802.11 series: Wireless standards that include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and other current and future related standards. Generally, 802.11g and 802.11n are used for Wi-Fi hotpots.

802.11a: The first 802.11 standard in the 5 GHz range, which offers 54 Mbit/sec.

802.11b: The original 11Mbit/sec wireless standard in the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

802.11g: An improvement on 802.11b that gives 54 Mbit/sec.

802.11i: A standard that dictates how wireless security is to be handled. This is currently implemented in WPA2.

802.1x: An authentication scheme for Wi-Fi. Mostly used in corporate environments.

access point: A wireless device that serves as a communications hub for Wi-Fi clients.

ad hoc mode: A mode in Wi-Fi networking where one computer connects directly to another computer, bypassing a central access point.

adware: Software that interferes with Internet advertising, or that which inserts extra advertising into your Web browser.

analog: Something that relies on wave forms that can take on many values, such as human speech or radio waves.

antenna: A metal rod or wire used to transmit and receive radio signals. All wireless technologies use some kind of antenna, even if it’s so small you cannot see it.

band: A group of frequencies.

BlackBerry: A handheld device made by Research in Motion (RIM) that lets you access your e-mail and browse the Web anywhere there is wireless coverage.

Bluetooth: A wireless technology operating in the frequency range of Wi-Fi communications, but has a much shorter range. Mostly used as a substitute for cables on the desktop (keyboards, mice) and in cell phone applications (wireless link between a headset and phone).

botnet: A collection of computers infected with malware that forces the computer to do work on behalf of the botnet owner. This work might be attacking a Web site or sending out e-mail spam.

bridge: Lets you connect two or more networks together. For your purposes, it usually means connecting a wireless network to a wired network.

cable modem: A device that connects between your cable TV company’s Internet connection and your network or computer. It enables you to send and receive information over the Internet using a coaxial cable that runs into your home.

cellular phone: A mobile telephone that uses a network of short-range transmitters to communicate with the landline phone system.

coaxial cable: Cable used for cable TV and some other applications.

cordless phone: A wireless phone usually used inside the home or yard that operates over one of three frequency bands: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, or 5.8 GHz.

cracker: Someone who hacks into a network with malicious intent.

DHCP: The dynamic host configuration protocol provides a way to automatically allocate IP addresses to computers on a network.

digital: A signal, composed of 1s and 0s, used to transmit information.

Digital Media Adapter: A device that plays back audio or video files streamed over a network that have been encoded in some digital format.

DLNA: Short for Digital Living Network Alliance, an industry consortium. DLNA defines protocols for consumer electronics devices to connect to PCs and each other.

driver: Software that allows hardware to communicate with your computer’s operating system. Each piece of hardware, such as a network adapter, has its own driver. The manufacturer usually provides the driver.

DRM (Digital Rights Mangement): Methods to protect digital media from unauthorized copying.

DSL: A digital subscriber line which allows you to receive the Internet over the same wires as your telephone service. This is one way to get broadband Internet access.

DSL modem: A device that connects between your telephone company’s DSL connection and your network or computer. It enables you to send and receive information over the Internet using a telephone line that runs into your home.

eBook: Also, eBook Reader. eBook readers are hardware consisting of an electronic paper display suitable for reading documents.

encryption: Scrambling information as a way to secure it.

ePaper: ePaper is a display technology that’s reflective, rather than generating its own light. These displays do not require that the display be refreshed, so they use very little power.

Ethernet: A protocol that describes how most computers can talk to each other, either over wired or wireless medium.

ExpressCard: The next generation of PC cards for laptops. ExpressCards are around the same size as a PC Card but have a different pinout.

firewall: Software that inspects incoming and outgoing traffic, and allows or blocks it, depending on your security policy.

firmware: A small software program inside hardware, such as routers, that controls the hardware.

Fiber optics: long glass fibers that carry network signals in the form of light instead of electricity. Fiber optics have much greater range than copper wire.

GHz: Gigahertz. A wave with a frequency of 1 GHz oscillates 1 billion times per second.

global positioning system: Worldwide network of satellites operated by U.S. Defense Department that enables civilian and military users to pinpoint their location on Earth.

hacker: Originally referred to a person who was able to perform great technical feats. In recent times, it has become synonymous with "cracker." See cracker.

HDTV: High-definition TV.

hotspot: A wireless access point that’s found in a public place such as a library or coffee shop.

hub: A hardware device used to connect two or more network devices.

IEEE: The standards body responsible for Ethernet and most wireless protocols. Pronounce this as "eye triple e."

infrastructure mode: A mode in Wi-Fi networking where computers connect through one or more access points. This is the most popular way of creating a wireless network.

instant messaging: IM. A technology that allows for real-time, two-way text communications between two or more individuals. Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL operate the largest IM networks.

interference: Electrical noise or conflicting radio signals that cause a deterioration in the radio signal in Wi-Fi and other wireless communications.

Internet service provider (ISP): A company that sells you access to the Internet. This is usually a cable or telephone company.

