The world is a fast-paced place and the internet is even more so. As it has evolved over time, so has the language we use to talk about it. Whether you’re talking about hyperlinks or bandwidth, there are just certain terms used only in the realm of computers.
Alternatively, there are also plenty of common, everyday words used in English that are spelled the same, but mean something entirely different in tech terms. Cookies, for instance, do not represent a delicious baked good with chocolate morsels. Similarly, spam is not a disgusting rendition of salted, processed ham, either.
From memes and mouses to bits, bytes, and blogs, one could literally compose an entire dictionary just out of the words, phrases, and acronyms being constantly used online. While you have likely seen these tech terms thousands of times before, there is a good chance that you, along with the majority of the millions of internet users, don’t have a clue of what these words and phrases actually stand for. Thankfully, we’ve put together this list of 30 of the most-used tech terms today that most people have no idea what they mean.
For instance, if you just bought an awesome speaker on Amazon, expect to see advertisements for other speakers, sound systems, and accessories the next time you visit the webstore.
It is usually seen as a file extension, where the .pdf follows the name of a readable document you are either opening, saving, or sharing.
Ever since HTML-enabled emails hit the scene, it turned the billions of short-scripted messages we send and receive into the brilliantly colored, formatted and interactive messages we receive without ever having to download it to our hard drive. Truly, it’s a beautiful thing.
Unfortunately, this type of “junk mail” is so ubiquitous that most email service providers automatically have a folder designated specifically for spam, but we are happy it’s there.
They can either come with a cord or be wireless, and most nowadays use a small laser projected onto a surface that lets you guide your cursor wherever your heart desires.
Conversely, bytes are comprised of 8 “sets” of bits and account for just one character in the computers memory. While bits are generally used to determine the transfer speeds of data, a byte measures things like your hard disk space, memory, and a file’s size.
Most computers come with several USB ports, making it possible to utilize many devices at once while simultaneously transferring information in text, music, video, or games between them.
The term “meme” was essentially hijacked from the concept put forth by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. Published in 1976, in the book the word is used to define how these types of “cultural information” get passed around.
Nowadays a blog can either be run personally or commercially. Commercial blogs pay different writers to cover a wide variety of topics whereas most personal blogs stick to one or two niche subjects.
Viruses are sometimes referred to as worms because that is the best way to describe their actions; worming their way through the memory and hard drive of your computer. Unlike a standard virus, worms can replicate themselves as invisible files and eat up so much of your disk space that it can cause your computer to crash. Basically, if you have either of them it isn’t good.
Most hackers don’t concern themselves with your average, everyday citizens, but they repeatedly try to hack through the security programming of large corporations every day.
In internet terms, a firewall might not keep actual fires at bay, but it does still function in much the same way. On a computer, a firewall restricts the types of data that are allowed to pass through and curbs any damage caused by unauthorized users.
This is the next level generation in cellular data technology. Essentially, the main difference that has everyone talking is faster download speeds, with a minimum average of up to 50Mbps compared to the current average of 15Mbps.
Bandwidth operates much like the river analogy, but in terms of frequency. The higher the frequency the more bps of data that can travel through it at one time, which increases the speed of retrieving and sending data.
Different websites have different dashboards. So, your online banking, for instance, will have its own dashboard with widgets like bill pay, account activity, lines of credit, etc., while your Fit Bit dashboard will have widgets pertaining to steps, burned calories, distance traveled and so on.
You know all those cables you normally plug into the AV inputs on your TV for audio and video? Well, with HDMI you can get all the functions of those cables in just one, albeit a fat one. Since HDMI operates digitally, it does away with the need for conversion from analog to digital and that is why the high-def video is of such a superior quality.
HTTPS is the same thing, only the “S” stands for secure. These are used for websites that collect private information, like your bank, and it encrypts the information being transmitted. These pages will usually display a padlock icon before the URL to denote that is is a secure website.
The only real downside to open source software is that it generally doesn’t come with any tech support, but the good news is that you can find out how to troubleshoot most common issues via web forums and chat rooms.
Plug-ins, also known as add-ons, are software that can be installed within other software programs to add specific functions that don’t come with it.
When someone inserts a hashtag into a post, it acts as an alert to all the people who follow that particular hashtag. Hashtags do not have any spaces or punctuation between words, and typically represent a movement or cultural issue that people want to stay up to date on. So, when they follow a certain hashtag, like #ilovedogs, and you insert that hashtag into one of your posts, it will alert the people following the hashtag.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to hang back and observe how people interact with one another on any given platform to get a good idea about how to conduct yourself in that arena.
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While there are plenty of crazy tech terms floating around out there and more being created all the time, at least you won’t stump on these more common ones. The internet is a rabbit hole, folks, and it’s no different when it comes to the words and phrases used to explain it and all things computing. The good thing is, you can always use the internet to find out what they mean.
H/T: D. Allison Lee