SMTP…USB…OLED…What does that mean?

A look at common abbreviations for today’s technology

If you use a computer or handheld device, there is probably a time when you were stumped by a term that did not make sense. Many of these abbreviations are used all the time, yet many of us could not identify their real names. I will attempt to demystify some of these enigmas.


This wireless technology enables communication between Bluetooth compatible devices. It is used for short-range connections between desktop and laptop computers, ‘smart’ phones, digital cameras, scanners and printers. Bluetooth signals have just a 30-foot range, which somewhat limits its use but also makes it less susceptible to interference or infiltration.

Blu-RayBlu-Ray (BD)

With their high storage capacity, Blu-ray discs can hold and play back large quantities of high-definition video and audio, as well as photos, data and other digital content. Blu-ray players can play traditional DVD’s, but traditional DVD players cannot play Blu-ray discs. A  single-layer Blu-ray disc, which is the same size as a DVD, can hold up to 27 GB of data — that’s more than two hours of highdefinition
video or about 13 hours of standard video. By comparison, a standard DVD can hold just 4.7 GB (gigabytes) of information.


Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. A network server uses this protocol to dynamically assign IP addresses to networked computers. The DHCP server waits for a computer to connect to it, then assigns it an IP address from a master list stored on the server. DHCP helps in setting up large networks, since IP addresses don’t have to be manually assigned to each computer on the network. Because of the
efficient automation used with DHCP, it is the most commonly used networking protocol.


Domain Name System is the process for naming computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet. An easy way to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer names into IP addresses. For example, typing in will take you to Google’s home page, but typing Google is easier to remember than that string of numbers!


High-Definition Multimedia Interface. This is a compact audio/video interface for transferring both audio and video files in an alldigital format. HDMI ports are found on TV’s, computers, video games, A/V Receivers and many other audio and video devices. The standard  HDMI cable can carry standard, enhanced, high definition, and 3D video signals; up to 8 channels of digital audio and an Ethernet data connection. All in a small cable, replacing the white, red, yellow, green and blue cables that were used to connect audio and video equipment in the past.


Hyper-Text Markup Language. This is the language that Web pages are written in. Also known as hypertext documents, Web pages must
conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser.


Internet Message Access Protocol and is pronounced “eye-map.” Most e-mail client programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Mac OS X Mail allow you to specify what kind of protocol your mail server uses. If you use your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) mail service, you should check with them to find out if their mail server uses IMAP or POP3 mail. It is a method of accessing e-mail messages on a server without having to download them to your local hard drive. The advantage of using an IMAP mail server is that users can check their mail from multiple computers and always see the same messages. Most webmail systems are IMAP based, which allows people to access to both their sent and received messages no matter what computer they use to check their mail.


Internet Protocol. (See TCP/IP above) People often use the term “IP” when referring to an IP address, which is OK. The two terms are not necessarily synonymous, but when you ask what somebody’s IP is, most people will know that you are referring to their IP address.


OLED, or Organic Light Emitting Diodes, are an offshoot of existing conventional LED technology (see LED above). OLED technology takes this same idea as LED, but flattens it. Rather than an array of individual LED bulbs, OLED uses a series of thin, light emitting films. This allows the OLED array to produce brighter light while using less energy than existing LCD/LED technologies. And since these light-emitting films are composed of hydrocarbon chains, rather than semiconductors laden with heavy metals like gallium arsenide phosphide, they get that “O” for “organic” in their name.


Light-Emitting Diode. Early LEDs produced only red light, but modern LEDs can produce several different colors, including red, green, and blue (RGB) light. Since LEDs are energy efficient and have a long lifespan (often more than 100,000 hours), they have begun to replace traditional light bulbs in many uses. You can typically identify LEDs by a series of small lights that make up a larger display. For example, if you look closely at a traffic light, you can tell it is an LED light if each circle is comprised of a cluster of dots. The energy-efficient nature of LEDs allows them to produce brighter light than other types of bulbs while using less energy. For this reason, traditional flat screen LCD displays have started to be replaced by LED displays, which use LEDs for the backlight.


LTE, an abbreviation for Long-Term Evolution, commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and other wireless devices.


Post Office Protocol. POP3, sometimes referred to as just “POP,” is a simple, standardized method of delivering e-mail messages. When a user connects to the mail server to retrieve his mail, the messages are downloaded from mail server to the user’s hard disk. When you configure your e-mail client, such as Outlook (Windows) or Mail (Mac OS X), you will need to enter the type of mail server your e-mail account uses. IMAP mail servers are a bit more complex than POP3 servers and allow e-mail messages to be read and stored on the server. You may have to check with your ISP or whoever manages your mail account to find out what settings to use for configuring your mail program. If your e-mail account is on a POP3 mail server, you will need to enter the correct POP3 server address in your e-mail program settings. Of course, to successfully retrieve your mail, you will have to enter a valid username and password too.


RDF Site Summary, but is commonly referred to as Really Simple Syndication. RSS is method of providing website content such as news stories or software updates in a standard format. Websites such as The Wall Street Journal and provide news stories to
various RSS feeds (or lists) that distribute them over the Internet.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Your e-mail client (such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mac OS X Mail) uses SMTP to send a message to the mail server, and the mail server uses SMTP to relay that message to the correct receiving mail server. When configuring the settings for
your e-mail program, you usually need to set the SMTP server to your local Internet Service Provider’s SMTP settings (i.e. “smtp.yourisp.
com”). However, the incoming mail server (IMAP or POP3) should be set to your mail account’s server (i.e., which may be
different than the SMTP server.


Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. These two protocols were developed by the U.S. military in the early days of the Internet. The purpose was to allow computers to communicate over long distance networks, transferring information in ‘packets’ of data. The TCP part has to do with the verifying delivery of the packets. The IP part refers to the moving of data packets between devices on a network. TCP/IP has since then become the foundation of the Internet. Therefore, TCP/IP software is built into all major operating
systems, such as Unix, Windows, and the Mac OS.


Universal Serial Bus. It can be used to connect keyboards, mice, game controllers, printers, scanners, digital cameras, and removable media drives, just to name a few. With the help of a few USB hubs, you can connect up to 127 peripherals to a single USB port and use them all at once (let me know if you have tried this!). Though USB was introduced in 1997, the technology didn’t really take off until the introduction of Apple Computer’s iMac (in late 1998) which exclusively used USB ports. The newest version of USB is 3.0, which is much faster than USB 2.0.


4G, short for fourth generation, is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G and preceding 5G. A 4G system, in addition to the usual voice and other services of 3G, provides faster mobile broadband Internet access, for example to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.


4K has become the common name for ultra high definition television (UHDTV), although its resolution is only 3840 x 2160, a little less
than the 4000 pixels required for true 4K resolution.


5K monitors display images at a resolution of 5120 x 2880. This is about 60 percent more pixels than 4K displays, which have a resolution
of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

Jeff Bohr
Naples Mac Help
239.595.0482 |

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