Tech Glossary

This is not an exhaustive glossary, but more a system to keep me accountable to not get too in-the-weeds on technical things.

If you want a more legitimate tech glossary, several others are better:


51% attack – changing blockchain blocks on so many computers at once that they all conform to the new information, the greatest threat for a blockchain hack


A/B testing/split testing/bucket testing – comparing two similar versions of an interface to determine which one does things better, often by measuring specific metrics

AAA game – an electronic game that boasts a very large production and marketing budget, contrast to indie game

Absolute motion – the x/y coordinate of something in a physical space, how a digitizer and touch screen send information, opposite of relative motion

Abstraction – the philosophical form of something, as opposed to an implementation

AC power – alternating current electricity, where the electrons are transferring back-and-forth across the entire line

ACL/ACE – access control list/entries – a Windos/Unix list that specifies what specific users or classes of users can do with a file (i.e., write/read/rename/delete)

Accumulator – memory on a CPU designed to temporarily hold information for complicated procedures

ADAS – advanced driver assistance systems, automated features that combine to assist a vehicle driver

Additive manufacturing – aka AM, building up an on-demand object by adding material to it, a more accurate word for most 3D printing

Address – the numerical location of something in memory, represented by k

Addressing – referencing an address

ADF – auto document feeder, a feature for scanners that can scan many pages at once

Adware – software that bloats a computer with ads

Algorithm – a set of mathematical rules (e.g., if the number is less than 5 then leave it alone, otherwise subtract 1)

Aliasing – distortion in a video or audio signal due to feedback, often from a bounced signal or changed resolution

Allocation – setting something aside, the opposite of deallocation

Alpha – the first working version of a program, which is usually buggy and has little to no features, the software version of an initial “prototype”

Alpha blending – a technique in 32-bit+ graphics that involves permitting some of the light from background elements to pass through to the foreground

ALU – arithmetic logic unit, a key part of a computer’s processor that sorts performs elaborate logical operations

AMP – a popular server configuration consisting of Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, and PHP or Python or Perl, often is Linux-based (LAMP) but can be with many OS variants like WAMP (Windows), MacOS (MAMP), and Darwin (DAMP)

Analog signal – a signal which reflects reality with many, many configurations (e.g., has many decimal points), the opposite of a digital signal

Anti-aliasing – software performing multiple passes over the same

Antivirus software – software that scans for malicious code in files, emails, or web pages

API – application programming interface, an overused word that means a computer can interact with something over a network

APU – accelerated processing unit, a CPU with GPU capabilities, specific term for CPUs designed by AMD and ARM since Intel doesn’t have HSA

AR – augmented reality, an interface that overlays reality with computer information

Architecture – broad word for a complex design, but can refer to a computer’s physical design, especially elements on the motherboard

ARP – address resolution protocol, a routing standard that links MAC addresses with IP addresses

Array – a set of data that’s only one type, or a row/paneldon’t play of things placed in a predictable pattern

Artifact – a side effect from something that software does

ASCII – an old character encoding standard that uses 7 bits of data per character, compatible with UTF-8, has been replaced by Unicode

ASCII art – a depiction of art that uses monospaced fonts to portray an image

ASD – autism spectrum disorder, a neurological disorder representing a minority of society that becomes a proportionally larger minority in technology work

Aspect ratio – the relationship between two aspects, most commonly refers to screen size as a ratio

Assert – memory term for sending information to a register, even if it’s not read

Assertion – Boolean logic that always marks as TRUE

Assembler – a program that converts assembly code into machine code

Assembly code – typed instructions, line-by-line, that convert directly to machine code, also known as low-level language

Asset – an insanely broad word for computers or their information

asynchronous logic – a motherboard arrangement where some logic gates advance faster than others, as opposed to synchronous logic, much harder to implement but can make computers much faster

Attack surface – the possible places someone can hack a computer without credentials

Attack vector – one of the ways someone can hack a computer

Attention economy – the limits imposed on developers and engineers from the tremendous scarcity of the user’s focus

Attenuation – signal fade, usually by distance or waves going through dense materials

Attitude adjustment – satellite thrusts that maintain a desired orbit trajectory

Authentication – a computer labeling a user/computer as safe, meaning it’ll take at least some instructions from it, uses different authentication factors

Authentication factors – types of authentication: something you know, something you have, and something you are

Authoritative DNS server – a DNS server that hosts the first record of a domain, typically the location referenced by someone paying to register that domain.

Autocomplete – a small searching algorithm that fills in the remainder of a text input field

Autofocus – setting the default input on a screen to the first text field so the user doesn’t have to

Automation – completely computer-run tasks, often only requiring a person run a command

Autoscroll – a command that scroll the window to somewhere on the screen, very useful if there was an error message after form submission

AV – autonomous vehicle, a car that contains automation for at least some parts of operating the vehicle


Back-end – refers to the data management, non-visual side of a computer

Backbone – networking concept of keeping a relatively high-speed network that the lower-speed client computers can connect to

Backdoor – a design feature by the designer to make something easier to access than the end-user could guess

Backlight – a light on the back of a screen meant to illuminate pixels

Backwards-compatible – broad term for technology that works with older technology (e.g., a DVD player that plays CDs)

Backup – a copy of a set of files, worth doing routinely to avoid losing data

Barcode – a computer-readable code inspired off morse code represented by vertical lines

Base-2 – counting in binary (e.g., 0, 1, 10, 11, etc.), as opposed to our normal base-10 counting (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), tends to convert to multiples of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc.)

Base case – the function in a recursion that allows it to exit

Battery – a means of storing electrical power (typically as DC power)

Baud – 1 bit per second, a measurement of network speed

Beggarware – software that’s freely licensed, but asks for donations to continue helping the developer

Benchmark – measuring the performance of computer components, great for break-fix diagnosis and making your computer faster, though better benchmarks don’t always equal better performance for many, many reasons

Bézier curves – special parametric curves that reproduce the types of curvature found in nature

Beta – the nearly-complete almost-debugged version of a program, which is often able to perform normally but often fails in edge cases, the software version of a working “prototype”

BHO – browser hijack object, an exploit that takes advantage of older Internet Explorer browsers

Big O notation – The worst-case scenario of how much time or memory an algorithm will take (longest time/memory use)

Big Omega (Ω) notation – The most typical scenario of how much time or memory an algorithm will take (average time/memory use)

Big Theta (Θ) notation – The best-case scenario of how much time or memory an algorithm will take (shortest time/memory use)

Binaries – files that aren’t text, generally refers to compiled programs more than strictly data

Binary – 0 or 1, no debate or implication allowed, the numerical basis of all computers’ logic and processing, contrast to denary

Binaural processing – audio processed to reflect the relative location of the user, most common in VR and most modern games

Biometric – a measurement of biological information, typically refers to authentication

BIOS – basic input-output system, a simple system on the motherboard that activates when first booting, then hands off responsibility to the CPU and simply follows instructions afterward, UEFI has largely replaced it

Bit – one 0 or 1 inside of a computer, can be scaled to kb, mb, tb, pb, etc.

Bitrate – the sampling rate per second multiplied by the sampling depth, often represents as kilobits per second

Black hat hacker – aka “black hat”, a hacker who doesn’t honor ethics

Blacklist – mark a MAC or IP address as unsafe, opposite of whitelist

Block – a primitive of file management that represents a fixed amount of memory

Blocking – a keyboard not registering any further pressed keys past the n-key rollover, opposite of ghosting

Blockchain – a data management system that uses decentralized ledgers to create a chain of custody

Bloom – aka diffusion, a camera artifact where a light source washes out other elements in the display

Blue Team – the team who employs a cybersecurity implementation and installs it, contrast to Red Team

BMC – baseboard management controller, a separate CPU built into server motherboards to monitor what fails, just in case the CPU failed to monitor it, honors the IPMI (intelligent platform management interface) standard

Body – aka payload, the relevant information in memory that’s not part of the file’s/packet’s header

Body text – text that constitutes most of the information on an interface

Boolean algebra – logic-based math, where everything is 1 or 0 and there are special calculations using those numbers

Bootcamp – an accelerated course for learning how to program a computer

Boot – where a computer “pulls itself up by its own bootstraps” when you activate the power button

Bot – hidden malware that won’t activate until later, often triggered remotely, or the term for AI that takes the role of a human player in a multiplayer game, or the term for a piracy-based script

Botnet – a network of bots ready to act on command, often used in a DDoS attack

Bounce – SEO term referring to visiting a website, then leaving it without visiting other hyperlinks in it

Branching – a feature in programming where conditional jumps create separations of where the flow of logic will possibly go, may also refer to memory block states

Breadboard – a construction base for building prototypes of low-speed electronic circuits, doesn’t require soldering and is completely reusable

Break-fix – fixing something when it’s broken

Breakpoint – a visual design rule that defines what size the interface should change to something else

Brick – to permanently crash a computer, often because of hardware-based DRM mixed with an attempt to hack it

Broadcast address – a reserved address that, when used, will broadcast to every address on that network, contrast to unicast address

Brute-force attack – password cracking by running through every possible password, extremely time-consuming and easily detectable over a network

Bubble sort – a sorting algorithm that repeatedly compares each database entry with the next ones and swaps them if they’re out of order, the simplest sorting algorithm but also the most time-intensive

Buffer – a temporary location for holding data

Buffer overflow – an exploit that involves overloading the buffer with useless information to access memory that exists beyond it

Bug – an error in computer code that makes something break

Build – the process of converting computer code into binaries for the computer to use it

Build system – the system that makes the build

Bus – aka data highway, a part of a computer that sends a stream of information between parts.

Byte – 8 bits inside a computer, can be scaled to kB, mB, tB, pB, etc. or to kiB, miB, tiB, piB, etc.


