Glossary - S


A Screensaver is a computer program that automatically changes the screen display after a certain period of inactivity from the input device. Screensavers can be basic, employing just a simple change of color, or they can be quite complex with a high entertainment value, such as 3D screensavers. However, complex screensavers can tax a computer’s resources. Screensavers are usually terminated when the computer receives data or information from input devices (such as moving the mouse or pressing a key on the keyboard).

The original aim of a screensaver was to prevent monitor burn in from an element that was continually displayed during a long disruption of work. With modern CRT and LCD displays, there is no longer a burn issue, so screensavers are now used mainly for fun or personal data protection. The screensaver also prevents curious people from seeing information on the screen during the user’s absence. Employing an optional password to reactivate the desktop when the screen saver is exited can also prevent unauthorized access. One increasingly popular application enables screensavers to activate a useful background task, such as a virus scan with an overlaying window showing the progress. Today, screensavers are also often found on mobile phones or PDAs. In these instances, they are rarely used to protect the display, but rather for entertainment purposes. Some phones have a simple screen saver that utilizes animated GIF files or a simple time display that is used to save power. Oftentimes, DVD players also offer a screen saver function after the prolonged display of static images.


When it comes to your computer, a screenshot describes freezing and copying the current position of the computer monitor screen and then storing it in the computer’s memory or on the hard disc in a graphic file. Generally, what gets captured in a screenshot is everything a user’s eye can see on the display at the moment the screenshot is taken.

On most computers, a screenshot is usually taken by pressing the “Print Screen” on the keyboard function keys. In some operating systems (e.g., Microsoft Windows®, Linux®, Mandriva®), a screenshot can be taken by the key combination “Alt + PrintScreen”.  These actions will copy the entire contents of the display onto the clipboard. Subsequently, its contents can be saved as a graphic file (image) and its size dependent on the graphic format used, screen resolution and color depth.

Users acquire screenshots when they want to send something to other people and publish it.  Examples where screenshots may be used are for photographing game events, capturing images in electronic guides (tutorials) or using online photos in web presentation software, etc.

Search engine

Internet search is a service that finds web pages containing information relating to a specific set of search terms. The user enters keywords into a search interface and a search robot immediately lists links to pages that contain relevant information (text, images, or other types of multimedia information) based on information in its database. For the most part, the database is maintained automatically, unlike online catalogs that are maintained by people. The goal is to provide users with links to pages that will answer their questions with the most relevant information available. The search engine uses an algorithm to evaluate the importance of web pages in its database. Internet search engines use an automatic program called a search robot (bot or spider) that employs hyperlinks in an effort to visit and archive all website content on the Internet (the World Wide Web). The program works automatically and uses tens to thousands of computers. The quality of the search results depends on how relevant the search results are to the search terms. For this reason, it is necessary to measure the quality of sites within a search engine’s database, and site owners continually modify their websites in an attempt to achieve the highest position in the search engine results pages. This process is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As a result of these tactics, search engines must constantly improve their archiving methods in order to meet the increasing demands of its visitors.

The most popular search engines world-wide include Google®, Ask®, Bing®, Yahoo!®, etc. However, search engine use is different in every country. Typically, users in a country use a local search engine to display results that are optimized for the user’s country.

Security software

Security software is a general term that describes software designed to keep a computer or network safe, for example, by protecting against various types of unwanted malware. Examples of security software include anti-spyware and anti-virus software, as well as firewalls.


A server is a general term for a computer that provides a program to implement services. While the term “service” is used in the Microsoft Windows® environment, in Unix® systems it is known as a daemon.

The typical server is usually more powerful than an ordinary user workstation. Many companies (Dell®, Hewlett-Packard®, IBM®, etc.) produce servers for home use as well as small, medium, and large companies. Server design is based on a classical computer (typically IBM® PC compatible), and augmented with additional features such as higher quality components, a longer warranty, enhanced support services or faster service in the event of failure. Other enhancements may include a faster processor, additional memory, superior hardware design and testing, backup (redundant) components (two power supplies, RAID, etc.), monitoring software and more.

