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02. FOLDOC, free online dictionary of computing



FOLDOC is a searchable dictionary of acronyms, jargon, programming languages, tools, architecture, operating systems, networking, theory, conventions, standards, mathematics, telecomm, electronics, institutions, companies, projects, products, history, in fact anything to do with computing. This dictionary is Copyright Denis Howe 1993 - 2000.


Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this dictionary or works derived from it, provided that every such copy or derived work carries the above copyright notice and is distributed under terms identical to these. Individual definitions from this dictionary may be used without restriction provided no more than twenty are used in any one work.


FOLDOC is maintained by me, Denis Howe, in my "copious spare time" as a free service to the Internet community. It is served from a SPARCstation ELC in the Department of Computing at Imperial College, London, UK. There are mirrors of the dictionary at various sites around the world and even a Spanish translation.


The dictionary has been growing since 1985 and now contains over 12000 definitions totaling more than four megabytes. Entries are cross-referenced to each other and to related resources elsewhere on the net.


Contents by subject area

The number of entries for each subject is shown in parentheses. Some entries have not been categorized yet.

abuse (43)   algorithm (101)   application (58)   architecture (96)   artificial intelligence (32)   benchmark (22)   body (126)   business (16)   character (128)   chat (81)   communications (241)   company (253)   compiler (18)   complexity (17)   compression (22)   computability (4)   computer (105)   convention (18)   cryptography (33)   data (34)   data processing (3)   database (149)   education (26)   electronics (64)   event (7)   exclamation (5)   file format (71)   file system (31)   filename extension (23)   functional programming (5)   games (64)   grammar (12)   graphics (133)   hardware (373)   history (12)   human language (8)   humour (90)   hypertext (19)   image (2)   information science (18)   integrated circuit (5)   jargon (370)   job (20)   language (768)   legal (22)   library (28)   logic (42)   mathematics (204)   medical (4)   memory management (13)   messaging (130)   multimedia (18)   music (26)   networking (738)   none ()   operating system (387)   parallel (39)   person (85)   philosophy (15)   printer (25)   probability (4)   process (5)   processor (134)   product (49)   programming (552)   project (38)   protocol (139)   publication (54)   recreation (3)   reduction (6)   robotics (20)   security (48)   simulation (8)   software (45)   specification (20)   spelling (51)   standard (242)   statistics (7)   storage (216)   systems analysis (7)   testing (28)   text (86)   theory (73)   tool (306)   unit (65)   video (2)   virtual reality (10)   world-wide web (5)   World-Wide Web (96)  

Example of one of its 12,000 entries:


drag and drop:


A common method for manipulating files (and sometimes text) under a graphical user interface or WIMP environment. The user moves the pointer over an icon representing a file and presses a mouse button. He holds the button down while moving the pointer (dragging the file) to another place, usually a directory viewer or an icon for some application program, and then releases the button (dropping the file). The meaning of this action can often be modified by holding certain keys on the keyboard at the same time.


Some systems also use this technique for objects other than files, e.g. portions of text in a word processor.


The biggest problem with drag and drop is does it mean "copy" or "move"? The answer to this question is not intuitively evident, and there is no consensus for which is the right answer. The same vendor even makes it move in some cases and copy in others. Not being sure whether an operation is copy or move will cause you to check very often, perhaps every time if you need to be certain. Mistakes can be costly. People make mistakes all the time with drag and drop. Human computer interaction studies show a higher failure rate for such operations, but also a higher "forgiveness rate" (users think "silly me") than failures with commands (users think "stupid machine"). Overall, drag and drop took some 40 times longer to do than single-key commands.


[Erik Naggum <erik@naggum.no >]


You may obtain a full copy of the dictionary in zip format (1.8MB) from: http://wombat.doc.ic.ac.uk/foldoc/Dictionary.gz