Joseph's Jargon (1) from the January 2000 Actrix Newsletter

This month I'd like to introduce a couple of new writers who have agreed to help out with a regular feature. The first is our help desk's very own Joseph Bartlett.

Ever wonder what all those acronyms and weird internet-related words mean? Each month Joseph will take a few of these and explain them briefly in layperson's terms. I've asked him to try and define each one in two sentences or less - no mean feat!


Let's start with protocols:

In internet terms, the word protocol means pretty much what it does in everyday English. Its a previously arranged way of talking or acting that both parties agree on. In the definitions below you will see that protocols are important when computers are communicating with each other for whatever reason. Without an agreed upon protocol, not much will be accomplished.

Different protocols are designed for different tasks and have different features or ablilities.

TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - TCP/IP refers to the large family of protocols that make the internet work. Everything that happens over the internet uses TCP/IP at some level.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol (part of TCP/IP) - a simple protocol for transfering files between computers, what is usually used to download files onto you computer or  upload files onto a web page.

SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (part of TCP/IP) - the protocol you (or your mail program) uses to send your e-mail.

POP3: Post Office Protocol (version 3) - POP3 allows a client computer to retrieve electronic mail from a POP3 server via a (temporary) TCP/IP connection. This is what your mail program uses to receive your e-mail.

HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol - the client-server TCP/IP protocol used on  the World Wide Web for the exchange of HTML documents.

           - Joseph