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Computer, Telephony & Electronics
Industry Glossary


The worldwide abbreviation for Fahrenheit.

facilitated chat

In a facilitated chat, a host or facilitator controls the messages that appear on the chat screen. Usually used when there is a guest speaker. Facilitated chats provide an orderly environment for the guest speaker and ensure that she is not overwhelmed with dozens of questions all being asked at once. See also chat.


A scale of temperature measurement used primarily in the United States. In today's computer industry, all electrical components have a range of temperature within which they operate. The Fahrenheit scale ranges from 32 to 212 degrees. As a quick reference without getting too technical, 32 is freezing and 212 is boiling. Most measurements worldwide and in the computer industry are in Celsius, except in the chip manufacturing process where Kelvin is used. If you are not sure of your Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin, Réaumur, or Rankine, try our multi-scale, online temperature converter!


This is a new (mid 1999) data processing term, though the conceptual idea has been around since day one. Everyone who has ever depended on a computer has known that it would fail, in one way or another, at the the worst possible time. Most of us that have been around since IBM 360 days (old timers or veterans, depending on your point of view) have actually experienced that critical failure. This term and idea is the concept of disaster planning, or at least failure planning, in an automated fashion. It is the process of an alternative action taking over in the event of some specific failure. The failure can be in hardware or software; there can be multiple specifics. The idea is that once a specific failure is detected, the key to the whole process, a secondary action, identical or at least very similar to the first action, comes to life and offers a way to do whatever process failed. The most common current applications are for database operations on a conventional network or on the Internet, a server failure or a specific piece of hardware failure. The term was actually coined by Adaptec in a reference to a plan for a SCSI controller alternative in the event the primary controller failed. The idea was carried much beyond by other organizations but the concept remains the same. It is my personal feeling that the concept was pressed to issue by Internet stock brokerage houses that needed a way to push online traders to alternative servers in the event of failure or excessive demand on a particular brokerage database. Hardware component failure is detected by a trigger in the driver and overhead control program. Server and software failures are detected and triggered to alternative by the overhead operations of the client software that allows full functionality of that software or server. The technology is young but it is for certain that the demand for it will increase and that the technology will mature.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. FAQ is a commonly used abbreviation for "Frequently Asked Questions." Most Internet sites and many ISP areas will have a "FAQ" section to explain what is in the area and how to use its features. While many FAQ areas are true compilations of users' questions, some are attempts at anticipated questions. Both are sources of wonderful information.
2. These are lists of questions that occur frequently on Usenet newsgroups; they are posted at regular intervals and archived at several sites. You should always read the FAQ (if there is one) for a group before posting a message (or risk being flamed).


Capacitor electron storing ability; (the capacitance) is measured in farads (F). One farad is actually a huge number of electrons (6,280,000,000,000,000,000 electrons to be exact), so we usually rate capacitors in microfarads (uF) and picofarads (pF). One uF is equal to 0.000,001F and one pF is equal to 0.000,000,000,001F.


See Ethernet and 100Base-T. You may also want to check out our bandwidth speed comparison.

fast-page mode

1. A common DRAM data-access scheme. Accessing DRAM is similar to finding information in a book. First, you turn to a particular page (a location in memory), then you select information from the page. Fast-page mode enables the CPU to access new data in half the normal access time, as long as it is on the same page as the previous request.
2. A timing option that permits several bits of data in a single row on a DRAM to be accessed at an accelerated rate. Fast Page Mode involves selecting multiple column addresses in rapid succession once the row address has been selected. Each time a column address is selected and CAS becomes active, the data output drivers are activated; each time CAS goes high, the data output drivers are deactivated.


A service interrupting event occurring on an electric system or electronic circuit such as a short circuit, a broken wire, or an intermittent connection.

fault indicator

A device which indicates fault current by sensing the magnetic field caused by current flowing through the conductor. Once the current is above the fault indicator's current rating, the fault indicator will trip.

fault tolerant

1. The ability of a system to respond reasonably intelligently or at least gracefully to an unexpected hardware or software failure. There are many levels of fault tolerance, the lowest being the ability to continue operation, or at lest shut down in an anticipated manner in the event of a power failure. Many fault tolerant computer systems mirror all operations, that is, every operation is performed on two or more duplicate systems, so if one fails the other can take over. See MSCS and Novell.
2. A husband in a marriage of 20 years or more; not to be confused with wife.