Current operating systems are typically universal and can be used for both personal computers and servers. The difference lies in the software and settings. On a typical PC, the emphasis is on interactivity (computer quickly responding to user requests), while servers focus on scalability (the ability to achieve the highest performance). Some businesses use commercial products (Windows Vista® Server and Windows Server® 2008, and other Microsoft® products) for server functionality.

Many companies, schools and homes have Internet servers. Servers may also be located in specialized hosting centers that provide continuous monitoring, power supply backup, air conditioning, high-speed Internet connections, etc. Servers can also be rented for various purposes including the provision of hosting services or as a virtual machine, where one physical computer serves the needs of several different customers.

 Some server types include:

  • Web server
  • File server
  • Database server
  • Print server
  • Fax server
  • Proxy server
  • Application server
  • Game server


Skype® is a peer-to-peer program that allows users to make voice calls (VoIP) and video calls, instant messaging and file transfer. The program allows you to make three different types of calls:

  •  between Skype® users free of charge,
  •  calls to traditional telephone networks for a fee with Skype Out® service and
  • secure a phone number and receive calls from fixed and mobile networks with Skype In® service.

 Skype® does not support calls to emergency lines (medical emergencies, fire and police).

As of 2010, Skype® reported 663 million registered users. In May 2011, Microsoft® Corporation agreed to acquire Skype® Communications, S.à r.l for US$8.5 billion. The company is to be incorporated as a division of Microsoft®, which will acquire all of the company's technologies, including Skype®.


A smiley is an image of a smiling face, most commonly in the form of a yellow circle with two dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth. “Smiley” is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon. Smileys are used to express feelings or to enhance chatting. The variant spelling "smilie" is not as common, but the plural form "smilies" is commonly used.

In informatics, we use a smiley that is the printable version of the characters 1 and 2 of (black-and-white versions of) codepage 437 (1981) of the first IBM® PC, and all subsequent PC compatible computers. For modern computers, all versions of Microsoft Windows® after Windows® 95 can use the smiley as part of the Windows® Glyph List 4, although some computer fonts miss some characters, and some characters cannot be reproduced by programs that are not compatible with Unicode. This also appears in Unicode's Basic Multilingual Plane.



Smishing is a criminal activity that utilizes social engineering techniques similar to that of phishing. The name originated from "SMs phISHING". SMS or Short Message Service, is the technology behind text messaging on cell phones. Like phishing, smishing uses text messages on cell phones to lure a user into revealing personal information. The method used to actually "capture" user's information, or "hook", in the text message could be a website URL, although it is more typical that a phone number is displayed that connects to an automated voice response system.

Smurf attack

The Smurf attack is a means of producing a large amount of traffic on a computer network. This is a type of denial-of-service attack that overwhelms a target system via spoofed broadcast ping messages. In this case, an attacker sends a large volume of ICMP echo requests, or pings, to IP broadcast addresses, all having a spoofed source IP address of the targeted victim. If the routing device that delivers traffic to those broadcast addresses sends the IP broadcast to all the hosts, then many of the hosts on that IP network will take the ICMP echo request and send an echo reply, thus multiplying the traffic by the number of hosts that respond. Hundreds of machines on a multi-access broadcast network could reply to each packet.

Social engineering

Social engineering is a means of manipulating individuals to perform actions or reveal their private information. Although similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, social engineering usually applies deceptive methods for the intention of gathering information, performing fraud or accessing a computer system.

Social network

Social network (also known as a community network or community) is a connected group of people who interact with one another. These individuals are called “nodes.” They are tied to each other through friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislikes, sexual relationships, beliefs, knowledge, or prestige. The term "social network" is now often used in conjunction with the Internet, and the websites that are on social networking sites are the direct focus. Examples of major social networking sites on the Internet include:

Facebook® - serves as a social network, internet dating site, game server, and a web profile.  It can also be used by businesses and other entities to connect to other internet forums for storing and sharing multimedia. It is a leading social network in the world.
Google +SM - a social network that is similar to Facebook®, where the main difference lies in the sharing settings and how you locate each person. Here, you generally share things and associate with only those who benefit or are concerned.
Myspace® - serves as a social network for the online profiles of people, and is useful for storing and sharing multimedia. It is the second most popular social network in the world, and according to many, the best social network in the world. It is owned by the News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch.
Twitter® - used mainly for small blogs and as a social network
Tuenti® - serves as a social network, dubbed "Spanish Facebook" (based in Madrid).


