Reviewed by
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

Are you confused by the number of acronyms that seem to constantly appear in conversation about computers? In this column we hope to help you to know the difference between your ATM and your ADFs. Let’s look at some of the acronyms:

ADF — Automatic Document Feeder, not Australian Defence Force. An ADF is used in copiers and scanners to feed pages into the machine. It allows multiple pages to be copied or scanned at one time without the need to place each individual page in the machine.

AIFF — Audio Interchange File Format, designed to store audio data. It was developed by Apple but is based on Electronic Arts’ IFF (Interchange File Format), a container format originally used on Amiga systems.

ATM — Asynchronous Transfer Mode, a simple way of data communication. Most people know of ATMs as automated teller machines — those friendly boxes that allow you to withdraw cash from your bank or credit account while charging you a ridiculous surcharge for the service.

BASIC — Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, not the lowest level of student understanding. BASIC is a computer programming language developed in the mid-1960s to help students write simple computer programs.

CAD — Computer-Aided Design, not a character from a Jane Austen novel. CAD is also known by engineers and architects as the best invention of all time. Today, CAD software is used for nearly all three-dimensional designing.

CMOS — Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor, not the green stuff growing on damp rock. This technology is typically used in making transistors. You might also find CMOS memory in your computer, which holds the date and time and other basic system

DCIM — Digital Camera Images, not the name of a new rapper. DCIM is the standard name of the root folder digital cameras use to store digital photos.

DVD — Digital Versatile Disc. It can also mean Digital Video Disc but with the multiple uses of DVDs the term Digital Versatile Disc is more correct. Yep, the technology-naming people just love to confuse us.

ECAK error — Error between Chair and Keyboard the type of error other people make when using a computer.

FLOPS — Floating Point Operations Per Second. FLOPS are typically used to measure the performance of a computer’s processor.

GIF — Graphics Interchange Format rather than something you purchase from a shop. GIF is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage web due to its wide support and portability.

HAL — Hardware Abstraction Layer, not the main character of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Hardware abstractions are sets of routines in software that emulate some platform-specific details, giving programs direct access to the hardware resources.

JPEG — Joint Photographic Experts Group, not a fancy tool for the clothes line. JPEG (seen most often with the .jpeg extension) is a commonly used method of compression for digital photography (i.e. images). The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image quality.

MAC — Media Access Control address, and no, it is not related Apple Macintosh computers. A MAC address is a hardware identification number that uniquely identifies each device on a network.

Column written by Rosemary McDowall and Bill Gillespie. Bill teaches at Elanora Heights PS and Rosemary at The Forest High. They can be contacted at