Desert Sky Computing

Not sure what something means, no problem. It is a proven fact that it is very difficult trying to understand a topic after coming across words that are not understood. That along with an endless supply of abbreviations and acronyms like (IBM, CPU, GUI) make computer talk challenging. Even looking up some of the terms only leads to more confusion. I believe this to be a major reason why individuals “choose to loose” interest and leave the topic alone. Hopefully, the definitions included in this website are concise and meaningful to the readers. Once, again, if you find anything on my website that could use your input please send me an Remember: if you are not sure what a word means on any of the pages in this site and it is highlighted as a link just click on it and it should lead you here. Clicking on the back button at the top of your browser will get you right back to where you left off. Jim


Whether called add-ons plugins or browser extensions, they are all programs that are hooked into your browser's code and become part of the browser like Norton Password Manager or perhaps an Ad Blocker. Ad-ins is seldom used anymore it and plugin are giving way to the preferred name of extensions.


A this is a type of malware also commonly called PUPs (Potentialaly (Unwanted Program) that normally does not try to exploit sensitive date from the user. Adware's main purpose is to redirect you to retail sites or at the very least to try and sell you something. Some adware is seen by legitimate software companies as a way to cut development costs. Many computers come loaded with adware. They attempt to generate revenue by offering up ads on your computer screen ussually while you are browsing but sometimes even in the Notification area of your computer. If you see a pop-up ad informing you about a new Norton product or Adobe product, they are using a small adware progrm that allows them to keep you updated on new editions they are selling or even other related programs. These are easily removed by unchecking the "show new product information" or "show updates" feature in the software. Other methods include using Microsoft's "Sysinternals" program "Procexp64" download it from their site. Once you run it, there will be a bullseye in the toolbar. Drag that toolbar onto the ad and it will tell you the name of the file that is controlling it. Use the Kill process feature and then use the Open file's location and delete the file. Each time you click on one of the ads or purchase a product after clicking the ad they receive revenue from that vendor. Some "free software" or apps for phones are heavily loaded with adware to offset the cost of the "free". If you do not mind a few ad pop ups the freeware may be worth it to you. In this case adware is just the price paid. *Some adware is indeed malicious. It is capable of introducing you to other forms of malware like Trojans, viruses and worms. Unless you know the cause and are OK with it DELETE IT. However, once you do click on it, it tells the retailer, you are interested and you will receive more ads.


This is a slang name used for programs are often installed on a new computer or new printer, DVD player, etc. Bloatware is not normally malicious but can clutter up your computer with unnecessary software and features that you will probably never use. Some of it is useful and might be great for your needs but the fact that you were never asked if you wanted it is what bothers a lot of users. Bloatware also refers to software that is excessively large with code poorly written so that it can slow down your computers operation while it runs in the background. They may also take up a lot of disk space and/or memory. Some bloatware, will load a lot of sub programs. Printer software may also fall in this category. Just loading one printer program that came with the printer might load, small programs to notify you of the printer's status, notify the user of constant updates, OCR readers, photo changing apps, organizations apps and a host of other unneeded software. Computer manufacturers also practice this policy to offset the lower cost of the computer. All this, when all you wanted was a computer or printer. Some PC manufacturers allow this bloatware to automatically start when your computer starts and takes up valuable resources that might better beussed by your computer. Granted, if you computer is fast enough and if you have more memory than most, the effect is minimal but my advice is to DELETE IT!


A Boot sector is nothing more than reserved space on your computer’s hard drive that is used to inform the operating system of the necessary steps it should take when starting your computer. Note: Boot or Boot-up comes from the old term to put your boots on when getting ready to start the day.


This is software that enables the user to interface with the Web. Browsers translate the internet code (HTML - CSS- PHP) and others that are used on a web page into meaningful text, graphics or videos for the end user. Without a browser you would only see code. Common Browsers are the very old Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Firefox. There are several others, this site explains some of the unique functions of specific browsers like TOR and DuckDuckGo.

Client Server Relationship.

This is basically the relationship that exists when your browser {the client}, interacts with the web, (the server.) To enable your computer to communicate with another computer, certain protocols must be in place and used. Your client browser, can interpet the Hyper Text Markup Language and several other coding languages that make up the composition of web pages on the server. Look at it as a translator. If you wanted to speak to a person that did not speak your language, you would need an interperter. The computer is you, the translator is your client browser and the other person is the web.


