CART0669,CART0470

“Get a Personal Trainer for Your Computer!”©

Let’s face it:  Most of us don’t have any idea what half of the computer-related acronyms* (“CRAs”??) and portmanteaus* stand for. They multiply like rabbits.  Even the pros, if pressed, can’t always explain exactly what many of them really mean. So, in the interest of making us all appear more intelligent, here’s a plain-English decoder (Computer Glossary) for at least some of the current, popular computer acronyms, terms and buzz words:

HOW TO USE THIS COMPUTER GLOSSARY:  CLICK THE FIRST LETTER OF YOUR ACRONYM OR TERM TO SEARCH THROUGH THE COMPUTER GLOSSARY, THEN SCROLL DOWN ALPHABETICALLY:

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

*Definitions

An acronym is created by using the initial letter(s) of each of the terms in a longer definition (think: Enterprise Resource Planning = ERP; RADAR = Radio Detection and Ranging)

A portmanteau is created by contracting two or more parts of words to shorten a longer definition (think: smoke + fog = smog; motor +_hotel = motel; modulator/demodulator = modem).  [To find out what this word has to do with Humpty Dumpty, click HERE.]

Then, there’s a bacronym (“reverse” acronym), which is constructed the same way as an acronym, except the words are chosen to fit each of the (first) letters of the term. (Think: Amber Alert = America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response, fitting the first name of Amber Hagerman, the girl whose name started the program). Concatenation, which has a special use in encryption, attaches one character string to another (e.g. foot + ball = football).

Parenthetically, while we’re talking about words, a palindrome is a  word (“Otto” or “kayak” or “Hannah”) or sequence of letters or numbers (“12321”) or even a phrase (“A Santa at NASA”)  which is the same whether spelled backward or forward.  Derived from the Greek palin (“again”) + drome (“course”).  I don’t think you’ll find many of those in this Glossary, however.  An ambigram is a similar device, but actually represents a different word when read in each direction, due to the calligraphy (e.g. “angel” left-to-right, “devil” right-to-left”; see the Sun Microsystems logo)

 See, you’ve probably already learned something!

HOW THE GLOSSARY HAS EXPANDED

By now, you’ve probably noticed that this computer glossary didn’t stop with just acronyms. [The original name for this glossary was the “Acronym Decoder”] That became impossible, because explaining the acronyms required some basic word definitions themselves.  Then some slang terms came into the picture.  Historical background as well.  And, of course, photos, links and diagrams to aid the definitions.  Videos as well.  Even more so, some computer glossary items became so large that they merited their own separate page. 

Moreover, the mainstream adoption of the Mac and Linux operating systems merited their own pages and glossary terms as well.

You’ll also note that there are many definitions concerning cable, television, home theater, satellite, cellphones, smart phones, faxes and telephones. This is because there is substantial overlap with computers in these areas (known as “convergence”), since computers are now used for social networking, communications and entertainment as well as data processing, and more recently the “Internet of Things” (see the definition).  As a result, many of the definitions contain historical context showing how they evolved.

However, while the computer glossary has grown exponentially, the original “Acronym Decoder” title and mission nevertheless remain the same.  

MOST POPULAR COMPUTER GLOSSARY SEARCH TERMS:  Cloud computing, Bits & Bytes, Base X, Spyware, Cable & Connector Photos, RAM,  Memory, Social Networking, Privacy.

RECENTLY ADDED OR REVISED IN THE COMPUTER GLOSSARY:    The Singularity, P = NP, catfish, Raspberry Pi, munging, fork, Slenderman, Skeutomorph, pwn, checksum, Arduino, creepypasta, Venmo, Trope.

RECENTLY ADDED ”NAMES” PAGE:   In the interest of historical completeness, the founders of many of the companies or inventors of various hardware or software are named throughout this Glossary, often with their photos, so you can see what they actually look like.  There were so many that they are now listed on the “NAMES” page.  See how many of them you can associate with their accomplishments.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Writing is a craft.  Whether it is fiction or fact, those of us who write for a living aspire to provide the reader with perfection.  Moreover, in the case of non-fiction, we seek to establish trust, based on the  accuracy, completeness and currency of the content.   But readability is king - I want you to say to yourself - “I get that now.  That was easy.  Wow!”  So, I’ve tried to break down every definition into its simplest possible components.  After all, you always start with nothing, a blank page, and end with something. 

From my personal experience, I believe that COMMUNICATION  is THE paramount skill one can have, even more important than raw intelligence; you can probably learn more from someone with limited knowledge who communicates well than you can from a genius who can’t express himself.  Born salespeople and politicians are “great communicators” but not necessarily the brightest people.  [Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be both!] Perfection is a shifting target, especially with an impossibly fast-moving internet publication like this, hence the daily site revisions. 

Moreover, perfection requires PRECISION of expression.  [I can’t stand it when writing contains misstatements, like reporting the taking down of the CryptoLocker botnet, implying that computer users are safe, but failing to mention that the virus is still out there, waiting to be taken over by another criminal; or showing Axelle Despiegelaire with a photo labeled as a hyena, when in fact it’s an oryx.]  As with anything else, whether it’s art, music or math, those who actually achieve this goal are the ones who make it look effortless.  I’m still trying.  I hope you enjoy your experience on this site.

Finally, you’ll notice a necessary degree of repetition.  No apologies there - Repetition is the mother of education.  It’s all good.

Joe Kelly

© Computer Coach.  All written materials are the sole property of Computer Coach (unless otherwise attributed) and no part of this website may be used in any format without the express written permission of Computer Coach.