Favorite Places

A Favorite Place (or bookmark) is an easy way to find your way back to an area of an ISP's services or a web site, just like a real bookmark helps you keep your place in a book you are reading. Usually, this is a function of the browser.


Short for Facsimile, a fax is a scanned document that is sent over phone lines to a fax machine or computer with fax capabilities. America Online's software can send E-Mail as a fax. There is often a charge involved for such options. Each ISP has something similar and if you would like to know more details, ask for "just the FAX, ma'am". For another FAX option, see FAXLink for FAX provide help on AOL connectivity problems. See Group 3 and Group 4. Also see CNG and CCCITT. You may also wish to view some of the V designations concerning telephony protocols.


The America Online FAXLink Service provides information via fax concerning connectivity problems or error messages, and software and hardware incompatibilities. Call 1-800-827-5551 from a touch-tone telephone. Most ISPs provide similar services.


An abbreviation for Fibre Channel. The Fibre Channel Standard (FCS) [1] defines a high-speed data transfer interface that can be used to connect together workstations, mainframes, supercomputers, storage devices and displays. The standard addresses the need for very fast transfers of large volumes of information and could relieve system manufacturers from the burden of supporting the variety of channels and networks currently in place, as it provides one standard for networking, storage and data transfer. FC ports can be connected as point-to-point links, in a loop or to a switch. The ports in a point-to-point connection are called N_Ports; if they can work in a loop they are called NL_Ports. An FC switch, or a network of switches, is called a fabric. The ports of it are called F_Ports. Both optical and electrical media are supported, working from 133 Megabits/sec up to 1062 Megabits/sec, while distances up to 10 km are possible. Information can flow between two ports in both directions simultaneously. Exchange is the name of the mechanism for coordinating the exchange of information between two N_Ports. The port starting the Exchange is called the Originator, the port that answers is called the Responder. The data is sent in frames that are maximum 2148 bytes long. Frames have a header and a checksum. A set of related frames for one operation is called a Sequence. For flow control the Fibre Channel standard uses a look-ahead, sliding-window scheme that also provides a guaranteed delivery capability. FC has the ability to carry multiple existing protocols including IP and SCSI.


An abbreviation of the Federal Communications Commission. The mission of this independent government agency is to encourage competition in all communications markets and to protect the public interest. In response to direction from the Congress, the FCC develops and implements policy concerning interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. See them at HTTP://WWW.FCC.GOV.


An acronym for Fibre Channel Internet Protocol, though the acronym iFCP seems to be more popular.


Abbreviation of Fibre Distributed Data Interface, a set of ANSI protocols for sending digital data over fiber optic cable. FDDI networks are token-passing networks, and support data rates of up to 100 Mbps (100 million bits) per second. FDDI networks are typically used as backbones for wide-area networks. A current technology extension to this is called FDDI II or FDDI-2. Another variation of FDDI called FFDT uses the same network infrastructure but can potentially support enhanced capabilities.


Abbreviation of Fibre Distributed Data Interface 2, a set of ANSI protocols. An extension to FDDI, called FDDI-2, supports the transmission of voice and video information as well as data.


A measurement of time. There are 1,000,000,000,000,000 (a thousand trillion) femtoseconds in a second. For more information on both common and uncommon timely tidbits, see our displays of time and time zone conversions on our listing of various converters and calculators.


An acronym for Front-End Processor; a telephony and computer term. A FEP communications computer associated with a host computer that manages the lines and routing of data through the network. In large networks, FEP is a loose term to describe the firewall.


An acronym for Field Effect Transistor. It is a bipolar transistor is a current amplifying device. An input current results in an amplified output current Hfe=Ic/Ib, where Ic is the output or collector current and Ib is the input or base current. The FET on the other hand is a transconductance device, that is an input voltage results in an output current G=Id/Vg, where Id is the output or drain current and Vg is the input or gate voltage. This assumes a common emitter connection for the bipolar transistor and a common source connection for the FET.


An abbreviation for Far End Cross (X) Talk. This is a term used in network cable troubleshooting. It is a displayed symptom of electrons traveling the network and bouncing around there for lack of anywhere else to go.


An acronym for FDDI Full Duplex Technology. This is an extension of FDDI that yields greatly enhanced speeds of data rates up to 200 Mbps.

