“Get a Personal Trainer for Your Computer!”©

NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.


FABRIC: The hardware that connects workstations and servers to storage devices on a computer network is referred to as a “fabric”.  Commonly the fabric is Fibre Channel over 10 Gigabit Ethernet. See, FCoE.

FACEBOOK: An internet name and photo directory that started out in February, 2004 as an electronic version of the sort of “facebook” that colleges distribute to incoming freshman and that big companies and law firms provide incoming hires, to recognize class and company members.  FaceBook actually got its start at Harvard, and was developed by Marc Zuckerberg, who became a billionaire when it went public in 2012.  Actually, there were five original founders, including CTO Dustin Moskovitz.  And perhaps the Winklevoss twins, who claimed participation and settled out of court for a reported $1.5 million in Facebook stock. Now, with over 1 billion members, an IPO in 2012 and a movie (“The Social Network,” 2010), it’s by far the most successful social network ever, and one of the most successful American companies, although as it ages, it is losing some of its younger membership. For more, see, Social Networking.  Also Like, Livestream.

F8: Facebook’s annual conference held around San Francisco, intended for developers and entrepreneurs who build products and services on Facebook.

FACETIMEFaceTime: Apple video chat software introduced in June,Facetime demo 2010 that uses the iPhone and Mac computers to communicate between certain Apple devices.  It works individually, unlike iChat or iMessage, which allow group conferencing via text messaging or attached (but not real time) videos or other files.  It does not work with non-Apple devices or unsupported Apple devices.  Android devices can use programs like Skype, Google Chat, or any of the other programs available on the open market.

FACIAL RECOGNITION: A software tool (originally popularized in 2009 by an Israeli company,, but now pretty much available off-the-shelf) which identifies a person by analyzing dozens of features (some 40 “nodes”), such as the length of a forehead and the distance between the eyes and the nose.  Google, Facebook and Apple have already made such software available for people to tag their friends and family in photo albums.  In fact, on 6/18/12, Facebook acquired, which had already produced Photo Finder and Photo Tagger for Facebook, and which by February, 2011 had collected over 18 billion “faces” from its API and Facebook apps. Private entities such as colleges, large law firms and companies have scanned photos of employees and students to make it easy to identify them on sight for other employees, students and management.  Even churches, which use Churchix software to identify attendees to services to target them for donations or get more attendees.  But that’s private organizations and those who have opted-in to allow facial identification.  The Government has used such software for identifying possible terrorists and other types of scofflaws at airports, on the street and sports events (starting with Superbowl 35 (2001) at Tampa Bay), as well as voter fraud in Mexican elections.  Although some divisions of the Government have used specialized products such as MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System from B12 Technologies) which use the photos of anyone listed in a criminal database, law enforcement has until recently hesitated (partly because of pressure from the ACLU and EPIC, see Associations) to scan all DMV and other private records, even though it is the Government’s position that, once you leave the privacy of your own home, the public is a facial identification free-for-all.  And there are, perhaps purposely, no laws governing either the public or private use of facial recognition (except known privacy exceptions for protection of medical or financial information), and, even more important, the purposes to which the gathered data can be applied.   In 2014, the FBI rolled out its NGI (“Next Generation Identification”) system which uses a feature called IPS (“Interstate Photo System”), which searches a database of over 52 million photos culled from not only criminal mug shots, but also admits to civil sources such as employment records and background checks.  Unfortunately, it still has only an 85% accuracy rate, so you can imagine what will happen if you’re on the list, but later cleared (hint: like an arrest, though, it’s always a negative mark on your record).  Russia’s FindFace app claims to identify strangers in a crowd with 70% accuracy.  The U.S. Dept. of State also has a 75 million photo passport database file.  And commercially, casinos have their databases to identify card counters and crooks.   Privacy groups have given up on the NTIA’s (see Associations) attempts to craft a voluntary code of conduct to govern the technology, since privacy groups want to allow facial recognition only when an individual has affirmatively allowed it to occur, a position that the government and companies universally oppose.  The NTIA’s position was a major part of the White House’s proposed comprehensive consumer privacy legislation.  Due to this federal gridlock the answer, as usual, is left to the individual states.  Several states (e.g. Texas, Illinois) have already passed biometric data privacy laws providing individuals protection against the use of facial technology without informed consent, and the trend will most certainly catch on.]   Both Android and Apple smart phones have some type of facial detection software, not only to help users arrange their photos, but also for advertising purposes by Apple and Google.  But absolute user control is impossible.  In many instances, you may be able to personally control whether your photo is uploaded in Facebook, but what if your face shows up when some stranger takes a photo of someone else at the movies or a shopping mall and you’re in it?  This is difficult to control.  On the commercial side, Microsoft and Intel have teamed to create public digital billboards with face detection cameras that can pick up on the gender and age of passersby to show them relevant ads.  On the social networking venue, a startup named SceneTap installed cameras in some Chicago bars so that people could check their smart phones to see how crowded the bar was as well as the gender ratio and average age of the patrons before deciding to go there.  Theoretically, those images are public and can be scraped into a private or government photo database.  But the larger the database, the longer the time it will take to process a photo.  To be socially useful, the processing time will have to be greatly reduced, and this will happen over the next few years.  In 2016, the FBI and DoJ  sought exemptions for its NGI database (the Fed’s successor to the FBI’s automated fingerprint database, already exempt from the Privacy Act; see Watched) from the Privacy Act (see Laws) which generally allows U.S. citizens to know that they are under investigation This is sure to be a hot topic for some time to come. For more, see, Social Networking, Privacy Rant, Are You Being Watched? and Google Goggles.  For how it works, click on this LINK.  Closely related is the field of emotions analytics, which reveals a person’s feelings based on live or video facial expressions.  See also Microsoft Magic Mirror.

FACTOID: Not really a computer definition, but interesting and applicable anyway.  A factoid (as opposed to a fact) is a piece of unverified or possibly inaccurate information that is presented, usually by the press, sometimes for advertising purposes, as factual and which, by virtue of frequent repetition, becomes accepted, even if not verified.  Kind of like an urban myth (see Hoaxes) that may be repeated so often that people come to believe its veracity. [In general, the -oid suffix normally adds the meaning “resembling” to the words to which it attaches, as in “resembling a fact”.]

