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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Technology-A Foreign Language

People who are very successful with technology often speak a language that is difficult to understand for anyone who is new to technology. Don't fear! You can learn this foreign language at least well enough to understand what is said to you. There are even places where you can look up words you do not understand.  This blog post will be a lesson in speaking Techeze.

Basic words and concepts:

File Size - File size is measured by the terms below. They actually measure how much information in 1's and 0's is in each file. All computers are on a binary system meaning that every piece of information is only made of 1's and 0's.
Bits-The tiniest measure. This actually is measuring down to the 1 and the 0 
Byte-A byte equals 8 bits. It is not the term you usually see. 
Kilobyte - or KB If you have a file which is measured in KB it means that it is pretty small. Sometimes emails and word processing documents are this size. It is from 1-999 bytes. 
Megabyte - or MB From here on you just multiply by 1000 to get the next size. Megabytes go from 1000 to 999,000 bytes. 1000 bytes is the same as 1 MB. When you see anything with ,000 you know that the numbers before that will tell you how many megabytes something is. Things like photos are often measured in Megabytes and sometimes a photo is too large (too many megabytes) to be uploaded or used by a program. 
Gigabyte - or GB Multiply again by 1000 and you have gigabytes. One gigabyte is 1,000,000. Most computers and other devices that you buy now tell you how many GB of storage you are getting. Movies are measured in gigabytes.  
Terabyte - or TB Multiply again by 1000 and you have terabytes. One terabyte is 1,000,000,000. I only mention this because there was a time a few years ago when a Gigabyte seemed like an impossible amount of data for a computer to use, but now we think of it as normal. Right now I suppose that mainly large businesses, especially those that provide storage space for items (part of the cloud) use Terabytes as a measurement.

Cloud - The cloud is just what people are now calling the thousands of computers that store your data. This blog is stored somewhere on a computer that Google owns or the part of Google that does Blogger. If you use Picasa or Flickr to store your pictures they are also "on the cloud" or on a computer owned by the company.

Upload - When something is on your computer and you put it up onto another computer (the cloud) it is called uploading.

Download - This is more common. When you download a program or app you are just getting a copy of it from another computer. It comes "down" onto your computer.

Analog vs. Digital - Clocks can be analog (the ones with two hands) or digitial (using numerals usually). Many things that were analog are now becoming digital. Records that played on record players with needles were analog, CDs are digital. Movies on VCR tapes were analog, DVDs are digital.

Bluetooth - A way for one device to talk to another one without wires, similar to infrared signals. There are wireless printers that can communicate with your computer or iPad using Bluetooth.

Boot - to start up. Computers are actually pretty dumb. They don't even know how to turn on unless someone programs them to do it. When you press the on button on your computer it does a bunch of things in the background to turn on and work. That is why it sometimes takes a while.

Cache - This is a place where your computer keeps things for a short amount of time. One example is a list of what websites you have gone to. They are actually downloaded into the cache so when you go and do something else and then come back to that site it can work faster because it is already in the cache. The cache takes up some memory and so sometimes if your computer is running slowly you will be asked to clear the cache.

Crossplatform - A platform is a type of computer. I am writing this on a MacBook. This blogpost is crossplatform because it can open in a PC or on an iPad.

File Formats
.xls and xlsx - spreadsheet
.doc and docx -  document
.ppt -  PowerPoint project
.mov - Movie
.avi - audio or sound file
.png and .jpg - picture (these are the best formats for saving photos that you want to see online)
.gif - picture (this is used more for drawings or illustrations that have less colors)
.bmp - picture (these are HUGE files, but retain ALL of the information so that the picture can be worked on later without losing quality.

hard drive - The hard drive of the computer is the main place where all of the information is stored. Your programs and any files that you have saved are on the hard drive.

defragment - When your computer runs slowly it may need to be defragmented. Imagine that the information that your computer uses is stored in pie shaped pieces on the circle of the hard drive. However instead of putting the pieces back in slots right next to each other the computer leaves empty space between them. Defragmenting is like pushing all of the pie slices together so that there is more empty space. If you do not do this once in a while your computer may think that it is full when it is not!

domain - When you go to a website the domain is in the first part of the address. For example is the cnn domain. I have my own domain called I pay annually to keep this name (my domain name).

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

LAN - Local Area Network. This is a way of connecting computers and printers in a small area. For example a school might have a local area network where all of the computers and printers are connected to each other.

WAN - Wide Area Network. This is the way that computers are connected outside of the LAN. This means that the computers are connected to the Internet and other computers.

Safe Mode - Sometimes when your computer starts it will go into Safe Mode. There are lots of files that make your computer work. In Safe Mode most of them are not enabled so that you (or someone who fixes computers) can figure out what is going wrong and fix it without messing up all of the other files. Unless I am having the same problem repeatedly I usually choose to go ahead and do a normal start up. If I am having a bigger problem and my computer keeps going into safe mode I look for a real geek.

Sync - Now that people are using smart phones and iPads and other devices they often have more than one device with a calendar, email, music list, etc... Syncing is the thing that you do in order to get all of the SAME information onto all of the devices.

User Interface - You are the user and the interface is what you actually see when you use a computer. If you did not have an interface you would see code that stands for 1's and 0's and you wouldn't be able to make sense of it.

Well, That is only a beginning There are lots of lists of technical words on the internet if you need to look something else up!


These all come from the same site, but they are divided into different categories.

Finally, if you still don't understand something you can type it into a Google search and you should find lots of results that may help you understand it!


  1. Very comprehensive list of definitions. I wish I had this a couple of years ago when I was confused about all this stuff. I guess now I would be considered at the very least a techie, at worst a geek.

    1. Thanks for commenting! It makes so much difference to understand this stuff, but I know it also helps when you experience it to really "get it".