 onwards), a type of icon which lets you launch a program quickly, without having to search for it. Often placed on the Desktop for convenience, and usually has a small arrow in the bottom left hand corner, to show it's a shortcut rather than the program itself.

Sim, sim-free - (Subscriber Identity Module) A chip the size of a man's thumbnail, which contains the number and network subscription of a mobile phone, and sometimes other data. Move the chip to another phone, and the phone number moves with it. A sim-free phone is one bought without a number and not tied to any particular network.

SIMM - (Single In-line Memory Module; pr."sim") A largely obsolete type of RAM for older PCs. Replaced by DIMM.

SIR - (Serial InfraRed) A wireless communication system for PCs and peripherals, especially laptops. Only works when the devices are in line of sight of each other.

Siri - A voice-controlled AI on Apple smartphones which can be used to control all the features of the phone, at least in theory.

Smartphone - A computer in a cellphone. As well as a phone, typically it will include both stills and movie cameras, music player, enough computing power to run sophisticated programs such as office sofware and games, satellite navigation, and gigabytes of storage. The most famous is Apple's iPhone, but all the major manufacturers make them and they are where the IT industry is mostly focused at the moment. Some think that they will completely replace most personal computers.

SMTP - (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The original method of transmitting and receiving email on the internet. Still sometimes used for transmitting, but has been widely replaced by POP3 and IMAP.

Smiley - :-) or :) A group of symbols used to indicate a smile or laughter in an email or newsgroup message (look at it sideways). There are all sorts of variants including :-( for sadness, ;-) for a smile with a wink, :-D for a big smile or a laugh. and :-o for astonishment. Collectively they are often called emoticons.

Software - The programs that run on a computer. Without software, a computer can't do anything.

Soundcard - An expansion card which enables a PC to make sounds more sophisticated than a simple 'bleep!'. Now usually built into the motherboard.

SP2 - (Service Pack 2). A major enhancement to Windows XP, particularly its security vulnerabilities, downloadable as a free patch from Microsoft's website.

Spam - Unsolicited bulk advertising, usually via email. Originally a name for mass postings to Usenet newsgroups advertising products or services, regardless of their relevance to the newsgroup. (The name comes from a famous Monty Python sketch in which every conversation is interrupted every few seconds by people shouting "spam spam spam" at the top of their voices). Sending spam is illegal in most jurisdictions. A spam filter is a program designed to automatically remove spam from your email before you see it.

Spam Filter - Software that attempts to filter out Spam mail.

Spine - The spine is the name given to the national database of key information about a patient’s healthcare and forms the core of the NHS Care Records Service. It will include patient information like NHS number, date of birth, name and address, and clinical information such as allergies, adverse drug reactions and major treatments.

Spreadsheet - A program used for doing calculations and setting up financial balance sheets, indispensable for accountants and managers. By far the best known is Microsoft Excel.

Spyware - Programs, typically installed by stealth, which record what you do on your PC and send reports to criminals, allowing them to steal your bank details, passwords and so on. See also Malware.

SSD - (Solid State Drive) A technology that replaces the conventional hard disk, particularly in laptops, with a device that behaves exactly like a hard disk but uses memory instead of magnetic storage. It is very much faster than even the fastest hard disks and is now standard on high-end laptops and notebooks, and often retrofitted into PCs as well.

Standalone - A computer not connected to any kind of network.

Start Button - A button usually on the left end of the Taskbar, which you click on to display the Start Menu.

Start Menu - A set of menus which will appear when you click on the Start Button in Windows, which can be customised to suit the users preferences. Most programs will automatically add themselves to the Start Menu when they are installed.

StartUp Folder - An area under Programs in the Windows Start Menu. Any programs placed in this folder will launch automatically whenever you start up Windows.

Storage - The generic term for any method of storing information which is not lost when the computer is switched off, the most common types are hard disks, CDs, and DVDs.

Stream, streaming - Video or audio that plays while still downloading, rather than you having to wait till the download has finished.

Suite - A group of programs which carry out different tasks but are intended to work together, such as Microsoft Office.

Surfing - In a computer context, wandering around the World Wide Web, also called websurfing.

System Tray - An area on the right end of the Windows Taskbar which display icons representing TSRs presently running - this is where the clock is also displayed. Programs in the System Tray are often but not always launched from the StartUp folder.

System Unit (or box) - The unit with the disk drives which the keyboard, monitor, etc are plugged into - the actual computer part.


