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Computer, Telephony & Electronics
Industry Glossary


A designation give to a type of equipment. This was at one time a specific piece of equipment; it is now generic in meaning. It is a piece of telecommunications equipment which multiplexes (combines) 28 DS-l signals into a single DS-3 signal, commonly used for concentrating traffic for economy of transmission. MAC

1. The acronym for Media Access Control. The lower of the two sublayers of the data link layer defined by the IEEE. The MAC sublayer handles access to shared media, such as whether token passing or contention will be used. See also data-link layer and LLC. The MAC contains the standardized data link layer address that is required for every port or device that connects to a LAN. Other devices in the network use these addresses to locate specific ports in the network and to create and update routing tables and data structures. MAC addresses are 6 bytes long and are controlled by the IEEE. Also known as a hardware address, MAC layer address, and physical address. Compare with network address. See also application layer, network layer, physical layer, PQ, presentation layer, session layer, and transport layer.
2. The nickname for a computer produced by Apple.


Commonly used term meaning "computer". This is often used for network servers and Internet servers.

machine language

A program in the form of a series of binary codes that is understandable by the CPU. 99.9% of the time programmers write their code in another "higher level" programming language which in turn translates their code into machine language. The lowest-level programming language (except for computers that utilize programmable microcode) Machine languages are the only languages understood by computers. While easily understood by computers, machine languages are almost impossible for humans to use because they consist entirely of numbers. Programmers, therefore, use either a high-level programming language or an assembly language. An assembly language contains the same instructions as a machine language, but the instructions and variables have names instead of being just numbers. Programs written in high-level languages are translated into assembly language or machine language by a compiler. Assembly language programs are translated into machine language by a program called an assembler. Every CPU has its own unique machine language. Assembly language and machine language are called low level programming languages. Programs must be rewritten or recompiled, therefore, to run on different types of computers or different platforms.


A macro is a set of individual commands for use as a group within a program, such as Excel, Word or Access. The macro executes just as a batch file or JCL file.


A macrocell on most modern CPLDs contains a sum-of-products combinatorial logic function and an optional flip-flop. The technology blueprint dates back to the early 7400 serics of ICs. The combinatorial logic function typically supports four to sixteen product terms with wide fan in. In other words, a macrocell may have many inputs, but the complexity of the logic function is limited. Contrast this to most FPGA logic blocks where the complexity is unlimited, but the logic function has just four inputs.


The classic predecessor to E-Mail. It is often called snail-mail by Internet purists. Although E-Mail has taken a load off of the historical mail load, it is not going away soon. However, even the Postal Service has a Web presence. Check it out. HTTP://WWW.USPS.GOV.


Sending a large amount of E-Mail to a person's mailbox with the intent of harassing the person. Mailbombing is a violation of virtually all ISP's Terms of Service. While is it certainly a problem to the recipient, it is a problem to all of us by creating more traffic on the Internet. Traffic causes severe speed deterioration.


The mailer-daemon is an automated program, adopted by some ISPs, that returns Internet mail to you if it is undeliverable for one reason or another. Usually, returned E-Mail is the result of addressing the E-Mail incorrectly. This is used by AOL among others.

Mailing List

Usually an Internet mailing list coming from a LISTSERV. E-Mail is sent by many people to one central address and then automatically distributed to all people subscribed to the mailing list.


See motherboard.


A high-level computer designed for intensive computational tasks and used by large corporations. Mainframes are often shared by multiple users connected to the computer via terminals. Originally refers to the cabinet containing the CPU of a room-sized batch-processing machine. IBM is still king in this size equipment. Cray is the Supercomputer king. Banks, insurance companies and institutions of higher learning use the majority of the non-government mainframes.

Main Menu

The main screen of your ISP's service that contains buttons for all the main areas of that service. You can return to this screen at any time by clicking on GO TO in the menu bar, and then clicking on MAIN MENU.


An AOL for Windows file that stores important AOL information. This file should not be altered in any way.


1. An acronym for Metropolitan Area Network. MAN is a data communication network typically covering the geographic area of a city; a communications network that is usually larger than a LAN but smaller than a WAN. See CAN, LAN and WAN.
2. The person all accolades go to in the computing world, Sysadmin. Users often address him as "U da MAN!" (The politically correct version of that is "U da PERSON!")


An acronym for Manufacturing Automation Protocol; an IEEE specification for cable and network operations, IEEE 802.4.


Your ISP's shopping channel, where you can browse and purchase a large variety of products and services. Such services are the roots for true business on the Internet.


1. A superset of the Internet that includes all networks and computers that can exchange E-Mail.
2. A row/column arrangement in Lotus or Excel.
3. A programming term used to identify the components of an array.


An industry leader in the disk drive industry. Visit them at HTTP://WWW.MAXTOR.COM. As of early 2006, now a part of Seagate.