FAKE NEWS: .This is hard to define, as it often includes news which comes in a format resembling mainstream news and may be difficult to separate. Increasingly, though, gullibles have believed fake stories (see below), often published as click-bait to serve up ads.  Social media then spread these misinterpreted, politicized and sensationalized headlines until they went viral and took on the air of truth.  [Examples:  Bill Cosby committed suicide the day after being pardoned by the President, some personalities died (Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Keith Richards, Hillary Clinton [replaced with a body double for the presidential debates], Donald Trump as well, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie]) while others who actually died were in fact alive (Osama Bin Laden, Davie Bowie [who didn’t die, but according to Pat Robertson was kidnapped by demons to perform in hell]), the Dali Lama announcing his upcoming sitcom, Pokemon Go! appeals to Satanists, and Donald Trump appointing El Chapo to head the DEA (and Kanye West as Vice President).  But it’s no longer the purview of the National Enquirer these days.  On December 24, 2016, it even led Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to threaten nuclear war against Israel as the result of a made-up article posted on However, this “news” is actually inaccurate or at best only opinion (as in: CNN isn’t really news, just paid talking heads shouting their opinions at each other and the viewer). Fake News also includes blogs, Twitter feeds, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media outlets where people spread opinions as unsupported facts, intentionally or not, like much of which happened in the 2016 Presidential election on both sides (e.g. reporting that the Pope endorsed Trump, Hillary clones).  This is all a function of the rise of social networks as a news source.  In 2016, FaceBook has been accused of carrying and spreading fake news, thus shaping it nationally, since some fifty percent of Americans admit that they only get their news on their phones from FaceBook and then share that news, verified or not, with others.  A recent Stanford University study (2016) found that more than 80% of tested college students identified a story with the words “sponsored content” predominantly placed as a legitimate news story.  In fact the percentages are about equal, with millions of people disbelieving actual real (factually verified) news as well.  Some believe that these news sources should be controlled, their reporting verified.  Others believe that anyone can say what they want (even e-reporters) and the public should investigate and verify its truth for themselves, making up their own opinion.  So how do you know if news is fake?  First, there is the reputation of the source for the news.  If it’s from Associated Press or Reuters, it’s likely real news.  If it’s some blog or feed that you don’t recognize or is from a biased organization, you should be suspicious.  Or verify the facts independently.  Some social media sites offer now visible cues like blue check marks to indicate that the article has been validated.  But you can be sure that this isn’t going to get better, probably worse, as there is no real way to police these sites, and people will believe what they want to hear.  FaceBook has admitted, for example, that it filters its news feeds to subscribers based on their web history, preferences and locations.

FAKE NEWS: This year, gullibles believed fake or misleading stories about killer clowns, kale-cannabis crossbreeds and cloned candidates, often published as click-bait lies to serve up ads. Social media then spread the misinterpreted, politicized and sensationalized headlines across the web, especially on Facebook, as well as in a formats resembling mainstream news. It is often just plain false or at best only opinion (as in: CNN isn’t really news, just mostly paid talking heads shouting their opinions at each other and the viewer). The term also includes blogs and other social media outlets where people spread opinions as unsupported facts, purposely or not, like much of which happened in the Clinton/Trump election on both sides (e.g. reporting that the Pope endorsed Trump, ),  pardoned Bill Cosby pardoned by Pres. Obama, Jim Carrey’s death and Osama Bin Laden being alive, Pokemon Go! satanists, the Dali Lama announcing an upcoming sitcom, Trump appointing El Chapo to run the DEA,  .  This a function of the rise of social networks as a news source.  Of late, FaceBook has been accused of carrying and spreading fake news, thus shaping it nationally, since some fifty percent of Americans admit that they get their news on their phones from FaceBook and then share that news, verified or not, with others.  Some believe that these news sources should be controlled, their reporting verified.  Others believe that anyone can say what they want and the public should investigate and verify its truth, making up their own

FANBOY: Slang for a passionate fan of the various elements of geek culture, including sci-fi, computers, video games, comics and the like. See also cosplaygeeks, Comic Con.  The Fandom Awards, promoted by MTV, celebrate the favorite fandoms that appeared on TV for the year.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions.  A list of questions and their answers commonly used on the web (such as the FAQs page of this site) to provide the same, frequently requested, information to many users.

FARADAY CAGE: A protective barrier which shields electronic equipment against electromagnetic, electric (e.g. lightning) and electrostatic influences through the use of an electrified grounded “caged” Faradayenclosure composed of a conductive material, like copper or aluminum. [See an example at right, from the site Surviving The Aftermath].  Faraday Cage 2Named after an English scientist named Michael Faraday, who invented the cage in 1836.  It works because a constant external electrical field applied to the cage causes the electrical charges within the cage to be distributed such that they cancel the field’s effect in the cage’s interior, thereby protecting sensitive electronic equipment from external RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), as well as internally generated RFI from escaping from the enclosure, which might be detectable from outside (see tempest computers, induction).

FarmvilleFARMVILLE: One of the most popular on-line SIM games, developed by Zynga,  available as an application on Facebook and the iPhone and Android platforms.

FAT: File Allocation Table.  One of the two most common file systems on Windows hard disk drives (actually FAT32, the 32 referring to 32 bit system), the other being NTFS.  The file allocation table is an area on a hard or other disk where information is stored about the physical location of each piece of every file on the disk and also about the location of unusable areas of the disk. FAT limits file names to the “8.3 Format” - 8 characters plus a three character extension, which can be shortened by use of a tilde (“~”).  The name is automatically converted by FAT to uppercase.  Most computers now use NTFS format.  See also Partitions, File System, HDDs.

FAT CLIENT: A full PC, with drives, Internet connectivity and loaded software so that it can operate on a stand-alone basis.  Opposite of a THIN CLIENT PC.  Different from a VIRTUAL PC or a WEB-ENABLED PC.

FAULT: Synonymous with “failure”.  An error message, often shown on a BSOD, as a page fault (error on a page), general protection fault (shuts down the computer to protect it) or hardware fault (failing hardware or corrupt software driver) requiring correction, often by researching a hex code, provided at the bottom of the blue screen fault notification.

FAULT TOLERANCE: A concept that is designed to immediately replace a failed component or part of a network with backup hardware, procedure or route before further degradation can occur.  Compare this to catastrophic failure or graceful degradation.

FAVICON: A small graphic that is associated with a page or Website.  Web developers insert these FAVorite ICONs as a way to customize their sites in web browsers such as Internet Explorer, which calls bookmarked sites “favorites”.

FAVORITE: See Bookmark.

FAX: Short for facsimile, sometimes called telecopying.  The telephonic transmission of a digitized image created and decoded by using a machine which uses an internal optical scanner.

FCoE: Fibre Channel over Ethernet.  This is a standard for using the Fibre Channel protocol over Ethernet networks.  It’s use is to enable Storage Area Network (“SAN”) traffic to be transported over Ethernet networks, through Ethernet cards, cables and switches to route Fibre Channel traffic at the link layer, and uses Ethernet to transmit the FC protocol.  Mainly for larger business computer systems.

FDD: (1) Floppy disk drive (see below). (2) Frequency Division Duplex (see WiMax).

FDE: Full Drive Encryption.  See Opal for federal standard.

FDD or FDCC: Federal Desktop Core Configuration.  A mandate composed of over 300 settings designed to increase security on WinXP and Vista computers involved in Federal contracts.  For more, see this LINK.

FED: As in the Federal Government.  Their computer systems have special security, compatibility and interoperability concerns.  Click HERE for more info.

FEED: A web format (sometimes known as a syndicated feed) to which users subscribe to obtain frequently updated content, such as news or information about a specific subject (e.g. wine, horse racing).  If the site contains multiple feeds, it is known as an aggregation, a service provided by an aggregator.  There is a difference between this type of “web feed” and the term RSS.  RSS, which stands for “Rich Site Summary,” is just one type of feed, in addition to HTML and other types of feeds.

FEDERATED IDENTITY: A centralized identity management system, created to assemble a person’s user information, which is stored across multiple data management systems, usually joined together by use of a common “token” such as the user’s name.  For example, John Jones could be traveling from NY to Hong Kong, stopping over in San Francisco.  His flights, rental cars, hotel reservations can all be made across multiple networks.  He gives his identity to the airline, which shares its trust with the car rental agencies, hotels, etc.