Tablet - A portable computer which consists only of a screen, usually with no keyboard. It is controlled using a touchscreen. The most popular is Apple's iPad, but all the major manufacturers are producing them.

Taskbar - In Windows, a bar across the bottom of the screen (usually - you can move it to the top or side if you want to) which contains the Start Button, the System Tray, and icons which represent all the applications currently running. You can switch between applications by calling up the taskbar and clicking on the relevant icon. The taskbar can be set to remain visible all the time (the default), or only to appear when you press the Windows key.

TBH - (To Be Honest) Internet slang.

TCP/IP - (Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) A common protocol (language) which a computer can use to communicate with other computers, particularly on the internet.

Terabyte - Unit of measurement for pieces of information: approx 1 trillion bytes, 1 billion kilobytes, 1 million megabytes or 1000 gigabytes.

Terminal Adaptor - A piece of hardware similar to a modem, required to operate an ISDN internet connection.

Thumb drive - A computer storage device about the size of a man's thumb, often carried on a keyring, which plugs into a PC USB port and is seen by the PC as an extra drive - a very convenient way to carry large amounts of data around.

TIFF, Tif - (Tagged Image File Format) A type of graphics (picture) file, often used for photographs. The files are usually huge, as the data is not compressed. Files in this format usually have names ending .tif .

TFT - (Thin Film Transistor) A technology used mainly in laptop screens for giving a sharp and vibrant colour display. Much less bulky than the CRT system used in most desktop monitors, which it is now widely replacing.

TLD - (Top Level Domain) The part of an internet address between the last .and the end of the address, excluding the path/address of a specific page if present. TLDs include .com, .org, .net and all the national domains such as .uk for the UK and .fr for France.

Toolbar - An extra set of controls that can be added to many programs or the operating system, to provide extra functionality not present in the standard version. A toolbar often comes free with downloaded software and is intended to tie you to one company's products, especially internet search.

Touchscreen - A computer screen which is touch-sensitive, used to control tablet computers and most smartphones. They are also widely used for specialised applications such as supermarket self checkouts and public information devices.

Torrent - A method of making data available for download over the internet, where the recipient of data is expected to make the data available to others for download from their PC, rather than all users downloading from a central server. Typically much of the data is bootleg software, audio and video. Because the data is distributed from multiple computers all over the place rather than a central point, it is difficult to police.

Touchpad - A pressure-sensitive pad which replaces the mouse on most laptop and netbook computers.

Trojan - A program similar to a virus which is disguised as something harmless like a game, but when launched actually sabotages the computer on which it is running. A virus can automatically replicate itself and spread through email and networks, a trojan cannot - it relies on a user installing it themselves.

TSR - (Terminate and Stay Resident) A program, usually loaded automatically on startup, which remains in memory to provide particular functions such as connection to a network or protection against viruses. In Windows TSRs are usually represented by icons in the System tray, such as the small loudspeaker which represents the volume control for the soundcard. A few TSRs are essential, but many are installed automatically by a particular application just to improve its own performance, with no thought for anything else you may be doing, and may have a negative impact on everything else. Sometimes launched from the StartUp folder in the Windows Start Menu, but often elsewhere as it is too easy to delete them from there.

TWAIN - (Technology Without An Interesting Name, according to legend) A standard "language" or protocol which computers use to communicate with scanners.


UBE, UCE - (Unsolicited Bulk Email, Unsolicited Commercial Email) Email sent out in bulk to addresses harvested from web pages, newsgroups etc, advertising products or services - mostly scams or pornography. Also known as spam. Sending UCE is a violation of most ISP's Acceptable Use Policies, and will often get your account terminated immediately.

Ultra DMA, UDMA - (Direct Memory Access) A standard for EIDE disk controllers relating to how fast they can transfer data. Often followed by a number representing the transfer rate in Mbps, eg UDMA100 operates at up to 100 Mbps.

Uninstall - Remove a program from your system. You can't just delete its folder, because almost all programs make changes to various parts of Windows. Many programs come with a special uninstaller, which you should use if it exists. Otherwise, you can uninstall programs (in Windows) from the Control Panel.

Upload - To transfer information (files) from a user PC to a network or the internet. See also download.

URL - (Universal Resource Locator) An address used to locate something on the internet, most often a web page. All web addresses are URLs.

USB - (Universal Serial Bus) A standard type of connection port, used to attach extra devices such as a scanner to a computer. Standard on new PCs from around 1998. USB 2.0 and 3.0 are faster versions of the same thing. Many PCs now use USB to connect the mouse and keyboard.