1. See Megabyte.
2. A common abbreviation for motherboard or mainboard. See motherboard.

megabyte (MB)

A measurement of storage capacity equal to approximately 1 million bytes (1,048,576 bytes). A typical IBM compatible floppy disk holds about 1.44 MB of data. A typical CD-ROM holds over 600 MB of data. A 1 MB file takes about 10 minutes to download at 28,800bps. Don't know your KB from your MB? Try our memory and storage converter. (Also see powers of ten, kilobyte, gigabyte, terabyte, exabyte, petabyte, zettabyte and yottabyte.) A MB is 1,000 KB. When used to describe data storage, 1,048,576 (2 to the 20th power) bytes. Megabyte is frequently abbreviated as M as well as MB. When used to describe data transfer rates (speed of data flow), as in MBps (megabytes per second), it refers to one million bytes.


See Multicast Backbone.


MCI, is the alternative phone service company, now a trying ISP. That company is an ISP like AOL and CIS. They however are young in numbers of users but high in technology. They have made advances and offer a quality service. Without any doubt, they are a force not to be ignored. They have formed alliances to be considered as powerful in the global quest for telephone technology dominance. The MCI site can be reached on the Internet through HTTP://WWW.MCI.COM.


A industry abbreviation for thousand circular mils. See circular mils.


A telephony industry acronym for Multi-channel Multi-point. MCMP is a circuit card that enables the support of up to six independent applications over a single multipoint digital facility. The MCMP capability can support up to 40 tributary DSUs, each optionally with an MCMP card.


Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. A certification degree awarded individuals that have demonstrated through examination, qualifications needed to evaluate, plan, install and maintain Microsoft based networks and systems. It is the general equivalent of CNE from Novell. (Our system engineer has both.)


An acronym for Main Distribution Frame. MDF is the cut-down frame for the wire leaving the CO to the outside plant.


An acronym for Moderate speed Digital Subscriber Line. The final definition for this specification is not yet rendered. See DSL.


An acronym for Microsoft's replacement for Windows 98, Windows Millenium Edition (ME). Read about Windows ME September 14, 2000 release. Microsoft's debut upgrade to Windows 98 came and went without any spectacular innovation! Get the details about ME!

megaflops or mflops

See the definition for flops.


A state of complete network overload that grinds all traffic to a halt. Often caused by resources being incorrectly assigned and utilized by the server. This can be a network, Internet or computer problem.

Member Directory

Your ISP's voluntary listing of members, on most services. Some services do not have this capability and some are mandatory.

Member Profile

An entry in the member directory, created by a member. Often this is a self made utopian image of a cyber person. While most people are honest and mean no harm, some are not. Use caution and common sense in evaluating such a listing. There is usually no ISP auditing of such listings.

Member Services

Your ISP's area for that service's help and information. For example, America Online's Member Services consists of helpful text files, tutorials, Tech Support Live, Write to Our Staff, and online Billing help.

Members Assisting Others

An ISP provided free message board where members can help one another solve their problems. Often this service is similar to "Dear Abby" in a technical sense.


The term commonly used to refer to a computer system's random access memory (see also RAM). The term memory has also been used to refer to all types of electronic data storage (see storage). A computer system's memory is crucial to its operation; without memory, a computer could not read programs or retain data. Memory stores data electronically in memory cells contained in chips. The two most common types of memory chips are DRAM and SRAM.

memory bank

A logical unit of memory in a computer, the size of which is determined by the computer's CPU. For example, a 32-bit CPU calls for memory banks that provide 32 bits of information at a time.

memory buffering

See buffered memory.

memory controller

The interface between system memory and the central processing unit. The memory controller consists of special circuitry, usually a microprocessor, within a computer system that interprets requests from the central processing unit in order to locate data locations, or addresses, in memory.


A pop-up window that allows you to make a choice with your mouse. The words at the top of the service or browser screen are a menu. Clicking on the words will bring up a list of options.


A new family of 64 bit processors from Intel. This processor, dubbed the IA64 (Intel Architecture), is being codeveloped with HP as a RISC processor that will be somewhat compatible with x86 processors, but is intended to start a new direction with 64 bit operating systems. The Itanium is the first in the family.


Mercury is a metal, often used in electronics, which is liquid in a normal state. It is often used in electrical switches to detect tilting, movement, level or non-level conditions.

message boards

A feature of online services that allows members to post public message for other members to read and respond to. Most major areas of any ISP service have at least one message board.

message header

The information at the beginning of an E-Mail or bulletin board message. Message headers contain the identities of the author and recipients, the subject of the message, and the date the message was sent.


See others like Messenger here.


In computer science, meta is a common prefix that means "about". As an example, metadata is data that describes other data (data about data). A metalanguage is a language used to describe other languages. A metafile is a file that contains other files. The HTML META tag is used to describe the contents of a Web page. See metasearch.


An antiquated hypertext system for Unix and the X Window System, which is similar to the also antiquated hypercard in Apple systems.


See meta. This is a search about other searches; generally it is about the data returned from multiple search engines. The CSG MetaSearch engine is such a tool. See multisearch.


See the definition for flops.


An acronym for Modified Frequency Modulation, an encoding scheme used by PC floppy disk drives and hard drives through the mid-1980s. Several competing schemes, such as RLL (Run Length Limited), produced faster data access speeds and increased a disk's storage capacity by up to 50 percent. This technology was pioneered by Seagate, Tandon and Control Data founders. It is often known as the ST512/406 interface.