CA – aka certificate authority, an organization that issues digital certificates to authenticate a computer’s permissions

Cache – information stored to make it easier to use later, a solution to the memory hierarchy

CAD – computer-aided design, a very broad class of software that helps design things such as 3D models and visual elements on a website

Call – an instruction that points to something stored in memory previously, a type of reference that’s a bit like an arrow

Callback – a function in code that feeds backward in time into another function, effectively making the other function hung until it returns a value

Callback hell – many callbacks that slow down code and make it difficult to understand

Canonical – a standardized input format that’s the “right” way for the computer to understand, often specific in technical documentation

Capacitor – two surfaces close to each other separated by an insulator, a means of holding a charge for future use (such as memory)

Captive portal – a proxy server that creates a to the rest of a network until a user does something, often involves consenting to Terms of Service

Carry – the product of a half-adder, the leftmost number of adding, like the carry of normal algebra but used way more often in binary

CD – compact disc, stores binary information in a removable media disc by reflecting laser light, typically read-only, modern iterations are DVDs (digital video discs) and Blu-ray (which uses blue-wavelength lasers instead of red-wavelength to store more information)

CDN – content delivery network, a network configuration where nearby computers save cached copies of mainframe data to make accessing it faster across long distances

Cel shading – a graphics technique of stripping down a color palette into clearly defined colors, which gives a timeless cartoon-like feel to the elements

Cell – a predefined zone where a cell tower operates, as a cell phone moves around the cell tower hands off the connection to an adjacent cell

Cell phone – a phone that sends and receives signals with a cell tower

Cell tower – a communications tower that relays information to other towers in adjacent cells or to landlines

Cellular network – a network of cell towers that a cell phone uses

Centralized ledger – where one computer has priority on the record of changes it’s making, contrast to distributed ledger

Certificate – relatively long-term credentials among computers that last weeks, months, or sometimes indefinitely

CGI – common gateway interface, a set of standards that allow a server to run a program remotely

Chain of custody – aka provenance, a sequence of historical events, typically refers to blockchain

Changelog – aka release notes, documentation for technical people to read that summarizes changes that happen between versions

Channel – designated streams of independent information, can refer to radio frequencies or sound, signals from neighboring channels may bleed over

Character – a data type of one piece of text information, represented by a number (typically as Unicode or ASCII)

Checksum – a method of verifying a large block of data with a small block, often by adding up the 1s together to create a “check sum” that another computer can verify on the other side

Chipset – the baked-in circuitry built into a CPU or printed circuit board

Chromatic aberration – aka spherochromatism, a camera artifact where the lens refracts light differently from its focus, which makes the light change hue depending on where it was focused

CIDR – classless inter-domain routing, a system to demarcate classes of IPv4 addresses

Cipher – a key that encrypts or decrypts

Ciphertext – encoded computer information, often looks like gibberish in a text file, contrast to plaintext

Circuit board – a prefabricated silicon board designed as a framework for electrical circuits

CISC – complex instruction set computer, a computer architecture designed to use complex instructions, meaning less code and more processing per command, contrast to RISC

Class – short for classification, refers to a portion of the whole, can be synonymous with folders or types depending on its use

Clause – (mostly) optional elements to add to a function, applies especially to SQL

Cleaning – a data term for making a consistent dataset (e.g., converting “John Smith, Marksmith, Diane Johnson” into “John Smith, Mark Smith, Diane Johnson”)

CLI – command-line interface, aka terminal or command prompt or console, a simple interface that only takes text input and almost always only outputs text

Client – the application in a host-client network relationship which is requesting data, can sometimes be the host (especially with a VM) so it’s not always with 2 computers

Clipboard – a memory buffer for holding temporary computer information, part of most GUI OS’s

Clock – the way a computer keeps track of time, using a CMOS powered by a rechargeable battery and based on each back-and-forth of an oscillator, typically measured in Hz

Clock cycle – one measure of discrete time, measured using a clock on the BIOS

Clone – software term for “copying”, usually large-scale

Closed-source – the source code of a software program is not accessible to the public, contrast to open source

Cloud – remotely accessible computers, often meant for enterprise use

Cluster – a small computer that runs on a clusterboard as part of a distributed system

Clusterboard – a motherboard for a cluster

CMOS – complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, typically used for computer clocks and BIOS settings

CNC – computer numerical control, the system that gives precise numerical instructions to a computer for a physical implementation

Code as law – a legal concept that computer code is legally binding, regardless of the intent of the programmer

Code base – the non-plugin, non-feature-added primitive of software code, contrasts to the database

Code page – a reference table that creates a symbolic association between text characters and numbers for computers to work with, often tends to be ASCII or Unicode nowadays

Code point – a designated spot where computer code is located

Codec – short for compressor/decompressor, a proprietary media standard, often refers to audio or video

Cold storage – holding computer information in a relatively unsynced drive, opposite of hot storage

Collision – data sent at the exact same time where it confuses the computer

Collision detection – a system designed to detect a collision

Colocation – aka colo, a server that can use its computes and storage for multiple users

Color space – an arbitrarily-established barrier for a range of represented color, is typically bounded but can be unbounded

Color temperature – a tweak to the domain of color represented by a screen, with the colors representing as either cool (blue-leaning) or warm (red-leaning)

Combinational logic – where a computer performs logic calculations instantly, as opposed to sequential logic

Combinatorials – aka combinatorics, a branch of math that deals exclusively with the broad concept of counting things, constantly involved with computers because that’s all that they technically do

Command – input that a computer receives and does something with

Comment – documentation within code but can also be unused code by “commenting out”, about as important as computer code itself for future programmers who may need to modify it

Commit – to send an update to computer code in Git

Common case – a typical situation, usually referring to the input elements that a typical user would use, opposite of edge case, important to understand for debugging purposes

Compiler – computer code that converts high-level programming language into assembly or machine code all at once (often before runtime), contrast to interpreter

Complement – a math idea that implies that there’s a wholeness of something, and then the complement of something is the other part of it (e.g., if A+B=C, the complement of A is B)

Composite – combine together

Compute – enterprise-grade computer term for CPU

Computer – a machine that performs logic and math based on what people command it to do

Concatenate – combine multiple strings together (e.g., ABC and DEF becomes ABCDEF)

Conditional jump – aka branching, an instruction in code that will tell the computer to jump only if a specific condition is met, absolutely critical to permit computers to work correctly, contrast to unconditional jump

Configuration – settings on a computer, starts with a default setting but can often be changed to something else

Configuration/settings – broad term for various defined instructions in a computer, reverts to default settings with new software/hardware

Connectionless communication – aka CL-mode, the status of a packet transfer where the only routing information comes from inside the packet

Connection-oriented communication – the status of a packet transfer where the computers have to first establish a connection

Constant – a math concept of something that’s fixed, usually refers to very specific numbers in math but can also be letters in programming, opposite of variable

Container – aka endpoint, an instance or box inside a virtual machine hypervisor

Content negotiation – mechanisms in the HTTP protocol that make it possible to serve different version of a resource from the same URI (e.g., different languages)

Continuing education – learning without specific certifications or projects in mind, a necessity for knowledge workers

Continuous integration – regularly merging work from multiple software developers

Continuous time – the regular flow of time without breaking it up into segments, as opposed to discrete time

Continuous wattage – evenly-fed power through a power supply

Convention – something everyone has been doing, often becomes a standard but doesn’t have to be

Cookie – a file that a host saves on a client computer, typically for web browsing purposes

Copy – duplicating computer code, as opposed to moving

Copyleft – the legal requirement to keep created works completely free, such as code, contrast to copyright or permissive license

Copyright – the legal right to profit from written works, such as code, contrast to copyleft

Core – one processor on a CPU’s chipset, can be dual-core, quad-core, or more

CPU – central processing unit, the component that performs most of the computer’s logic and math, can have one core or multiple, often has L1/L2/L3/etc. cache memory in the chip, an implementation of an ISA

CPU socket – the place on the motherboard for inserting a CPU, arranged as LGA or PGA

Crack – breaking or removing DRM on media or software

Crash – broad computer term for failing, often refers to OS failure but can also refer to a network

Critical path – the core gameplay experience of a game

CRC – cyclic redundancy check, a mathematical means of checking Boolean math, often part of an FCS

Credential – something that a computer uses to authenticate a user/computer, is often a password but can be a variety of things

Critical consensus – where all the blocks in a blockchain are synchronized

CRM – customer relationship management, software designed to manage a company’s marketing needs

Cross-platform – software that runs on multiple platforms

Crosstalk – conflicting signals, an annoying byproduct of WiFi and UTP

CRT – cathode ray tube, a type of screen that involves shooting 3 beams of light at a fluorescent screen and routing the lights to get the desired intensities

Cryptocurrency – aka crypto, blockchains that are used as a currency or commodity

Crypto wallet – software meant to make managing cryptocurrency more sane

CSE – custom search engine, a custom-made search engine configured to search specific things, such as a particular set of websites

CSS – cascading style sheet, a language that visually styles information, usually pairs with HTML and often activates with JavaScript

CSS reset – changing the default CSS style to conform to a designer’s preferred style

Cursor – An indicator to show where the user input is pointing to on a screen, tends to angle rightward because expectations are hard to break


Dark mode – a color scheme that emphasizes darker colors, typically useful for users in darker rooms but is strictly a matter of preference

Dark pattern – UX/UI tricks to motivate users to perform differently than they otherwise would have decided

Dark web – the parts of the internet that aren’t indexed by search engines, typically implies illegal activity

Data – information, plural of datum, can classify into various data types

Data center – a large set of enterprise-grade computers, often run by companies that sell storage or compute power

Data structure – a collected form of data

Data type – the form of the data which can include integers, boolean, floats, doubles, strings, characters, and more

Database – a collection of data structures that assemble into a clearly-defined order

Datagram – data telegram, a network packet that cuts down on extra data transmission by not requesting a reply from the receiving computer

DAW – digital audio workstation, a software system specialized for working with audio

DC power – direct current electricity, where the electrons are traveling in a domino-effect cascade from one point to another

DDoS attack – distributed denial of service attack, blasting a target computer with an ocean of network requests at once from many computers, typically uses a botnet

De-encapsulate – prepare data that’s coming in, opposite of encapsulate

Deallocation – putting something set aside back in with the collective whole, opposite of allocation

Debrid – a hosting arrangement that torrents from multiple seeders, then provides a direct download link for the user

Debugging – getting rid of bugs in the computer code

Decrypt – to decode data with a key, opposite of encode

Dedicated – a broad term to refer to a computer resource completely allocated for a specific purpose

Dedicated plan – a pricing plan that directs specific hardware for customers who need it, opposite of shared plan

Default – aka out-of-the-box, the normal configuration without any extra input, sometimes called “vanilla” or “stock”

Definition – a value in code, can be things like an integer or a function

Demosaicing – Converting color information into pixels by filling in the gaps between a camera’s color sensors

Demultiplexer – a logic gate where one set of inputs is a selector to determine which output the input will travel to

Denary – 0 through 9, the base-10 system we learn from grade school, has to be converted to binary for computers to work with it

Denormalize – make a database have a shorter read time, but have more redundant records, opposite of normalize

Dependency – computer code that’s necessary to run something else

Deploy – install software or hardware

Deprecated – technology that’s no longer being maintained

Depth of field – the nearest and farthest range that a lens can clearly focus at one time

Determinism – a philosophy that things are pre-planned, and a standard for making computer programs (especially games) behave predictably

Device controller – a specific-function chip designed to manage the specific tasks pertaining to various peripherals

Device driver – instructions to the computer on how to run a peripheral, while most operating systems have built-in generic drivers the vendor’s drivers will often work better or have more features

DFF – data flip flop, a stopping point in between logic units, where the electron data migrates to and stays in between clock cycles

DHT – distributed hash table, a distributed system where the lookup, in the form of a hash table, is distributed as well

Dialogue tree – a flowchart of written dialogue to capture the various responses in a game to various player decisions

Diary testing – gathering anecdotal information about an interface from the users as they experience it

Dictionary – aka “associative array” or “map” or “symbol table”, an array that uses a key/value pair to cross-reference a value to a specific key