Usenet - An enormous collection of public newsgroups on the Internet, well over 25,000 at last count, which allow users to post messages discussing particular issues. Now largely replaced by internet forums, which are easier to police against massive spamming.

User interface - A program's controls, with which the user interfaces with the program.


Vaporware - Derogatory term for software which is announced but fails to materialise.

VGA - (Video Graphics Array) An early colour graphics standard for PCs, now used as a sort of lowest common denominator which all monitors and graphics cards understand.

Virus - A program that has been deliberately created to cause computer problems, usually minor ones as a prank, but occasionally very nasty ones indeed, such as erasing your entire hard disk. Viruses were originally designed to attach themselves to programs on a disk, and then "hide" in the computer's memory once the host program is executed, and "infect" every disk they come across. Some types of virus (such as the famous "I love you") propagate by email, disguised as an attachment, which is why you should never open an attachment you are unsure of.

Virus Protector - A program which guards against computer viruses, either by lurking in memory as a TSR and checking everything you run for viruses as you go along, or by scanning some or all of the files on either hard or floppy disk at a time you specify. Virus protectors need to be updated frequently to guard against new types of virus.

Virtual, virtual reality - A simulated environment on the internet or a computer.

Vista - See Windows Vista.

Voicemail - A voice message recorded on a computer and sent to a specific person by the computer or telephone system, in effect a more sophisticated telephone answering machine.

VOIP - (Voice Over Internet Protocol) A system for making cheap phone calls over the internet instead of via the telephone system.


W3C - (World Wide Web Consortium) shortened to W3C. An influential group of interested parties who agree what is and isn't official HTML. Originally WWWC, but W3C is a lot easier to say.

Wallpaper - A picture or motif on your Windows desktop. To change the Windows wallpaper right-click anywhere on the desktop, select Properties from the pop-up menu, choose the Desktop tab and select a new entry from the list under Background. To add pictures of your own to the list, save them as .bmp(bitmap) files and put them in your Windows folder.

WAN - (Wide Area Network) A sort of group of networks, or more properly LANs, connected together.

WAP - (Wireless Application Protocol; pr. "wapp" or "wopp") A system to enable early mobile phones to browse the World Wide Web. In practise the site has to be specially designed and text only, and only a very few sites have bothered. Now largely obsolete, as smartphones can display the original sites pretty well.

WAV file, Wave - A basic computer sound recording. WAV files tend to be very large, so sound recordings are often compressed into MP3s on the internet, giving a slightly lower quality but much smaller files.

Webcam - (WEB CAMera) a kind of cheap TV camera which you can use for videoconferencing over the internet, or just showing off. They are very popular for making video calls over the internet.

Webhost - A company which makes webpages available on the World Wide Web, usually as a commercial venture.

Weblog - A website documenting someone's life and/or thoughts, also known as a blog.

Webmail - Email controlled from a website such as Hotmail or Yahoo instead of with a dedicated mail program like Outlook Express or Eudora. Many ISPs allow you to access your email both with a mail program and via the Web, so that you can access your email while travelling.

Webmaster - The person prinicipally responsible for maintaining a website.

Webserver - A computer which fetches or stores World Wide Web pages and provides them over the internet on request.

Website - A page or group of pages on the World Wide Web.

Webspace - The storage on an internet server where websites are kept. Webspace can be hired from a commercial provider, or is sometimes provided free with an internet account, though often with constraints on what you can use it for and with very limited space.

Websurfing - Looking at pages on the World Wide Web. Often just called surfing.

Wi-Fi, WiFi - (WIreless FIdelity) A method of connecting computers to a network without cables, using small radio transmitter/receivers built in to most portable devices and broadband modems. Many hotels and other public locations now offer free WiFi if you have a suitable device, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Wiki - A website where the users create and edit the content collaboratively, the best known being Wikipedia, a huge online encyclopedia. Entries on controversial subjects should be viewed with caution, as they may have been edited by persons with strong but not necessarily accurate views. Anyone can create a Wiki using free open source software.

Win95 - Windows 95. See Windows.

Win98 - Windows 98. See Windows.

Win9x - Compatible with or pertaining to both Windows 95 and Windows 98.