1. The abbreviation for Megahertz; a million cycles. See hertz. This term is often associated with the speed of a particular CPU or computer.
2. It is also known as the identification for frequency of radio or other types of signal transmissions. For example, a local "oldies" FM station in the Coachella Valley is KDES radio. It has an assigned FCC frequency of 104.7 mhz. It transmits on that frequency in its own local area with a maximum amount of power available to it under the license. This keeps stations from interfering with other station's signals most of the time.


An acronym for a data base of objects, with attributes and values, representing the manageable components of a network device. Used in SNMP. There are industry standardized MIBs and proprietary MIBs.


A unit used in computer science in programming mice and similar input devices. One mickey is the length of the smallest detectable movement of the cursor on the screen. This depends on the equipment. Typical values are in the range 1/200 to 1/300 inch or roughly 0.1 millimeter. Obviously, the name comes from the Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse, the lead character in the new Disney movie, Of Mice And Programmers.


Magnetic Ink Character Recognition is a character recognition system that uses special ink and characters. When a document that contains this ink needs to be read, it passes through a machine, which magnetizes the ink and then translates the magnetic information into characters. The most common use of the technology is in the financial world. MICR technology is used by banks. Numbers and characters found on the bottom of checks (usually containing the check number, sort number, and account number) are printed using Magnetic Ink. To print Magnetic Ink need, you need a laser printer that accepts MICR toner. MICR provides a secure, high-speed method of scanning and processing information. The technology is somewhat similar to both barcode and OCR (optical character recognition), neither of which which use the magnetic function. A version is being tested to use a version of OCR to handle checks and other financial data.


A "slimmed down" version of standard browsers that has been retrofitted to handheld and portable computing devices. The trimming was a requirement due to very limited memory and bandwidth initially available on such devices. See WAP.

microcode or P-code

1) The lowest level instructions that directly control a microprocessor. A single machine language instruction typically translates into several microcode instructions. In modern PC microprocessors, the microcode is hard-wired and can't be modified. Some RISC designs go one step further by completely eliminating the microcode level so that machine instructions directly control the processor. At the other end of the spectrum, some mainframe and minicomputer architectures utilize programmable microcode. In this case, the microcode is stored in EEPROM, which can be modified. This is called microprogramming. It is often referred to as the system's BIOS.
(2) Some people use microcode as a synonym of firmware or ROM based instructions or programs. See what BIOS manufacturer, Phoenix Technologies looks like at HTTP://WWW.PHOENIX.COM.


A microcomputer is a digital computer, like a mainframe or minicomputer. Unlike the majority of their big brothers, the processor is a single chip called a microprocessor, often called a CPU. There are several forms of microcomputers from business computers to personal computers. Many electronic devices are now complete microcomputers as well. Over the years, often calculators have been confused at times as microcomputers. The difference between a calculator and a computer is that computers normally have a fully automated sequence and have the ability to make logic decisions.


A conventional (but ultra-small) hard disk drive, just one inch square in size and designed to fit into the CF Card Type II slots. Originally designed and produced by IBM in 1997, the technology and rights have been taken over by Hitachi. sizes of 512MB and 1GB were available from IBM. Hitachi has announced that sized of up to 4GB are now available. This is truly a read write drive instead of a solid state memory card. Because of the fact it is a true mechanical drive, it is NOT part of a generic category of media called Digital Flash Media (DFM), even though it does have a limited interchange capability in CF slots.


A common unit of electric capacitance equal to 10-6 farad.


The industry leader in all technology companies. They are the largest and most powerful force in computing. Bill Gates is the President and is, himself, a techie. Microsoft is the "house that Bill built". The company sprang from a garage operation to what it is now. The product that started them was porting BASIC to microcomputers. Microsoft's operating systems run more than 92% of the world's microcomputers and more than 85% of all the computers in the world. That is power! See for yourself... HTTP://WWW.MICROSOFT.COM. You can also use our quick links to specific Microsoft Pages and Updates.


A silicon chip that contains a CPU, loosely termed the brain of the microcomputer. In the world of personal computers, the terms microprocessor and CPU are used interchangeably. At the heart of all personal computers and most workstations sits a microprocessor. Microprocessors also control the logic of almost all digital devices, from clock radios to fuel-injection systems for automobiles. Although there are many manufacturers of these chips, Intel is the biggie. They have a wonderful site showing how a microprocessor works. See it here.

Three basic characteristics differentiate microprocessors:

Instruction set: The set of instructions that the microprocessor can execute.
Bandwidth: The number of bits processed in a single instruction.
Clock speed: Given in megahertz (MHz), the clock speed determines how many instructions per second the processor can execute.
In both cases, the higher the value, the more powerful the CPU. For example, a 32-bit microprocessor that runs at 50MHz is more powerful than a 16-bit microprocessor that runs at 25MHz or 50MHZ. In addition to bandwidth and clock speed, microprocessors are classified as being either RISC (reduced instruction set computer) or CISC (complex instruction set computer).


A measurement of time. There are 1,000,000 (a million) microseconds 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 time converters and calculators, as well as our listing of various other converters and calculators.


An abbreviation for Medical Implant Communications Service. See our frequency table and additional information and our Citizens Band Radio (CB) Frequency Table.


