13 Tech Terms You Should Never Say Again

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You’d never describe your USB Flash drive as a floppy disk, even though it serves the same purpose. You wouldn’t think of referring to the network admin who runs your servers as a "keypunch operator." So why did you tell your daughter that you are "filming" her dance recital on a digital camera?

Upgrade your thought-to-speech engine by avoiding these 13 confusing or outdated tech terms.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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30 comments
  • Carpe Computer Says:

    The vast majority of the "oudated" words are much shorter and overall better sounding then the suggested alternatives. "Video-conferencing cam", really?

  • Terry Says:

    Errr - when you and I were at school, computer's that weren't `Desktop' were ` mainframe'. Desktops were so called because they didn't need the whole **** room :-P

  • Shin0bi272 Says:

    wow Ive heard of being picky but son of a bitch. Since you like to over analyze terms go look up ubiquity.

  • John Says:

    Your article is beyond bad. To think you actually put time and effort into constructing something so awful makes me laugh. I would add your name to the list of words never to be spoken. It looks like someone banged their hands on a keyboard (is that term still ok for you?) and came up with it. You're a joke and NYU should be embarrassed by you as a graduate.

  • John Says:

    Your article is beyond bad. To think you actually put time and effort into constructing something so awful makes me laugh. I would add your name to the list of words never to be spoken. It looks like someone banged there hands on a keyboard (is that term still ok for you?) and came up with it. You're a joke and NYU should be embarrassed by you as a graduate.

  • bill gabor Says:

    Mr Piltch is guilty of not practicing what he preaches.
    In the section on the personal cloud he says, and I quote-
    "Somewhere a team of network engineers is BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL
    to keep the sever with your dropbox account on it running"

    May I remind you that the expression "burning the midnight oil" comes from the 19 century,
    before electricity was invented as a way for people to see what they were doing in the dark.
    Burning oil provided illumination.
    So while every other expression you disdain is under 30 years old, you are using one almost
    200 years old. Instead, be like Motel 6 and say-
    "we kept the lights on for you"

  • J. R. Gregory Says:

    The first Zeneth remote control I saw made a click when you pushed one of its 4 buttons. I call the remote cotrol a "clicker" to this day. Whats the big deal?

  • nelson Says:

    What kind of geek vomits in terror anytime someone says "film". I've never read one of your articles before this but I want to certainly avoid them in the future. You're a hack.

  • asdfasdf Says:

    Haha. This was the worst thing I have ever read. How does "inputting" a number sound less dated than "dialing" it?

    And "stationary computer?"

    Are you kidding me?

    Is this satire?

    Are you an idiot?

  • angry Says:

    it's 'wacky wall walker'. sheesh

  • angry Says:

    i will never stop using the 'dial' due to this article. i'm going to expand to new phrases such as 'dial up that website' just so the author of this article can go down in history as the dial dink.
    i guess it's more about word count than content. i also blame yahoo. i need a life and a new home page.
    Is 'home page' still ok to say? How 'bout 'give your head a shake'? is that ok?

  • dan Says:

    Ease of use is also a consideration. Meaning is more than clear enough for everyday communication. Found this article a little hypocritical, considering you're using technically incorrect idioms yourself, such as 'burning the midnight oil' , although there is no oil being burned in any lamps. You should instead say ' using the midnight electricity' .

  • Silly 'ol Bear Says:

    As soon as I read the line that when he was at school, everyone had a desktop computer, I gave up. I had a paper tablet and a pencil in grammar school. This is just typical PC fluff and we all know political correctness is the last bastion of the pseudo-intellectual. I am sure the writer didn't mean it serious;y, at least I hope he isn't that dull-witted. Anyway, I still dial a number, surf the web (how I got here), use a smartphone, tape a program, and stay "tuned in" to a program. That's why God made commercials, for snack breaks, no reason to turn the dial (which I imagine he's never seen).

  • Al Says:

    Shall we get rid of the word "Laptop"? Who actually puts this on their lap? It is usually on a table, floor, or carseat beside you. We should call it a portable computer, or mobile intelligence....oops, that would make this website obsolete...