Dictionary attack – password cracking by running through all possible words, doesn’t work if there are numbers in it

Digital certificate – an authorization by a certificate authority that indicates a computer automatically has permissions for a fixed window of time into the future

Digital signal – a logically divided signal that represents a black-and-white measurement, the opposite of an analog signal

Digitizer – something that converts an analog signal into a digital one, often refers to a touch screen

Diode – an electrical component where electricity only travels in one direction, critical for many circuit boards

Discrete time – breaking time apart into clearly defined blocks, as opposed to continuous time

Disk partition – a region of a drive, generally separated to keep different file systems separate, the record of the partitions on each drive is stored in the MBR (master boot record) at the beginning of the drive or has an entire convention arranged across the drive with GPT (GUID partition table)

Disk partition table – a mapped database of primary partitions on a drive, located inside the MBR

Distance-vector routing protocol – a protocol that counts the length of time between points and picks the route with the shortest distance, contrast to link-state routing protocol

Distributed ledger – a distributed system for the record of changes, contrast to centralized ledger

Distributed system – several computers sharing resources together, typically meaning it’s for one purpose, as opposed to a network which can have a variety of purposes

Distro – short for distribution, refers to a software version but most often refers to varieties of Linux

Dithering – randomizing the quantization of a signal to avoid patterns arising and disrupting anything

Divide and conquer algorithm – a sorting algorithm that breaks up the entire dataset into chunks, then organizes each chunk, then organizes the entire set using the organized chunks

DNS – domain name service, a web server that keeps a constantly updated cross-reference between domains and IP addresses, operates as a directory to the internet

DNS zone – a portion of DNS that specifies a specific part of the DNS system

Dock – a GUI element that hides away until activated by a smaller element

DoH – DNS over HTTPS, ensures that the computer looks up all its DNS through a secure network port

Domain – aka web domain, a name (e.g., in a system maintained by ICANN that makes internet access easier than entering IP addresses

Doppler shift – a known scientific phenomenon where wavelengths compress or expand relative to a perceiver when they’re traveling at a different speed than the sender, necessary for satellite information

Double – a data type that holds decimal places up to 64 bits (1.844674407×10¹⁹ combinations)

Downsampling – lowering the sampling quality, usually for memory or network reasons

Downtime – the time that a computer is continuously off, contrast to uptime

Drive-by download – also called simply “drive-bys”, malware that installs through a dodgy website

DRM – digital rights management, software or code meant to enforce intellectual property rights

Driver – a set of instructions for a CPU to operate a peripheral

Drop shadow – a graded color element that implies a lightweight shadow beneath an element.

Dropped packet – a packet that somehow failed to get to its destination correctly

DTH – direct-to-home, another term for satellite television

Dual-pointed variables – where a variable is pointing to another variable

Duplex – data transmission that’s two-way, can be half duplex (one way at a time) or full duplex (both ways at the same time), contrast to simplex

Duplex print – printing onto both sides of a piece of paper

DVI – digital video interface, a relatively newer pin-based plug for sending video information


Easter egg – an unimportant small detail or element that’s an entertaining reference from the developer about something else (e.g, a Star Trek reference in a side room in a game)

ECC – error correcting code, computer code meant to verify that the information was stored/retrieved correctly, typically includes a checksum

Edge case – an extreme situation, usually referring to abnormal circumstances, opposite of common case

EEPROM – electronically erasable programmable read-only memory, can hold relatively smaller amounts of non-volatile data than a hard drive or RAM, similar but not the same as flash memory (NOR gates instead of NAND and meant to be mostly read)

EFSS – enterprise file sharing and sync, large-scale cloud synchronization

Electricity – the energy caused by many electrons flowing between atoms, the means of almost anything with computers

Electrostatic interference – interference of electrical signals from other electrical signals

Element – a piece of something designed, often refers to visually designed things, can also refer to a mathematical value

Empty state – a database entry that has no information in it

Emulator – software designed to reproduce the conditions of a different hardware to make other software run correctly (e.g., make Linux run on Windows)

Encapsulate – prepare data to go out, opposite of de-encapsulate

Encrypt – to encode data using a key, opposite of decrypt

End user – the non-technical person using the product

End-of-life – end support for an old software version, often because the developers are focusing on a newer version of the same software

End-user license agreement – the software contract given to the users who consume the software

Endpoint/Terminus – the place where something is supposed to go, usually used in networking and enterprise computing

Engineer – to design something technical, often for a specific purpose

Enterprise server – large-scale computer meant for huge operations

Entropy – a physics term referring to randomness, but refers to uncertain aspects of a computer’s input, especially regarding machine learning

Enumerated type – a data type consisting of set values that operate as constants (e.g., SHIRT may have hat, coat, pants, and glove)

Environment – a configuration, often used to imply a specific technology (e.g., cloud environment)

Error – whenever a computer doesn’t fufill the predefined purpose of the programmer or user

Ethernet – LAN protocol designed in the mid-1970s, the only surviving LAN protocol

EUV – extreme ultraviolet lithography, a silicon chip-making technique of spraying tin with a 25-kilowatt UV laser to turn it into a gas, then blasting it a second time through a series of mirrors onto a silicon wafer

Exchange point – routing mainframe data for an end user

Execution – when computers run code as a set of instructions

Exit point – a clearly designed UX element that clarifies the user can safely leave

Expansion slots – places on the motherboard for adding stuff like graphics cards and sound cards, typically uses PCI (peripheral component interconnect)

Exploit/Vulnerability – a portion of computer code/interface that a hacker can use to gain access that would otherwise be impossible

External media – removable memory, such as a USB stick or CD


FAANG – the private publicly-traded technology companies Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, an enormous consolidation of power that goes farther than the Roman Empire in many respects

False negative – a missed hit on a scan that should have hit

False positive – a hit on a scan that is incorrect (e.g., spam email filter)

Falsy – a data value that has nothing in it and expresses to FALSE, opposite of truthy

Fault tolerance – the ability for a computer or network to keep working even though something failed in it

FCS – frame check sequence, ECC put into the trailer of a frame

FDM – fused deposition modeling, the standard implementation for 3D printing since it was invented in 1988

Feed – a social media system that involves date-sorted data entered by a user

Fetch-execute cycle – the CPU’s basic repetitive cycle of fetching instructions from memory, then executing them

Fidelity – the quality of a copied visual element

Field – a place in a table that holds data, typically part of a record/row in an RDMS

Filament – a thin layer of melted plastic

File – a block of information on a computer, not always physically together in the same place but logically looks that way in the operating system

Finite state machine – a mathematical model to clarify the status of information at any given time, often represented with flowcharts

Firewall – software designed to prevent hackers from accessing a computer

Firmware – software that runs hardware directly, often for BIOS/UEFI but also a significant portion of updating smaller personal electronics

Flash drive/Memory stick/USB drive/Pen drive/Thumb drive – portable long-term storage that uses flash memory

Flash memory – long-term storage that uses semiconductors to activate and deactivate cells inside the memory unit, similar but not the same as EEPROM (NAND gates instead of NOR and meant to be read and written frequently)

Float – a data type that holds decimal places up to 32 bits (4,294,967,296 combinations)

Floppy drive – old form of removable media because the disk was floppy, used to be the only way to store information between power cycles

FLOSS – free/libre open-source software, a catchall term for software that gives complete freedom, contrast to the more vague FOSS

Flow control – redirecting where a computer next reads instructions from, using conditional and unconditional jumps

Folder – an imaginary box inside a file system that arbitrarily divides out files, permits easy organization as well as the ability to name multiple files the same name by placing them in different logical locations

Font – a particular style of text, such as Times New Roman or Helvetica, can be monospaced or proportional

For loop – a function that allows iterations of itself (e.g., for x=1 and y=5, add 1 to x and do something, and in this case repeat until x=6)

Fork – a variation of a program that shares at least some of its code base

Form factor – the industry-standard size and shape of something

Forum – a commenting system that allows nested comments, meaning users can have in-depth topics grouped around comments of other topics.

FOSS – free and open-source software, a vague term referring to any free software, contrast to the more specific FLOSS

FQDN – fully qualified domain name, aka absolute domain name, a complete domain name that isn’t relative to the current place on the network

Fragmentation – when files are spread across non-consecutive blocks on a drive

Frame (networking) – a Layer 2 PDU, assembles together into packets

Frame (screen) – one instance of a screen, usually measured by framerate

Frame relay – relaying frames in a network along to another network node

Framerate – the number of frames per second (FPS), tends to be 59-60 in modern computers, but can go higher and will go much lower if the computer is burdened

Freemium – a business model of selling a stripped-down software with fewer features, with the chance to upgrade to paid software with more features, the evolution of shareware

Front-end – refers to development and design of the visual aesthetic of a computer

Frontrun – a financial term involving sending an insider-trading transaction before the legitimate transaction can move, applies to cryptocurrency

Full-adder – the means of doing binary addition, two half-adders with both the carries inputted to an OR gate, can be scaled indefinitely

Full-scene – a software restriction where an image must be entirely processed before anti-aliasing can remove the jagged edges

Function – a set of instructions that’s supposed to do 1 thing based on possible definitions, then deliver 1 output, borrows from the math idea of a relationship between fixed and variable sides of an equation

Function hoisting – moving the definitions of a function upwards in the code to make the computer read them more quickly


G-code – a programming language that operates CNC

Gain – an antenna’s capacity to broadcast, which combines its direction and power

Game – narrowly, a competitive activity where players compete to accomplish a specific condition based on set of rules, but broadly anything designed for entertainment that users interact with

Game developer – a software designer who makes games, broadly classifies into “indie developer” (teams that never get past a few dozen) and “AAA developer” (a multi-million-dollar organization with at least a few hundred developers)

Game mechanic – a feature within a game

Gameplay loop – a hot-and-cold habitual cycle that a game runs most of its action through

Ganged RAM – RAM that has been “ganged” up together, so two channels of 64-bit RAM becomes 128-bit RAM, not as fast as independent channels because those separate channels can go to multiple cores

Garbage collection – general programming concept for freeing up memory after it’s no longer needed, very important for long-term software development

Gateway – a device that connects to the internet at large, typically has 2 IP addresses

Gateway device – a combination device that’s a modem, router, and often a telephone adapter that pulls double-duty for routing network traffic and connecting to the internet

General-purpose computer – a machine that performs logic and math based on what people command it to do, and it can be easily reconfigured

Geolocation – geographical location, a numerical depiction of location coordinates

Ghosting – pressing multiple keys in a way that further keys are incorrectly read as pressed, often limited by a keyboard’s n-key rollover

Git – a very popular version control system

GIS – geographic information system, a map software for managing geographical data, often allows interfacing and layers of information

Glue record – a DNS resource record that helps prevent a circular reference when finding DNS records.