A measurement of length or width; also of volume and angle. One mil is 0.001 inches length or width; in England, I am told that the term "thou" is 0.001 inch. Used frequently in measuring very large wire sizes. The circular mil is a unit of area used especially when denoting the cross-sectional size of a wire or cable. It is the equivalent area of a circle whose diameter is 0.001 (10-3) inch, or approximately 0.7854 millionths of a square inch (or 2.5 x 10-7 times pi). In plane geometry, area always varies in direct proportion to the square of the linear dimension. Thus, if wire A is twice the diameter of wire B, then wire A has four times the cross-sectional area, in circular mils, of B. If wire C is 1/5 of the diameter of wire D, then C has 1/25 the cross-sectional area, in circular mils, of D. In this respect, the circular mil is like any other unit for measurement of area. Because the circular mil is, as its name implies, based on a circular unit of measure rather than a rectangular unit, conversions between circular mils and square units such as the meter squared (m2) or centimeter squared (cm2) can be awkward. To convert circular mils approximately to meters squared (m2), multiply by 5.066 x 10-10. Conversely, multiply by 1.974 x 109. To convert circular mils approximately to centimeters squared (cm2), multiply by 5.066 x 10-6. Conversely, multiply by 1.974 x 105. See CMIL, KCMIL, AWG and CMA.
As to volume, a metric unit of volume is equal to one thousandth of a liter. With respect to circular angular measurement, a mil (in military terms) is equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution.


A measurement of time. There are 1,000 (a thousand) milliseconds 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 time converters and calculators, as well as our listing of various other converters and calculators.


Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions, a method of encoding a file for delivery over the Internet. Most ISP's software will automatically decompress MIME files sent in mail and make them available for download. Also, an entertaining character, quiet but demonstrative; even in cyberspace.


1. A unit of measure for time. One minute is 1/60th of an hour and is made up of 60 seconds.
2. A unit of measure of angles equivalent of 1/60th of a degree. There are also 60 seconds in a minute in angle measurement.
3. With a different pronunciation, a meaning of small.


By the original intent and definition, a scaled down mainframe computer. It was designed to be a lower performance and ability multi-user computer, capable of business operations. Originally, each "function" of the computer was on a different board. The CPU was an entire board, the disk controller and tape drive controllers were full boards. The serial and multiplexor boards were fully independent units. Today, most minicomputers are lower priced mainframes but they are really very high performance microcomputers internally, using a microprocessor instead of a CPU board. The motherboard handles most internal tasks instead of requiring a board for every function. Minicomputers still serve the same purpose, offering multiple users a fast and powerful way to share data. Digital (DEC), Honeywell, Tandem, Point 4, General Automation (GA), DDC, Data General and IBM were some of the early pioneers of the technology.


This is a type of technology, formally known as Mini-Secure Digital, for mass storage devices in the form of a new type of memory media with a compact design, image storage capacity of 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256 megabytes, compatibility with different digital camera brands and MP3 devices, roughly the size of SmartMedia cards. It uses the same SD interface, including security features for content protection (CPRMóContent Protection Rights Management) as the standard SD card. The miniSD card is 21.5 millimeters (mm) long, 20 mm wide and 1.4 mm thick, and occupies a footprint of 430 square mm and volume of 602 cubic mm.


This is a benchmark in the industry. It is an acronym for Millions of Instructions Per Second, a measure of the speed of CPU functions.


Mirroring has several forms but is generally considered as "insurance" against hardware or software failure. The mirroring process can be at a server level:
1. Utilizing a backup server that duplicates all the processes and transactions of the primary server. If, for any reason, the primary server fails, the backup server can immediately take its place without any down time. Server mirroring is an expensive but effective strategy for achieving fault tolerance. It's expensive because each server must be mirrored by an identical server whose only purpose is to be there in the event of a failure. A less expensive technique that is becoming more and more popular is clustering.
At the disk level:
2. A technique in which data is written to two duplicate disks simultaneously. This way if one of the disk drives fails, the system can instantly switch to the other disk without any loss of data or service. Disk mirroring is used commonly in on-line database systems where it's critical that the data be accessible at all times. See RAID; it is also known as RAID-1. The weakness is that it uses only one controller. See duplexing.
3. Area level:
See Mirror site.

mirror site

A server which contains a duplicate of another WWW or FTP site. Mirror sites are created for the times when the traffic on the original site becomes too heavy for a single server. Often mirror sites are located in different geographic areas allowing users to choose the site closest to them.


An industry acronym for Management Information Systems. By definition, it is the section of the computer department that assimilates and provides the tools and information to management to make decisions. It has come to mean, in a general sense, the entire computer department, as does IS and IT.

mission critical

Indispensable. Usually describes applications such as databases or process control software that are deemed essential to a company's operation and that typically run on mainframes or workstation rather than on personal computers. A nuclear power plant's operator console software is mission critical.


This is a type of technology, formally known as MutiMedia Card, for mass storage devices in the form of a new type of memory media with a compact design, image storage capacity of up to 1GB, compatibility with different digital camera brands and MP3 devices, similar to SmartMedia cards.


The acronym for Multipoint Microwave Distribution System, also known as Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution System and wireless cable, is another wireless broadband technology for Internet Access. MMDS channels come in 6 MHz chunks and runs on licensed and unlicensed channels. Each channel can reach transfer rates as high as 27Mbps (over unlicensed channels: 99MHz, 2.4GHz, and 5.7 to 5.8GHz) or 1Gbps (over licensed channels). MMDS is a line of sight service, so it does not work well around mountains or blocking terrain, but it does work in rural areas, where copper lines are not available. See LMDS and Fresnel Zone.