Cookies are very small programs that websites install on your computer. In the past it was an invisible process that few people knew about. However because of the greed and excess use of their original purpose, have developed a bad name when actually in their original form they are there for the website's and your benefit. Because of this misuse, browsers now have the ability to block all or just some cookies. Cookies are used by legitimate sites to track information of your use on its site. Whenever your browser revisits that site, it recognizes you and your preferences and makes the hook-up between the client and server faster. When used for only these purposes most cookies are helpful and most browsers are set to accept cookies. Today, most sites inform you that they use cookies and post their small print to explain how they use them and ask for permission to install them on your computer. In most cases, if it is a site you will be visiting often just click on ok and a cookie is placed on your device. However, once again greed has interviened, The honest website you are visiting, might be getting paid to allow a third party to place cookies on your computer. They are know as 3rd party cookies and most of today's browsers allow you to accept cookies but allow you to block third party cookies. I highly suggest you block 3rd party cookies. Third party cookies are not really placed there for your benefit. Because they get paid to do so, most browsers come with "Accept" 3rd party cookies as a default so it is up to you to turn them off. Also, note that not accepting 1st party cookies can mean that the website will just not let you enter.

Perhaps a little more information is in order. If you want to visit a regular newspaper site that is kind enough to not charge you a subscription, they rely on you accepting their cookie. They use these as a way to prove the number of people that read their paper online and can charge advertisers more per ad. They do not reveal anything personal about you. While they may contain your location, your gender, or a host of other data that drives advertisers to use that site None of it reveals you or your family's name. That cannot be said for sure with 3rd party. They actually pay the site for the privilege of placing a cookie on your device to enable them to sell the data they collect. They do not have your best interests at heart so DELETE THEM! Now might be a good time to discuss the 2nd party, yes there is one. The first will often sell the data they collect to retailers. This is valuable data. Even though no one knows your name, it is helpful for companies to know how many 30 year old women shop for shoes online, or 18 year old men shop for shoes online. It allows advertisers to focus their ads on the most likely

Denial of Service

Known as a DoS, it prevents honest legitimate users from accessing a website when hackers us a tactic of flooding the bandwidth with email or hits. The malware or worm will infect created by the hackers will infect your computer and email all your contacts a copy of the worm which will in turn email all their contacts a copy. Then all of the infected computers will send email or connect with your browser to try to make contact with a specific site. This flooding of information will slow the server to a crawl causing a denial of service from that site. This is usually done with malicious intent.


Browser Extentions are small programs that are installed in your browser to help it perform tasks not originally provided by the browser. Tasks like ad blocking, password managers, site protection to spell checkers. There are literally thousands of extensins. They are sometimes called, apps, ad-ins, and plug-ins but it is important to recognize that the only browser extensions that are allowed to be part of your browser are extensions that you have installed yourself. Several kinds of malware will add unwanted extensions like toolbars or other programs whose only prupose is to redirect you to retail sites trying to sell you something.


References the ability to use problem solving techniques like “trial-and-error” or having a self-educating ability by using feedback. Often shown as Heuristic-Engine or Heuristic Analysis. All a fancy way of saying your antivirus software can learn to recognize new viruses.

IP Address

Simply put it is the numerical label that is assigned to each device that uses the Internet Protocol (IP) for communication. Your computer has an IP address as does

Mail Server

Similar to a web server except it is designed to handle electronic mail instead of webpages. Google Mail is a mail server


Short for malicious software it is any software that is used to disrupt computer operations or to hide and gather information. They do this by gaining access to your system. Malware is capable of gathering private information. Often malware is called by other names like Ransomware, Scareware, adware, spyware. All are harmful to your system and your private information.

Open Sourced Software

Open-Sourced software is software that gives complete access to the source code to all users. Source Code is the code used to write software. Most companies guard their source code like a chef guards their recipe. If Norton 360 were to open their source code to users, they would be able to circumvent the code to make infecting computers easier. It would also be hard for a software company to remain in business if their source code could be copied and sold under another name. It is just good business to keep source code hidden. So why do some companies publish their source code. Good question. Programmers are allowed to view the actual code used to write the program and encouraged to make changes. The idea is that open sourced software has the ability to continually improve on the backs of some smart programmers with no expectation of payment. Programs like Libra, Apache Office are two very well known open sourced programs. They compete very well against Microsoft's Office suite but are free.


Refer to Ad-ins on this page.


Refer to Ad-ins on this page.


Acronym for Potentially Unwanted Programs. This does not mean that the program is infected but is not needed to operate your computer. I would normally delete all PUPs.


A type of malware that locks you out of your computer until you pay a ransom. In most cases, paying the ransom will free up the computer because for Ransomware to be effective, it has to show that once money is paid the data is released. Otherwise it would quickly die out as a form of malware. However, there have been cases where paying the ransom did still not release the data. It is always best to FIRST have a full backup of your system so you can delete the data with the ransomware and reinstall the new clean version The next best thing is to aggressively remove any ransomware from your computer prior to having to pay.


See Windows Registry.