IP address: A number in the format xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx that designates a host address on the Internet. Each domain name, such as www.google. com, has one or more associated IP addresses.

KB: Kilobytes.

Kb: Kilobits.

kHz: Kilohertz. A wave with a frequency of 1 kHz oscillates 1,000 times per second.

Kindle: Amazon’s eBook reader, which is tied closely to Amazon’s book-shopping service. Two current versions are available, the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, with different-sized screens.

LAN: Local access network. A network found inside a home or a single building.

malware: Malicious software that tries to do something bad to your computer, such as steal information or delete files.

MAC address: Media Access Control. A wireless hardware device’s unique number that identifies it on a network.

MB: Megabytes.

Mb: Megabits.

Mbps: Megabits per second.

mini-PCI adapter: A wireless network adapter that can be installed in newer laptops that include a mini-PCI slot, freeing the laptop’s PC card slot for other uses.

multimedia: One of many forms of media. Can include photos, video, and music.

network: A way to connect two or more computers.

network adapter card: A wireless device that allows a laptop, desktop, or handheld computer to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Also called a network interface card (NIC), a network adapter card transmits and receives data over the network.

network-attached storage (NAS): A NAS drive is a standalone device to store data and programs, which are accessible over a network.

number portability: The ability to keep your current cell or landline phone number when you either switch carriers or move to a new residence.

OTA: Also, over-the-air. Receiving digital TV signals from local broadcast stations via an antenna.

PC Card: An adapter inserted into a laptop slot to allow the computer to receive and transmit Wi-Fi radio signals.

PCI adapter: An adapter card inserted inside a desktop computer to allow the computer to receive and transmit Wi-Fi radio signals.

PDA: Personal digital assistant.

peripheral: A device that connects to a computer.

phishing: A technique where someone sends you an e-mail pretending to be from your bank or other service. When you follow the instructions in the e-mail, you are giving your personal information to the bad guy, not the bank.

ping: A method of sending a packet to a computer to see if it’s accessible.

Pre-Shared Key (PSK): An authentication method for wireless networks that relies on the computer and the access point having a secret that they both know.

QoS: Quality of Service. This refers to technology that can prioritize streaming media packets, so the audio or video stream is delivered without dropped video frames or lost audio.

range extender: A piece of wireless gear that acts as a repeater for wireless signals so that you can be farther from the access point.

RF: Radio frequency. Electromagnetic waves that operate on frequencies from about 3 kHz to 300 GHz. Every wireless device uses a frequency.

router: A device that sits between your Internet service provider and your network, routing Internet traffic to its proper destination.

satellite radio: Paid services that stream large numbers of radio channels from orbiting satellites to satellite-capable receivers. The service most common in the United States is Sirius XM Radio.

Service Set Identifier: An identifier that a Wi-Fi network uses to identify itself.

Smart Watch: A wristwatch produced by one of several manufacturers that can receive news and information using a wireless network. Created by Microsoft.

SMS: Short message service. A text service offered on phones using the GSM digital cellular telephone system. The messages are limited to 160 alphanumeric characters.

spyware: Software that captures information such as your keystrokes and Web browsing habits and sends them to someone else.

streaming: The process of sending multimedia information between two or more computers.

TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet protocol. A suite of protocols for sending information over the Internet and local networks. Because everyone on the Internet speaks TCP/IP, your computer can talk to any other computer that allows it.

universal serial bus: USB. A standard for sending and receiving data between a computer and a peripheral device, such as a wireless access card. USB 1.1 moves data at up to 12 Mbps, while the newer version (2.0) can handle up to 480 Mbps.

virtual private network: A technology that permits secure communications between two points. A VPN tunnels through the public Internet, sending and receiving encrypted information.

virus: A piece of malware that replicates itself to spread, and usually attaches itself to another piece of software.

WAN: Wide-area network. In the larger sense, this refers to a network that connects different cities. Most routers label the port that connects to the Internet as the WAN.

Wi-Fi: Wireless fidelity. Wi-Fi permits communications over the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands within a radius of up to 300 feet. Wi-Fi is used to create wireless networks and hotspots, allowing anyone with the proper wireless equipment to connect.

Wi-Fi protected access: WPA. A transition mechanism to fix problems in the WEP protocol until the full 802.11i specification could be implemented.

Wi-Fi protected access version 2: WPA2. The current generation of wireless privacy extensions, based on the IEEE 802.11i standards. WPA2 fixes problems with WPA and WEP that would let crackers get into your network.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS): A mechanism to automatically configure a wireless device to a supported access point.

wired equivalent privacy: WEP. The first encryption standard, vulnerable to hackers, for securing Wi-Fi networks. WPA2 is now supported by all manufacturers, so WEP should not be used anymore.

Windows Vista: Microsoft’s latest operating system, which provides many built-in wireless networking functions.

wireless: Communications that use radio waves rather than wires.

zombie: A computer that has been infected with malware that causes that computer to operate as part of a botnet.

Next post:

Previous post: