13 Tech Terms You Should Never Say Again

Avram Piltch, Laptopmag.com
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13 Tech Terms You Should Never Say Again

You’d never describe your USB Flash drive as a floppy disk, even though it serves the same purpose. You wouldn’t think of referring to the network admin who runs your servers as a "keypunch operator." So why did you tell your daughter that you are "filming" her dance recital on a digital camera?

Upgrade your thought-to-speech engine by avoiding these 13 confusing or outdated tech terms.


Dial (verb)

Rotary phones were on their way out when Ronald Reagan took the oath of office for the first time. Today, landline phones with physical push buttons are all but dead too. Every time you say that you're dialing someone's number, Alexander Graham Bell turns over in his grave. Just say you're calling, inputting or entering a phone number any time you try to initiate a call.

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Tune In / Stay Tuned

Remember the last time you had to adjust the tuning on your TV? You knew there was a problem with the picture, because Tom Selleck had snow in his moustache and it never snows in Hawaii. You wanted to switch channels during the commercial break, but there was a chance you might come back too late and miss the exciting conclusion so you had to "stay tuned."

Today, most young adults have never even seen a rabbit ear. So please, I'm begging you. Don't tell online users to "tune in" to your live streaming video. And for Jobs' sake, don't tell people to "stay tuned" when you want them to wait for more information after a period of delay (ex: "Will Apple really release an iPhone 6 this year? Stay tuned.").

Tape (verb)

I haven’t owned a VCR in 10 years, but for some reason the verb " tape," referring to the act of capturing a TV show for later viewing, is stuck to my brain like a Wacky Wall Wacker. Don’t make my mistake. You’re either “recording” a show or you’re "DVRing" it. Also, if you're using the word "TiVo" and you don’t own one, stop it.

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When you think about it, the word "webcam" has never made sense. Yes, you can conduct a video chat through your browser using tools like Google Talk, but for the most part, people have always conducted video chats through standalone applications such as Skype, ooVoo and FaceTime.

A camera that’s designed for chats should be called a "connected camera" or a "video-conferencing cam" but not a webcam. Or just call it camera. It’s not like the camera doesn’t work when you’re not online.

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Blog (noun)

We need to stop using the term "blog" to refer to news sites. First the earth cooled and the dinosaurs came. Then personal web pages appeared on hosting sites like Geocities, but adding new content to them was a hassle. Then, in the early 2000s, blog platforms such as Blogger and Wordpress emerged and made it so easy to publish articles that both professional writers and amateur ranters started using them.

Unfortunately, even though it’s nothing more than a type of CMS, the term "blog" has developed a very negative connotation. Google ranks sites it thinks are "blogs" lower in search and if you tell people you work for a blog as opposed to a website, they may wrongly assume that there’s no real journalism going on.

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Desktop Computer

Back when I was in grade school, every computer was horizontal and sat on top of a table. Then, at around the same time that Vanilla Ice topped the charts, manufacturers started producing tower cases that you put on the floor. In the quarter century since, the term "desktop computer" has come to define any PC that isn’t portable, no matter where it stands.

Whether it’s an All-in-One with the screen built-in, a tiny ITX case that sits on a flat surface or a mid-tower that lives on the floor, it’s a "stationary PC" not a desktop.

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Film (verb)

Unless you’re an old-school Hollywood director who insists on using 65mm reels to shoot his next blockbuster, you capture all your videos and photos digitally. So don’t say you’re going to "film" anything, unless you’re taking the reels or cartridges to Fotomat for processing. Instead say that you are "shooting," "recording" or "capturing video."


You wouldn't call your car a mobile air conditioner. You'd never refer to your microwave oven as a digital clock with heating ability or your PC as a Skype box. So why on earth do you still call your pocket computer a "smartphone?"

According to a recent study by UK Carrier O2, typical smartphone users spend 128 minutes a day actively interacting with their devices, but only 12 of those minutes involve voice calls, with the rest of the time split between emailing, text messaging, social networking and consuming on-device content apps. So you need to call that item in your hand a "pocket computer," "a communicator" or something else that reflects its primary purpose.

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Surf the Web

In the mid-nineties, when the web was new, people thought of browsing through sites as a lightweight pastime with little practical value. I'm sure this conversation happened a lot back then:

"What were you doing this afternoon?"
"Oh, I was just surfing the web, killing time."

Today, we use web sites for shopping, banking and doing serious productivity through web tools. You can "use" the web, "browse" the web or "navigate" to a website, but please don't say that you "surfed" the web.

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Desktop Publishing

In the days of yore, magazines and newspapers were laid out on giant lightboxes with glue and exacto knives used to move stories around on the page. Then, in the 1990s, better computers with programs like QuarkXpress and Adobe PageMaker allowed anyone to design printed works with the click of a mouse. This new, computerized form of production was named "desktop publishing" because you could do all the work, right from your desk, without whipping out the wax.

In 2013, however, all layout occurs on computers. There's no more "non-desktop pufblishing" so it's time to call this process simply "publishing."

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Personal Cloud

GE couldn't get away with calling its refrigerators "personal supermarkets" just as Honda could never refer to its minivans as "personal MTA buses." So how can storage vendors such as Iomega and Seagate call their network-attached hard drives "Personal Cloud" devices?

When it comes to Cloud storage and services, the hardware and software aren't the responsibility of the user. Somewhere a team of network engineers is burning the midnight oil to keep the server with your Dropbox account on it running, but as far as you know, it all just works. A hard drive that's plugged in to your router is not a Cloud unto itself; it's a connected storage device.

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Super Phone

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's an HTC Droid DNA! As if the term Smart Phone weren't bad enough, some say that high-end handsets are "Super Phones." Don't even think of writing those two words next to each other.

It's presumptuous to roll out the big superlatives for an entire class of gadgets, based on their specs alone. I'll decide whether your handset is super or not; thank you very much.

And when today's $299 quad-core iPhone killer becomes next month's "free with contract" budget special, how will you explain the change to your children? Will you tell them that the Super Phone was hit with Kryptonite?

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Set-Top Box

When I was growing up, our old Zenith TV was deep enough to double as dining room table for a family of four, with room to spare for a cable box. Today, you'd be lucky if you could balance a USB stick on top of most peoples' flat-panels. It's time you stopped calling peripherals like the Roku and Apple TV set-top boxes.

Call them "TV peripherals," "Streaming Media Boxes" or even "Set-Bottom Boxes," but don't pretend they can fix on top of the tube when they can't. Heck, the Roku Streaming Stick is the size of a thumb drive and plugs right into your big screen.

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