Fiber optics

1. Transmission technology developed using fiberglass strands and light pulses to transmit information. Fiber optic cable is a type of data cable which employs light pulses which are guided along fiberglass strands to relay data. Fiber optics are slowly replacing copper coaxial cable in today's high speed networks for the simple reason that they can maintain a larger number of users at a higher speed then copper coaxial can. The downside is that fiber optics fail in atmospheric temperature extremes, and perform poorly in situations where the line must be cut and relinked elsewhere.
2. A transmission medium composed of glass or plastic fibers; pulses of light are emitted from a laser-type source. Fiber optic cabling is the present cabling of choice for all interexchange networks, and increasingly for the local exchange loops as well; it is high security, high bandwidth, and takes up little conduit space. Considered the physical medium of all future land based communications.

Fibre Channel

See FC.


A worldwide hobbyist network of personal computers started in 1984 that exchanges mail, discussion groups, and files.


This is a designation for a group of data. For instance, a program that asks for your name keeps that data in a field, stored on a disk drive, in a file, within the file within a record. A field does not have any restrictions as to how large or small it can be.


This is an acronym used in accounting, inventory control and computer server buffering and cache technology, First In First Out. In the world of computers, it means that instructions first in the Queue are handled in an order that is on a first come first served basis, oldest taken first. The opposite is LIFO, which is seldom used in computer technology.


A collection of data stored on a disk with a unique filename. Anything you see in File Manager, Explorer, or on the Macintosh desktop is a file. Also see data.

file compression

Reducing the size of files for ease of storage and transfer. WinZip is an example of an application that compresses files; the UNIX compress utility is another.


AOL's automatic Newsgroup UUdecoder. When you click on a Newsgroup item that has been UUencoded, this feature will automatically decode the file and present it to you for download. This term belongs to AOL but most other services have a similar service.


All ISPs have a software search utility. This is a rapid way to see what files are available or are present. Often they are searchable by subject, content or category, but most often, by name.

file transfer

The process of moving or transmitting a file from one location to another, as between two programs or from one computer to another.

File Transfer Protocol - FTP

See FTP.


1. A process, usually in database searches, to segment out or in, a selected set of parameters. In the case of searching on the Internet, the filter process is usually used to describe the process of eliminating pornographic returns from the search. See Parental Control.
2. A hardware screen or mesh to purify air entering power supplies or computers.
3. See line filter.
4. An electronic trap to disallow certain signals of certain frequencies, noise and unwanted harmonics, from contaminating the wanted signal. You might want to see our Active Audio Filter Calculator.


1. A UNIX utility that reports information about other users who have UNIX accounts. Finger can tell you, for example, where and when a person last logged in to the system. It can also be used on a single host or across the Internet. It functions also VIA E-Mail information. The actual information returned is limited to the parsing capability of the information supplier.
2. A Unix command that provides information about users logged in; and it can also be used to retrieve the .plan and .project files from a user's home directory.
3. A gesture by a programmer to another person that has ripped off his code without even recognition.


1. A set of security procedures that separates and protects data on a LAN from crackers who might access the LAN from the Internet. A firewall is a method of protecting one network from another network, yet allowing restricted access of desired users.
2. A firewall is used on some networks to provide added security by blocking access to certain services in the private network from the rest of the Internet or other networks. A computer firewall operates in the same way that a firewall in a building keeps fire from spreading. An Internet firewall keeps hackers from spreading.
3. Router or access server, or several routers or access servers, designated as a buffer between any connected public networks and a private network. A firewall router uses access lists and other methods to ensure the security of the private network.
4. A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria. Certainly all of the major networking companies have excellent firewall technology but here are a couple of providers that we suggest that are low end proxy providers.

a. AnalogX - This is an excellent and simple Proxy server. The price is right and it works well. See it and get it at HTTP://WWW.ANALOGX.COM.
b. Software 602 - This is a full-featured (sounds feminine huh?) Proxy and web server. It is EXCELLENT but very reasonable! It'll cost you a few bucks but it is worth it for what it does. HTTP://WWW.SOFTWARE602.COM.

