Glossary: S

This page contains glossary terms beginning with the letter S.
!-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Word or Term Description or Explanation
Sampler an add-on that takes a sound signal as input and turns it into digital data that can stored and/or manipulated within the computer and then be output again through a DAC (digital to analogue converter)
Scanner an add-on that enables the user to read visual images into the computer from originals such as photographs and books
SCART Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appariels de Radio et de Television - well, you wanted to know, didn't you! - a means of connecting computers, video recorders, etc., to televisions and monitors using standard connections (sometimes referred to as 'Peritel')
Scrap see !Scrap
Screen blanking within RISC OS 3 is an optional facility (set in the configuration) which switches the screen to black after a user-definable length of time if the computer is not being used - as soon as a key is pressed or the mouse is moved, the screen returns to normal - this reduces the likelihood of monitors having patterns 'burned in' to the face of the tube (and reduces the power consumption of the monitor to some extent)
Screen mode information can be displayed on TV or monitor screens in a number of different formats - the numbers of pixels that make up the screen may be different (from, say, 480 × 512 to 1600 × 1200 or more) and the colour depth of each pixel may vary - the amount of memory used to display the screen will increase as both the number of pixels and the colour depth are increased - there is a trade-off between the two as the amount of video memory is usually limited - aparticular size and colour depth is referred to as a screen mode
Scroll arrow the arrows within a window that are used to allow you to scroll through a document or list or to move around the contents of a window that is too big to display in the current size of window
Scrolling if a file or document is too large to be displayed on the screen all at once, it is displayed in a window with scroll bars and scroll arrows so that you can move around and view different parts of it as necessary
SCSI Small Computer Systems Interface - this is an agreed standard system for communicating data between computers and data storage and acquisition devices, the data being transmitted along parallel data paths - it is commonly used to link a computer to hard drives, CD-ROMs and/or scanners, but it can also be used to link computers together, subject to the limitation that you can only link a total of eight different 'devices' together
SCSI 2 a faster version of SCSI - comes in fast, wide and fast/wide versions
SCSI 3 an even faster SCSI, yet to be fully defined, though products are becoming available
SCSIFS a RISC OS filing system used for communicating with devices attached to the SCSI interface
SDTV Standard Definition TV
Search engine a facility that allows you to search for keywords in databases, archives or web pages - well known ones include Alta-Vista, Excite, Yahoo, Webcrawler, Google, etc.
Second processor in computers such as the RiscPC it is possible to have more than one processor working together sharing memory, data storage and peripherals - in the RiscPC, the ARM610 takes charge when the computer is first switched on and it then allows the other processor (the 'second processor') access to memory, etc.
Select box a rectangular box used to outline an area within which any objects are selected
Self-test when a computer is switched on, it runs through a series of tests to check, as far as it is able, that it is functioning correctly - in a RISC OS 3 (or later) computer, if any of these self-tests fails, it will usually issue some sort of error message - if the system has not managed to get as far as producing a working display on the VDU, it will send a coded message about the likely error by flashing the LED on the floppy drive
Serial a device or communication channel is said to be serial if the data is sent sequentially, one bit at a time, as opposed to being sent several bits at a time down a number of parallel wires
Server a computer or system that provides resources to a number of other computers or clients on a computer network - it shares (some of) its files and/or peripherals with other computers on the same network
Set-Top Box (STB) a generic term referring to a piece of electronic hardware which sits on or alongside a television set, and provides information on the TV screen - examples of this are: satellite TV receivers, cable TV receivers and some types of network computer - when digital television arrives, many people will require some kind of set-top box in order to receive it
SGML Standard Generalised Markup Language - an international standard for encoding documents according to their logical structure and typographical style - HTML is a subset of SGML
Shareware software which you can try out for free before buying it
Shovelware this is a derogatory term for software and other data of inferior quality that is used to 'pack out' a CD-ROM and make it up to 600Mb, or whatever, to convince the potential purchaser that the disc is worth buying
Shutdown a menu option on the task manager iconbar menu which 'clears up' the computer prior to switching it off - it can also be done by using <ctrl-shift-f12>
Signal-to-noise ratio the amount of useful information to be found in a given Usenet newsgroup - often used derogatorily, for example: "the signal-to-noise ratio in this newsgroup is pretty low"
Signature this is a small area of text at the bottom of a message which is configured by the user - whenever he or she posts a message or Usenet article, the signature is attached automatically by the mailing software - it may take the form of a set of words and/or ASCII graphics
Signature separator a line consisting of the characters "-- " (including the space), which is the standard way of indicating the start of a signature at the bottom of an email message or Usenet post - if this line is present, most mail or news readers will strip the signature automatically when the message is quoted in an email reply or followup post
