Reviewed by
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

In the last issue we started our list of acronyms and managed to get to the letter M. Now let’s see what exciting names the computer boffins have conjured up as we complete the alphabet of acronyms.

NIC — Network Interface Card. Pronounced “nick”, this is the card that physically makes the connection between the computer and the network cable. If you look at the back of your computer you can usually see it doing its little disco light show.

OASIS — Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, not the archaic piece of software currently in use in schools. OASIS is a non-profit, global consortium that supports the development and adoption of e-business standards such as file formats, protocols and mark-up languages.

PARSE — Not something the school principal must pass (Principal Assessment and Review Schedule) and isn’t related to EARS (Executive Assessment and Review Schedule) or TARS (Teacher Assessment and Review Schedule). Parse means to analyse an object specifically and is commonly used in computer science to refer to reading program code. Parsing can also refer to breaking up ordinary text. For example, search engines typically parse search phrases entered by users so that they can more accurately search for each word.

QWERTY — The type of keyboard that most English-speaking people use. It refers to the top line of letters on the keyboard.

RJ45 — Not a character from a Star Wars movie but a type of connector commonly used for Ethernet networking or, for those non-techie types, the place where the “blue” cable from your computer connects to the wall.

Secondary Memory — Storage devices such as hard drives and solid state drives. Secondary Memory may also refer to removable storage media, such as USB flash drives, CDs, and DVDs.

TWAIN — Technology Without An Interesting Name. Yes, folks, this is what happens when technology people have a little too much time on their hands and try to come up with something amusing. TWAIN is actually a graphics and imaging standard that allows companies to create drivers for scanners and digital cameras.

UPS — Uninterrupted Power Supply, not something you say to a baby when it falls over. UPS is a type of battery power supply that provides electricity to a computer or server during a sudden power outage.

Volume — To a computer a volume refers to a storage device such as a hard drive, DVD or flash drive.

Warm Boot — It means to restart or soft boot a computer, as opposed to cold booting which means to start or turn on the computer.

XML — Extensible Mark-up Language, a mark-up language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

Y2K — Remember the millennium bug? The whole world’s computer systems were going to crash at midnight on the last day of 1999. I wonder how much money was made by companies who spent enormous amount of time and effort ridding systems of the evil insect.

Zip — Compressing a number of files into an archive. Zip files can most often be found on the internet and are used speed up download times.

Bill Gillespie teaches at Elanora Heights PS and Rosemary McDowall teaches at North Sydney Boys HS. They can be contacted at