Glossary: F

This page contains glossary terms beginning with the letter F.
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Word or Term Description or Explanation
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions - many FAQs can be found on the Internet - they provide a list of answers to the most common questions to help out new users (newbies) - you should always try to find and read any FAQs on a subject before sending out queries as experienced users get fed up repeatedly answering the same questions - FAQs can be found on: ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/news.answers
FAST Federation Against Software Theft - an organisation supported by software producers that is dedicated to preventing software piracy
FAT the file allocation table of DOS discs, i.e. it is a map of where all the (bits of) files are located on the disc
Fax abbr. Facsimile - a method of sending graphical data down a serial communication system (usually a telephone line) that involves (conventionally) scanning a document at one end, transmitting the data via modulated tones and then reproducing the picture at the other end on heat-sensitive paper - computers are now able to link directly to fax modems to allow computer-generated graphics to be transmitted as if they came from a conventional fax - similarly, a computer and fax modem can be used to receive a fax transmission whether or not it is originated by a 'real' fax machine - it can then display it on the screen and/or output it via a conventional printer
Fax modem a modem that is used to enable a computer to provide fax-type transmission of data down a telephone line
Fetch extra code added to the operating system to replace other code that has been found to be buggy or simply in need of improvement
Fetcher a sub-program of ArcWeb that is used to actually get the pages - ArcWeb is purely a display program and knows nothing about how to get the pages - it just sends out a message and any fetcher that is loaded and supports the required protocol gets the page and returns it to ArcWeb for display - thus it is possible to use FTP and Gopher through ArcWeb as well as the more obvious HTTP - there is also the special Local fetcher for getting pages stored on your hard disc
Fidonet a network of BBSs used to transfer files and messages both nationally and internationally - it is slow because transfers only (usually) take place at night so messages can take days to get from source to destination, especially when going from country to country
File a collection of information gathered together and given a filename to identify it. It is stored in a directory in a filing system
Filer or Filing
system
a system used to handle the storage of information - the ADFS filer and the SCSI filer are the two most common on Acorn machines
Finger a simple form of interrogation of a remote machine or user - the response may be details of who is currently logged onto the system or other informatiom as decided by the system operator - if an individual is 'fingered', they may respond with a 'plan' file giving witty and/or useful information about the user
Firewall a security system to restrict access to certain computers, areas or information - a firewall is normally a computer or router that is put between a local network and an external network such as the Internet - it will normally enable all users on the inside to connect to the outside, but not the other way around
Firmware this refers to software, applications and/or data which is stored in a ROM
Flame an offensive or abusive message
Flame-war a discussion consisting of a series of offensive or abusive messages
Flamebait a provocative posting to Usenet that deliberately tries to elicit flames
Flash card similar in operation to a Flash ROM, but with the memory chip on a removable card; used increasingly with portable computers and digital cameras
Flash ROM to change the contents of a conventional EPROM, the chip has to be removed and erased using ultra-violet radiation - it can then be electrically re-programmed - a flash ROM, by contrast, can be re-programmed electrically in situ, i.e. it can be reprogrammed through software
Floating point
numbers
in order to represent a wider range of numbers than can be done with integers, and to represent fractions, computers use floating point numbers - these use a number of bytes (usually four) to represent the main part of the number and another byte to represent the power of two by which the number is multiplied
Floppy disc/drive this is a data storage medium consisting of a removable flexible (floppy) magnetic disc in a hard plastic case - these discs can be inserted as required into a floppy drive usually housed within the case of the computer - the most common standard of floppy drive used now is 3½" - some 5¼" drives are still in use but the 8" floppies have virtually all been consigned to the museum of computer technology
FMV full Motion Video - a term used to refer to displaying video on a computer screen at full speed - Acorn Replay provides FMV at 12.5 or 25 frames per second
Followup an article posted to a newsgroup in response to an earlier posting
Fonts characters on the screen and on the printed page can take on all sorts of different shapes and styles - a font is a set of characters that have been designed so that all the letters of the alphabet and a whole range of other special characters (200 or more in a complete set) have the same style - there are also sets of related fonts using the same basic style but with the characters angled (italic) or made heavier (bold) or both (bold italic)
Foo/foobar a sort of online algebraic place holder. - for example: "If you want to know when another site is run by a for-profit company, look for an address in the form of foo@foobar.com.", i.e. it's a techical term for 'thingi', 'whatsit' or 'doodah'
Format formatting is preparing a floppy disc or hard disc ready to receive data - hard discs usually arrive ready-formatted - floppy discs may be formatted in a number of different ways - not all formats of floppy disc can be read on all computers - without any extra software, Acorn computers can read and write various Acorn formats as well as a number of different PC and Atari formats - with extra software, other formats, such as Apple Mac, are also accessible on Acorn computers
Fortune cookie an inane/witty/profound comment that can be found around the net
FPA Floating Point Accelerator - this is a hardware add-on to a cpu which enables it to do floating point calculations more quickly by doing them in hardware rather than in software
FPE Floating Point Emulator - if an application requires full floating point calculations, it is possible to run it on a computer that doesn't actually have an FPA by emulating the FPA's functions in software
FPU Floating Point Unit - another name for an FPA
FQDN Fully Qualified Domain Name - the complete address of a site on the Internet
Frame buffer the area of a computer's memory which holds a bitmap of (i.e. a buffer store of) the next frame of the screen display
Free-to-air digital broadcasts available to all without additional payment (i.e. as opposed to pay-per-view or subscription services)
Freeware software that doesn't cost anything
ftp File Transfer Protocol or File Transfer Program (depending on context) - in its most general form, it allows users to exchange files with a remote Internet host- this requires an account on the FTP server and a valid password - however, a large number of sites provide an anonymous FTP service which allows anyone to log in with restricted access - there is a huge wealth of information and programs available via anonymous ftp
ftp site a computer where files are available for downloading
Full Duplex an asynchronous communications protocol allowing a communications channel to send and receive data at the same time
Function keys these are the set of twelve keys at the top of the keyboard, all prefixed with an "F" - what they do will depend on the application currently in use

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