GPL – GNU general public license, an extremely permissive copyleft legal framework for distributing code

Geolocation – computer information about geographical location

GNSS – global navigation satellite systems, a meta-concept referring to GPS and other related systems for satellite-based navigation

Gorilla/monkey testing – testing by using incompetent behavior to see what happens

Gouraud shading – using interpolation to create a continuous shading of polygon surfaces

Gradient – a designated front-end color range typically selected to evoke a particular mood

Guerilla testing – testing by going to public places to see how others respond to it

GPU – graphics processing unit, a CPU dedicated for graphics-based things

GPS – global positioning system, a system designed for determining your location on Earth

Gradient – a photograph that smoothly transitions between at least 2 colors

Graphics card – dedicated memory and GPU for graphics-based needs, often comes baked onto the motherboard but is the most common expansion slot attachment

Green screen – capturing a video on a green/blue background with the person having clearly demarcated color indicators, allows computers an easier time to capture movement between frames

GUI – graphical user interface, a visual representation for users to interact with, typically displays on a screen


Hack – a useful method that operates outside something’s intended purpose

Hacker – someone who uses something outside its designed/intended purpose

Half-adder – a logic gate that adds two bits and contains a carry

Hamburger menu – a symbol most prevalent in mobile design that usually consists of 3 horizontal lines parallel to each other or 3 consecutive dots that open to a larger menu when selected

Hard drive – long-term memory attached to the motherboard, comes in SSD and HDD, used to be opposed to floppy drive

Hardening – cutting down on computer vulnerabilities by removing access to unused features/ports/code

Hardware – physical parts of a computer like the RAM or hard drive, physically exists as opposed to software

Harvard architecture – a variation of the von Neumann architecture, where programs and data are stored separately on memory, most modern computers use various hybrids of both

Hash – aka message digest, an encrypted line of code produced from a key on a message

Hash function – computer code that creates a fixed-length hash from unencrypted data

HCI – human computer interface, a design philosophy built around how people interact with computers, has been largely replaced by UX

HDD – hard disk drive, an older method of storing binary information using magnets on plates, one of the cheapest ways outside of tape drives to store lots of information

Header – supplemental data at the beginning of a file or packet that isn’t part of the “body” of main data, used for storage or network transmission reasons, contains metadata

Heading – text designed to clarify a section of text

Heap memory allocation – memory assigned by an operating system as public-access to all programs, opposite of stack memory allocation, can cause memory leaks

Heat map – a map overlay that indicates colors ranging from blue to red to represent differences in values

Hertz – one cycle of something, represented by Hz, can scale up by the thousands with Hz, KHz, MHz, THz, etc.

Heuristic – a good-enough rule of thumb

HDMI – high definition multimedia interface, a plug specifically designed for sending video information, sometimes with audio included

Hexadecimal/Hex numbering – a means of communicating 4 binary numbers by using 0 through f, then putting 0x in front to clarify what it is (e.g., 0010100111010100001001100111 becomes 0x29d4267)

Hierarchical file system – a method of separating files with a hierarchy (C:\file.txt versus C:\Documents\file.txt)

High-level language – typed instructions that can perform many lines of assembly code at once

HMD – head-mounted display, aka VR headset, a helmet I/O that combines a screen, location-tracking, and often wireless signals and input devices

Hop – jumping between nodes, refers to internet connections and the routing information protocol (RIP)

Host – aka server, the application in a host-client network relationship which is sending data, very often does more of the heavy processing activities because it’s often a supercomputer

Hot spot – a camera artifact where one part of the image is more exposed than another part, washing out its contrast by comparison

Hot storage – holding computer information in a frequently synced drive, opposite of cold storage

HSA – heterogenous system architecture, where software inside the CPU manages everything between cores instead of requiring software developers to juggle resources, nonexistent in Intel CPUs

HTML – hyper-text markup language, the displayed language that most internet content expresses through, usually pairs with CSS and changes with JavaScript

HTTP – hyper-text transfer protocol, the common language for most internet browsing, has a secure version called HTTPS

Hub – a network repeater that sends information to all the cables connected to it, contrast to a switch

Hung – the state of a function waiting for a callback function

Hybrid – a combination of two things (e.g., a hybrid interface is mixing Interface A and Interface B)

Hyperlink – also called weblink or simply a link, a text-based assocation to another resource on a network (usually a webpage), always has display text and an “href” (e.g., [this site]( in markdown or <a href=””>this site</a> in HTML)

Hypervisor – software designed to run virtual machine containers, can be Level 1 (BIOS-level) or Level 2 (OS-level)


I/O – input/output, a common identifier for most computers since some peripherals serve both purposes

IC – integrated circuit, a computer chip built into a circuit board

ICR – intelligent character recognition, aka intelligent OCR, a more advanced form of OCR that uses a trained machine learning model to identify text

IDE – integrated development environment, an all-in-one solution for programmers to write, debug, test, and compile programs

IDF – intermediate distribution frame, a large-scale network hub, often located in another room, designed to assist the MDF

Idempotent – a resource that, if used multiple times, will create the exact same consequence as if it were used once (e.g., submitting data 3 times creates the same result as submitting it once)

Identity – in computer science, where the data type isn’t swapped out before testing whether two data elements are the same, represented by ≡

Idiom – an algorithmic structure that syntax builds into

IDS – intrusion protection system, software that detects that intruders are/were hacking a computer, contrast to IPS

If loop – a function that only activates if conditions are met (e.g., if x=1, do something)

Implementation – the way a thing gets applied, as opposed to an abstraction

In-band – inside a natural hardware environment, often remotely, contrast to out-of-band

Incrementer – a logic gate that adds 1 every time it’s activated

Indie game – independent game, a game with a modest or nonexistent production and marketing budget

Information architecture – a structure that informs people where they are in an interface relative to everywhere else

Initialize – to begin with a value, such as a variable

Input – anything that goes into a computer, from typing to information from other computers

Input mask – database entry constraints for the user typically as either text-only, numbers-only, or a set limit of characters

Insertion sort – a sorting algorithm that repeatedly compares each database entry with the previous ones and places them where they fit in the middle of the already-sorted data, takes half the time as bubble sort

Integer – a whole number with no decimals

Integration – things that are intimately connected with each other

Interface – the designed thing that lets a person/computer interact with a computer, called an API if it’s for a computer

Internet – the world’s largest computer network, connecting most of the computers across the world into one complicated super-network

Interoperability – different things work together

Interpolation – a mathematically established approximation given other multiple known points

Interpreter – computer code that converts high-level programming language into assembly or machine code line by line (typically during runtime), contrast to compiler

IoT – Internet of things, every device, even special-use ones, has an IP address, created tremendous opportunities as well as cybersecurity risks

IP – internet protocol, the standard for networking across the internet, can also refer to intellectual property

IP address – a numerical label a computer needs to communicate on the internet, can be IPv4 or IPv6 or both, can be a public IP address (for the internet) or private IP address (for a local network)

IPAM – IP address management, software that tracks and gives updates on IP addresses (usually local network IPs)

IPC – inter-process communication, information stored to communicate between various operating system tasks

IPMI – intelligent platform management interface, a software designed to track many components across a distributed system, often out-of-band

IPS – intrusion protection system, software that stops intruders from hacking a computer, contrast to IDS

ISA – instruction set architecture, an abstraction that involves taking instructions and following them carefully, most popular implementation in the CPU

Iteration – a repeatable, simple task

IWR – intelligent word recognition, an advanced form of ICR that can parse entire words instead of simply characters


JavaScript – a scripting language that drives the internet alongside HTML and CSS

Journaling – file system programming that keeps a record file in long-term memory of tasks the CPU still has to do, very useful if the task is interrupted and can’t continue

Jumbo frames – frames that exceed the MTU, usually involved with getting faster speeds from virtualization

Justified – aligning text by adjusting the kerning to where both the left and right sides are aligned


Kerning – the space between letters

Key – can refer to an associative array’s reference, a physical button that corresponds to a character, or a code that encrypts/decrypts data

Key/value pair – matching values to a unique number, used in an associative array and in most databases

Keyboard – the primary input for most general-purpose computers, typically has a QWERTY layout based on typewriters from the past, sends electrical pulses to memory

Keyboard debouncing – using a fix to prevent key bounce

Keyboard matrix – a circuit board diagram that maps keyboard keys to corresponding signals

Keyframe – a method of feeding graphical information on a percentage scale for several states, then the computer seamlessly transitions from one to the next, an easy method for animation in web design

Keylogger – software that tracks keystrokes, can be user-installed or malware

Keyword – specific words that create language associations for users

Key bounce – a situation when a key is registered multiple times with one key press

Kill chain – a hacker’s necessary sequence to successfully send a payload through an exploit

Killer app/feature – software or a feature that is so remarkable that it justifies buying the computer just for that thing alone (e.g., Microsoft Office at one time)

Knowledge worker – a person who works with software, typically refers to developers

Known good – a diagnostic term referring to something that is proven to have worked recently, since many new parts can be defective and configurations can frequently change

KPI – key performance indicator, a measurement that management often uses to define success


L2TP – Layer 2 tunneling protocol, a core component of how VPNs work

LAN – local area network, smaller computer networks, contrast to WAN, Ethernet is the only surviving protocol for it

Lang – short for “programming language”, a defined set of possible instructions a user can pre-define for a computer

Latency – delay, usually referring to network speed or memory transfer

LCD – liquid crystal display, a type of screen where each pixel’s light intensity of all 3 colors is dictated by rotating crystals and backlit by a fluorescent lamp

Leaderboard – an internet high score system for games

LED – light emitting diode, a small light, often used for LED screens that are like LCD screens but with LEDs instead of fluorescent tubes

Leech – to receive information over a P2P connection, often refers to leeching a torrent

LEGO – a fun toy that’s been around a while, great to start small children on STEM

LGA – land grid array, where the pins for the chip are on the circuit board, meaning the board would need replacing if the pins are bent

Library – a collection of computer code that vastly expands the functionality of a high-level language, can be downloaded in entirety or specific classes of it

Lidar – light detection and ranging, determining a location and distance using emitted light

Line – a line of text up until it hits a return, often refers to a single instruction of code

Link-state routing protocol – a protocol that counts the number of bounces between points and picks the route with the fewest bounces, contrast to distance-vector routing protocol

Linked list – a list with references at the end of each list item, an alternative to storing the list in memory

Linux – an open-source Unix-like operating system kernel, can also refer to the variety of Linux distros

Liquid layout – a ratio determined by a percentage inside an element or screen instead of by pixel size

List – Multiple data put together, doesn’t have to be the same type

LLC – logical link control, a subset of the Data Link layer that deals with directing information to and from various nodes, moves from media access control (MAC)

Load – a logic gate selector to dictate whether a register should hold the old information or overwrite it with the new information

Load balancer – an enterprise-grade software that manages processing needs across multiple computes

Local – broad concept for something that’s nearby, contrast to remote

Lock – a GPS device successfully detecting the distance from a GPS satellite

Location-based AR – aka position-based AR or geo-based AR, an AR system that requires specific location data to present information