Abbreviation of Microcom Networking Protocol, a communications protocol developed by Microcom, Incorporated (now owned by Compaq), that is used by many high speed modems. This technology has been around since the late 60's but really has been a factor in the communications world since the mid 80's. Some of the features and technology, furthered by Compaq, are driving forces today. MNP supports several different classes of communication, each higher class providing additional features. Modems can support one or more classes. Class 4 provides error detection and automatically varies the transmission speed based on the quality of the line. Class 5 provides data compression. Class 6 attempts to detect the highest transmission speed of the modem at the other end of the connect and transmit at that speed. The most common levels of MNP support are Class 4 and Class 5, frequently called MNP-4 and MNP-5. Using the data compression techniques provided by MNP-5, devices can double normal transmission speeds. Because MNP is usually built into the modem hardware, it affects all data transmission. In contrast, software protocols, such as Zmodem, Xmodem and Kermit, affect only file transfer operations. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.


Master of Network Science. 3COM's highly acclaimed recognition for demonstrated knowledge of networking functions. It is the equivalent of Novell's CNS and Microsoft's MCSE certification. While it has some specific 3COM knowledge requirement, it is more of a generic program than the others.


Mobitex is a wireless network architecture that specifies a framework for the fixed equipment necessary to support all the wireless terminals in a packet-switched, radio-based communication system. The three major components of a Mobitex network are the radio base station, the MX switch, and the network management center (NCC). Mobitex was developed in 1984 by Eritel, an Ericsson subsidiary, for the Swedish Telecommunication Administration. In a Mobitex network, a radio base station, with one or more switch (called MX switches), serves as the transmitter for each single cell (area of coverage) of up to 30 kilometers. The base stations, among them, provide an area of coverage and determine the network capacity. Users of wireless devices, such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), communicate through the base station nearest to them and can move freely from one cell to another. The use of packet switching technology for data transmission is less expensive than circuit switching, which uses a dedicated path for each transmission. Mobitex packets (called MPAKs) are limited to 512 bytes of data. Each packet contains information about its origin and destination, size, type, and sequence within a transmission to ensure that it reaches its destination intact. Because packets can be sent on any route and in any order, they make more efficient use of channel capacity, supporting up to 50 times as many users per channel as a circuit switched network. At the destination, packets are reorganized into the original transmission format. MX switches control communication routes to and from base stations and between wireless and fixed devices. Switches may be organized hierarchically into groupings of regional and area switches, all connected by fixed links. The MX switches also act as a gateway to other networks. A single network management center (NMC) takes care of maintenance and operations such as configuration and subscriber administration and billing. Currently at least 28 Mobitex networks are in operation in 22 countries, mostly operating at either 80, 400, or 900 megahertz (MHz). In the US, Mobitex networks generally operate at 900 MHz, while European networks usually operate at 400 MHz. The Mobitex Operators Association (MOA) controls Mobitex specifications; Ericsson manufactures the infrastructure components.


MOdulator-DEModulator, a device that takes digital computer signal, converts it to analog, and sends it across the phone line. Another modem on the reverse does the exact opposite action. Most members connect to ISP services, and ultimately to the Internet, with a modem, though that is quickly changing to high speed cable and xDSL. There are both internal and external (to the computer) modems. Modems transfer data at different speeds or rates, called baud. The original modem transfer speed was 50 baud; most of us that are veterans of the industry remember 300 baud as the standard. Now the standard is 56kb. Hayes was the industry leader in modem technology, though they have now fallen from grace.

modem profile

The settings your modem uses with any online activity. These can be changed by clicking on the appropriate button from the dialer signon screen or setup function of the software. These settings must be correct for your computer to connect to a service. If you change modems, this function should be changed also.

modem string

The actual modem commands that configure your modem. For example, AT&F tells your modem to reset itself to factory defaults. Your modem string for your connection is stored in your modem profile. The standard for current generation modems was defines by Hayes Microcomputer Products and is often called the Hayes instruction set. Since most manufacturers at least conform to the bare minimum of that set and all commands begin with AT, it is often referred to as the AT set. There are thousands of different command sets adopted by different companies for one reason or another. The differences are the things problems are made of. Check out Hayes Microcomputer Products on the Web at HTTP://WWW.HAYES.COM.


A person or small group of people who manage a mailing list or newsgroup. Moderators determine which messages can be seen by the entire group. See also mailing list.

modulate, modulation

The process whereby an electrical carrier wave is altered to facilitate the transmission of a signal.


Hacker slang for modifications to hardware or software, especially bug fixes or minor design changes.


A telephony term; an acronym for Music On Hold. Often this is a port on the the control device; it may however, be an add-on attachment allowing audio to be routed to an incoming or outgoing system call that is placed on hold.