FEILD: See Database.

FEMBOT [a/k/a Gynoid]: An android female (feminine robot), as opposed to a “real woman”.  Kind of a Stepford Wives (1975, 2004) persona.  The term came from it use in at least two motion pictures (The Bionic Woman (1976-8) and Austin Powers (1997, -9)series), in which stereotypical beautiful woman were used to entrap a male character, then kill him. The term has been somewhat expanded to include all unrealistically beautiful woman who use their wiles to entrap men with their only virtue being their sexual desirability.  It’s also been expanded to include on-line posts allegedly by real women, but actually by computers, like many of the horny females who posted on the Ashley Madison website, attempting to ensnare (but probably not kill) men seeking their company.

FEMTOCELLS (a/k/a small cells): Small boxes used to extend cell service.  More: Small cellular base stations which use the same standards and protocols as external telephone company “macro” cells, that are installed in homes and offices which simultaneously connect several cell phones to a telephone service provider’s network via broadband. Femtocells, such as Verizon’s Wireless Network Extender, make it possible to use cellphones both outdoors and indoors, so that calls are smoothly handled between inside and outside cells as the user moves locations.  AT&T, Comcast and Sprint are working on or have similar femtocells as Verizon. See also, LightRadio. An alternative to FMC.

FERRITE BEAD (sometimes Ferrite Choke): A cylinder made of ferrite at the end of cables, like printer cables, which consist of a chunk of magnetic material with the wire wound through it (see photos showing pre-made, clamp and inside below).  The reason for this is to make sure that the wire doesn’t unintentionally transform into a radio, capable of transmitting or receiving radio waves.  If the device or power source that is connected to the cable has variations in the electrical flow, it could cause the cable to transmit radio waves which could in turn interfere with other nearby devices.  Conversely, nearby devices could produce radio signals that could be picked up and vary the electrical current in the cable which would interfere with the connected devices.  The ferrite bead acts as an inductor and some cases a resistor which is used to create a low-pass filter which effectively eliminates the “noise” on the wire, thus preventing it from transmitting or receiving radio waves, which are so attenuated (reduced to a low power) as to be virtually unnoticeable.

Ferrite bead premade


Ferrite bead clamp


Ferrite bead opened


FGPA: Field Programmable Gate Array.  A type of processor chip which can be reprogrammed to do a wide variety of server or network tasks, including running algorithms for machine learning.  This type of architecture has been used by ARM, but in October, 2016, in a major change from using it’s x86 based technology, Intel announced that it would put a 64-bit ARM processor, based on Altera technology, in its new Stratix X FPGA.

FIBONACCI (SEQUENCE): A series of numbers where each represents the sum of the preceding two.  Named after Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, who described the convention back in 1202.  [For more about types of numbers, see numbers.]  As applied to modern computing, the sequences are used in the Fibonacci search technique, heap data structure and graphic cubes.  The numbers are actually complimentary pairs of Lucas sequences (involving recurrence between various integers), which gave birth to not only Fibonacci, but also Mersenne, Pell, Jacobsthal, Fermet and other numbers and sequences (all of which are well beyond this definition).  One interesting attribute of the sequence is that, when mapped as a grid, it forms an endless spiral, seen in nature in seashells (like the Nautilus seashell), sunflower heads or artichoke flowers.  And it has been used for designs like the Nautilus Earthship environmental house (click HERE for more).  See also, Golden Ratio.

Nautilus Earthship House 2
Nautilus Earthship Spiral
Fibonacci graph

Earthship house: Fibonacci spiral sequence in design (l), floorplan (m) and implementation (r).

FIBRE CHANNEL: A technology for transmitting data between computer devices at data rates up to 4Gbps, 3 times faster than SCSI, making it particularly useful for connecting networks to storage devices.  Devices can be almost 6 miles apart if optical fibre cable is used, but it is not required and can work over coaxial cable or twisted pair cable as well. As well as over the Internet (“FCoE” - fibre channel over ethernet).

Optical FibresFIBRE OPTICS: The use of thin, flexible cables made of glass which transmit light signals in waves containing data, mostly for telecommunications.  Because the data travels at the speed of light with very little signal loss, has far greater bandwidth, is less susceptible to magnetic and other interference (than copper cables) and, most important, allows digital (vs. the old analog) transmission of data, it it useful for transmitting signals over long distances, even between continents.  Each individual thread (fibre) can handle some 50 million telephone calls and there are hundreds of fibres bundled into each cable.  Click HERE for more.

FILE:  The lowest common denominator unit of storage on a computer’s hard driveIf it’s SAVED, it’s in a FILE! A file can hold anything - a letter, a list, a video, a photo, even a program.  Of course, all of these files are just sequences of raw data until they are interpreted by the right program.  Each file may or may not have files within them which may in turn contain one or more saved items (e.g. My Pictures, within My Documents).  Groups of files can be stored in folders.  A file extension (see definition) is the usually three digit suffix (although, depending on the O/S and the program, it can be much longer) appended to the filename, after a period, which usually indicates the program used to create (and therefore reopen) it.  Files are organized into sections of the hard drive known as directories.  The directories are stored in a File System (or structure), discussed below. Files and folders can be navigated using either breadcrumb or go button navigation (click HERE).

FILE CARVING: Searching a drive or other storage media for files or other kinds of objects based on content, rather than metadata.  It recovers old files that have been deleted or damaged and also can be used to detect deleted iegal files, such as child pornography.

FILE EXPLORER: See Explorer, Windows Explorer.

FILE SHARING:  The concept of sharing music, video, movie and other types of files across the Internet using free peer-to-peer software (see P2P) which allows a user to download the file(s) directly from another user on the network having the same software

It is not per se illegal (there are obviously legitimate uses for file sharing, particulary for cloud collaboration among business users or sharing among family members, although it’s still dangerous if done unsecured), although it certaily has a negative connotation. Unfortunately, services such as Napster, Limewire, Morpheus, Gnutella, Vuzo, BitComet, Frostwire, Megaupload, uTorrent, Pirate Bay etc. (many of which have already been put out of business) quite often allow the download of copyrighted content, which is illegal. They don’t monitor users, leaving legality to them.

Also, because you are obtaining information from other computer users who may not be particularly diligent about virus protection, there is a great risk of exposing your computer to harmful viruses through the process as well.

As far as business which don’t adequately monitor their users, one simple P2P music download can also result in the sharing of thousands of confidential or proprietary documents, because the defaults for most P2P programs routinely save downloaded files in the Windows Documents folder where most other important documents reside as well, so when that folder is shared with the world, the other proprietary or confidential documents are shared as well.

FILE SYSTEM: If you want to keep anything on your computer, it’s gotta be stored on a FILE!  If you haven’t saved that program, text, music or video in a file, it’s not on your computer.  So, let’s assume that you have SAVED your data in a FILE.  The issue then becomes HOW TO FIND IT. If you don’t know where you saved it, it may be difficult to find.  [Luckily, current Windows versions make it easy to find a file if you remember at least part of its name - simply type it into the blank box above the Start button and search choices for saved files will appear above.  Earlier versions of Windows required installing a program like Agent Ransack (free), which provided the same feature.]