Lock file – a file that tracks that another file is getting used

Lockstep networking – a P2P networking arrangement where two or more computers are matching exactly the same state, necessary for online video games

Logarithm – a mathematical formula where each additional increment is only marginally more than the previous, the opposite of exponents (e.g., log2(8)=3 while 23=8)

Log file – a plaintext output of runtime events, including runtime errors

Logic error – a situation where a program runs perfectly fine, but outputs the wrong thing compared to what the programmer actually wanted (e.g., outputting 4 instead of 5)

Logic gate – a small logic module, usually transistor-based, that specifies a flow of logic, typically driven by a NAND or NOR gate primitive

Logical memory – the amount of memory a computer interprets it has, contrast to physical memory

Loop – a cycle that repeats itself a lot in a computer

Loot box – a game development strategy to create randomized incentives, tends to extend playtime

Low-pass filter – a signal filter that only permits lower audio/video frequencies through, prevents aliasing

LSA – link state advertisement, protocol that informs other computers of its linked computers

Ludonarrative – the difference in a game between how the game world and the story work


MAC – media access control, a subset of the Data Link layer that deals with labeling various nodes, moves to logical link control (LLC)

MAC address – media access control address, a unique identifier for network-enabled computer parts, uses hexadecimal and often uses colons for ease of reading (e.g., 0f:4c:3b:a5:a3:d1)

Machine code – binary information that computers work with, often directly translates from assembly code from a high-level language

Machine learning – an algorithm designed to track a flow of repetitive trained information, then repeat back permutations of that information

Magic pixels – the edge pixels of a screen, named because of their relatively easy UX compared to the rest of the screen

Magnet link – a hash for a BitTorrent client to open and interpret, contains information about that torrent and its contents

Mainframe – an enterprise-grade computer that often has many terminals/endpoints

Malvertising – ads that direct to malicious software that are designed to look like legitimate software

Malware – malicious software, designed by a hacker to destroy or steal

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack – a hack that involves appearing legitimate while standing in the middle of a transaction, the mobile version is Man-in-the-Mobile

Map – to make a link between something and something else, such as mapping a game controller button to a keyboard key

Markdown – a lightweight markup language, useful for maintaining formatting elements (e.g., headings, hyperlinks) when storing things as plaintext

Marker-based AR – augmented reality that displays content on top of an image

Markerless AR – augmented reality that simply needs an empty space

Master – aka main (now that Leftism has gotten offended at it), a dominant drive or record that has a higher importance than others, contrast to slave

Matrix – a grid of data

MBR – master boot record, a relatively small record placed at the beginning of a hard drive that indicates what’s on that drive and what memory register to start accessing it

MDF – main distribution frame, the location for most of a data center’s network activity, may connect to an IDF

Media – information expressed via a medium, typically refers to audio, video, and image files

Media query – a set of CSS styles that activate when a property of a media is activated (e.g., min/max width/height on a screen/printer)

Megatransfer – 10^6, or 1,000,000, cycles per second, measured specifically for data transfer, also known as MB/s

Memory – stored information, can be short-term (like RAM) and deleted on power-off, or long-term (like HDD) and stored between power cycles

Memory hierarchy – the engineering reality that you can’t have lots of memory that’s also fast, so there’s a constant speed/amount tradeoff that visually looks like a pyramid (e.g., 5 kb @ 10,000 writes/sec vs. 5,000 kb @ 1,000 writes/sec)

Memory leak – memory in that was heap allocated, but the program wasn’t instructed to release it when it was finished, creates stack overflows and other weird issues

Memristor – memory resistor, a relatively new component made of electric switches that hold their memory even without electrical charge

Merkle tree – aka hash tree, a data structure that converts each element into a hash, then makes hashes off multiple hashes, until there’s eventually 1 hash for all of it.

Merge – a necessary and complicated procedure of combining codebases together, a core feature of Git

Metadata – quick-access information placed in the header of a file meant to make managing the files easier without the computer having to dig through them each time

Metrics – measurements

Microcomputer – aka mini, an old term for a silicon-based computer, as opposed to older vacuum tube computers

Microcontroller – affordable, cheap computers with a very limited capacity and are designed to do a relatively small set of computing tasks, often to serve a more robust computer elsewhere

Microkernel – an operating system kernel architecture that has a minimalist system management that takes up less memory, contrast with monolithic kernel

Middleware – software designed to be in the middle of other things

Mining – creating a new block in a blockchain, often is very resource-intensive, especially with cryptocurrency

MMU – memory management unit, a specialized component that connects virtual and physical memory locations, uses the translation lookaside buffer

MNO – mobile network operator, the organization that manages a cell tower, compare to MVNO

Modal window – a pop-out context window in design that temporarily locks out interaction with other elements

Mode – a state that allows for more varieties or iterations of inputs or outputs

Modem – modulator/demodulator, translates information for sending via a network, then translates back for the computer to use, usually built right into the motherboard

Modular – components of something are interchangeable

Module – aka subsystem, an independent piece of a larger thing

Modulo operator – A math calculation represented by % that effectively returns the remainder of a division operation, not to be confused with a modulus (the entire range of numbers that fit in that operation’s set)

Monolithic kernel – an operating system kernel architecture that encompasses almost all aspects of system management at the expense of taking more memory and everything running as superuser, contrast with microkernel

Monospaced font – a font that uses the same width for each character, popular in older computers and with ASCII art

Motherboard – a specific printed circuit board designed to have at least a CPU, input, memory, and output

Motion blur – a camera artifact caused by the aperture being open too long or an object moving too fast, a convenient way to cut down on graphics load

Mount – to connect a partition to a computer for accessing, can be a hard drive or external media

Mount file – a file used as a placeholder for a temporary file system, such as a virtual machine

Mouse/Trackball/Touchpad – a peripheral that sends x/y coordinates into the computer using relative motion, represented by a cursor on the screen

Move – either copying computer code and deleting the original, or re-linking an association in memory (such as in a hierarchical file system)

MTU – maximum transmission unit, the limit of how large a frame can get, can be subverted by jumbo frames

MU-MIMO – multiple-user multiple-input multiple-output, a transceiver configuration that allows the most bandwidth on a network compared to SU-MIMO or SISO

MVNO – mobile variable network operator, organizations that rent out the extra bandwidth from MNOs’ cell towers

Multi-licensing – issuing multiple types of software license for the same software product

Multimap – a data structure where the key is designed to grab more than one value

Multiplexer – a logic gate where one set of inputs is a selector to determine which of the inputs will go out

Multiset – a data structure that’s a set, but can store multiple values of the same thing


N-key rollover – the maximum number of keys that can be reliably pressed on a mechanical keyboard before noticing ghosting/blocking, requires diodes so higher n-key rollover will cost more

Name server – a computer in a DNS system that stores a record of domains corresponding with IP addresses

Namespace – a system that separates things into groups to allow the same names across multiple areas, very useful for programming

Nanosheet – a panel of very small transistors, also known as nanoribbon, nanowire or gate-all-around device depending who you ask

NAS – network-attached storage, a computer designed to do nothing but keep information available on a network

NAT – network address translation, converting IPs into other IPs, necessary for IPv4 when they started running out of IPs but not necessary for IPv6

Netcode – computer code that executes across a network, often refers to internet-based games

Nested function – a function inside a function, extremely useful but can get complicated to follow the code (especially if there’s a recursion)

Network – computers connected where they can send and receive data

Network edge – the closest network connection to the endpoint

Network interface card – aka NIC, a device that’s designed to connect to a network, can be a peripheral or built straight into a motherboard

Network sniffing – using software to capture packets, can be used for hacking or for diagnostics/learning

Neural network – a mechanism of machine learning that consists of a network of individual rule-defining components

NFT – non-fungible token, a unique cryptographic token for something, refers to blockchain

Node – very broad word for a place on a network that has connections to other things

Noise floor – the minimum amount of white noise that exists throughout a recording

Non-diegetic – not naturally part of the established environment, such as lighting or sound

Nonce – unimportant code that’s used to validate a cryptographic hash

Non-validated input – an exploit that involves entering data information in a way that the computer mistakes it for code

Non-volatile/Long-term storage – memory that persists in between power cycles (i.e., non-volatile), often is a hard drive or removable media, opposite of volatile storage

NOP – an opcode for no operation, which basically tells the computer to wait for a cycle

NOP slide – an exploit that slides data into NOP opcodes

Normalize – make a database have less memory, but with a longer read time, opposite of denormalize, an alternately mean reducing data into a canonical form

NoSQL – any database that isn’t strictly a relational database

Null – a completely blank value in memory, it’s not a “zero” value


OCR – optical character recognition, software that detects language on scanned media

OEM – original equipment manufacturer, the organization that creates the original components of a computer, can often be several organizations removed from the group that actually sells the whole computer

OLED – organic light-emitting diode, the next technological evolution of the plasma screen, not at all associated to LED screens despite the name

OMR – optical mark recognition, informally called scantrons, a method of computer input that involves reading marks on a paper

Onboarding – the UX from first initializing software that stores configuration information and starts differently the second time onward

On-prem – on-premises, having a computer that you can physically touch

One-to-one correspondence – one instruction creates one machine code instruction, the major limitation of low-level languages

Opacity – how opaque, or invisible, an element or color is

Opcodes – operation codes, control bits of an ALU that determine which logic to run on the inputs

Open-core – software that is open source, but has a proprietary implementation or front-end that isn’t

Open-source – computer code that’s free to view and therefore modify, allows for easier debugging at the risk of losing potential profit off it, contrasts often to proprietary software or closed-source

Operating system – the large system that runs the basic things in a computer, is most often Windows, Mac or Linux in most general-purpose computers

Oscillator – something that goes back-and-forth to track time, a major component of a clock

OSINT – open-source intelligence, any potentially useful information or information-gathering tool

OSPF – open shortest path first, a link-state routing protocol

Out-of-band – outside a natural hardware environment, often remotely, contrast to in-band

Output – any information the computer sends out, which could be anything from a screen to other computers

Overclocking – cranking up the speed of the computer beyond the manufacturer specifications, which may make better benchmarks but might melt your processor, opposite of underclocking

Overflow – the leftmost carry gets dropped in adding, a huge difference between computer math and algebra (e.g., 1000 plus 1001 makes 0001 instead of 10001)

Overhead – a general concept usually referring to maintenance cost, space, electrical use, or processing power

Over-provisioning – giving more resources than necessary, can be a good idea or a bad idea depending on whether you want redundancy or efficiency, opposite of under-provisioning


P/E cycle – a unit of measurement to determine how fast memory can read and write

P2P – peer-to-peer, protocols where each node on a network is both the client and the host

Package – premade, downloadable file(s) designed to install onto a computer, typically used for distributing code and programs

Packet – a specifically-sized string of data sent over a network, designed to reassemble into a file on the other end of a network transfer

Parallax scrolling – a form of background scrolling that uses various scrolling rates to simulate an illusion that recreates the parallax effect in reality

