hDo you ever feel like you need a translator when it comes to speaking with people in IT? If so, you’re not alone. According to the BBC online article Gadget Jargon Still Confuses Many, this problem has become so common there is now a Plain English Campaign underway to tear down the “walls of techno-babble” and to rid the world of computer jargon.
A survey conducted by the Gadget Helpline” resulted in the following list of the Top Ten Technology Terms laypeople find the most confusing. That is, these were the ten most confusing terms at the time this blog was being written. There will probably be ten new ones by lunchtime!
For those of you who not fluent in Techno Speak, I have looked up these terms online and done my best to decipher their definitions.
Dongle – A small, portable piece of hardware that connects to your computer. For example, a USB device.
Cookie– Small parcels of text sent by a server to your web browser which may track or maintain information related to your browsing practices. Cookies have some positive uses, like remembering your login in and password so that you don’t have to sign back into a site (such as Facebook or Yahoo Mail), each time you visit it and they make online shopping carts possible.
WAP – A WAP is a unit used to measure the size of a software program. One WAP is equivalent to one-hundred thousand lines of source code.
Phone Jack – I thought maybe this was a trick term. Who doesn’t know what a phone jack is? Then it struck me; there are new millenials who cut their teeth on cell phones and who have had little experience with landlines. Maybe this was a case of a term being too old rather than too new to be understood by some of the people surveyed.
Navi Key – Answers.com defines Navi Key (short for Navigation Key) as “a keyboard key used to move the pointer around the screen.” On a traditional keyboard, the Navi Keys are your four arrow keys With the advent of the mouse and the touch screen, Navi Keys have become superfluous on keyboards, but they now appear on those portable electronic devices on which you have to navigate up, down, and sideways to display objects on a screen.
Time Shifting – Recording a program so you can watch or listen to it later.
Digital TV – Apparently while many of the people surveyed own a digital TV, they have little concept of how it actually works. TV According to Answers.com, digital TV is the encoding of picture information into digital signals which are transmitted and then decoded by a receiver. Digital TV is a time series of discrete signals “consisting of a sequence of quantities… A time series that is a function over a domain of discrete integers.” Is there an algebra teacher in the house?
Ethernet – No, this term does not refer to the anaesthetizing effects of the web during prolonged surfing. Rather it has more to do with that jumble of cables behind your desk. The Ethernet consists of the cables and access points used to connect local area networks (LAN), which may include computers, printers, and other shared hardware, not to mention your DSL cable if you haven’t graduated to WiFi.
PC Suite – Nokia’s PC Suite is a proprietary software package that allows Nokia mobile devices to interface with computers running on Microsoft Windows.
Desktop – (1) A flat surface used to collect all manner of clutter; (2) What you see on your monitor: your background, virtual folders, icons representing the programs you frequently access, and the fingerprint left by a co-worker who pointed something out while eating greasy fries.