Just like you would store office files in a traditional file cFile Cabinetabinet, in order to have a system to locate them later when you need them again, your computer’s hard disk drives (and other storage devices such as flash and external drives) also use a “file system,” which organizes all the “saved” files so that they can be found and then used again. This so-called “local file system” is created on your computer when you initialize or format your hard disk, which is first done when setting up your computer for use. [For more, see the discussion in Hard Disk Drives about formatting.]  Your local file system sets up the root directory and subsequent directories (and sub-directories, and so forth) beneath it, just like when you put alphabetical file folder “dividers” in physical file cabinet drawers. The  file system allows you to create new files and folders, which are added  to different parts of the "file tree" on your hard disk. Your file tree looks much like a hieralphabetic file drawer1archal “outline” that you might prepare for a paper, book or presentation, e.g.  1, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, 2a(1), 2a(2), 3, etc. [See, Taxonomy.]  For example, your hard disk probably has separate folders for programs, documents, pictures, music, and movie files. Within these  folders, there are likely other sub-folders that further organize your files. All these folders (called “directories” and sub-directories in computer-speak) are automatically organized by your computer's file system. The file system also contains several file folders that your computer's operating system uses to store system files, such as startup data and system references. Some of these folders are purposely invisible to the user (so that they can’t be altered), but are nevertheless recognized by the computer's file system. 

Older Windows machines used a file system known as FAT32 (see File Allocation Table, definition above), while newer Windows computers use NTFS.   Why are there different file systems?  One main reason is because of the size limitations of these file systems.  FAT32 has a 2Gb file size limitation (4Gb disk max), requiring users to split large files and disk clones into many smaller sequential sub-files, while NTFS ups the theoretical file size maximum to 16 terabytes (see Bits & Bytes).  NTFS also has better error recovery and security, as well as other useful features.  Most backup and clone software requires NTFS drives.  But don’t despair:  Windows has a built-in “convert.exe” tool to do on-the-fly drive conversion from FAT32 to NTFS, with no need for erasing or reformatting the drive, causing loss of the data.  Click HERE for help from Microsoft

Windows systems since Server 2012 use the ReFS (Resilient File System), a further improvement to NTFS, with extreme limitations.  Although it can be used with Win 8 and Win10, it’s mainly for servers.  Macintosh computers used the HFS file system for a long time, but now use an updated version of HFS, called HFS+.   Then there are other file systems like GPT.  Linux uses Ext2 or Ext3, and Unix uses UFS (“Unix File System). Some file systems have an MBR, some don’t.  Not all file systems are compatible with every O/S, and only one file system can be on each hard drive.  Some file systems like BIOS use the Master Boot Record (“MBR”) to boot the operating system, while others like UEFI (“Unified Extensible Firmware Interface”) don’t.  And Apple uses APM for the boot.  See also FAQ #72 for the differences between BIOS and UEFI.

FILTER BUBBLE:  The process by which certain web browsers” search engines filter their search results to each individual based on their previous searches, clicks, reviews, Tweets, posts, Likes and such in order to return news, shopping, blogs and other Internet information specifically and selectively tailored to that individual.  Common examples:  Google PerEli Parisersonalized Search, Facebook Personalized News. Therefore, the same search will yield different results for different people.  Not only that, results which are contrary or different from their profile will be ignored and not returned, reinforcing their profile.  Click HERE for more.  The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser (photo at right) in his 2010 book “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You”. He showed that when one person typed in “BP” he would get financial information about the company, while another would get negative information about the infamous Deepwater oil spill, all based on each of their past search histories and what he called “strikingly different results”.

FILTERS:   (1) Device filters: Filters define which operating system “clients” will install particular hardware on a computer.  Commonly used DSL filterfor installing CD/DVD drives; e.g. imapi and Redbook are used for audio and burning from within Windows. (2) hardware dongles inserted between telephone outlets and other (e.g. fax) devices which filter out the DSL signals intended for computers, eliminating the static sound one would hear were they not installed.

FIOS: Stands for “Fibre Optic Service”.  This is a data communication service which provides one of the highest speed broadband connections currently available via cables that transmit pulses of light, rather than the electrical signal that is used in copper wiring for services such as telephone, DSL or cable.  Currently provided by Verizon, it is FIOS is called a FTTP service, meaning “Fibre to the Premises,” to be distinguished from “fibre to the node,” where copper cable is only run from the street to the outside wall of the home or office premises and is therefore less efficient. Click HERE to learn more about FIOS.

FIPS:  The Federal Information Processing Standard.  This Standard consists of many elements, among them the approved encryption algorithms.  Click HERE for an example of a FIPS certificate.

FIREFOX:  The web browser from Mozilla.

FIREWALL:  Basically, a system designed to control access between two networks.  It is designed to protect your network from unwanted traffic or intrusions, just like you want a lock on your front door at home to protect against unwanted intruders.  Firewalls can be either software (i.e. packet filters, application gateways, proxy servers) that run on an operating system, or hardware devices (like many routers). See also, CheckPoint.  But firewalls still can’t protect you from threats that arrive via flash, CD/DVD and external drives, over your ad hoc Wi-Fi network, Bluetooth or NFC devices or cables.  You’d need a business-grade firewall with desktop protection, not just a central firewall.  Always use the multi-layered defenses of anti-virus, anti-malware, updated operating system and software and a firewall, to the extent necessary for your needs.  See Baseline.  But nothing’s perfect...

FIREWIRE:  A type of port into a computer, similar in size to a USB port, for connection of peripherals.  Originally developed by Apple and Texas Instruments as an alternate for SCSI connections, firewire is now found on most PCs as well. Firewire allows for the connection of up to 63 devices (vice 127 for USB) and uses the IEEE 1394 Standard, and supports hot swapping.  IEEE 1394b, which became available in 2003, provides 800, 1600 and 3,200 Mbps speeds, increases cable distance to 100 meters and can use glass or plastic fibre or ethernet cable.  Click HERE for a photo of the connector.  The universal firewire symbol is shown above.  It was created by the group at Apple computer who developed it, the three prongs represented video, audio and data.  For unknown reasons, the original red symbol was later changed to yellow or just plain black-and-white.

FIRMWARE:  The software that is embedded onto a piece of hardware (usually written to the read-only memory (“ROM”) or an EEPROM (“Electronically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory”) in order to control that hardware. Firmware can be upgraded, either to update drivers, add functionality or fix bugs for the equipment. For example, routers have firmware.  This type of memory is usually non-volatile memory, meaning that it is used to store small amounts of data that must be saved even when the power for the device is removed.

The firmware that starts (“boots”) your computer can be one of several types.  BIOS (which is a de facto standard, relying on the MBR) is firmware found on most IBM-type PCs through the mid-2000s, when UEFI (which is an actual  specification) firmware appeared.  Secure Boot is not the same thing as UEFI, but rather is an extension (“option”) to the UEFI specification added in Version 2.2.  UEFI is completely different from BIOS, and much more comprehensive and complex (allowing quite a bit of adjustment and fine-tuning) although to confuse the issue, some UEFIs allow the implementation of something referred to as CSM, which is a kind of “compatibility mode” which makes it look like you’re using BIOS while you’re not.