There are several types of firewall techniques:

Packet filter: Looks at each packet entering or leaving the network and accepts or rejects it based on user-defined rules. Packet filtering is fairly effective and transparent to users, but it is difficult to configure. In addition, it is susceptible to IP spoofing.
Application gateway: Applies security mechanisms to specific applications, such as FTP and Telnet servers. This is very effective, but can impose a performance degradation.
Circuit-level gateway: Applies security mechanisms when a TCP or UDP connection is established. Once the connection has been made, packets can flow between the hosts without further checking.
Proxy server: Intercepts all messages entering and leaving the network. The proxy server effectively hides the true network addresses.
In practice, many firewalls use two or more of these techniques in concert. A firewall is considered a first line of defense in protecting private information. For even greater security, data can be encrypted.


1. A computer program, a set of instructions, data or software stored permanently in a PROM or a ROM or semi-permanently in an EPROM.
2. Software stored in PROM, ROM or EPROM; essential programs that remain even when the system is electrically turned off. Firmware is considerably easier to modify than hardware but more permanent than software stored on disk or volatile memory. Most firmware can be updated through patches or version upgrades from the manufacturer.
3. This is NOT the company dress code!

Flagship Technology

A transaction routing and identification technology created by Computer Support Group and licensed by them for use in Internet business site operations. This is a major innovation in business transaction processing in a real time mode.


1. To send angry or critical mail to someone via E-Mail or a Newsgroup. Keep in mind as technology advances, you are leaving a fingerprint that is traceable on your mail.
2. An offensive or insulting E-Mail or Usenet News message, often the result of an error in netiquette.
3. A public post or E-Mail message that expresses a strong opinion or criticism. Flames can be fun when they allow people to vent their feelings, then return to the topic at hand. Others are simply insulting and can lead to flame wars. 4. An old squeeze (Ah... The good old days! Glowing embers are very nice though.)

flame bait

An inflammatory post that is designed to provoke a flame war or flame responses.

flame on/flame off

Notifiers that surround a flame message and let readers know that the message they are reading is a flame. Although you don't see these as much as you used to, they would most commonly be used by an individual known to a particular online group who wishes to do a little ranting and then return to the topic at hand. Note that the original usage of "flame on" was derived from Marvel Comics' Human Torch character.

flame war

A series of public posts in which people flame one another rather than contribute useful information.


1. A particular type of memory that is ROM in nature, but can be updated and upgraded by special programs. Many BIOS chips are of this technology. In the case of BIOS, the term Flash refers to a user upgradable memory device (required not to have the usual BIOS identification code making it undetectable by memory managers) that is mapped into a PC's upper memory and conflicts with programs that the memory manager positions over the top of it. Used to implement Plug-n-Play and other quickly changing specifications. This quick changing specs are often correctly termed, mistakes.
2. FLASH is erased (or bulk erased) electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). FLASH has the electrically erasable benefits of EEPROM but the small, economical cell size of EPROM technology.
3. A bandwidth friendly and browser independent vector-graphic animation technology. As long as different browsers are equipped with the necessary plug-ins, Flash animations will look the same. With Flash, users can draw their own animations or import other vector-based images. Flash animation can only be created using the Flash animation application from Macromedia Inc. Flash was known as FutureSplash until 1997, when Macromedia Inc. bought the company that developed it. They can be seen at HTTP://WWW.MACROMEDIA.COM. (As of late 2005, Macromedia is now owned by Adobe; information is available at HTTP://WWW.ADOBE.COM.)


The bar of buttons at the top of the browser screen or many applications. This feature is often called the Toolbar and is usually modifiable by the user to his needs and tastes.


FlashMail is E-Mail that has been that has been retrieved through a pre-scheduled automatic flashsession and placed in your Incoming Mail box. Most services have such a feature of the same or similar name.


AOL's proprietary tool that automatically downloads marked files, gets and sends E-Mail, and retrieves Newsgroup files. Most online services have a similar tool. A popular feature of AOL that automatically performs online tasks at a designated time. Flash sessions are often used to send/receive E-Mail and download large files.