Windows - A family of operating systems from the Microsoft Corporation, standard on most PCs. Windows 95, 98 and ME (Millenium Edition) were three generations of the early version intended mainly for home use; Windows NT and 2000, developed and released in parallel with the 9x family, were intended more for use in office and network environments. Both lines were replaced by Windows XP, which was first released in 2001, extensively upgraded since, and still popular today. XP was replaced first by Vista, released in 2007 to a lukewarm reception, then by Windows 7, released in 2009 and essentially Vista with the bugs taken out, which was much better received. The latest version is Windows 8, released in 2012, which has a new interface aimed mainly at touchscreens, as Microsoft try to move in to the fast-growing tablet and smartphone markets. However, it makes little sense on a desktop or laptop, Microsoft's biggest existing markets, and they fired the chief designer two weeks after it was released. Another version will no doubt be along shortly.

Windows 2000 - A version of Windows intended for business users, the successor to Windows NT. Now obsolete.

Windows 3, 3.1, 3.11 - A very early version of Windows, a sort of forerunner of the operating system that ran on top of the original PC operating system, DOS. Long obsolete.

Windows 7, 8 etc - See Windows.

Windows 98SE - (Second Edition) An upgrade to Microsoft's Windows 98. Generally agreed to be the best of the Win9x bunch.

Windows Key - An extra key on keyboards made after 1995, located between Ctrl and Alt and bearing the Microsoft Windows logo. Pressing this key in any Win95/98 application should immediately call up the Taskbar with the Start Menu open. (If your keyboard doesn't have a Windows key you can perform the same task by pressing Ctrl-Esc).

Windows ME (Millenium Edition) - The successor to Windows 98, but not widely taken up, and soon replaced by Windows XP. Now obsolete.

Windows NT - An early version of Windows intended for business use, more stable for networking but less game-friendly than its Win9x cousins. First released in 1993, superseded first by Windows 2000 and then Windows XP. Now obsolete.

Windows Vista - Microsoft's first attempt to replace Windows XP, first released in 2007. It had a prettier interface and a few nice ideas, but it was bloated and slow and was soon replaced by Windows 7, which looks very like Vista but is quicker and more stable.

Windows XP - One of Microsoft's more stable and popular releases, once they had patched it several times to remove the worst mistakes and security holes, first released in 2001. Some people are still declining to upgrade from it to any of the more recent releases.

WinZip - The most popular program for compressing files, either for storage or transmission via the internet, widely available as a free download. The compressed files it creates have the extension .zip. See also zip.

Wireless network - A computer network which uses radio transmitters (usually) to move information between computers without the need for physical cables. See Wi-Fi.

Wizard - A Windows feature which presents a user with simple menus or options for what would otherwise be a complex task, and carries them out automatically. Almost all Windows programs are installed via Wizards, but they are also widely used inside Windows programs.

Word Processor - A program used for creating documents, letters, etc. The best known is Microsoft Word.

World Wide Web (WWW or just "the Web") - The easiest part of the Internet to use and understand, the World Wide Web consists of many millions of pages of text and images published by anyone and everyone, from governments and large corporations down to the humblest home user, in a standardised hypertext format. A particular person or company's area is called a website, viewed with a program called a browser. Wandering around the World Wide Web is often called Websurfing or just surfing.

Worm - A malicious program introduced into computers by stealth, similar to a virus.

Write-protected - A write-protected file has been set so that it cannot be altered or deleted without first removing the write-protection. Also called read-only. You can write-protect a file in windows by right-clicking on it and checking the "read-only" box under attributes.

WWW - See World Wide Web.

WYSIWYG - (What You See Is What You Get; pr. "whizzy-wig") A computer interface, usually for creating documents, that reproduces the end-product as accurately as possible on screen. Standard on all modern software, so you don't often hear it mentioned these days.


Xbox - is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. It represents a series of video game consoles developed by Microsoft, with three consoles released in the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations respectively. The brand also represents applications (games), streaming services, and an online service by the name of Xbox Live.

XML - (Extensible Markup Language) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable. It is defined by the W3C's XML 1.0 Specification and by several other related specifications, all of which are free open standards. The design goals of XML emphasize simplicity, generality and usability across the Internet. It is a textual data format with strong support via Unicode for different human languages. Although the design of XML focuses on documents, it is widely used for the representation of arbitrary data structures such as those used in web services.


YMMV - (Your Mileage May Vary) Internet slang, meaning "your experience may be different". Derives from a disclaimer in US car ads.


Zip - A popular standard for file compression, These compressed files usually have the extension .zip. See WinZip.

Zip drive - A special drive for removable data cartridges, often used for making backups as the cartridges can hold a lot more data than a floppy disk. Now pretty much obsolete, as almost all PCs have CD or DVD writers fitted as standard.



Jargon Busting by Jon Storm (Internet) & www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk

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