A CDE Definition
People misuse terminology constantly in high-tech fields, but there are a few terms that should never be used incorrectly in the presence of computer people. The true geek will laugh (perhaps quietly) if you make these mistakes. To have some fun with your nerdy colleagues, see how to spoof your techie friend.
Bits and Bytes - Pints and Gallons
There are eight bits to a byte, and certain functions are measured in bits and bits per second, while others are measured in bytes and bytes per second (for clarification, see space/time). However, saying bits when you should say bytes would be like going to a gas station and asking for 10 pints of gas instead of 10 gallons (there are eight pints to a gallon).
The way around it is to use common slang. If you forget gigabits or gigabytes, say "gigs." For megabits and megabytes, say "megs." Although terabytes is becoming a common term, "teras" will most likely appear on the horizon. "Megs" and "gigs" are so common that countless telephone support people forget whether they meant bits or bytes.
Run, Launch, Load, Start, But Don't Boot!
Boot refers to loading and running only the operating system and not applications. Booting happens when you turn the computer off and on or select Restart from the main menu.
When you want to start any application (Web browser, photo editor, etc.) that is already installed in your computer, say "start" it, "run" it, "load" it or "launch" it, but do not say "boot" it. Saying "execute" the program is also correct, but execute is generally used by programmers at the instruction level. See load and boot.
Running the Install Program
A common mistake users make is to tell support people they could not "run" their application, when in fact, they never ran the application in the first place. Applications are delivered to users wrapped up within an install program, and the first time the downloaded file or the CD-ROM is "run," the install program is being run, not the application. If you want to sound knowledgeable when asking for support, be sure to state whether you need help "installing" the application or "running" the application that you successfully installed. See install program.
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Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.