1. As a noun, an ASCII text file consisting of records of a single type, in which there is no embedded structure information governing relationships between records.
2. As an adjective, describes a flattened representation of a database as single file from which the structure could implicitly be rebuilt.
3. A particular type of database structure, as opposed to relational.

flat panel display

1. A very thin display screen used in portable computers. Nearly all modern flat-panel displays use LCD technologies. Most LCD screens are backlit to make them easier to read in bright environments.
2. A mid-1998 technology that is in higher end televisions and monitors to allow wall mounting or on much smaller footprint spaces on desktops.

floating point numbers

Numbers that contain decimal representations or are represented in scientific notation. Also known as real numbers in math circles. See FPU.

floppy disk

A small disk that can be removed from the computer, though they are not all "floppy." The most common name for them was diskette. The usual method of software delivery is by floppy disk, frequently now, however by CD-ROM when size of the files or quantity of data is very large. Floppy disks were sometimes single sided and sometimes had data on both sides. Data was written in single density, double density, quad density, high density, low density and ultra density. Popular sizes over the years have been 8", 5.25" and 3.5" disks. The 3.5" disk was correctly known as rigid but is still generally termed as a floppy disk. There were also some unpopular sizes such as 14", 7" and 2.5" disks. Most used "soft sectoring" to allow software formatting of the media. However, there were hard sector disks that could not be reformatted.

floppy drive

The physical hardware to read and write the floppy disks of various sizes and configurations. For many years, this was the favored method of data storage and introduction. Please see floppy disk.


1. Short for floating-point operations per second, a common benchmark measurement for rating the speed of microprocessors. Floating-point operations include any operations that involve fractional numbers. Such operations, which take much longer to compute than integer operations, occur often in some applications. Most modern microprocessors include a floating-point unit (FPU), which is a specialized part of the microprocessor responsible for executing floating-point operations. The FLOPS measurement, therefore, actually measures the speed of the FPU. One of the most common benchmark tests used to measure FLOPS is called Linpack. Many experts feel that FLOPS is not a relevant measurement because it fails to take into account factors such as the condition under which the microprocessor is running (e.g., heavy or light loads) and which exact operations are included as floating-point operations. For this reason, a consortium of vendors created the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), which provides more meaningful benchmark values.
A megaFLOPS (MFLOPS) is equal to one million floating-point operations per second, and a gigaFLOPS (GFLOPS) is equal to one billion floating-point operations per second.
2. DOTCOMS that didn't make it on the stock market.

flow chart

A somewhat antiquated pictorial method for displaying and defining the directional decision making characteristics of a program. The more current use of the term does not use pictures or graphics but does give a directional flow of a program, based on decision making points. While the term used to be used only by programmers, it is now used by analysts and users to give an abbreviated users guideline of how the program is supposed to work. For instance, if a program asks a question and the answer options are both "Yes" and "No", the flow chart would show what choices and directions the computer takes if the user selects either answer. These charts also indicated when, where and which data files are opened. They are non-specific computer language based and generally work with all programming languages and applications.


An acronym for Frequency Modulation. A particular technology, most commonly used in radio broadcasting, where a modulated signal produces a carrier wave which is the final transmit frequency; technically, encoding a carrier wave by modulating its frequency in accordance with an input signal.


An acronym for FiberOptic InterRepeater Link. Fiberoptic communication signaling methodology based loosely on the IEEE 802.3 fiberoptic specification and 10Base-F guideline. FOIRL is a forerunner of the 10Base-FL specification, which is designed to enhance and replace it.


A typographic style used to display or print characters. Times Roman, Courier, and Helvetica are three examples. There are screen fonts, print fonts and Internet fonts.


Foobar is a universal variable understood to represent whatever is being discussed. It is an unwritten but understood programmer's code of construction. In my day, the variable A=anything, AN or ANYTHING$ was used. The name TESTFILE.FIL was used for files. It's usually used in examples that illustrate concepts and ideas in computer science. For instance, a computer science professor may be discussing different file formats. In this case, he would call the generic-example file foo or foobar, then list the extensions associated with the file formats (e.g. foobar.txt, foobar.gif, foobar.exe, foobar.tar). When foo or foobar is used, everyone understands that these are just examples, and they don't really exist. Programmers and administrators also use foo and foobar in a similar context. Files or program s named with foo or foobar are understood not to be permanent and will be changed or deleted at anytime. Foo, bar, and the compound foobar were commonly used at MIT, Stanford and the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. Other generic variables are used other places, but only these three are considered universal. One last note: hackers never use foobar to mean fubar!


1. The process of preparing media, such as a hard disk, removable or memory disk, diskette or tape, to accept data.
2. The general layout of data in a presentation.


A set of symbols that expresses a mathematical rule. For example, the formula for area of a rectangle is Area = length X width or A = l X w.


A topically-focused discussion group or area. From the traditional Roman forum, a community area where ideas and proposals are discussed.

