Technology

Jargon buster: A guide to some of the most confusing tech terms

January 27, 2013

When confronted with tech jargon, the stress and frustration levels of the study’s male participants increased considerably. — shutterstock.com picWhen confronted with tech jargon, the stress and frustration levels of the study’s male participants increased considerably. — shutterstock.com pic

A small neurological study published recently discovered that understanding computer jargon is more difficult than understanding a foreign language - especially for men, whose negative reactions to terms such as ‘cache' and ‘phablet' were 138 percent higher than those of the women who participated in the research.

Here are the 10 most frustrating terms identified by the study, complete with their definitions:

Algorithm
A set of instructions or functions needed to complete a task. That task could be applying a filter to a digital image or performing an internet search for a term typed into Google. Therefore all software is made up of algorithms, each one of which provides a function or a feature of the application.

Beta
If a piece of software or a web service is labelled as ‘Beta' it means that it is not quite perfect. It works but there are still bugs that need to be identified -- maybe the algorithms are missing certain instructions or contain too many functions, but only by user testing can these problems be found quickly and corrected.

Cache
When surfing the web a browser will store or ‘cache' recently viewed pages on the device's hard drive so that clicking on the back and forward arrows will immediately load a recently viewed page. A web page saved to the hard drive is quicker to access and load than re-accessing and reloading it from the internet.

Computers also have a disk cache. This stores recently used files that were originally accessed on the hard disk in the computer's RAM, again because accessing RAM is quicker and smoother than accessing the hard disk.

Phablet
A portmanteau of the words ‘phone' and ‘tablet,' the term was created to describe the most recent trend in smartphones for devices with screen sizes ranging between 4.8 and 6+ inches..

Vlogging
A compound of ‘video' and ‘blogging', vlogging describes keeping a blog that uses video clips. With the launch of its new app, Vine, microblogging site Twitter has now become a microvlogging site because as well as being able to post 160-charcter text updates, users can now also share similarly concise 6-second video clips

Phishing
The art of using electronic bait to snare people into sharing personal information. A phishing attack can be obvious and easy to spot like the spam emails purporting to be from Nigerian businessmen who want your account details so that they can safely transfer money out of the country, or they can be much more sophisticated such as an ‘official' email from PayPal or from your bank asking you to click on a link to confirm your identity and re-enter passwords and other sensitive information.

ISP
Short for Internet Service Provider it is the technical term for the company that you pay for your internet connection.

Trojan
Referring to the Trojan Horse that Greek soldiers hid inside to attack the city of Troy.
In computing, a Trojan is therefore a nasty surprise hidden inside something that appears to be a legitimate piece of software. When installed on a computer, the virus or malware is released and it wreaks havoc on the device. The latest Microsoft Computer Security Survey found that the most popular way of hiding viruses and malware has become software key generators, small programs used to generate authentic key codes and serial numbers for illegal or cracked copies of applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop.

Geo-tagging
The process of adding geographical information to a file. One of the big camera trends for 2013 is geo-tagging, when a photo is taken the geographical location (that is, the camera's latitude and longitude coordinates at the precise moment the photo was taken) is saved as part of the image file. Geo-tagging is also a common feature on most smartphones as they come with a built-in GPS tracker for navigation and maps apps.

Back-end
When using a web browser or accessing an app, such as Google Maps, the front end is what the user sees, whether it's video images, navigation instructions or items for sale on a retail site. The back end is the information and software stored on the servers that creates the pages that the users see. Put simply, the back end is where all of the work happens. — AFP-Relaxnews