SIMM Single In-line Memory Module - an industry standard plug-in memory card as used in the RiscPC, for example - there are two standard sizes, 30-pin and 72-pin - RiscPCs use 72-pin SIMMs
Site a computer system holding information that can be accessed by other computers
Slice Single Layer Item of Computer Expansion! - the name applies to a single extra layer of case in a RiscPC - it includes a new backplane with two more slots than previously and four locking pins longer than the ones they replace
SLIP Serial Line Internet Protocol - a link protocol which enables IP packets to be transmitted down a serial line by adding a simple header - used extensively by dial-up Internet Providers since RS232 signals can be modulated and sent along a telephone wire using a modem - however, more complex protocols, such as CSLIP (compressed SLIP) and PPP (point-to-point protocol) are gaining popularity since they allow better data throughput
Smalltalk a high level computer programming language that allows you to use object-oriented techniques
SMD Surface Mount Device - a progression from DIL packaging - ICs, resistors, etc, are directly mounted onto the PCB tracks, rather than mounted through a hole - this greatly enhances the reliability of the machine, whilst reducing size - all Acorn machines make use of surface mount technology
Smileys :-) sideways on, it looks like a little smiling :-) face, or a sad :-( face, or even an amazed :-o face - often used in newsgroups to indicate sarcastic or silly comments because no one can see your expression on the Internet - other faces include ;-) winking, :-* oops!, :-> sarcastic remark and >:-> devilish remark
SMS Short Message Service - a method of sending short text messages via a digital telephone
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - a method of passing email messages from one machine to another - the other popular mail protocol is POP
Snailmail a pejorative term referring to the conventional (postal) mail system as opposed to email
SNTP Simple Network Time Protocol (RFC 2030 - is used when the full functionality of NTP is not required. UDP is used via port 123. The data is sent as a block.
Software Interrupt see SWI
SOHO (market) Small Office Home Office - a defined market into which companies try to sell their computer goodies
Source code the name given to the program written in a high level language which is converted by a compiler into machine executable code
Spam (1) to post an article to multiple, inappropriate newsgroups, rather like illegal bill posters - this is often unwanted advertising and "Get rich quick" type schemes - do not do it! - it is very heavily frowned upon and will result in mailbombs and most likely the killing of your access
Spam (2) to flood someone else's screen with useless 'noise' - on IRC, this usually translates into annoying beeps or unprintable characters - spamming is considered a punishment for behaviour that runs against the grain of the net culture, typically corporate advertising
Spammer a person who generates spams!
SPDIF Sony/Philips Digital InterFace - a proprietry means of connecting digital audio equipment together - using either optical fibre or co-axial cable, digitised sound can be transfered between computers, digital storage devices and digital effects units
Spoiler a Usenet posting that reveals the ending or important facts of a plot - do not read unless you want to know in advance what happens
Sprite a graphic made up of coloured pixels
Sprite pool an area of memory used by RISC OS for storing sprites
SQL Structured Query Language - language for extracting information from a database - developed by a team led by Frank King at IBM and is a powerful database language
SSD Solid State Drive - a memory chip used like a disc drive in Pocket Book / Psion 3
SSL Secure Sockets Layer - a protocol for encrypted communications on the internet, commonly used for "secure Web pages"
ST506 the type of hard disc interface fitted to pre-A5000 computers - now obsolete
Stacks you will often hear the TCP/IP protocols referred to as "stacks" - this comes from the way the protocols build up, each new one sitting on top of the others to provide more services - FTP uses TCP which uses IP which uses SLIP - see Protocol stack
Static RAM Random Access Memory which does not require a refresh cycle - data stored can be maintained by a few µA from a battery - this type of RAM is ideal for storing data when a computer is switched off - Acorn computers use static RAM to store default settings
STB see Set-Top Box
Style sheet a file that defines the general layout and appearance of a document by specifying parameters like page size, fonts, etc.
Subdirectory within any directory, you can store files and other directories - a directory that appears inside another directory is referred to as a subdirectory
Subscribe to join a newsgroup for the purpose of reading articles posted to it - the subscription is recorded by the NNTP client program (such as Newsbase) and simply tells it which articles to download from the news server - no record of subscriptions is kept at the server itself
SVGA Super Video Graphics Array - an upgrade of the earlier VGA display standard, giving 800 × 600 pixels with up to 16 colours - sometimes called EVGA (Enhanced VGA) - in Acorn-speak: mode 31
SWI SoftWare Interrupt - a name given to a routine in RISC OS - it can be one provided by the operating system itself or one which an application creates - it is then available to be used by other applications and so is, effectively, an extension to the operating system
Switch a device to connect computers on the same network/segment of a network together - every piece of information is transmitted to a specific destination computer/device connected to the switch - some switches require configuring to enable them to do this, others configure themselves automatically
Syquest a company making a range of removable hard drives, ideal for back-up and transport of valuable data
System application
an application that contains many of the resources that can be used by any or all other applications
System disc a floppy disc containing a copy of !System

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