Parallel processing – using two or more CPUs to run program instructions

Parallel programming – software programmed to run on two or more CPUs at once

Parameter – something that modifies the scope of a variable or command

Parametric curves – curves with parameters

Parity – using a bit at the end of a string of binary elements to round out the result to an even or odd number (e.g., 0010100 becomes 01101001, with the last number making that string of numbers even), very useful for error-checking, can also refer to redundancy in a RAID array

Particle system – a modeling system to create a randomized, predictable pre-rendered range of events to simulate a real-life chaotic thing (such as a fire)

Particle effect – a visual effect made by a particle system

Passphrase – an alternative to a password that uses a human-readable sentence

Password – a typed phrase that authenticates a system

Password cracking – hacking that involves figuring out a password, nowhere near as common as before because of encryption but people still leave Post-It notes lying around

Patch – a quick software update that fixes bugs or makes software safer from hacking

Path – short for pathway, the relative location necessary to access a resource

Payload – code designed to take advantage of an exploit

Paywall – a software barrier that prevents the user going further without making a purchase

PCM – pulse-code modulation, a method of encoding the sound waves of an object relative to a fixed point (i.e., the pulse becomes a code), contrast to PDM

PDM – pulse-density modulation, a method of encoding the sound waves of an object relative to other sounds before and after it, contrast to PCM

PDU (networking) – protocol data unit, a standard of measurement defined by which networking layer the protocol operates on

PDU (supercomputers) – power distribution unit, a big power management device that can fit on a server rack that’s effectively a huge power strip with regulators to make sure all the connected cables are getting equal voltage

PenTest – penetration tester, a specific form of hacking that involves finding vulnerabilities in a computer system

Peripheral – something that plugs into the base computer equipment, like a computer screen or headphones, can also contextually be something built-in

Permissions – aka access rights or privileges, rules that specify what a computer/user can do when using a computer

Permissive license – a license that allows for-profit distribution of software, contrast to copyleft

Persistent – where a software is always running a service on a computer

Persona – an artificial reproduction of a likely user, usually for UX/visual design

PGA – pin grid array, where the pins for the chip are on the chip, meaning the chip would need replacing if the pins are bent

Phi phenomenon – an illusion of movement we get from seeing lots of similar images back-to-back, with the bare minimum of at least 24 frames required

Phishing – sending fake information that looks real (often in an email), spear phishing is targeting a specific person

Physical memory – the physical amount of memory in a computer, contrast to logical memory

Ping – a network tool that simply checks if a computer can be reached

Pipelining – the convention where operating system processes work like a factory assembly line and focus on the purpose they’re designed for, allows processes to take any input the user wants and send it to any output they want

Piracy – copying data that’s in violation of intellectual property law, not to be confused with violent acts and theft in a remote location

Pixel – short for picture element, one colored dot on a screen, sets up as an array to communicate information on the computer

Placeholder – information in a text field that simply prompts the user to enter it (e.g., “John Doe” for the Name field)

Plaintext – unsophisticated Unicode/ASCII text file, often used for log files and a quick-and-dirty way for veteran programmers to store code/notes, contrast to ciphertext

Planned obsolescence – a manufacturer’s tendency to make parts of the entire device that break down at an approximately predictable time in the future to encourage more consumer spending, thwarted by the right to repair

Plasma screen – a type of screen where each pixel is ionized mercury gas that illuminates when triggered by electricity

Platform – a modular software that allows users/developers to add or remove features

Plugin – optional software features or components, similar to plugging in hardware into an expansion slot

Pointer – the location a call is referring to in memory, sometimes can stack into dual-pointed variables

Pointer record – a DNS’ pointer to an IP address from a web domain

Policy – human-made security permissions

Polygon – a complex 3-dimensional graphically-rendered shape, is composed of triangles at its simplest but can have curved elements to create a vast variety of intersections

Pop – read and remove information from the top of a stack

Port – very context-sensitive, can apply to places you can physically plug something in or a network endpoint, not to be confused with slots

Port scanner – software that checks for open ports

Potting – filling a high-voltage electronic assembly with a solid or gelatinous compound to enhance resistance to shock, moisture, vibration, or corrosion

Power draw – the amount of electricity that a computer is using

Power supply – A device that converts AC power from the power grid into continuous wattage DC power for the computer to use for its logic

Power user – a savvy computer user, often tends to test the limits of the hardware during normal operation

Pretexting – A social engineering exploit that uses subtle appeals to reliable sources to gain a person’s trust, often exploits fear

Primary key – a unique and unchanging identifier in a relational database, is called a foreign key when it shows up in a separate table as the same ID

Primitives – base components that can get built or incorporated into into more elaborate ones

Print – originally referred to the printer before screens were invented but now applies to all human-readable output

Print spooler – a queue in memory that sends output to a printer

Printed circuit board – aka PCB, a plate-like board of integrated circuits (preassembled circuits) that things can plug into, which also often has a variety of functioning parts in it, the most common example is a motherboard

Printer – a peripheral that writes characters and images into flat sheets of paper

Procedural generation – using an algorithm to make something, as opposed to manually making it by hand

Process – a set of instructions that runs on an operating system (typically through the CPU), can sometimes be on multiple threads, can sometimes run indefinitely or repeatedly

Product-market fit – a marketing term for whether a technology already has people who want it

Production server – an enterprise server that is presently available to customers

Profile page – a social media system that involves a user editing information without others’ input

Program/application/software/app – A set of instructions inside a computer, tends to perform as a tool for someone else who’s not the programmer

Program counter – a counter that helps with performing the tasks in a computer program by ticking up 1 normally each cycle when left alone or overwriting that number with whatever you want

Programming – technically inputting information into a program, but informally means altering or building a computer program

Proof of stake – a cryptographic concept where a computer is trusted about new information proportionally to the amount of existing information it already has, very important in blockchain

Proof of work – a cryptographic concept where adding a nonce to the same data inside the hash will keep the hash the same, very important in blockchain

Proportional font – a font that uses character spacing relative to the size of the text

Proprietary – owned by a company, often compared to open-source or public domain

Protection rings – also called privilege rings or hierarchical protection domains, general classifications to protect computer information, often used in cybersecurity

Port – a faithful blow-for-blow recreation of software on a different software system, usually with emulation on the back-end to reproduce the original environment

Priority queue – a specific type of queue that includes a priority for each value to reference for placing into the queue

Programmer – someone who creates applications/programs

Protocol – a unified standard for how computers process data

Prototype – a new thing that hasn’t been fully tested or ready for manufacturing/production, the physical/design side of “beta version”

Proxy server – a computer that uses its IP as a proxy for another computer, thereby hiding the IP address of the source computer from immediate detection

PS/2 – from IBM’s “Personal System 2”, a largely obsolete pin-based plug for sending keyboard and mouse information

Public domain – something that anyone can use without any intellectual property enforcement

PUP – potentially unwanted program, a program that installs alongside a legitimate program someone downloaded

Push – add information to a stack

Pushdown automation – information that has been ordered into a stack, can be pushed onto or popped


QLED – quantum light-emitting diode, the next evolution of LED screens that uses quantum dots

Quantization – a digital signal processing that maps an analog signal into a less dynamic digital one

Quantum dots – small dots only a few nanometers long that are overlaid on a screen on top of pixels

QPU – quantum processing unit, a CPU that uses qubits instead of bits

QR code – Quick Response code, a barcode with two dimensions of information involved

Qubit – a quantum computing bit, can be in a superstate of 0/1 as well as 0 or 1

Query – a computer requesting information and possibly doing something with it, often used in databases and networks

Queue – a specific type of stack data structure where information is placed onto one end of the sequence and removed from the other

QoS – Quality of Service, a router/switch feature that prioritizes some protocols, IP addresses, or MAC addresses more than others, is either a tedious experience requiring networking knowledge to set up or is well-automated


Race condition – a bad situation where the various speeds of data traveling (usually via electricity) changes the information in a later clock cycle, a hardware issue but can be used as an exploit

Racers – pirates who access FTP sites to download and redistribute a lot of media

Radar – radio detection and ranging, determining a location and distance using radio signals

Ragequit – leaving software, usually a game, out of frustration

RAID – redundant array of independent disks, a specialized array of disks that hold data, can be

RAM – random access memory, a set of memory outside the CPU that’s quickly accessible but disappears after power-off, often designed as a detachable and upgradeable circuit board that plugs into the motherboard

RAM slots – memory slots on the circuit board, the RAM must match its form factor

Range header – a header that only requests a specified range

Ransomware – malware designed to scare the user into paying an extortionate fee

Raster – using a grid matrix of dots to represent a screen (with pixels) or a printer

RAT – remote access tool, software or a feature that controls a computer over a network, often used by hackers

Rate-limit – aka throttling, slowing the bandwidth speed of a network or data transfer

Raycasting – aka ray tracing, following the pathway of a straight line in a 3D environment, often used to cut down on graphics rendering or create shadow effects

RCE – remote code execution, a type of attack where code is remotely executed

RDMS – relational database management system, a database system that uses SQL to create a relational database

Readahead – a feature of a filesystem designed to read ahead in a memory block

Read-only memory – media that’s meant to only be read from, includes EEPROM and most CDs

Rear ports – ports on the back of a device that allows you to plug other stuff into it

Recommender system – an algorithm designed to recommend user data to other users

Recursion – code that references itself (see: recursion), very useful for extremely tedious tasks

Red Team – the attacking PenTester who tests the resilience of a cybersecurity implementation, contrast to Blue Team

Redundant – a broad computing concept meaning there’s a backup system in place for the currently working one

Refactor – to redesign existing code, often code from someone the programmer never met or a public repository

Reference – aka “ref”, a mapped location elsewhere that can be anything including a network/memory location, a variable, or function

Register – a DFF attached to a multiplexer, the implementation of storing memory in a computer

Regular expression – aka regex, the sequence of characters used in computer code to sort through text for specific conditions, syntax varies by programming language

Relational database – a database that links its data together with a primary key, uses SQL to interact with it, contrast to NoSQL

Relative motion – the distance between two points irrespective of where they’re at, how a mouse and touchpad send information, opposite of absolute motion

Rem – aka root em, a measurement of pixels based on the standard font size (em), typically defaults to 16 pixels

Remote – broad concept for something that’s not nearby, contrast to local

Removable media – long-term storage that’s designed for removing while the computer is still on, such as CDs or flash drives

Render – produce an end-user graphics element

Repeater – a device that simply magnifies and duplicates a signal, useful to send a long-distance signal such as WiFi in a large house or a poor cell connection

Repository – a place where computer code is stored and maintained

Resource/asset – jargon that can apply contextually to memory (disk space or RAM), processing (CPUs or GPUs), network speed, computer code, database entries, and sometimes peripherals

Resource record – a DNS record that indicates where something is

Responsive web design – using media queries to manage the UX for various screen sizes a browser may use

Reverse-engineer – to re-engineer something by observing what that thing does

Right to repair – an individual’s rights to fix the things they own, should be implicit but many FAANG companies try to subvert it, works directly against planned obsolescence