Root Kit

This type of virus is different in the sense they tend to put themselves in the boot sector of you computer where normal antivirus programs cannot find them. Because, they are the first thing to load they have privileged access to your computer. It's biggest danger lies in the fact that it hides itself very well from the exact programs that are designed to find it. Removal is more difficult than most malware and is usually done from outside the computer before boot up. In some cases it actually takes a hardware change to remove the virus. Fortunately, the anti-virus industry is catching up and provide special tools to rid computers from most of them.


This is malware that uses a computer users fears into believing they have a serious problem on their computer. In some cases, it is just a webpage that appears on your screen, informing you that you are infected. You are not! Just turning off the program or the computer will put you right again. However, the first thing the scareware states is DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. CALL THIS NUMBER NOW. or some similar phrase. Do not call any number posted on a scareware screen. NO VALID company contacts you this way. Another form of scareware is threating emails. Delete any email warning you of a threat.

In some cases the user will initially search the web and download what they believe to be a free optimizer or other free but helpful software. The program will then produce what appears to be an amazing amount of “errors” that not too surprisingly they can fix for $19.95 or some other amount. Similar in nature is Driver Software. Informing you that your drivers are out of date and that installing new versions will speed up your computer. In reality what may be happening is: they are actually using software that is already free like CCleaner and it is defining actual problems on your computer. If you have never scanned your computer a new scan can easily bring up 1200 issues. Most of those issues are really nothing more that poor house keeping and CCleaner will clean and organize those issues. However, once you pay the Scareware people a fee, they will send you a copy of “free” program that will optimize your computer. On the other hand what many of them do is use a self made program very similar to CCleaner that will list every occurrence of an issue on your computer as an error but in actuality is not an error. For example if you have 3018 items in your recycle bin that just needed to be deleted it would list it at 3018 errors. Don’t fall for scareware. Prevent it from entering your system by turning it off or if you let it in, remove it from your system and try one of the many free alternatives available to you.


A sandbox or when a file is sandboxed means that a virtual box is placed around the file, shielding it from your computer. When you are using a sandbox, you may download any file to see how it would interact with your system. If it is infected it is not actually able to touch any part of your system. You may close the sandbox at anytime and everything within the sandbox will dissapear. This is an excellent way to try a download you are not sure about and check if it is a risk free file or not. Caution should be used that you never approve the file to leave the sandbox.


A software program that can gather information about you without your knowledge. It may send that information to someone else. It is commonly used for tracking and storing your movements on the web and in some cases use that information to send pop-up ads to your monitor. Spyware is also known as key loggers which log all keyboard action and therefore can capture your passwords, bank ID numbers and other private information. The are normally classified into four types. Trojans, Adware, System Monitors, ie key loggers, and tracking cookies.

Social Media

Social media is an internet based application that allows people to interact socially with one or more individuals. Examples are: Facebook. Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Tic-Toc and an ever growing list of new versions. Sites you would not consider social media sites are. Pinterest, Esty, etc. All allow you upload text, photos or videos to share with others. At best they are perfect places to meet like minded people and share photos and ideas with others. At worse they are sites that allow the "far left" or "far right" and other radical views to be expressed. I served my country to protect our freedoms with free speech being one of them. It hurts me to see any radical views expressed in an open forum as if it is main stream communication. Use caution in expressing your views on these sites and if you do have strong views then I encourage you to protect yourself by using a VPN. Arguing over the best lemon tart is not radical. If fear of sounding like a scaremonger, another downside to social media is the sharks that infest its waters. They take your birthday, vacation days,children's and pets names as well as all your relatives and are capable of using algorithms to develop potential passwords to hack your system or even in the physical world, take advantage of you. If you proudly announce that Amazon is delivering your $699.99 dollar Hexclad Hybrid cookware set kitchen tool on Tuesday, don't be surprised when it's not there, especially now that everyone knows.


Toolbars are normally a part of a program that allows you to select certain tools to make using an application easier. For example, in Windows, you have a toolbar (in this case called a taskbar), but it functions the same. it gives you fast easy ways to perform tasks. The same way that browsers have a toolbar. None of these toolbars are a problem. The issue is when a PUP or other malicious code installs a toolbar into your browser masked as a way to make things easier for you. Don't be fooled, it is not a good idea to allow a toolbar that is not already part of your browser to exist. Remove it. It is put there to redirect you and control what you see as you browse. The toolbar provided with your browser can be configured to do just about anything you might need.


Defined as Transmission Control Protocol, it is the core protocol of the Internet Protocol Suite. It started as Internet Protocol and now is listed as TCP/IP. This protocol provides error checking or the individual packets of information that is sent between the web and client servers. It is used by the WWW, Email and FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Tracking Cookies

Tracking cookies are very similar to cookies but they are intended to create revenue for the individuals that create them. They are not put on your computer by normal websites but by third party entities. They tend to track your total usage across all websites. This is usually not desirable, because it keeps track of everywhere you go and everything you do and buy. No tracking cookies are not good to have on your computer and some are very dangerous by sending the information they track to individuals you would not want having that information.