The term "software" was first used in print by John W. Tukey in 1958. Colloquially, the term is often used in reference to application software. Computer software is a collection of programs and related data used in computers that perform an action, basically telling the computer what to do and how to do it through a set of instructions. The software can be divided into system software, which operates the computer itself and communicates with the application software. The application software is the software a computer user either works with or uses to manage hardware.  The software is the opposite of hardware (hardware includes all physical components of the computer).  So, the software could be simply defined as everything except the physical components of the computer (everything that is not hardware). However, in this case, we include all data that cannot be executed by the processor (a processor does not contain machine instructions) in the term software. The term software means primarily programs, but sometimes may be associated with the data. Examples of computer software include:

  • Application software
  • Programming languages
  • System software
  • Firmware
  • Device drivers
  • Programming tools

Software cracking

Software cracking is the alteration of software to remove protective mechanisms such as copy protection, trial or demo version, serial number, hardware key, date checks, CD check or software annoyances like nag screens and adware.

In nearly every developed country, the distribution and use of cracked software copies is illegal. Many court cases have been held regarding software cracking, most dealing with the distribution of the copied product rather than overcoming the protection. In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legislation was passed making software cracking illegal, including the distribution of information enabling software cracking. The law has been barely tested in the U.S. with only court cases of reverse engineering for personal use. In Europe, the European Union Copyright Directive was passed, making software copyright infringement illegal in member states.

Software license

A software license is a legal agreement governing the use and redistribution of software. Software licenses are usually drafted by lawyers, and some are designed to be easily modified by the software authors. The author usually determines the license that will govern the software. Oftentimes, a EULA (End User License Agreement) is used. Sometimes the author will include additional licenses so that end-users may choose the license that best fits their needs.  In the case of collective works, all authors must be in agreement, so authorship is often transferred to a third party who is then responsible for the software license.

Sound Card

A sound card is a computer expansion card used for the input and output of audio signals. A typical sound card is controlled by software and includes a sound chip that performs digital-analog conversions of recorded or generated digital sound. A 3.5mm TRS connector is generally used for audio signal input/output. The plugs are usually color-coded: green for front analog audio output and headphones, black for analog audio output to the rear speakers, pink for the microphone, etc. Most sound cards have a MIDI Gameport connector that can be used to connect an electronic keyboard or other digital MIDI signal source.

One of the first sound card manufacturers for the IBM® PC was Ad Lib©, which produced a sound card based on the Yamaha® YM3812 sound chip, or OPL2. This had been the standard until Creative Labs© produced the Sound Blaster®, which had a YM3812 sound coprocessor that Creative called "DSP". This was the first digital signal processor. Nowadays, the sound card (chip) is integrated within the motherboard and extension sound cards are rarely used.


Spam is unsolicited communication (usually advertising) that is mass-distributed via the Internet. Originally used primarily for advertising emails, over time this phenomenon also infiltrated other types of Internet communications, such as discussion forums, comments, and instant messaging. Spam is also referred to as UBE / UCE (Unsolicited Bulk / Commercial Email). The name comes from an American brand of canned lunchmeat that has been produced since the 1930’s. Currently, the manufacturer insists on writing the brand in capitals – SPAM®. During World War II, the product was quite well-known, but much less so in Great Britain. The opposite of spam is mail that is sent to a specific person (who considers it relevant) with a specific purpose. The term for this is “ham,” though it is rarely used.

Email addresses are obtained from spam databases, among other places, by robots that go through web pages and collect any email addresses they may contain. Robots usually do not do a deep analysis of the source code, rather they collect everything that looks like an email address, such as a sequence of letters, numbers, dashes or dots that contain the @ symbol. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid displaying full email addresses directly on a website.  It can be wise to represent email addresses through some other humanly comprehensible means; such as “name (at)” Spam-sending databases can also obtain email addresses via viruses, so it is important to know the basic rules for safe Internet behavior and to secure your computer against viruses. Most spam is distributed from computers infected by a virus or worm. The virus or worm can open a backdoor that allows the attacker to remotely control the computer and exploit it continuously for the purpose of sending spam. Sending a robot and mailing address database might be sent by an infected computer ad hoc. Protection against spam distribution can be accomplished with classic antivirus software or another complex security solution. For network administrators, it is important to be able to locate and isolate the infected computer.