FISMA:  The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, a federal law enacted as part of the Electronic Government Act of 2002, the purpose of which is to protect government information, operations and assets against natural or manmade threats.  See Laws for more.

FITBIT:  A brand of smart watch developed to monitor exercise metrics.  Some have claimed that it is not all that accurate, but it may be sufficient.

FLAG DAY:  A computer reboot so total that is is difficult to come back from.

FLAME:  Click HERE for more about this virus.

FLAME WARS:  A heated online argument between two individuals that results in posting personal attacks on each other.  Although a few sites specifically promote flaming as entertainment, most serious discussion forums forbid flaming, because it hijacks the topic under discussion and degrades its usefulness.  See also, doxxing.

FLASH:  A type of multi-media software (developed in 1993 by Jonathan Gay of Silicon Beach Software and eventually purchased by Macromedia in 1996 and which is currently marketed by Adobe Systems) which is extremely popular for adding animation and interactivity to web pages.  The (free) Flash Player software has traditionally powered most of the web’s intro screens, video shorts, inserted commercials, dancing typography and interactive graphics, and is installed on 98% of personal computers (and most mobile phones, with the notable exception, of course, of the Apple iPhone) worldwide.  But it has been  steadily declining, due to security and other concerns.  For example, Steve Jobs said that the iPhone doesn’t use Flash, but instead uses the open standard HTML 5, because he believes that Flash doesn’t work well with mobile devices and drains the battery too fast. Mozilla Firefox, as well, will phase out or drastically limit Flash by 2017. Files developed in Flash format usually have the .swf file extension. 

Flash drive2FLASH DRIVE (a/k/a thumb drive):  An small electronic device which contains flash memory (see below) that is used for storing data or transferring it between computers or devices like a digital camera and a computer.  It is commonly inserted into the USB drive of a computer.  Flash drives come in various storage capacities from 8Gb to 64Gb or more.

FLASHING, THE BIOS (or anything):  A holdover from early computer days, when some BIOS chips had a little clear window on top and could be erased with a strong burst (“flash”) of ultraviolet light.  Now, the process of loading new instructions into the BIOS’s memory in order to expand, improve or repair it is called “flashing the BIOS.”  Generally, updating the BIOS falls into the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it category”.  For more, see Re-Flashing, generally.  Moreover, this term is used to connote updating any software, for example, as in “flashing the router firmware”.

FLASH MEMORY:  A type of computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed, used primarily on memory cards (cameras, PDA’s, cellphones) and USB drives.  Flash memory is non-volatile (requires no  external power), shock resistant (unlike a disk drive), and is electronic, storing information in an array of memory cells made from floating-gate transistors.  There are two main types of flash memory: NOR and NAND (meaning “Not AND,” most common) , both of which were invented by Dr. Fujio Masouka in 1984 while working for Toshiba.  The name “flash” was coined by a colleague because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of the ‘flash” of a camera. There are some limitations on the number of erase/write cycles (about 100,000), but these limitations are currently being addressed. See also, SSDs (which, due to their firmware and load leveling software, are not subject to such limitations). More recently, SLC (“Single Level Cell”), a type of NAND flash memory that is commonly found in high performance USB memory cards.  It offers lower power consumption and faster transfer speeds when compared to multi-level (“MLC”) cards because it works by storing one bit in each cell. Then there is PCIe memory cards, another new technology.

More recently, a company named Spansion (a joint venture between AMD and Fujitsu) has developed a new class of flash memory called Eco-RAM, which is said to combine the best attributes of both NOR and NAND RAM.  Eco-RAM, which is in beta-testing presently, could result in an updated version of flash memory to replace DRAM chips, which offer fast access to data but consume an inordinate amount of power because it stores each bit of data within an integrated circuit.  Since capacitors leak charge, the information fades unless the capacitor charge is refreshed periodically, which is why DRAM uses so much power.  Also, it is expensive to produce and the highest capacity form that can be acquired is only 4Mb.  Eco-RAM will be less expensive in the long run and can be acquired in DIMMs of up to 32Gb of capacity.   Another new technology is PCM (phase-change memory), a key component of rewritable CDs and such.    Because each PCM cell can hold multiple bits of data securely, they can store as much data as a NAND chip but deliver speeds 100 times faster. Finally, there is ongoing research to use metal-oxide clusters (polyoxometalate or “POM” molecules) that can retain electrical charge and act as storage nodes for MOS flash memory.  As problems with low thermal stability and electrical conductivity are solved, storage at the molecular level is becoming closer to reality, exponentially increasing available storage.  See, RAM explained. And re-flash, as in “re-flashing the BIOS”.

Flickr logoFLICKR:  One of the earliest Web 2.0 applications, primarily a photo, image and video hosting (sharing) website and online community.  Developed in 2004 by Ludicorp (originally for an on line multiplayer game, Game Neverending) and acquired in 2005 by Yahoo, which failed to keep it up, it still exists but has pretty much lost to Instagram.  The site is both paid and free (to a limit).

FlipFLIP:  A camcorder produced by Cisco until it was phased out in early 2011.  Why?  No Internet connection. It couldn’t keep up with feature enabled smartphones and iPads, as the Flip required it to be wired to a PC to upload and post photos.  Plus, as with social networking sites, people didn’t feel that they had joined some special group with Flip.

FLOP:  Stands for “floating point operation”.  Expressed as “per second” as in “FLOPS,” or “FPUs” (floating point units) this is a unit of measurement of processing power.  One gigaflop, for example, is equal to one billion flops per second.  Simplistically, a floating-point number is one which has a decimal point in it.  The number 1.00 is, therefore, a floating point number because of the decimal point between the 1 and 0, while plain old number 2 is simply a binary integer (see Numbers). The term “floating point” refers to the fact that a number’s decimal point (called a “radix” point) can “float,” i.e. it can be placed anywhere relative to the significant digits of the number.  Significant digits are those that carry meaning contributing to the numbers precision, i.e. not including leading or trailing zeros or spurious digits.  This is because numbers are often “rounded” to avoid insignificant figures, such as unnecessary decimal places, like more than two when expressing dollars and cents.  Because mathematical operations which involve floating point numbers are significantly more difficult to process and take much longer to execute on a computer, supercomputers are commonly rated on the basis of FLOPS, commonly defined by the IEEE 754 Standard (See Associations).  See also exascale, world’s fastest supercomputers.

floppy diskFLOPPY DISK/FLOPPY DISK DRIVE: The first computers didn’t have hard disk drives (“HDDs”). They had drives which read square disks made of a circular magnetic film encased in a square light cardboard (later, plastic) case.  In fact, the early computers used a floppy to boot the computer and a second for programs. They were called “floppy” disks because they were actually not very rigid and flopped over when held near the edge.  They were also quite thin, hence the phrase “do not fold, spindle or mutilate” which was also applicable to the keypunch cards of that era.  Staple it, for example, and the data would be lost, because the staple added holes wIBM 5120 W 8 IN DISKETTEShich confused the reader.  But they were useful for sneakernet transfer of data files between computers.  The original size of a rigid floppy diskFDD, as used by IBM in 1971, was 8’ square (see photo of IBM 5120 at left, with boot and program drives, discussed above), which was later reduced to 5.25” and finally 3.5” (when it became encased in rigid plastic).  But storage space was limited - the original disks stored only about 100K, and the 3.5” disks 1.44Mb.  Later, single-sided storage was doubled by “double-density” disks.  Unfortunately, as file sizes increased due to graphics programs like Photoshop, music downloads, YouTube videos and the like, there still wasn’t nearly enough room on floppy disks.  Plus they degraded over time, making them less useful for permanent storage than other means. Although some proprietary extremely high density disks were introduced, like the Zip and Jazz drives (100Mb, 250Mb), there still wasn’t sufficient format compatibility and, along with the introduction of plastic CD/DVDs and, later, Flash Drives, which held far more data at less cost and full compatibility, floppy disks eventually disappeared from motherboard connections entirely.  (You can still purchase external USB floppy drives, if you need to read old floppies.)