  • Sunny Sardana Says:

    Okay, so here's another one...... ANY portable computer is a PC. That includes those pieces of fluff built and marketed by Apple. Technically, one should refer to these machines as an Apple PC, or a Lenovo PC, etc.

  • Dave Says:

    This article was the biggest P.O.S. and waste of time. I should have known by the very first sentence in the article: "You’d never describe your USB Flash drive as a floppy disk, even though it serves the same purpose."

    DUH! I wouldn't describe a USB flash drive as a floppy disk because the USB drive isn't FLOPPY! And guess what else? It has no DISK!

  • Jeff Diamond Says:

    [Addendum to why webcam did make sense..] - of course, the "web" in webcam referred not to use of a "web page", but to the "world wide web", which in the 90s was the more popular term for using the internet, since it was the web that suddenly popularized those TCP/IP packets. So in 1990's terms, Facetime is indeed talking "over the web" as well, although it's really just TCP/IP.

  • Jeff Diamond Says:

    He got a lot of the origins of these terms right, but I was surprised he knew nothing of webcams. People always used skype? Are you kidding me? During the heyday of webcams in the 1990s, they were exactly what they said - a very slow transmission through a webpage. Additionally, it was fun to let the camera be controlled by people on the web. These were primarily used for viewing things, not communication. (And there was a certain type of popular viewing on webcams that persists to this day.)

    One of the main points of webcams is that they were incredibly low quality cameras with state of the art transmission rates maybe being 1 frame every 5 seconds - which again, you often still get to this day.

    So yes - "Web Camera" certainly made sense to distinguish these from serious teleconference equipment.

  • Mary Says:

    This is for humor I'm sure. Otherwise, the author would never "drive" a car. The term "drive" means to force animal(s) in a direction. Be sure to "pilot" your car. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to the icebox for a pop to enjoy while sitting on my davenport.

  • Mike Says:

    Yeah, I came here from Yahoo, too. Wondering, "Who is this guy?" I've never read any of your other columns and this one gives me no reason to do so. I don't like wasting my time reading some guy's personal rant cloaked in the form of News. This article is a perfect example of your definition of a blog - no Journalism here! (And apparently now editorial staff either.)

  • Chris B Says:

    Personal cloud is correct. You can connect to these devices from anywhere. As opposed to trusting an outside company and being limited.

  • Phil T Says:

    Jeez, people are ruthless. Why would anyone take offense to an article created for a little "fun." This was not meant to be some scientific revelation, just agree or disagree to it and be respectful.

  • Matt Street Says:

    Dear sir,
    You may have a point about some of these terms.
    But if you care to make that much of a big deal about, maybe you need to find another language.
    This is how English works. Meanings of words change and carry the baggage of the past.

  • mark Says:

    S's comment is true and false. You do have a point. But..... who cares if we say tube film dial etc. These are relative terms that are short sweet and every person understands. If you'd like to repair the English language you need to start further back my son!

  • mark Says:

    This article is a farce. I came here from surfing yahoo.com to say that. It was so offensive that I wasted my personal time to tell you you're an idiot. Thanks for nothing Avram

  • S Says:

    Dear Mr. Avram Piltch,

    Please read the comments section on the yahoo website where your article is posted.

    Seeing that more than hundreds of people hate your writing, please stop.

    You obviously don't know what you are talking about.

    Why not get an engineering background before you talk about technology.

    Just because you have a writing degree and know how to use a little HTML does not make you a technology expert.


    Bill Gates would cry a little in his heart because this article is technically incorrect.

  • Al Corral Says:

    Slow news day, eh Pittch? You going to start handing out tickets to "terminology offenders"? And who appointed you this worthless assignment?

  • dixon Says:

    Add "rewind" to the list pls.

  • Phil T Says:

    I love how under the "Smartphone" description you use the term "Desktop" lol. Anyway, it's a Desktop computer because it sits on top of a desk....and is a computer.
    So All-in-ones (the new thing) that sit on top of your desk is still a computer that sits on TOP of your DESK.

  • Porto Says:

    I'm also against the term tube to describe TVs or the term LED to differentiate LCDs backlit with LED in place of CFL, instead of refernce to OLEDs or other LED display technologies.

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