Spamware is software designed by or for use by spammers. Spamware can include the capability to import thousands of email addresses, generate random email addresses, insert fraudulent headers into messages, use multiple mail servers at once, and use open relays. Spamware can also be used to locate email addresses to build lists for spamming or to sell to spammers.


Spyware is computer software that is installed on a user's computer without the user's express consent with the purpose of collecting information about the user, their computer or browsing habits.

As the term implies, spyware is software capable of secretly monitoring the user's behavior, but can also collect various types of personal information, including web surfing habits and websites visited. Spyware can also impede the user's control of his computer by installing additional software, and redirecting web browser activity. Spyware is known to cause other interference by changing computer settings that slow connection speeds, load different home pages, and lose Internet connectivity or program functionality.

With the proliferation of spyware, an antispyware industry has sprung up. Use of antispyware software is now a widely accepted practice for the security of Microsoft Windows and desktop computers. A number of anti-spyware laws have been passed, targeting any software that is surreptitiously installed with the intent to control a user's computer. Due to its privacy-invasive characteristics, the US Federal Trade Commission has placed a page on their website advising consumers on how to lower the risk of being infected by spyware.


Streaming technology refers to the continuous transmission of audio-visual material between the source and the end user. Currently, streaming is used primarily for the transmission of audio-visual material over the Internet (webcasting). Webcasting can be done in real time (Internet TV or radio) or by video-on-demand systems such as YouTube®. For streaming video to multiple users simultaneously and providing more content, operators should utilize a streaming server that communicates with the target computer and ensures the smooth transmission of data. It is necessary to use codecs for data compression to transmit audio-visual material on the Internet. The most commonly used codecs for streaming are flash codecs, MPEG-4, Windows Media®, Real Time, and Quicktime®. For audio streaming, (streams of data typically from 16 to 256 kbps) Windows Media® Audio (WMA), MP3, OGG, AAC +) are primarily used.

System restore

System Restore is a useful system tool available in Microsoft® operating systems, except for Windows® 2000. This utility was first offered in Windows Me®, followed by Windows XP®, Windows Vista®, and Windows® 7. The Windows Server® operating system family does not include System Restore. The System Restore built into Windows XP® can be installed on a Windows Server® 2003 machine, although this is not supported by Microsoft®. This component enables a user to roll back system files, registry keys, installed programs, etc., to a previous state in the event of a system malfunction or failure. With System Restore, the user may create a new restore point manually, roll back to an existing restore point, or change the System Restore configuration. System Restore backs up system files with certain extensions (.exe, .dll, etc.) and saves them for later recovery and use. It also backs up the registry and most drivers. Moreover, the restore itself can be undone and the operating system can be returned to a state before the restoration.

System tray

As a section of the taskbars in Microsoft Windows®, the system tray ("systray") displays the clock and icons for selected software, enabling programs to be launched with one click. The icons residing in the system tray serve to remind the user of their functionality and may include antivirus settings, printers, modems, sound volume, battery status, software applications and etc. When more icons are installed in the system tray than can fit in the space allotted, the system tray becomes horizontally scrollable or expandable. To interact with a program in the system tray, select an icon with your mouse and double-click or right-click the icon. When you minimize the program after using it, it shrinks back into the system tray instead of into the main part of the taskbar.

Microsoft® states that the expression “system tray” is wrong, and refers it as a “notification area,” although the term system tray is commonly known and sometimes used in Microsoft® documentation, articles, and software descriptions. Raymond Chen from MSDN® Blogs (the Microsoft® blog site where many of its employees blog to a public audience) suggests the confusion originated with systray.exe, a small application that controlled some icons within the notification area in Windows® 95. The notification area is also referred to as the status area by Microsoft®.

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