PCs Glossary: S

satellite: One of the fastest means of connecting to the Internet, by using an outdoor antenna and a subscription to a satellite service.

scanner: A device that attaches to a computer and can create a graphics file of an object you place on the scanner (much like a photocopier, only a scanner produces a file rather than a paper copy).

screen: The part of the computer monitor on which information is displayed.

screen resolution: Signifies the number of dots (pixels) on the entire screen.

Scroll Lock: A key on a computer’s keyboard that, when pressed and therefore active, reverses the function of the cursor keys in some spreadsheet applications.

SDRAM: Also called SyncDRAM, these memory modules take the form of standard DIMMs. This kind of module is too slow for current PC use.

serial port: An older kind of versatile computer port that can connect a variety of devices to the PC; it has been largely replaced with USB ports.

Service Set Identifier (SSID): A 32-character unique identifier attached to the header of packets sent over a network that acts as a password when a mobile device tries to connect the network.

SIMM: Single Inline Memory Module; a type of memory module that often needs to be added in pairs.

Sleep mode: A state in which the computer slips into a special, power-saving setting, like going into a low-power coma.

software: Instructions that tell the computer hardware what to do or how to act; the brains of the computer.

sound card: A circuit-filled gadget that plugs inside your PC to add music and explosions to computer games.

spatial imaging: A sound card feature that creates a 3D feeling to the sound being produced by your computer.

SPDIF: A computer connection, which requires special fiber optic cable, that’s used for digital audio.

SPDIF port: I/O panel connectors used for digital audio. Special fiber-optic cable is required: Audio coming into the computer plugs into the In hole; the sound the computer generates goes out the Out hole.

speakers: Devices that emit sound from your computer. Speakers can be external, built into the console or the monitor, or even headphones.

standard: Specifications about how a group of network devices communicate.

stylus: A kind of mouse that looks like a pen and draws on a special pad, which translates to the computer display.

subwoofer: A speaker box designed for low-frequency sounds, which gives oomph to the bass in music or adds emphasis to the sounds in games.

surge protector: A special type of power strip that helps fight irregularities in the electrical supply that runs to your computer.

surround left/right jack: For surround sound, this is the I/O panel jack into which you plug the rear left and right speakers.

surround sound: 3D environmental audio, created by a set of speakers positioned around the listener.

S-Video: A type of computer connection that allows you to attach an S-Video monitor, video recorder, or television to your PC.

switch: A device that connects computers in a network and manages the signals between those computers.

system unit: The main box of the PC; also called the console. It’s a box that contains your computer’s soul, its electronic guts. On the outside, the console sports various buttons, lights, and holes into which you plug the rest of the computer system.

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