Rip – copy physical media into a digital format, typically associated with piracy

RISC – reduced instruction set computer, a computer architecture designed to simplify individual instructions, meaning more code and less processing per command, contrast to CISC

RISC-V – pronounced “risk-five”, an open-source implementation of the RISC standard

RMF – risk management framework, a system created by NIST to implement risk management organizational programs

Roll back – to restore a previous known-good version of software

Roll out – when software is released to the public

ROM – read-only memory, often doesn’t depend on electricity but you can’t write anything to it

Rootkit – malware that affects core operating system files

Rotoscoping – a tedious animation technique of drawing over an existing thing, frame by frame

Router – effectively, a switch that works with IP addresses instead of MAC addresses

Routing table – a record of IP addresses that a router records for reference

RPC – remote procedure call, a protocol for managing another computer’s service

Runtime – the period of time where a computer is running a program

Runtime error – a situation where a computer does exactly what it’s told, but won’t finish a task because it’s waiting on a condition that can never be met (e.g., add 1 to 5 over and over, stop when it reaches 4)


Sampling – the data speed that audio or video is being captured or played back

Sampling depth – the amount of data for each sample from a sampling rate

Sampling rate – the frequency that information is gathered in audio or video

SATA – serial AT attachment, cables with an L-shaped socket that attach directly to a motherboard

Scalable – either the ability for a computer task to be done many, many times without any major slowdown or something that can be made bigger indefinitely

Schematic – something designed as a concept, the physical side of “alpha version”

Screen – a visual output using an array of pixels, with each pixel representing gradations of 3 lights to form the visual spectrum

Screen burn-in – a condition from a CRT display where an image is permanently burned into the glass of the screen after keeping a static image on the screen for a long time

Screen memory map – the RAM locations where color values are stored for the screen

Script – slang for a comparatively short amount of computer code for accomplishing a straightforward purpose

Scrollbar – a GUI feature that allows a screen to be scrolled by the user for more information

Search engine – powerful software designed that uses a webcrawler to create a searching algorithm for users’ convenience

Searching algorithm – a very common algorithm that looks through a list to find information

Secrets – sensitive data someone would want to keep private, often is a string of computer-generated letters and numbers

Sector – a smaller section of a drive that combines together to create blocks

Seed – to send information over a P2P connection, often refers to seeding a torrent

Seedbox – hosted content designed to start torrent streams

Self join – a powerful SQL technique of using data with another table generated from that data

Semantics – the meaning a programmer wishes to convey, expresses via syntax

Semiconductor – a substance that can be altered to control how much electricity can run through it, it’s the basis of all electricity-based computing via transistors

SEO – search engine optimization, improving marketability with a variety of tricks to rank higher on search engine results

SEO poisoning – a social engineering exploit that involves using SEO tricks to get people to go to a fraudulent website

Sequential logic – where computers perform logic in a sequence, compared to combinational logic

Server – a synonym for a supercomputer or a host, context-depending

Server rack – a large rack with thumb-screw holes that computers can slide into on drawers, 19 inches wide and usually 42U height (1U is 1.75 inches, U for unit), most smaller computers can fit in 1U, but computers can be as tall as 6U

Service – a task or program a computer can run

Session – a specified block of time that a computer is sending information

Set – a data structure that holds multiple unique values in no particular order or structure

Shadow profile – gathering information about a person/organization without their consent, popular with FAANG companies

Shaping – curating behavior close to a desired outcome.

Shared plan – a pricing plan that combines the resources for various customers’ needs together to save money on hardware, opposite of shared plan

Shareware – an old software licensing model of giving free-to-distribute software that removes features without a paid license key, largely obsolete now that freemium exists

Shipping – management term for finishing a project

Sideload – installing software that the operating system wasn’t designed originally to accommodate (e.g., an app store in a cell phone)

SIM card – subscriber identity module card, an interchangeable means of attributing identification to a cell phone

Sim swapping – aka SIM splitting, simjacking or sim hijacking, a hack that involves transferring a phone number’s association to another SIM card

Simplex – data transmission that’s only one way, contrast to duplex

Single-board computer – a cheaply made computer made with only one printed circuit board such as the Raspberry Pi and Arduino, perfect for simple projects and low-cost solutions

SISO – single-input single-output, a relatively slow transceiver configuration compared to SU-MIMO or MU-MIMO

Skeleton loader – a design placeholder element, typically with a scrolling indicator, to express the framework of a page before it loads completely

Skinner box – aka operant conditioning chamber, a confined area with a lab subject who presses a button to get a reward, named after the psychologist B.F. Skinner and his operant conditioning experiments, a core component of many modern games

Skybox – a very large textured digital box that represents the far-distant world in a game

SLA – service level agreement, a written document that clarifies what a tech service is doing and what happens when they don’t follow through (such as paying the customer if they fail beyond a certain amount of time)

SLO – service level objective, documentation that clarifies what the purpose of a tech service is for, leads to an SLA

Slave – aka subsidiary (now that Leftism exists), a subordinate drive or record that has a a lesser importance than others, contrast to master

Slot – a location in the case designated for a specific part, usually for long-term storage, not to be confused with ports

Smart contract – an agreeement between computers (or people) that they’re both trustworthy regarding specific transactions, removes the need for a trusted intermediary

Snapshot – a copy of a hard drive’s memory at a specific timestamp

Snapshotting – to take a snapshot of memory, usually for backup

Social engineering – an exploit that uses information about someone to get them to trust the hacker

Social media – internet-based content designed for generally public consumption

Socket – when an IP address is linked to a port

Soft skill – a broad understanding of something, not particularly useful in itself but widely applicable

Software – computer code that programmers entered into a computer, completely written intellectual property compared to hardware

Something-for-something – a social engineering exploit where the hacker gives something (usually for free) in exchange for personal information

Source code – computer code that makes applications run, is often elaborate, is often a hybrid of closed-source (not public) or open-source (public for everyone)

Snoop – scouring networked computers for potentially useful information, also a famous rapper

Sorted list – a list that has been sorted, typically numerically and/or alphabetically

Sound card – dedicated memory, CPU, and rear ports specifically for sound processing, is typically baked into the motherboard but can still be a PCI extension for audio professionals

SPA – single page app, a simple website/app that’s only 1 page of content

Split cache – a hardware architecture where memory is split between programs and data

Spoofing – feeding false information into a computer to imply something different than reality, often used for hacking, examples include GPS spoofing (to change perceived geolocation) and cell tower spoofing (to make a cell phone think that computer is a cell tower)

Sprite – the foreground and moving elements of a game, contrasts to a static background

Spyware – malware that tracks user information, the most malicious form being a keylogger

SQL – structured query language, a programming language that manages an RDBMS

SSD – solid state drive, flash memory engineered for more long-term use as a permanent hard drive

Stablecoin – a cryptocurrency that attaches its value to a non-cryptocurrency denomination, such as the US dollar

Stack – broad term for information placed in some sort of order or organization, can also apply to a stack data structure where most of the the information is managing the values at the beginning and end with push and pop

Stack memory allocation – memory allocated by the operating system for specific purposes defined by the program, as opposed to heap memory allocation

Stack overflow – a risky memory situation where the memory was maxed out, so the computer draws from the bottom-most memory instead (e.g., if memory only goes to 4096 and it’s at 4090, then 10 more will make it go to 0003 instead)

Staging – setting computer code to be committed, but not yet reviewed for the commit

Standard – an industry-defined set of rules and procedures on how to do something, often evolves from a convention

State – a conditional situation that a computer-related thing is in

Stateful – a broad concept for software that’s aware of the state of something, such as whether a file has finished downloading or whether there’s a network connection

Statement of work – a legally binding document that specifies exactly what someone can do, is obligated to do, and can’t do

Static – not moving

Station keeping – the effort of maintaining a satellite’s trajectory

Stereolithography – a 3D printing method of hardening layers of plastic with light

Stop – an additional increment of light that hits a camera sensor

String – a data type of text information, a combination of characters strung together

SU-MIMO – single-user multiple-input multiple-output, a transceiver configuration that allows more bandwidth for a single device to transfer, though doesn’t allow multiple bands from multiple users like MU-MIMO

Supercomputer – a large computer that’s usually a distributed system, usually fits into a rack, and is often a web server, tends to be more expensive and reliable than home computers

Surge protector – a device meant to prevent against freakish spikes of electricity that would normally destroy a power supply

Stepdown transformer – a box on many power cables for lowish-power devices that lowers the household power plug’s voltage to something more manageable

Stepper – an interface element with a + and – symbol that increments and decrements a value.

STP – spanning tree protocol, a Layer 2 network protocol that specifies where data should get forwarded

Stripboard – aka Veroboard a construction base for prototyping mid-speed circuits, requires soldering

Striping – arranging information across multiple domains, most commonly used to refer to a type of RAID array

Style guide – documentation about how the user interface should look, often with many examples

Subnet – a sub-network, necessary for working with large networks, uses a subnet mask, terminates at a gateway

Subnet mask – designating an IP range for making a subnet (e.g., in IPv4 would allocate 8 bits of data for a subnet)

Supersample – anti-aliasing that gets a much larger sample of the image to then downgrade to the displayed image

Superuser – aka super or root user or root, an account with the highest possible privileges in a computer

Surrogate key – a key in a database that has no real-world equivalent, useful for setting a primary key

Surround sound – a speaker configuration where the user can hear in front and behind them

Swap space – hard drive space converted into temporary RAM

Swarm – a situation where many BitTorrent clients are seeding/leeching all at once

Switch – a network box that operates as a type of demultiplexer to direct signals to their destination, contrast to a hub

Sync interval – how frequently a synchronized computer checks for updated information

Synchronous logic – a motherboard arrangement where each logic gate advances with each clock cycle, as opposed to asynchronous logic

Syntax – the typed text that a computer language understands, conveys the semantics of the programmer

Syntax error – an error in computer code syntax, usually caused by typographical errors

System call – a call that refers to core system components, often higher-risk and more resource-intensive than most other function calls

System usability scale – a questionnaire where people answer 10 1-to-5 questions about how much they like the interface


Table – a means of holding data, uses fields for each part of the table

Tailgating – physically following someone into a secure area where they can access a computer

Tape drive – long-term storage that puts binary information on a long string of magnetic tape, excellent for storing huge amounts of information that isn’t life-and-death if it gets somewhat corrupted

Task-based testing – testing by giving people tasks to complete, then measuring how well they do and any hangups in that task

TCP – transmission control protocol, the Transport-level standard for sending high-quality information across a network, contrast to UDP

TCP/IP – a hybrid of TCP and IP, since they work together so frequently

Tech stack – the set of languages a developer understands to handle all their front-end and back-end needs

Technical debt – quick short-term solutions that create long-term problems, where the debt is paid later in the future