The floppy disk was actually invented by Dr. Nakamats, who licensed some 16 patents to IBM.)  Going back in time:  A historic precursor of the traditional floppy drives, which was used only in the early Radio Shack TRS-80 computers and not for very long, was called a “stringy floppy” (probably because it used a continuous loop tape) and was more like the later magnetic tape cartridge used for backups than a true floppy disk. 

See Media for more, plus photos. Also, Wikipedia has an excellent and very detailed History of the Floppy Disk which can be accessed HERE.

FLOSS: See also, FOSS, below. An acronym standing for “Free/Libre Open Source” software. It is usually commercial software, the licenses for which grant users the freedom to run the program for any purpose, to study and modify the program and to redistribute copies of either the original or modified program, without having to pay any royalties to previous developers.

FLOW BASED CODE:  A relatively new type of programming that uses flowcharts to link pieces of reusable code, allowing users to focus on more complex programs instead of constantly re-writing the basics.  Innovated by Henri Bergius, founder of NoFlo in 2011.

FLOW CHART:  A type of logic diagram popularized in the 1950s which uses different shaped boxes and connecting lines and arrows to describe the steps of a process designed to solve a problem.  The shape of the symbols dictates different meanings - squares usually represent tasks, diamonds are decision points and arrows the flow of control.  And there are many others, like input/output, start/stop, etc.  Frequently used in programming and business decision modeling, it describes the flow of logic processing raw data into useful information, so it’s often called a “decision tree” as the diamond boxes represent points that effect the data flow based on the decision.   A similar but alternative graphic, the Data-Flow Diagram (“DFD”), depicts the flow of data from external entities into the system, the process flow, and storage.   See also, pseudocode, algorithm.


FLUSH: A verb meaning to “reset” as in “the O/S must flush and reload” or “the cache must be flushed after removing a particular program.”

FLYWHEEL ENERGY STORAGE (“FES”): a/k/a Flywheel Kinetic Energy Recovery System.   An alternative to battery-powered UPSs, this is a rotary UPS which is used in large server centers. It is a mechanical device that is used to store rotational energy.  Batteries tend to be large, heavy and filled with toxic materials, and last for about 2500 hours.  Flywheels, on the other hand, maintain consistent rotation (“moment of inertia”) without sustained effort, resist changes in rotational speed, store power for use when power is interrupted, and tend to last roughly 20 times longer at one-tenth the size and with much higher reliability at an (overall) lower cost.

Flywheel diagram
Flywheel photo

FMC: Stands for “Fixed Mobile Convergence”.  This refers to the seamless connectivity between fixed and wireless telecommunications networks.  The newer cell phones, for example, can automatically switch between your office’s wireless network and cell towers (Wi-Fi) once you leave the office.  See femtocells, above.

FOG COMPUTING: A term coined by Cisco in 2014 that extends cloud computing to the edge of an enterprise’s network (why it’s sometimes called “edge computing”).  By bringing distributed computing capabilities to the edge of the network by running applications directly on Cisco network devices like switches and routers and IoT appliances like cameras, Cisco claims that it’s “IOx” platform speeds up handling of the massive amounts of data and interconnected devices that consume cloud services by keeping them in the network.  Other companies (e.g. IBM, Intel) are now using this concept as well.

FOIP: Stands for Fax Over IP.  Similar to VOIP for phones, FOIP refers to the process of sending and receiving faxes over a VOIP network (via T38, a protocol devised in 1998 to send Group 3 faxes over a computer data network).

FOLED: Stands for “Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Display.  See, LED.


FOLDER:  A location in which various files are stored (in computerese, a “directory”).

FONTS: A design for a set of characters.  It is a combination of not just the typeface, but also other qualities such as size (measured in points, 1 inch = 72 points), kerning (spacing between characters), scalability (ability to easily change size), pitch (characters per inch or spacing between pixels), ligatures (special characters that combine two or more characters, like “fl”) and proportion (proportional character widths vary according to their shape, as opposed to monospaced, meaning that the space taken by each character is exactly the same) to name several. There are two methods used to represent fonts on computers.  The first is bit-mapping, where the computer stores and accesses stored bit-mapped images of each size and attribute for each font.  The second uses vector graphics to define each font geometrically so that each font can be displayed in any size or attribute (“scaled”). The most widely used scalable font systems are PostScript (by Adobe) and TrueType (from Microsoft).  See also Points for examples.

If you are writing a book or designing a flyer or a web site, you must select a font that displays your message.  A serious font for business, maybe a playful font for a flyer.  A readable font for a short story.  A sans-serif font for a website like this.  A bad font can ruin your message, even make it unreadable over a fax or e-mail.  If you’re not sure what you need, find some examples from other sites or print media, scan and upload them and then identify them at a site like What The Font!  There’s also a great poster available from Digital Inspiration which shows all popular font families on a single “typeface poster”.  Lots of designers have awfully negative opinions about the standard Windows or Apple fonts, or others like Comic Sans (which, despite continual mocking for its “childish” form, even has its own typewriter, the “Sincerity” typewriter, created by Jesse England.  Yes, I know it’s used for the Computer Coach logo, but that’s for a logo, where it belongs.)   But the explanations for these opinions can be quite constructive if you’re looking to design a website or logo.  See, e.g. Fastcodesign. Of course, most Windows systems come with lots more fonts than they originally did.  Most of them are useful for text, but if you’re designing a logo or a flyer, you might want to look through more exciting ones, online or elsewhere.

FOOTPRINT: Refers to the general size of something, whether physical or virtual.  Just as your human footprint varies in size from others, the physical space taken up by a piece of computer hardware has specific width, length and depth measurements which must be taken into consideration when locating it in a home or office. Virtual types of footprint may include not only physical size, but also energy (the amount of power a given piece of equipment consumes), heat (defining how many BTUs it will take to cool off the equipment), carbon (emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide), and other elements.

FOREST: See Windows Active Directory

forkFORK: A verb which describes what happens when developers copy source code from one software program and independently develop a separate and distinct program from it.  This is usually the result of a schism (major difference of opinion) between developers.  I suppose the term comes from the “fork in the road”  that two groups of developers reach, then split and go their separate ways.  For example, when developers disagreed about the path of Open Office after it was acquired by Oracle, they split and forked it and designed LibreOffice as an separate alternative.  Forking is quite common with  free or open source (vs. proprietary) software.  Lately, the term has also morphed into something less political and more technical.  When you see a phrase on a site that says “Fork me on....” it means simply to “create a workable copy” that you can play with based on the original.  Not that there was anything wrong with the original.  And usually with no expectation, either, that you share your changes with other open-source developers (perhaps on GitHub), either.

