DR. ACRONYM

A House Call to the World Wide Web: One of the Doctor's faithful readers penned a missive on a cocktail napkin and handed it over in a crowded watering hole in Hagerstown, asking for a prescription to cope with the preponderance of acronyms springing up related to the Internet's World Wide Web, which we're all getting tired of hearing about. Even so, with everyone blathering these days about the Web's charms, the Doctor is proponed to look in his bag.

When you see a thing like http://www.whocares.com, that is what's known as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL, which the Web crowd pronounces, "Earl") . It's really no different than an Internet address of a file located on a computer users can access. Someone who sets up a Web page can "drop" a URL into other Web pages that have some similarity in content. For example, if both Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole had Web pages, each could slap an Earl on the other's page to let browsers know what their sites are, since people who are interested in Newt might also want to check out Bob. "Tagging data or locations," as Web users call it, remains important on the Web, because there is a burgeoning number of Web sites; organization is key.

To allow Web browsers such as NCSA Mosaic and NetScape Navigator to communicate across the Internet, developers came up with a common language or protocol: hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). HTTP now has multipurpose Internet mail extensions (MIME) added, which gives the Web a true multimedia application.

SGML (standard generalized markup language) is the internationally recognized language for structuring online documents, so that the information contained in them can be transported across different computer systems; the Net literate say it can run rings around HTML, hypertext markup language. SGML defines the underlying structure of documents on the World Wide Web. HTML is based on SGML: It is the structured language of the Internet.

PDF (Portable Document Format), the file format used by Adobe's Acrobat software, is gaining some attention as an alternative to HTML.

Another up-and-coming alternative is virtual reality markup language (VRML). You'll be seeing and hearing more and more about this 3-D language as time goes on, since it's considered cutting-edge (or, in another example of high tech influencing English, the en vogue expression these days is "bleeding edge," which - think about it now - is technically further forward in a linear sense than the cutting edge, but, it could be argued, has felt the impact of the cutting edge and therefore is after it in the time-space continuum).

There are now common graphics formats, such as JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group).

JPEG file compression reduces the image size to as much as one-twentieth of the original size, but also reduces the quality slightly because it actually throws out parts of files that you generally can't see. Like JPEG, GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is designed for use with still images. GIF (pronounced "jiff") was developed by CompuServe for free use. However, a few months back the company created quite the Net scandel when it announced that it had unknowingly incorporated patented technology and that royalties would now be required for its use.

If viewing movies online is more your style, you might run across the term MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group). This compression format, like Apple's QuickTime format, can handle digital video and audio.

The Doctor should also remind you of two acronyms covered here before that you will need to know about to get a Web connection: SLIP and PPP.

SLIP (single-line Internet protocol) is thought by the discriminating to be faster than PPP (point-to-point protocol) , which is considered more reliable, though the Doctor only bothers to drag the distinction out when entertaining at cocktail parties. The standard UNIX shell account and other low-ticket Internet connections won't do you much good in Webspace.

Need a little TCP/IP? E-mail Doc Acronym with your problems and perturbations acronymial c/o brendler@technews.com


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