How To Understand Tech Jargon


Let’s face it, saying or writing GPU is a lot easier and quicker than Graphics Processing Unit, or even the terribly 90s WYSIWYG instead of What You See Is What You Get –who still says that, anyway? But sometimes the gobbledegook can be challenging.

Tech terminology, abbreviations, and acronyms are not quite as flowery as militaryisms. For example, FUBAR and SNAFU –my favourite.– but often they do need some explaining to the uninitiated. Here are some terms you may or may not have encountered:

301 Redirect

A permanent redirect from one website URL to another, usually meaning a website has been updated or moved.

404

This is the dreaded error message you see when a website doesn’t exist or is unreachable. It can also be customised by the site owner in order to give the user either more information or simply to make the unwelcome error a little more amusing.


GUI

Pronounced gooey, this means Graphical User Interface and it’s the friendly side of a program you see when programmers have finished their work in the backroom.

Scrum

Nothing to do with rugby, unfortunately, but can be explained thus:

A framework for managing product development used in agile software development. In Scrum, projects are divided into succinct work cadences known as “sprints,” which are usually one, two, or three weeks long. At the end of each sprint, the team meets to assess their progress and plan the next sprint. One key to Scrum’s popularity and success is that it has a simple set of roles, responsibilities, and meetings that never change.

Yawn…

UX

Used to refer to the overall user web experience from beginning to end, where the user interface (UI) plays a vital role. Possibly related to XP which denotes Experience Points in gaming.


Back-end

The part of an application –a website for example– that is not visible to the user. In WordPress, this is usually referred to as the Dashboard.

Bit

The smallest unit of measurement used in computing terms– 8 bits make up 1 byte, usually.

RAM

Random Access Memory is the computer’s memory and often confused with hard drive disk space –“I’m running out of memory!” – the more RAM you have installed, the more programs can be run at once by the PC without slowing down.

Here are some of the weirder terms used in tech, that even I had never come across– until now.

Egosurf

To search the Internet for any references to oneself.


Warning: you may not like what you find. ***

Lamestream

A contemptuous reference to mainstream media– BBC, CNN, Fox News, for example.

Dox

To publish material about another person on the Internet with malicious intent. Hence, you’ve been doxed.

Aldesko

This is one of my favourites and it’s a play on alfresco, meaning to eat lunch whilst at your desk.


Meatspace

The physical world outside your front door, as opposed to the virtual world. Not to be confused with MITR Meat In The Room, when people are pushed into a meeting, for example, simply to fill up space and give the illusion of a crowd.

Screenager

A young person with an aptitude for computers and the Internet. Usually burns up a keyboard with the speed of their frenetic typing, actually producing smoke.

First World problem

A trivial problem or frustration, implying a contrast with a very serious problem that may be experienced in a developing country. A feeling I know all too well.

Cyberchondriac

Someone who compulsively searches the Internet for an imagined or perceived illness, often leading to feelings of doom.


*** The same applies.

KOS

Kill On Site – often used to indicate data that should be deleted or hardware that needs to be retired. Originates in gaming as Kill On Sight.

Sneakernet

The old fashioned way of transferring data to someone else, i.e, copying it to a flash drive or some other external device and then walking across the office to hand it to them.

HCF

Halt And Catch Fire – a type of machine language instruction that would cause the computer to cease operations. Also the name of an excellent TV series.

In a way, Halt and Catch Fire is essentially a turn of phrase. It engages a common mythical or metaphoric conception around computers– namely, that overworking a computer system would cause it to overheat and literally burn or burst into flames.

PEBKAC

Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair – a favourite amongst helpline operatives and also used as PICNIK – Problem In Chair Not In Keyboard. See CKI – Chair Keyboard Interface.

POTATO

Person Over Thirty Acting Twenty One – please tell me if I ever do this, for pity’s sake.

OBNR

Open But Not Responded

If you can think of any more wacky terms and acronyms, please let me know in the comments section.

About the Author

Marc Thomas

Marc is an avid traveler, motorcyclist, entrepreneur, and gamer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. His interest in computers and technology began in the early 1990's when he was introduced by a friend to a Zenith Data Systems computer running DOS. In the years following he has experienced all versions of the Windows operating system, built hundreds of systems, and fixed many more for his customers. Marc also has an interesting forum you might like to check out at Argentina Expats

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