Let’s face it. Today’s technology world is filled with terms, jargon, and abbreviations. From SEO and PPC to networks and keyboard commands, it’s no wonder some people are still computer illiterate. As someone immersed in the tech world, it’s hard to understand what sounds like jibberish when talking about your product or service, and what resonates with your audience.
If you (or your audience) don’t understand these 10 computer concepts, chances are, you’re computer illiterate.
1. You think an address bar is a line printed on an envelope.
The search box is the place where you enter the subject you’re looking for. The address bar (at the top of the window, above the "main" part of the page) is the place where you enter the website address. For example, if you’re interested in learning more information about the origin of the garden gnome, you might enter, “history of garden gnomes” in the search box. However, if you've got a specific website you want to look at, you could type www.gnomehistory.com into the address bar.
2. You think documents are pieces of paper.
These days, if someone asks you to send over a few documents, do you reach for an envelope and postage stamps? You might be missing the mark.
The term “documents” has several meanings in the digital world. Documents can be found on computer hard drives in the form of Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages program. They can also be found online in the form of Google Documents. People sometimes use "document" to refer to digital files of any type. In any case, this term refers to the digital form of a piece of paper.
3. You think spreadsheets are nothing but a grid full of boxes.
Spreadsheets are similar to documents, except these come in a grid pattern. There are columns and rows – but these little boxes are way more powerful than they look.
When used correctly, spreadsheets can perform complex mathematical equations. Many businesses use these to stay up to date on accounting and financial projections, but they’re also great for organizing information.
4. You think going to Safari will take you face-to-face with lions, tigers and giraffes.
Safari, Explorer, Firefox and Chrome are all names for Internet browsers. Still sound like jibberish? An Internet browser is the window where you view articles like this one. It’s where you search for things on Google, check your email (most of the time) and access websites. The words “Chrome,” “Safari,” "Firefox" and “Explorer” are simply brand names of Internet browsers. You only need to use one.
5. You think anti-virus programs help you avoid the flu.
Viruses and malware are harmful programs that get installed on your computer without you knowing. They can do vicious things, such as stop you from accessing programs or files, run discreetly in the background capturing your passwords, and ruin your system completely.
Anti-virus and anti-malware software are the tools that stop these harmful programs from entering your computer. They run in the background, constantly searching for these harmful programs, fighting a silent war on your behalf and helping you sleep better at night.
6. You think control, alt, delete sounds like a language spoken on Star Trek.
This term means to open a task manager which allows you to close unresponsive programs or to restart your computer. It came about because computers often required you to push those three buttons down at the same time to force a program to close if it was frozen, or restart your computer. People learned to push the keys that said, “Ctrl,” “Alt” and “Delete” to activate a program that would reboot the computer. Now, the term “control, alt, delete” often refers to troubleshooting computer problems.
7. You think motherboards are something new moms change diapers on, and hard drives are difficult road trips.
These terms refer to the nuts and bolts of your computer. They’re the physical parts of your computer that you can see and touch (if you were to open it up and dissect it, which is not recommended).
Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but they’re quite different. Your hard drive stores all of your computer’s information. Your motherboard is where all of the components plug in and interact. Both are vital to have working well if you want your computer to run smoothly.
8. You think an IP address is the nearest public restroom.
IP is another acronym that’s often used in computer lingo. It stands for “Internet Protocol.” Still not sure what it is? That’s okay. This is one of the more confusing computer terms used, but it’s important to know.
Your IP address identifies your computer when it is accessed over a network. It’s what lets you get found and what lets you find other pieces of hardware, such as printers and modems. It works in the same manner as your home address, except this one tracks your computer’s whereabouts. Unlike your house number and street name, IP addresses are purely numbers separated by dots.
9. You think plugging in means putting a lamp power cord into a socket.
“Plugged in” and “plug in” are cousin terms to this one.
On the surface, it seems straightforward. You “plug in” your computer to the outlet for power. Or, you plug in your USB stick to the computer to connect devices.
In the computer industry, it can also mean that you are virtually plugged in. For example, if you can access some information on a private website, you might say that you’re "plugged in" to the website and what’s happening. Anytime you make some sort of connection, you can use this term.
10. You think “phishing” is a cool term for going to the lake to catch trout.
Have you ever received an email that looked like something your bank would send to you, but something didn’t seem quite right? You clicked on the link and were taken to a website with a strange address, but still, something felt wrong. Perhaps they were asking you for too much information, or perhaps the information was a little bit too personal. Chances are, it was a phishing scam.
Phishing is a common online threat. It tricks many people into giving private information to hackers. It’s similar to spam mail (which are unwanted solicitation emails) but worse because it looks and sounds like it's coming from the company targeted by the hackers.
If you’re ever unsure about an email, go directly to the company’s website – do not click the links in the emails. Then, ask the support team for help before giving over any more information.