Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some computer terms are old enough to retire

A while ago I suggested that some mid-20th-century words like "dungarees" and "gym shoes" should be abandoned.

There are a few cyber-era phrases that deserve to be banished, too.

  • Every time I hear an actor in a radio or TV commercial telling me to "log on to" a website that doesn't require logging on, I want to throw something heavy and pointy.
  • And when I hear or read "point your browser at...," I want to puke.
  • At one time, computer manufacturers and magazines insisted that there was a difference between a "notebook computer" and a "laptop computer." One type was heavier, but I don't remember which one.
Now, other than employees of Apple, Dell and HP, hardly anyone says "notebook" when describing a  portable computer. "Laptop" makes the point, unambiguously. So does "netbook." "Slate" is seldom ambiguous, because few people write on non-computer slates in 2010.

If I am going to attend a meeting, class or seminar and am told to bring a notebook, I don't know if I'm supposed to bring something filled with paper pages or integrated circuits.

If I'm told to bring a laptop, the message is clear.

So, unless you mean something with paper pages, don't say or write "notebook."

Eschew  obfuscation. Espouse elucidation.



  1. I like the term "notebook!" On the otherhand, I hate the term "netbook"-- it implies that the computer only searches the 'net (another term I hate). "Internet" is not that long a word-- do we really need to truncate it?

    I went to the Urban Dictionary and they have a new word that made me laugh my butt off.

    It's "Ipad Nano"-- which is essentially an Ipod touch.

    "iPad Nano"
    Urban Word of the Day

    "A smaller version of the new Apple iPad. Formerly known as iPod Touch."
    Chris: "Hey man, can I see your iPod Touch for a sec?"
    Jeff: "Dude, this is an iPad Nano. And, no, you can't!"


  2. I define "Netbook" as something much smaller than a notebook (electronic or otherwise) that cost just as much as your laptop did 2 years ago, has a screen that requires 2x reading glasses to see, and is almost useless without an Internet connection.

    "Word Processor" rubs me the wrong way, but for the life of me I cannot think of anything better.

    I still overhear people "surfing" the Internet. Never liked that one from day one when Al Gore turned the switches on.

    "Web Browser" even gets me to thinking, but perhaps I'm just getting old and cranky.

    Great post...Rich