Trojon Horse

A type of Malware. Named after the story of the Trojan Horse, they infect your computer by acting as useful items like a program or an attachment to an email. Trojans normally do not infect other files like a virus or make copies of themselves like Worms. Trojans contain malicious code that carries out actions they may cause system harm or steal information from the user.


Defined as the Uniform Resource Locator which is the location of the resource on a computer network and has the mechanism for retrieving it. Sometimes pronounced "Earl". URLs reference web pages (https), email as (mailto) and file transfer as (FTP) The address bar in your browser displays the URL. Websites like ( ( URLs.


A term used to describe a malicious piece of software that replicates itself by inserting copies into other computer programs and files. They may also reside in the boot sector of the hard drive or your computer's memory. Most viruses are harmful, some are playfully malicious causing no permanent damage but none the less all viruses should be removed from your computer. Also known as a computer bug.


An acronym for Virtual Private Network. A VPN can mask your current (actual) location and show the network a different location. Most VPN's allow you to determine what location you are supposed to be physically and some use a rotating number of remote servers to change your location several times. VPN's are vital for users in countries that prohibit visiting restricted sites. You may be in China but your VPN will show you in Canada, allowing you to visit otherwise restricted sites. If you are using a public network, like a hotel's cafe's or even something like a hospital using a VPN can keep your information private. It is also a way for regular users to mask who and where they are. If you are a radical believer in just about anything and express your views, both you and the radical people that dislike your views can protect their identity with a VPN. Note: Your internet provider can sees everything thing you do and everyplace you visit. Some even employ throttling, which is a way to reduce your bandwidth if you exceed you allotted bandwidth. This can easily happen with video streaming networks. However, a VPN can mask who you are preventing the throttling.

Web Server

An internet server or Web server is a special computer which is constantly switched on and connected to the internet so that each internet user using a browser anywhere in the world can access a given website at anytime. Most Web servers are made to endure the work and high load of the internet. Web servers rent sections of the servers in what is defined as Web Hosting. This allows individuals like me to put our work on a server where it is given a unique address that can be accessed by a user by typing that address into their browser.

Windows 11

After declairing that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows, many people were suprised to see Windows 11 roll out. It was kept secret for quite a while but Windows insiders have been using it for months. Shortly to be released to the public, it is not getting a lot of good reviews but they is because people do not understand the attempt Windows is trying to make in securing Window users now and in the future. The requirements are the main issue. Most computer's bought before two years ago do not have the hardware required to operate without encountering problems. However, it is not Microsoft's aim to make it unavailable to the average user, just the opposite. Windows 10 will continue to be supported for years to come. Eventually users will purchase a new computer and it will be able to handle Windows 11 and have already installed. The whole Windows 11 issue is security, security security. The extreme restrictions they are putting on your system will make it virtually impossible for hackers to get in. Without going into the whys and how's, just stay with your Windows 10 until you have to move on.

Windows Registry

The registry is a database that holds the settings for all the hardware, programs and applications running on your computer. There is no one file for the registry but rather a collection of files that make up the Windows Registry. Every program must register itself with Windows even Window programs. It tells everything where, what and how it is supposed to function within the Windows Operating System. Without the registry, programs might try and occoupy the same memory space causing constant crashes.


A computer worm is a program that replicates itself and attempts to spread to other computers most commonly through a network. Unlike a virus a worm does not need to attach itself to another program on your computer. Worms are most know for what is known as "denial of service attacks" where they spread themselves so much and so fast that they bog the bandwidth of etworks and can be used to target certain ISP's.prevent regular users from accessing a site.

Zero Day Exploits

Zero Day Exploits can actually be any type of malware. The determining factor is it has not been discovered yet by your operating system or by your malware protection programs. Most malware and antimalware have a lot in common with real world viruses. When your body is infected with a virus, it develops antibodies to fight it off. If successful, those antibodies will always recognize that virus and know how to fight it off if it tries to infect you again. That is how vaccines work. They infect your body with "weak" virus cells which carry the signature of that virus. This allows your body to recognize them in the future. Malware also have unique signatures that antimalware programs recognize and can prevent you system from becoming infected. However, whenever a new virus is introduced, like this Corona virus your body does not have a way to fight it because it has never see its signature before. That is exactly what a Zero Day Exploit is. Your operating system has never seen it before so it exploits your system before your malware protection programs can stop it. The good news is that antimalware companies are developing better ways to stop a virus even if it has never seen it before by analyzing the code and the style used to create it. These new antimalware stop any virus that has a code similar in style even if has never seen the virus before.