PCs Glossary: M

media card: A storage device that’s essentially the same thing as flash memory, although media cards are designed for use with various gizmos, such as digital cameras and MP3 players.

memory: Temporary computer information storage which is emptied when you turn off the computer; also called RAM. The term "memory" also refers to the physical chips capable of holding data.

memory card: The most recent form of permanent computer storage technology. The general term applies to all the different types of solid-state storage devices. Six main types of memory cards are available.

memory module: A narrow printed circuit board that holds memory chips.

microphone jack: The I/O jack in which your computer’s microphone plugs into.

microprocessor: Your computer’s main hardware chip that determines the speed at which your computer can work; also called the processor and CPU.

MIDI: Musical Instrument Digital Interface; rather than digital audio, a MIDI file gives the computer directions on how to play a song — kind of like how a program is a set of directions that tells your computer how to accomplish a task.

Mini 1394 port: This special version of the IEEE 1394 connector is designed specifically for digital video and for connecting digital cameras.

mini-DIN: A standard computer connector used to connect a microphone to your PC.

mini-tower: The most popular PC configuration, where the desktop computer sits upright on a desktop or tucked away below the desk.

modem: Modem is a contraction of modulator-demodulator. A device that converts digital data from a computer into analog data for transmission over telephone lines by modulating it into waves. At the other end, a modem converts the analog data back into digital form by demodulating it. Cable modems also convert data but that information may stay in digital form.

modem port: Where you connect your PC’s dialup modem to the phone jack in the wall. If two phone or modem holes are on the I/O panel, the second one is for a telephone extension.

modifier key: A key on a keyboard that works in combination with other keys to do various tasks.

modular: Being made up of a number of individual pieces that can each be replaced without having to change the whole.

monitor: The box and hardware that make up the part of your computer that displays information, it's output.

motherboard: The main circuit board of a microcomputer, which contains essential PC components, such as the processor and memory.

mouse: A helpful device that lets you work with graphical objects that the computer displays on the monitor.

mouse pad: A device built into a laptop that emulates a standard mouse. Also called a touch pad.

MP3 card: A specialized sound card that contains a hardware encoder/decoder, which speeds up your PC’s ripping and MP3-playing performance.

MP3 player: A portable device that allows you to listen to your songs when you’re away from your PC.

MPEG card: A video card specifically designed for encoding and decoding Motion Picture Experts Group digital video (usually from a DVD).

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