FORK BOMB (a/k/a rabbit virus or wabbit):  A denial Fork_bombof service (DoS) attack where a process continually replicates itself to specifically deplete available system resources, eventually crashing the system. (Don’t try this, but...)  For example, to crash a Windows system, open Notepad, type “%0!|0” save the file as “(anything).bat” on your desktop, then double-click the file on the desktop.  Even worse, if added to the registry (HKEY Local Machine>...Windows>Current Version>Run), it will run every time the system is started up (unless removed).

FORMAT: This word is used both as a noun and a verb.  As a verb, to format a disk, means to “prepare” a disk for data, usually destructively, i.e. by erasing the existing data on the disk.  Disks can be formatted for various computer operating systems, such as Windows, Mac and Linux.  As a noun, format refers to the manner or sometimes the program (e.g. Excel, Word Perfect) that arranges the data for computer input or output, such as fields and margins, in a certain manner.  Usually, but not always, the format shows in the file extension for the data (e.g. .wpd = Word Perfect; .xls = Excel 2010, etc.)

FORM FACTOR: In generic terms, this simply means the physical size and shape of a device.  For a desktop computer, then, it would be the height, width and depth of the box.   For a smart phone, again, it’s size, depth and height.  Distinguish this from a device’s “footprint,” which instead refers to the space taken up by the device when resting on a surface, much like the footprint your shoe leaves on the ground: A desktop computer sitting on a desk would have a footprint equal to the dimensions of its width and depth, while its form factor would include its three-dimensional shape.  In addition, there is a more specific technical definition:  Form factor is sometimes used by technicians to describe the physical layout of a motherboard respecting the relative position of the adapter card expansion slots, the number of slots, the size of the board and the orientation of the board in the computer chassis - Most common are the Baby AT (BAT), ATX (most common today) and MicroATX.  See Cases for more.

Fortran logoFORTRAN: Stands for FORmula TRANslation, a third-generation (a/k/a/ 3GL) assembly programming language that was designed in the 1950s by IBM for use by engineers (using punch cards at first), mathematicians and other scientific users, notably for the ENIAC computer.   Known as “the mother tongue of scientific computing”, it is still used on mainframes today in the areas of weather forecasting, fluid dynamics and computatioinal physics.  It has now been largely displaced by C++Fortran 2015 should be available sometime in 2016.

FORUM: See Chat Room.

FORWARD COMPATIBILITY: The ability of a newer version of a software program to use data produced by an older version.  Similar, but not the same as extensibility, in which the older data will be fully compatible with all of the features of the newer software.  The term is often misused:  For example, Outlook 2003 is “forward compatible” with Outlook 2007, meaning that Outlook 2007 can open files created with Outlook 2007.  Outlook 2007 is “backward compatible” with Outlook 2003, meaning that Outlook 2007 can open files created with Outlook 2003.

FORWARD SLASH: The “/” key on the keyboard.  Also sometimes called a virgule.

4G: See G, LTE

4K: See TVA video technology (also called Ultra HD TV) that increases the standard 1080 resolution of 2 million pixels per frame to 8.8 million pixels (or 2,160 lines of resolution), providing four times greater accuracy, with clearer, sharper pictures, better color and more contrast than standard HD TV.  If you’re thinking of buying one, consider this: You’re not truly comparing “apples to apples” when comparing 4K resolution to HD resolution.  The moving target for “resolution” refers to 4K at about 4,000 pixel horizontal lines of resolution, while older TVs measure resolution in vertical lines of resolution.  4K TVs were first offered by Sony in 2012 in its 84 inch TV at $25,000, but Sony (it’s Magnolia line) and others are already offering 55 and 65 inch versions with a much lower price tag.  Of course, like HD, you’ve got to receive a broadcast in 4K, don’t you?  Yes, and that will probably take some time to come around.  But, interestingly, even if the content is shot and broadcast via a non-4K camera, the 4K X-Reality PRO Picture Engine in the TV will nevertheless correct the signals to display them much better, or so say the 4K TV manufacturers.  In 2015, 4K video moved to cell phones, some manufacturers like Samsung offering it on their newest phones and Apple on some iMacs.

Duh404: Computer Geek slang for “Clueless,” as in “Don’t ask Joe about that...he’s so 404!”  Derived from the error message received when you go to a web page that cannot be found  [“ERROR 404: Page Not Found”].  Never actually heard anyone actually say this, but understand they do they do...  But apparently they do, as the Global Language Monitor (see Associations) named this the word of the year in 2013.  Go to HTTP Status Codes for a list of all of these codes.  Of late, some have been creating 404 pages with messages, complete with graphics, like “sorry you missed us, click here for a neat video...”

42: See “The Answer is 42”.

419: Refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code which discusses Advance Free Fraud.  This is the so-called “Nigerian Scam,” a con game where someone e-mails or approaches you and requests some money in advance to get a large sum of money back (e.g. I require a small sum to release a fortune held by my brother the king but I can’t go back to the counrty myself...), which they will allegedly share with you.  Of course, it never comes, just more small fees for bribery, transmittal, etc.  Now the term has been expanded to include virtually any business proposal or deal which requires a small advance fee with the promise of exponential riches later on.

420: Slang for “pot smoker”.  Originated at San Rafael High School (CA) in 1971, where a group of pot smokers who called their group the “Waldos” got together to smoke pot at precisely 4:20 pm at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur.  This has absolutely nothing to do with computers, although it may appear in dating chat rooms, just another number with an interesting explanation.  There’s even a restaurant named “420 Munchies” (Sarasota, FL) that opens at 4:20 pm and closes at 4:20 the next morning.

FOSS: Free Open Source Software.  Software you can not only freely share, but for which you can modify the source code, to improve it or create new software.  Provided under GPL.  Like Linux.  See also, FLOSS, above.

FOURSQUARE: One of the first location-based social networking app that allows a user to “check in” at various locations using their cell phones and other Foursquare logodevices, sometimes earning rewards.  Created in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai at NYU.  As a result of the decline in popularity of geolocation, in mid-2014, the app split into two separate ones - a rebranded Foursquare app, which loses its check-in features, instead focusing on Yelp-like local recommendations and a second app, named “Swarm” which will gain Foursquare’s check-in capability and quickly show users which of their friends are nearby.  In 2014, Facebook similarly unbundled its features into new apps, separating its in-app messaging from its official iOS and Android apps.  And, since 2014, it tracks you through your GPS, even when the app isn’t running (which may or may not be a good thing).  They say it’s for “passive awareness,” that by following where users like to go and what they do, they can make suggestions about new places, deals, etc.  Foursquare lost some of its luster as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others started including check-ins in their products, so in 2016, it reorganized to divide the company in two: Swarm (the traditional check-in and social features) and Foursquare itself, more of a Yelp-like reviewer of places where users had checked in with Foursquare.