Forum Leader

An ISP staff member responsible for the content and management of an online area.


A function of E-Mail that will automatically attach the current mail to the end of your reply. This allows the recipient to see the original mail. This sort of communication is advised for a complete track record if attempting to obtain online support.


Sending an E-Mail message or post from one person to a third party. The action of executing a forward.


An acronym for Field Programmable Gate Array. This is a logic device in the PLD family. A generic description of an FPGA is a programmable device with an internal array of logic blocks, surrounded by a ring of programmable input/output (I/O) blocks, connected together via programmable interconnect (FPIC). There are a wide variety of sub-architectures within this group. The secret to density and performance in these devices lies in the logic contained in their logic blocks and on the performance and efficiency of their routing architecture.


An acronym for Field Programmable InterConnect. This is a psuedo-logic device in the PLD family. An FPIC is not really a logic device, in the strictest sense, but rather a programmable "wiring" device. Through programming, an FPIC connects one pin on the device to another on the device providing programmable interconnect. FPICs use either SRAM or anti-fuse programming technology. Since it does the same thing as PLDs, it is usually mentioned with them.


An acronym for Floating Point Unit. An FPU is a specially designed chip that performs floating point calculations. They are also numeric coprocessors, math coprocessors, and floating point processors. Computers equipped with an FPU perform certain types of applications much faster than computers that lack one. In particular, graphics applications are faster with an FPU, as are math projections and obvious number crunching. With microprocessors that do not have a built in FPU, you can usually add an FPU by inserting the FPU chip on the motherboard in a slot designed for it. The speed of FPUs generally must match the speed of the CPU.


An acronym for Fully Qualified Domain Name, an address which specifies a specific machine and it's Internet domain. "csgnetwork" is not a FQDN, however "csgnetwork.csg.com" is, assuming the "csgnetwork resides on the "csg" server. In the last few years, it has come to mean, "www.csgnetwork.com".

fractional T1

A service in which a customer can use less than 24 channels on a T1 line without paying the cost of the entire line.

fractional T3

A service in which a customer can use less than 24 channels on a T3 line without paying the cost of the entire line.


1. A telephony acronym for Frame Relay Asynchronous Device, a hardware device that interfaces Frame Relay circuits to IP networks.
2. An acronym for Frame Relay Assembler/Disassembler, a communications device that breaks a data stream into frames for transmission over a Frame Relay network and recreates a data stream from incoming frames. A Frame Relay router, a more modern technology, serves the same purpose but provides more intelligence in avoiding device or network congestion.


1. An HTML feature that allows web designers to segment the window of a web browser into distinct sections.
2. A single complete picture in a moving picture sequence; a single picture in a computerized "movie".
3. In communications, a packet of transmitted information, usually pure data.

frame relay

1. A high-speed packet-switched data communications service, similar to X.25. Frame relay is a leading contender for LAN-to-LAN interconnect services, and is well suited to the bursty demands of LAN and MAN environments. See also Permanent Virtual Circuit (PVC) and Switched Virtual Circuit (SVC).
2. A packet-switching protocol for connecting devices on a Wide Area Network (WAN). Frame Relay networks in the U.S. support data transfer rates at T1 (1.544 Mbps) and T3 (45 Mbps) speeds. In fact, you can think of Frame Relay as a way of utilizing existing T1 and T3 lines owned by a service provider. Most telephone companies now provide Frame Relay service for customers who want connections at 56 Kbps to T1 speeds. In Europe (E1 and E3), Frame Relay speeds vary from 64 Kbps to 2 Mbps. In the U.S., Frame Relay is quite popular because it is relatively inexpensive. However, it is being replaced in some areas by faster technologies, such as ATM. Most all frame relay environments, even slow ones, are much better than any sort of dial-up connection in speed. They are also always on line.


A community-based bulletin board system that serves a local geographic community on a non-profit basis.

freeware or Public Domain

A file, most often a program, that is made available to the public free of charge from the author, also know as Public Domain. Shareware that is openly available to the public without the requirement of user registration fee. These programs have over the years often by made public by very good programmers that saw a need in the computer world but did not care to profit from the resolution. The various modem protocols are examples of the quantity and quality of some of this generosity. I also remember that there is no free lunch. Beware and be careful of strangers bearing gifts! This is different from shareware in the true meaning.