1. Another term for a computer display screen. The term monitor, however, usually refers to the entire box, whereas display screen can mean just the screen. In addition, the term monitor often implies graphics capabilities. There are many ways to classify monitors since there have been many types over the years. The most basic is in terms of color capabilities, which separates monitors into three classes:
Monochrome monitors actually display two colors, one for the background and one for the foreground. The colors can be black and white, green and black, or amber and black.
A gray-scale monitor is a special type of monochrome monitor capable of displaying different shades of gray, usually up to 256 shades.
Color monitors can display anywhere from 16 to over 1 million different colors. Color monitors were originally called RGB monitors because they accept three separate signals; red, green, and blue. Other forms of color monitors were designated as VGA and SVGA. They had different display connectors from RGB color monitors and have the the standard for the last 15 years or so.
After this color and how many designation, the most important aspect of a monitor is its screen size. Like televisions, screen sizes are measured in diagonal inches, the distance from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally. A typical size for small VGA monitors is 14 inches. Monitors that are 16 or more inches diagonally are often called full page monitors. In addition to their size, monitors can be either portrait (height greater than width) or landscape (width greater than height). Larger landscape monitors can display two full pages, side by side. The screen size is sometimes misleading because there is always an area around the edge of the screen that can't be used. Therefore, monitor manufacturers must now also state the viewable area, that is, the area of screen that is actually used.
The resolution of a monitor indicates how densely packed the pixels are. In general, the more pixels (often expressed in dots per inch), the sharper the image. Most modern monitors can display 1024 by 768 pixels, the SVGA standard. Some high-end models can display 1280 by 1024, or even 1600 by 1200.
Another common way of classifying monitors is in terms of the type of signal they accept: analog or digital. Nearly all modern monitors accept analog signals, which is required by the VGA, SVGA, 8514/A, and other high-resolution color standards. A few monitors are fixed frequency, which means that they accept input at only one frequency. Most monitors, however, are multiscanning, which means that they automatically adjust themselves to the frequency of the signals being sent to it. This means that they can display images at different resolutions, depending on the data being sent to them by the video adapters. Other factors that determine a monitor's quality include the following:
Bandwidth is the range of signal frequencies the monitor can handle. This determines how much data it can process and therefore how fast it can refresh at higher resolutions.
The refresh rate is how many times per second the screen is refreshed (redrawn). To avoid flickering, the refresh rate should be at least 72 hz.
Interlacing is a technique that enables a monitor to have more resolution, but it reduces the monitor's reaction speed. It is accomplished by interleaving where points are refreshed. The opposite is non-interlaced.
Dot pitch is the amount of space between each pixel. The smaller the dot pitch, the sharper the image.
Convergence is the clarity and sharpness of each pixel.
2. An overhead control program that observes a computer. For example, some monitor programs report how often another program accesses a disk drive or how much CPU time it uses.


The opposite of astable; it is condition with one stable state. Usually it is used in electronics to describe a particular circuit or part of a circuit. In a monostable circuit, a single pulse is generated by the monostable when it is triggered by a negative input pulse, such as that produced by a push switch connected to an inverted sensor unit subsystem. Once triggered the output remains high for a short period afterwards; that time period is modifiable based on electronic component values. An monostable has one stable state. This type of circuit could be used to give a mechanism a delay. A monostable circuit can be constructed using a 555 timer IC and a few other components. The 555 monostable subsystem provides an output signal that stays high for a period of time before returning to low. It is similar to the delay subsystem but is able to provide a wider range of time delays. The 555 yields the monostable delay. Check out our Monostable 555 Timeout Calculator.


When you get disconnected from the Internet for no apparent reason, it's common to blame the Moof monster. For example, when returning to a chat after being unintentionally disconnected, you can tell your cyberbuddies, "Sorry I left so suddenly, I got moofed!"


1. To work on someone's computer or website in your "off hours", as in moonlighting as a computer person.
2. Chat room term to express that someone "showed their posterior". We were mooned!
3. A factor in time (see our time calculators and converters), as in a lunar month. For more information on lunar time, see our sunrise, sunset and twilight calculator. We also have information on various forms of time services, such as our International Time Display and Calculator, our Time Math Calculator, our International Time Zone Converter, our Julian Day and Date Converter, and others.


Abbreviation of "Male or Female?"


The original WWW browser developed at University of Illinois, given to public domain. Mosaic has been outdated by commercial browsers like Netscape's Navigator and Internet Explorer (IE). NCSA Mosaic(TM) was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


The central component in computers; the mother of all boards. Other boards (cards) plug into the motherboard. The memory and CPU are usually located there; the main power plugs into the motherboard. Prior to being populated, a motherboard (mainboard) is just another PCB. A motherboard is the physical arrangement in a computer that contains the computer's basic circuitry and components. The computer components included in the motherboard are the microprocessor, (Optionally) coprocessors, Memory, BIOS, Expansion slots, and interconnecting circuitry. Additional components can be added to a motherboard through its expansion slots. The electronic interface between the motherboard and the smaller boards or cards in the expansion slots is called the bus. Often called a mainboard.


Motorola is a global leader in providing integrated communications solutions and embedded electronic solutions. These include:
1. Software-enhanced wireless telephone, two-way radio, messaging and satellite communications products and systems, as well as networking and Internet-access products, for consumers, network operators, and commercial, government and industrial customers.
2. Embedded semiconductor solutions for customers in networking, transportation, wireless communications and imaging and entertainment markets.
3. Embedded electronic systems for automotive, communications, imaging, manufacturing systems, computer and industrial markets.
4. Digital and analog systems and set-top terminals for broadband cable television operators.
5. The are major players in the CPU manufacturing arena worldwide. See the the details at HTTP://WWW.MOTOROLA.COM.