4C ENTITY, LLC: The digital content copyright protection technology licensing organization composed of IBM, Intel, Panasonic and Toshiba which developed the CPRM protection technology for SD Memory Cards.

FOXFIRE: See Mozilla.

FPU: Floating Point Units.  See Flops, above.

FRACTAL: A term coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975 broccoliwhich refers to non-regular geometric shapes commonly found in nature, which have the same degree of regularity on all scales.  Think, for example, of a head of broccoli.  Each chunk you break off of the whole head will look approximately like a very small (but not exact) version of the whole head, and in turn is a whole head of its own.  With modern graphic design tools, fractals have become easier to create and use.  See also recursive.

FRAME:  (1) In web design, a frame is a layout feature that puts multiple HTML elements on the same web page, much like displaying multiple windows on the same desktop. When more than one frame is used to compile a page, it becomes part of a  “frameset.”  One advantage of HTML frames is that static data can be viewed on a web page at the same time as other data can also be displayed even though it is located elsewhere on the site or even on another site.  (2)  In ethernet communications communications, frames are used to divide the data stream into shorter segments, for network transmissions.

FRAME RELAY:  A networking protocol that’s used to link networks that are geographically separated, usually Wide Area Networks (“WANs”).  For example, a frame relay might be used to connect a home office in Miami to a branch office in New YorkData is put in a variable-sized unit called a “frame” and leaves any necessary error correction (retransmission) up to the end points, thus speeding up data transmission.  For most services, the network provides a permanent virtual circuit (“PVC”) , meaning that the customer sees a continuous dedicated connection without having to pay for a full-time leased line.

FRAMEWORK: A generally free, reusable computer programming environment that facilitates and anticipates a development plan through the use of support programs, code libraries, APIs, compilers and tool sets to complete a software solution.  Not quite as formalized as an SDK, it is clearly identifiable to a particular programming language.  There are different types of frameworks:  Web frameworks to build web applications, network frameworks for network apps, graphic frameworks for graphic apps.  A good example of a framework program is Django, which is a coding framework for the language Python.  Django could be used to quickly add e-mail information capabilities to a database written in Python.


FRAPE: The act of getting on someone’s social media account (generally by taking their cell phone) and posting false confessions, sending messages under their name or adding random pictures.  A portmanteau of “Facebook” and “rape,” hijacking or even violating someone’s account for something supposedly funny.  While it doesn’t have to be malicious, it can be damaging when it is, because it minimizes a serious physical violation and traumatizing experience.  See also, swatting.

FREEMIUM:  A portmanteau of the words “free” and “premium” which refers to a product or service which is given to users for free, but there is a charge for various advanced features or add-ons to the free basic service or product.

FREQUENCY: A measure of the rate at which something occurs or is repeated over a specific time period.  Most common example is: The standard frequency for alternating current, 60Hz, meaning that there are 60 cycles (wave crest) over a second.  Usually measures electric, sound or electromagnetic waves.

FRICTION: A term used in Internet transactions meaning “slowness”.  Everything moves slower when there is friction.  The more the friction, the slower the process, the more negative the meaning.  For example, if you are purchasing something on the Google Play store and it takes five steps and is slow to respond, that’s “friction”.  If the site is then redesigned to accept Paypal and complete the transaction in only three steps, there’s much less “friction,” making the experience better for users, hopefully promoting overall sales on the site.

FRICTIONLESS SHARING: A term coined by Facebook to champion when rolling out changes to the site in 2011 such as Timeline.  The term, which is hated by privacy advocates, means that Facebook automatically shares all of your on-line information throughout the entire internet (and, most particularly, Facebook’s advertisers) without any requirement that you click on a “like” or “share” bottom.  You can, of course, opt out - that is, if you can find out where.

FRICTIONLESS: Often used with “seamless”.  Easily achieved with little or no effort (which would be friction, or resistance). A frictionless ordering or payment system would be intuitive and should be effortless.

FRIENDING: The act of sending a “friend request” from one Facebook user to another.  The request can be either accepted, adding the “friend” to the requester’s list or postponing it (answering “Not Now”) to a later time.  Also, you can be “unfriended” on the requester’s list if they so wish.

FRONT END: In corporate (enterprise) computing environments, this part of the computer system is where the client part of the programs (the “user interface” where the data is entered) reside.  The BACK END is the server which manages the data which is input at the front end, performing order management, inventory, supply processing, etc.

FSMO Rules: See Windows Active Directory.

FTP: Stands for “File Transfer Protocol”.  This is a program to transfer files across the Internet, generally used to upload files to an internet site. See also, SFTP, more secure than FTP for file transfers.

FUD: Shorthand for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  A sales tactic said to have originated in the computer hardware industry, where it was common to disseminate negative or dubious disinformation about competing vendor systems in an effort to obtain a customer’s business.

FUBAR: Stands for “Fouled Up Beyond All Repair”.  See also, SNAFU, a similar vintage acronym.  And glitch, bug.

FULL: A mature shelf baby, ready to be used as an alternate identity.

FUNCTION KEYS (F1 through F12): See the explanation and history of these keys at FAQs.

FUNCTION: In programming, these are blocks of code (instructions) that will be executed when “called”.  It is called, for example, when someone clicks a button or runs a mouse over text or depresses the enter key.  Often, before the function is called, some information is passed on to it for its execution.  This information is called an argument, and it is used inside the function for its execution.  Some functions will return text (as in “Welcome”), while others will have a “return value” (“5”).  In the programming code, the function code block is preceded by the word “function” and is generaly enclosed between braces ({  }).  For more, see Programming.

FUNCTIONAL PROGRAMMING: A programming paradigm (i.e. a style of building programming structures and elements), most famously used in Microsoft Excel, which has two basic underlying ideas:  First, that data shouldn’t be manipulated, a clean copy should be made and used for coding purposes.  Second, it emphasizes the evaluation of computation expressions as opposed to the execution of commands.  Generally, the reason that many of the higher performance languages are functional is that they allow for parallelism and concurrency on a massive scale, the amount of code that must be maintained is reduced through the use of abstractions to handle iterative tasks, the work is shifted from a group of small specific functions to a few higher order functions, it is well suited to JavaScript and it is faster and easier to scale horizontally (with less expensive computers) and to balance web traffic.  An example of a functional programming language is Haskell.  Click HERE for even more detailed explanation.  (Not really sure what all this means but, if you’re a programmer, I’m sure it does.)

FUNCTIONALITY: An IT term which generally encompasses the sum total of what a device, program or product is capable of doing for its user.

FUSE LABS: Stands for Microsoft Future Social Experiences Labs”.  Started in about 2010 by Ray Ozzie and Lili Cheng, its purpose is to develop social and media experiences which may become mainstream in Microsoft products.  See, e.g.  Click HERE for the Fuse website.

FUZZ TESTING (a/k/a Whitebox Fuzzing Technology Testing): A type of software testing which throws random inputs at software and often AI to find instances in which unforeseen actions cause that software to crash.  It is ideal for software which regularly incorporates input like documents, images, videos and other data that may not be trustworthy.  It also tests for malicious attacks by asking a series of “what if” queries.  Used, for example by Microsoft in it’s Project Springfield testing for Windows and MS Office apps.





























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