1. A term describing how fast something repeats itself. For an oscillating or varying current, frequency is the number of complete cycles per second in alternating current (AC) direction. The standard unit of frequency is the hertz (Hz). If a current completes one cycle per second, then the frequency is 1 Hz; 60 cycles per second equals 60 Hz (the standard alternating-current utility frequency in some countries, including the US). Larger units of frequency include the kilohertz (kHz) representing thousands of cycles per second, the megahertz (MHz) representing millions of cycles per second, and the gigahertz (GHz) representing billions of cycles per second. Occasionally the terahertz (THz) is used representing trillions of cycles per second. Be aware that these prefixes represent specific powers of 10, in contrast to the prefixes for multiples of bytes, which represent specific powers of 2. Computer clock speed is generally specified in megahertz and, more recently, in gigahertz. Frequency is important in wireless communications, where the frequency of a signal is mathematically related to the wavelength. If f is the frequency of an electromagnetic field in free space as measured in megahertz, and w is the wavelength as measured in meters, then the wireless frequency formulae are:
a. w = 300/f(mhz), and
b. f(mhz) = 300/w
2. A term to describe the operation band of radio, TV, radar, and other broadcast transmissions. See our Communications Converters and Calculators for a vast amount of frequency information.

Fresnel Zone

A wireless telephony term; also used in wireless computing. The area around the visual line-of-sight that radio waves spread out into after they leave the antenna. (Pronounced 'fre-nel' the "s" is silent.) This area must be clear or else signal strength will weaken. Fresnel Zone is an area of concern for 2.4GHz wireless systems. Although 2.4GHz signals pass rather well through walls, they have a tough time passing through trees. The main difference is the water content in each. Walls are very dry: trees contain high levels of moisture. Radio waves in the 2.4GHz frequency band absorb into water quite well. This is why microwaves, which also use the 2.4GHz band, cook food. Water absorbs the waves, and heat from the energy cooks the food.


1. To be totally destroyed or otherwise unusable, a term meaning down, as in "my hard drive is fried" or "the network is totally fried." Often refers to electronic components that have burned from excess voltage, heat or lightning damage.
2. Programmer jargon for working too long.

Front Page

Microsoft's webpage creation toolkit. This package gives the novice and experienced designer several tools not found in other similar packages. While it does do excellent work, it requires only minimum knowledge to use it efficiently. Microsoft Corporation can be accessed through HTTP://WWW.MICROSOFT.COM.


The abbreviation for Family Radio Service. It is a range of frequencies designated by the FCC specifically for use by families, groups or small controlled organizations for short distance, localized mobile communications. It does not require a license. See our frequency table and additional information.


An acronym for Front Side Bus; it is the internal data channel connecting the processor (CPU), chipset, RAM (all flavors), motherboard busses and AGP socket. FSB is described in terms of its width in bits and it's speed in Mhz. In everyday terms, it is the doorway for the CPU to talk to the system bus, and how fast the bus can talk to other computer components.


1. An Internet protocol that enables you to transfer files between computers on the Internet. File Transfer Protocol, a method of transferring files from the Internet. There are special programs that do this file transferring for those that upload and download in mass. See HTTP.
2. An Acronym for File Transfer Protocol, a method of retrieving files to your home directory or directly to your computer using SLIP/PPP. There are thousands of FTP sites on the Internet offering files and programs of all kinds.
3. A program that enables such transfers. The industry leader and generally industry wide regarded "good guys" in the field, is IPSwitch, Inc.; they produced the WS_FTP software. See them at HTTP://WWW.IPSWITCH.COM.


Abbreviation for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. A set of sales tactics employed by market leaders to cast aspersion on competing products. Computer products are often purchased on the basis of perceived market leadership because no one wants to get stuck with a losing product that might not be supported in the near future. The usefulness of using FUD to confuse a market is epitomized by the apocryphal saying, "No one ever got fired for buying IBM." A good example of FUD is Microsoft's tactic of pre-announcing products far in advance of their actual availability. All of a sudden the market for competing products evaporates as customers await a dominating Microsoft product.

full duplex

See duplex and half duplex.


A function, in a programming language, is the rough equivalent of a routine or subroutine. It is dependent on the rest of the program for total functionality.


A device that will heat up, melt and electrically open the circuit after a period of prolonged abnormal current flow. See circuit breaker.


Abbreviation of For What It's Worth.


Abbreviation of For Your Information.

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