5 Commonly “Abused” Technical Terms

Posted on Multiply Dec. 6, 2008, 1:43 pm.

The world of IT and electronics expand very rapidly these days. Devices and file formats become old and/or obsolete in months and years.

However, there are some of them that have stayed in the minds of the people and used them to refer to one or more things, like when you say Coke you mean a soft drink, or saying Colgate will mean toothpaste. Though this is good (as well-established brands and technologies tend to become like this), there is still a need to trace how these products and technologies started.

In lieu to this, we will inspect five terms which have originated as a technical term but became mainstream as acceptance grew.

1. mp3
Arguably the most popular audio file format, it started as “an audio-specific format that was designed by the Motion Pictures Expert Group“. From being a file format, it became so famous that now it is used to generally pertain to audio files and players supporting the format. It also became “de facto standard encoding for the transfer and playback of music on digital audio players“.

Factors to popularity might include:
1. Small file size but audio sounds like original

FYI: MP3 means MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, where MPEG means Moving Picture Experts Group. There is also mp2 and mp4.

2. usb
Another very popular term for flash drives and usb-connected media, USB really means Universal Serial Bus, a serial bus standard to interface devices to a host computer. As a bus, it is a way of transferring files from a portable media, flash drives for example, to a host computer, and vice versa. It is also used as a way of communication between IO devices, such as mouse and keyboard, and the computer. Lately, it has also been used to transfer electricity from the host computer to the device.

3. cpu
This is a very ambiguous term indeed. The layman definition of the CPU is the very box that houses the hard drive, floppy drive, etc., while a more technical (though very broad) description is  machine that can execute computer programs.

4. virus (computer)
Wikipedia says it all: A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. The term “virus” is also commonly used, albeit erroneously, to refer to many different types of malware and adware programs. Of course, if there is a virus, there is also an antivirus.

5. pc
The PC, or the Personal Computer, is commonly perceived as a computer running the Windows operating system, as opposed to Macs which are computers running the Macintosh operating system. This may be brought by the popularity of the “Get A Mac” ads, which uses the terms to distinguish one from the other. Also, the term is also used more specifically to refer to desktop computers. Wikipedia offers a somewhat broader definition: A personal computer (PC) is any computer whose original sales price, size, and capabilities make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user, with no intervening computer operator.

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