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Understanding Tech Acronyms

Thursday, June 16th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, I've Always Wanted To Know..., Smartphones, Using The Internet

One reader wasn’t too pleased with my attempts to explain how wireless works. I got this comment on the article:  “As with most techies, you can’t resist using jargon and acronyms. If you want to teach beginners, EXPLAIN. Even if you find the thought of someone not knowing the meaning of these acronyms, etc. to be unbelievable, do it anyway.
1.”Public source” – explain
2. “3G or 4G” – what is it?
3. “DSL line” – what is it?
4. router, modem – what are they?
5. there is actually no response to her statement – “I don’t know the difference between an I-pad, or I-phone, or a tablet, or a smartphone, etc. etc.”
To educate, you must put yourself in the student’s place.
I find the indiscriminate use of acronyms to be elitist – “I know something you don’t, nyah, nyah.”

I’m certainly not trying to tease. The reason I used those particular acronyms is that these are the terms the companies that provide them will use. I have covered these terms in other articles, but I’d be glad to go over them again.  So let’s break down what the terms mean.


Public source:  I meant just that. WiFi that’s available for the public to use. It could be a from a library, school, restaurant or other business.

3G and 4G refer to two types of standards for  connections offered by wireless companies to use with mobile devices. These are the types of connections you would use for your smartphone service. 3G is third-generation and 4 G stands for fourth-generation. 4G is the faster of the 2.

DSL – refers to a digital subscriber line. It refers to high-speed connections offered over telephone networks.

A modem is a device that connects your PC to the Internet. It modulates your incoming and outgoing digital signals so that the service provider can connect with your PC and your PC can connect to your Internet Service Provider.

A router is a device that broadcasts a wireless signal from your modem. Wireless devices in your home like a laptop, tablet, PC, game console or smart home hub can then connect to that signal to interact with the Internet.

Below are some links that can help explain the difference among tablets.

You also might want to check out our Ultimate Tech Dictionary. It’s free for Premium members.

~ Cynthia

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12 Responses to “Understanding Tech Acronyms”

  1. Storm Ferguson says:

    Hi Cynthia,

    I’m in awe of your restraint. I appreciate the writer’s desire for clear explanations of acronyms but there was no need for being ill-mannered in making the request. Hence my admiration for your restraint.

    Thanks for the assistance you give to so many of us non-technos daily.

  2. Jadesqr says:

    Hey Cynthia,
    I too wish to echo Storm’s comment, and add the following:

    ‘You can lead a horse to water, but he has to be thirsty enough to drink for himself…

    After 20 years of the most ambitious advertising campaign in modern history, ‘Google’ has failed to register as a ‘Verb’ in lieu of a ‘Noun’, in the users dialect. To ‘GOOGLE’ is how to learn stuff, using any browser you want, but people, you have to make an effort.

    Thanks Cynthia for the ‘Silverspoon.’

  3. Keith Monson says:

    I take exception with this. If you don’t know what something means GOOGLE IT! I don’t want every tutorial on here to rehash every little detail for the uninformed.

    • Bob Phillips says:

      Because of hand-holding in the education system, many just can’t be bothered to think for themselves. Education should be life long, so just enter DEFINITION: {term} into a browser and quit your whining.

  4. Caroline says:

    In this day and age, there are FAR TOO MANY ‘short cuts’ for almost everything in our daily lives. It is WAY to easy for people to over look that there are those who do not know what some of those things might stand for or mean. What is common place for one person because it is part of their every day life, does not mean that it is something that everyone else is going to be able to understand.

    I worked for over 15 years in customer service, commonly referred to as CS. Six years of which was spent in a call center representing businesses such as Sony Digital Satellite, Apple Software, and Prodigy Internet, to name just a few. The one thing that made me stand out among my ‘associates’ as we were called back then, was that when I took a call, I tried to think like the customer I was assisting. That is to say, I tried to see what I represented as if I had never seen or heard of it before.

    It allowed to MANY times to not only make the customer feel like they were talking to someone who respected them, but like someone who they could ask questions of and not feel ‘stupid’ for the asking.

    On the matter of ‘GOOGLE’! Technically, it is both a Noun and a Verb. In order to ‘GOOGLE’ something, you first have to have access to ‘GOOGLE’ in order to take the action. Obviously if you are looking it up through Yahoo, or Bing, or any of the many other search engines, the same applies, but we usually do not tell people to ‘Bing’ it. LOL!

  5. Hank says:

    I have been on computers for many years,but I still do not get all the JARGON that is put out there. Some has to teach us like we are in kindergarten,slowly ,illustrated,and easier to under stand.I know it hard when you know every thing and you think when you explain something we should know what you are talking about.sorry we need a slower teacher.

  6. Rev Donald Spitz says:

    I too appreciate worldstart.

  7. joe says:

    You are more than kind in your reply to this ill-tempered question.

  8. George says:

    Dear Cynthia, Tell Steve you deserve a raise for kindly answering the public’s stupid questions and aggravating attitudes. For myself Thanks so much for your kind and helpful answers to us computer”Morons”. If Steve won’t give you a raise, have him take a survey of those of us whose ignorant questions you answer each day. Respectfully yours, George

  9. Mark Roberts says:

    I say there’s no need to escalate conflict that either way you look at this Storm’s was reasonable to justify standing up to those replies, and also wouldn’t think Cynthia really intentionally made out to be harsh; where “IF” all that could be said to perceive from public down on 1/1 personal scale being fully exchanged – I reckon feeling would be mutual b/t them…

  10. Renee says:

    Kudos to you Cynthia, I have been in your shoes a few times and the harshness of the comment was totally unnecessary, you handled it beautifully. I have to agree with a few folks above who indicated that there comes a time when a person has to try to help themselves at least a little. It’s apparent that they read the tips, maybe they should have searched through previous tips to find some very fine explanations previously presented. There are tons of acronyms and abbreviations and more are coming I’m sure. I hate to tell you how long it took me to realize what ICYMI meant. But as mentioned above, I Googled it. Dah!!!! Thanks for all the information you impart in this ever changing world of technology. I find I am learning all the time and you are one of my go to experts. :-)

  11. Doug says:

    Thanks Cynthia, I know from reading the comments above that some do not need the extra help, but from one who has read all your posts and because there is a lot them and I don’t use the terms all day every day, I forget. I also do run on sentences. So while I sympathize with the more informed, I was not offended to have the opportunity to be reminded.

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