A pointing device that looks like a small box with a ball underneath it and a cable attaching it to the computer; sometimes called a rodent, early it was called a turtle. Some have a serial interface and others connect to a mouse port or USB port. Many members find this to be the easiest way to navigate the Internet. While a pointing device, mouse or something like it such as a pointer, trackball, glidepad or the like, is not mandatory now, it probably will be when using computer based connections in the near future. Even now, it is very difficult to get by without one.


The original name for the browser now called Navigator. Some internal sources openly claim that the term is a contraction of Mosaic and Godzilla (a conquering beast), since Mosaic was the browser of choice (there were not many!) at the time Netscape began developing its product. (Did Netscape use a similar tactic as Microsoft some years before?) The term Mozilla is still used by many Web developers and appears in server log files that identify the browsers being used. In 1998, amid a small controversy with Microsoft, Netscape decided to make the source code for Navigator freely available to the public. The Netscape group responsible for releasing the code can be contacted at HTTP://WWW.MOZILLA.ORG. As of fall, 2004, the Mosaic FireFox is a very competitive player in the browser wars. Get it here.


Short for Microsoft Cluster Server, a clustering technology built into Windows NT 4.0 and later versions. Hopefully 5.0 will bring better results than 4.0 did. MSCS supports clustering of two NT servers to provide a single fault tolerant server. FT is a technology that Microsoft is lagging far behind rival Novell in perfecting. During its development stage, MSCS was code-named Wolfpack.


See .MP3 files.


The acronym for Motion Picture Experts Group. International Standards Organization (ISO) responsible for the development for standards surrounding coded video and audio. This is an industry organization whose goal is to develop standards and specifications for the encoding, transmission, and unencoding of video information over various media and network technologies. See also MPEG1 and MPEG2.


Compression scheme for full motion video. Compression algorithm introduced by MPEG in 1991, the common goal of MPEG is compress 7.7 Meg down to about 150 Kbytes. MPEG 1 is designed to provide a resolution of 352 by 240 pixels at 30 frames per second.


Video compression standard selected by MPEG. Designed to provide a resolution of 720 by 480 pixels at 30 frames per second. Likely to be the leading compression algorithm for a range of video applications including video of demand.


No need to take a sleeping pill on this one. If you're awake at the end of this, you should seek professional help quickly! (Get your pillow ready before you read any further!) Multiprotocol Label Switching is an IETF initiative that integrates Layer 2 information about network links (bandwidth, latency, utilization and the like) into Layer 3 (IP) within a particular autonomous system or ISP, in order to simplify and improve IP packet exchange. MPLS gives network operators and controllers, manual and automated, a great deal of flexibility to divert and route traffic around link failures, congestion, and bottlenecks. From a quality of service (QOS) standpoint, ISPs will better be able to manage different kinds of data streams based on priority and service plan. For instance, those who subscribe to a premium service plan, or those who receive a lot of streaming media or high bandwidth content can see minimal latency and packet loss, in othr words, you see blistering speed. When packets enter a MPLS based network, Label Edge Routers (LERs) give them a label (identifier). These labels not only contain information based on the routing table entry (i.e., destination, bandwidth, delay, and other metrics), but also refer to the IP header field (source IP address), Layer 4 socket number information, and differentiated service. Once this classification is complete and mapped, different packets are assigned to corresponding Labeled Switch Paths (LSPs), where Label Switch Routers (LSRs) place outgoing labels on the packets. With these LSPs, network operators can divert and route traffic based on datastream type and Internet access customer. Even though it is complex in architecture, the software for this operation is straight forward and relatively simple. However, the equipment is currently expensive and still in the definitive stages but it is destined to be a future standard for high speed Internet operation.


1. An industry acronym for Maintenance Request. This is usually an internal request within a company for maintenance by their own staff. See ER, TR, RMA or RA for similar acronyms.
2. An industry acronym for Manufacturer's Return. This is usually used as a key by the company to which an item was returned. That item usually goes to a technical repair line where it is refurbished and remanufactured to the company's own specifications and sold as such.


An industry acronym for Manufacturer's Return Authorization. An RMA or an RA are generally the same thing.


1. An industry abbreviation for the dominant giant in computer technology, Microsoft.
2. The technology developed by Sony to advance mass storage devices, formally known as Sony Memory Stick. MS technology was introduced in 1999 and now has sizes up to 1GB in size. It also has variations such as MS Duo, MS Pro and MS Pro Duo. Memory Stick is part of a generic category of media called Digital Flash Media (DFM).


An acronym in telephony for Metropolitan Statistical Area/Rural Service Area. It refers to cellular service areas used by the FCC to license cellular telephone service. There are 306 MSAs and 428 RSAs. Every county in the United States is assigned to one of these markets. MSAs, originally used by the US government for grouping census data, include cities of at least 50,000 people, or urbanized areas of at least 100,000 people and the counties that include these areas. RSAs include all areas not part of MSAs. These are often rural areas. In order for a carrier to provide service to specific MSAs and RSAs, it must have a FCC license. If the carrier did receive the license at the time of auction, then it must try to buy it from the successful bidder or create a deal with the rightful owner that allows it to serve that particular area. Multiple licenses are given out per MSA/RSA, and each carrier must transmit over its assigned frequency. If a carrier can't build a system to serve a certain percentage of the licensed area by a specified deadline date, then it must return the license to the FCC.