Technology – a broad word that can mean a programming language, specific hardware, specific software, protocol, or network configuration, a management way to say “computer things”: you can use a technology on a technology to run a technology via a technology to accomplish a technology, once was “high-technology” but has been contracted over time

Telemetry – long-distance measurements, often to track users or user behavior

Telephony – long-distance computer information transfer

Terminal/Console/Command prompt – a text-based input that also gives output text, scary to people unfamiliar with computers but extremely useful for pipelining and APIs

Terminator – a network endpoint that absorbs a signal, prevents data from bouncing back at the end of a wire and shutting down an entire bus network

Texture – a graphical pattern or image overlaid onto a polygon

Time-sharing – using a computer for more than one thing at a time, generally a built-in necessity of parallel processing, especially important in virtual machines

Timeout – broad term for the deadline when a computer ends a condition to maintain a status, often pertains to when a session ends before information has successfully transferred

Timestamp – a copy-paste recording of the BIOS clock, a frequent aspect of log files and metadata

Toast – a small message with a border around it on an interface’s overlay meant to quickly communicate small bits of information

Token – a relatively small line of code that triggers an event

Tooltip – a popup block of text when someone moves their mouse over an element

Topology – the construction of something, often refers to network design, can be a physical topology (how it visually looks) or a signaling/logical topology (how it connects together)

Tor – short for The Onion Router, a protocol/software that runs on a type of parallel overlay network compared to the rest of the internet, often broadly classified (mostly incorrectly) as the “dark web”

Torrent – use the BitTorrent protocol, a P2P protocol, often associated with piracy but has many important uses for free content distributors

Touch screen – the primary input of most mobile devices by using a digitizer under the glass to capture absolute motion, can often emulate a keyboard on it, tends to not show a cursor if it was designed for touch screens

Tracker – a feature of a program that collects and sends user data, often necessary for debugging but can often invade privacy, may also refer to a torrent-based host that distributes magnet links

Traffic shaping – configuring the QoS settings to improve the user experience on a network

Trailer, an optional bit of code at the end of a packet that contains error-correcting code

Transceiver – combo transmitter/receiver, used for sending and receiving signals

Transducer – a device that receives energy in one form, then expresses it in another form (e.g., a computer speaker)

Transistor – an implementation of a semiconductor, usually as an electrical switch, to do all sorts of things like modifying signals, stabilizing voltage, performing logic, and storing information

Translation lookaside buffer – a cache in the MMU that tracks the mapping between virtual and physical memory locations

Transponder – a satellite radio beacon used for location and routing information, effectively a transceiver but differentiated because it gives information to decode Doppler shifts

Tribal knowledge – small undocumented details that are critical to understand something

Trigger box – an invisible box in a game world that triggers an action when the user enters or exits it

Trilateration – Using multiple data from geolocation-based distances to triangulate a location

Trojan horse/trojan – malware that masquerades as a non-executing document (such as a video)

Troll – to antagonize people into an argument, named after the fishing term of throwing bait out the back of a boat

Trusted intermediary – a third-party computer that two computers can trust, often involves digital certificates

Truthy – a data value that has something in it and therefore expresses to TRUE, opposite of falsy

TTL – time to live, how many hops until a network signal drops, avoids a signal bouncing around indefinitely in a system

Tunnel – a two-way communication between two resources, typically applies to VPNs but also applies to HTTP communication

Tuple – a finite ordered list of elements, indicated by n (e.g., an n-tuple has n elements)

TWAIN – the driver standard for scanners, not an acronym but is a reference to “never the twain shall meet”

Two’s complement – a mathematical means of representing negative numbers by using the binary number from decrementing in binary from 0

Typeahead – an input box that employs a simplified searching algorithm for text

Type coercion – changing data types before operating with it, can often make the difference between Boolean statements being true or false

Typography – the design and style of text


UDP – user datagram protocol, the Transport-level standard for sending information rapidly across a network, contrast to TCP

UEFI – unified extended firmware interface, a BIOS-like system designed for more advanced drivers

UI – user interface, the visual design of the elements of an operating system, web page, or software

Unbounded color value – color values that aren’t constrained to an arbitrary number

Unconditional jump – an instruction in code to move to a specific location in the instructions, very useful in creating loops, contrast to conditional jumps

Under-provisioning – giving less resources than necessary, often causes slowdown or crashing depending on the use case, opposite of under-provisioning

Underclocking – lowering the speed of the computer below the manufacturer specifications, which could make worse benchmarks but may make your computer last longer, opposite of overclocking

Unicast address – an address that’s designated to 1 network asset, contrast to broadcast address

Unicode – aka UTF-32, a character encoding format that uses up to 32 bits of data, technically only uses 18 bits to capture everything

Unicorn – a startup that’s worth over $1 billion

Unix-like – an operating system designed closely to the original Unix system, typically refers to GNU/Linux but can also refer to FreeBSD

Unsorted list – a list that hasn’t been sorted, or at least hasn’t been identified as sorted by a computer

Uptime – time that a computer is continuously on, contrast to downtime

URI – uniform resource identifier, a given thing on the internet represented by a sequence of characters

URL – uniform resource locator, aka web address, an internet location designed to avoid having to remember IP addresses, uses a FQDN

USB – universal serial bus, a type of port that most peripherals can use

Use case – aka usage case, a scenario a programmer will have to consider caused by external input from a user or another computer, often interchangeable with implementation

User-driven – a state where content and assets created by users instead of the creators’ efforts

User base – the people who already use a particular computer software or hardware product

User journey – the intuitive flow that a user makes with an interface

UPS – uninterruptible power supply, which is a surge protector mixed with a battery that gives enough time for you to shut the computer down

User – can refer to either a person (for UX reasons) or a specific login account in a computer system

UUID/GUID – universally unique identifier or globally unique identifier, a specific and unique device ID given to every networked computer device, always has 36 characters

UX – user experience, broad term referring to the general feelings the user receives when interacting with the user interface, the newer model compared to HCI that incorporates marketing principles into it


Validation error – a text field which doesn’t provide correct information

Variable – a math concept of something that can be changed, refers to specific letters/symbols in math but can be labeled as almost anything in programming, opposite of constant

Variable-length – a length that isn’t fixed, though it may have thresholds, often used in Unicode character encoding

Variable lighting – visually referencing a light source, then adding shadows to make a 3D environment feel more realistic

VDI – virtual desktop interface, a GUI that looks like an entire OS, often accessible through a web browser

Vector graphics – controlling an electron to run horizontally across a screen to give a line, the oldest form of GUI, eventually replaced by raster graphics

Venture capitalist – someone willing to risk money to fund someone else’s business

Version – a specific assembled program, typically has a number to specify what iteration it is

Version control – a system of managing changes in computer code

VGA – video graphics array, an old pin-based plug for sending video information

Video game console – a specialized computer designed to play video games, not to be confused with input consoles/terminals, functionally the same as a PC since the late-2010’s

Virtualization – aka virtual machine, using a portion of computer assets to create a virtual computer-in-a-computer

Virtual memory – hard drive memory that has been converted into a swap space

Virus – malware that masquerades as legitimate software

Visual language – a visual dynamic shared among an organization

VM – virtual machine/virtualization, splitting a computer to make it feel like more than one computer at the same time, allows people to split up one powerful computer instead of using many weaker ones and use multiple operating systems without partitioning hard drives

VM escape – using an exploit to break out of a VM into the rest of a computer system

VM sprawl – making too many VMs where you can’t keep track of them all

Volatile/Short-term storage – memory that goes away during a power cycle such as the cache, typically stored in RAM but also sometimes stored on a hard drive, opposite of non-volatile storage

Volume – either the intensity of sound data transfer to speakers, or a logical/physical disk partition

Von Neumann architecture – a CPU architecture that involves an input, logic processor, memory, and output, pretty much the basis for almost every computer

Voxels – volumetric pixels, a 3D grid of pixels as an alternative to polygon-based rendering, didn’t last long

VPN – virtual private network, a service that uses a VPN tunnel on L2TP to safely transfer private information over long distances

VR – virtual reality, a vague concept referring to a computer-generated simulation of reality, often refers to a HMD

VST – virtual studio technology, a standardized framework that allows for plugins to interact with a DAW

VTON – virtual try-ON, an implementation of VR that involves the user sampling how a product will look in a VR environment


WAN – wide area network, larger computer networks (such as the internet), contrast to LAN

Wardialing – entering all the phone numbers one-at-a-time to scan a phone system

Warrant canary – an organization’s indicator that a government surveillance unit is non-present, with non-updates of that indicator demonstrating that a government surveillance unit is present

WAP – wireless access point, a physical piece of hardware that allows for a wireless connection

Warez – software that’s typically had its DRM removed

Webcrawler – to scrape specific keywords off websites, a component of search engines

Web browser – software designed for users to casually consume information across the internet

Web scraping – copying information off the internet and cleaning it up to make it more useful for users

Web server – a computer or distributed system, usually very powerful, that’s publicly available on the internet

White balance – aka color temperature, an image post-processing effect that determines whether the image’s output colors lean more red or blue

White hat hacker – aka “white hat”, a hacker who honors ethics

White noise – the noise generated by quantization

White space/negative space – empty space that gives structure to a UI

Whitelist – mark a MAC or IP address as safe, opposite of blacklist

Wi-Fi – a networking standard for local wireless signals that honors the 802.11 specification

Wiki – a public repository of information, typically user-driven, originally named after WikiWikiWeb in 1995

Wildcard – a regular expression component that indicates that anything can be used (e.g., *ing can return “cleaning”, “sing”, and “haberdashering”).

Wireframe – a line-based form of something, can be a visual guide of how something will look like (the design side of “alpha version”) or an earlier stage of 3D polygon graphical design

Word – the size of a memory register, typically a base-2 representation (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.)

Worm – malware that self-replicates onto other networked computers

WPS – can refer to Wi-Fi positioning system (a method of using Wi-Fi signals for trilateration) or Wi-Fi protected setup (a button-activated authentication system built into most network routers)

Write tolerance – the amount of times that you can write to a drive before it fails, often measured in ridiculously high numbers because they’re usually designed to last a few years of normal use


XIP – execute in place, a file system feature where a CPU can load a file from long-term storage instead of loading it to RAM first


Yak shaving – doing many things that are seemingly unrelated to a software design goal to accomplish that goal

Yank – to remove distribution of a specific version, often because of hacking or a defect in the code


Z-pattern – a design component where the eye moves left-to-right, then back to the next line’s left-to-right, a common feature of reading books but tends to tire out the eyes when using a computer

Zero – a philosophical concept of nothingness represented by “0” that came from ancient India, not to be confused with “null” in computers, since it’s still a value in memory

Zero-based numbering – how computers count, starting at 0 instead of how people intuitively start at 1 (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3 instead of 1, 2, 3, 4)

Zero-click attack – a cyberattack that doesn’t require the user to do anything to activate it

Zero-day exploit – aka “0Day”, an exploit that was just discovered after it could be exploited

Zone file – a file on a DNS host that indicates resource records