MSN is the Microsoft Network. (MSN is not to be confused with "A" Microsoft network. See peer-to-peer). That company is an ISP like AOL and CIS. They however have a slight edge on either of the other two organizations in technology. They were late starters and as of yet, have not taken over the industry lead in number of users. They have made advances and offer a quality service. Without any doubt, they are a force not to be ignored. The Microsoft Network can be reached on the Internet through HTTP://WWW.MSN.COM.


An acronym created by the electronics industry for Mean Time Between Failures. This was an effort to establish a figure that gives an estimate of the reliability of a piece of equipment. The higher the MTBF rating, the longer the equipment should last. (The keyword is SHOULD!) For example, if the MTBF is 10,000 hours, the equipment should run, on the average, for 10,000 hours before failing. This rating is determined by the manufacturer who is also trying to make his product look attractive. Is there a conflict of interest here? Use these figures with some degree of caution.


An acronym Mobile Telephone Switching Office. The switching office that all base station cell sites connect to. It is a sophisticated computer system that monitors all cellular calls, incoming and outgoing, keeps track of the location of all cellular-equipped vehicles traveling in the system, arranges hand-offs, keeps track of billing information, and other housekeeping details. The MTSO in turn interfaces to the PSTN by connection to a conventional CO.


See Multi User Dungeon.


In telephony engineering, an equation used as a T1 standard that describes the non-linear compression performed in the analog-to-digital conversion process of PCM systems used in the USA, Canada, and Japan. Also called A-law.

Multi-User Dungeon - MUD

An online fantasy role-playing game environment that takes place in telnet sessions or over the Internet. MUDs occur in text mode, similar to a chat environment where the players assume the identities of fictional characters and follow a series of rules which guide the adventure.


To transmit a message to a select group of recipients. A simple example of multicasting is sending an E-Mail message to a mailing list. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing also use multicasting, but require more robust protocols and networks. Standards are being developed to support multicasting over a TCP/IP network such as the Internet. These standards, IP Multicast and Mbone, will allow users to easily join multicast groups. Note that multicasting refers to sending a message to a select group whereas broadcasting refers to sending a message to everyone connected to a network. The terms multicast and narrowcast are often used interchangeably, although narrowcast usually refers to the business model whereas multicast refers to the actual technology used to transmit the data. See broadcast.

Multicast Backbone - Mbone

A high speed network protocol used to broadcast audio and video over the Internet. MBone is an extension to the Internet to support IP multicasting -- two-way transmission of data between multiple sites. The TCP/IP protocol used by the Internet divides messages into packets and sends each packet independently. Packets can travel different routes to their destination which means that they can arrive in any order and with sizable delays between the first and last packets. In addition, each recipient of the data requires that separate packets be sent from the source to the destination. This works fine for static information, such as text and graphics, but it doesn't work well for real-time audio and video. With Mbone, a single packet can have multiple destinations and isn't split up until the last possible moment. This means that it can pass through several routers before it needs to be divided to reach its final destinations. This leads to much more efficient transmission and also ensures that packets reach multiple destinations at roughly the same time. The MBone is an experiment to upgrade the Internet to handle live multimedia messages. MBone servers have special Class D IP addresses. As of March 1997, there were more than 3,000 MBone servers on the Internet. The Mbone was developed by Steve Deering at Xerox PARC and adopted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in March 1992.


The process of using computers to present text, graphics, video, animation, and sound in an integrated way. Long touted as the future revolution in computing, multimedia applications were, until the mid-90s, uncommon due to the expensive hardware required. With increases in performance and decreases in price, however, multimedia is now commonplace. Virtually all PCs are capable of displaying video, though the resolution available depends on the power of the computer's video adapter(s) and CPU(s).

Multimedia Gulch

The South of Market area of San Francisco where many Internet development firms are located.


A multiple function test instrument that allows measuring voltage, resistance, continuity, amperage and polarity. A few have specific transistor and capacitor tests also. Some are digital and some are analog.


1. A complex piece of telephone equipment which combines the data stream of several leased lines for transmission over a single higher bandwidth leased line. Multiplexors are used in the construction of WANs.
2. A device that allows the transmission of multiple data streams over a common medium. Several communications paths or channels may be either permanently or dynamically established over the medium to accomplish this. See also channel.

Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions - MIME

An extension to Internet E-Mail which provides the ability to transfer non-textual data, such as graphics, audio and Fax.


See meta and metasearch. This is a search engine front end that allows the user to choose one of many possible search engines.


1. A mode of operation offered by an operating system in which a computer works on more than one task or application at a time.
2. Also can describe people who excel at juggling several tasks at once, as opposed to those who work from task to task in a linear fashion.


An abbreviation for Multi-Use Radio Service. See our frequency table and additional information and our Citizens Band Radio (CB) Frequency Table.

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