For people who break out in hives when people misuse “fewer” and “less,” there’s a decidedly cavalier attitude to technical terms in mainstream media.
Here are a few terms that seem particularly confusing to people who make their living from gathering and transmitting information to the masses, people who should really want to understand how to use terms correctly.
Downloading something from the Internet means to copy it from a server somewhere on the Internet to your computer. Uploading means to copy something from your computer to a server on the Internet. Think of your computer as being below the Internet on an org chart.
You pull things down to your computer and push them up to the Internet.
This is important for two reasons: 1) Get it wrong and you show you have no credibility when it comes to writing about technology; and 2) Nobody has been fined for downloading music or movies from the Internet. None people. People have been fined for making movies or music available for upload to the Internet—for making it possible for other people on the Internet to download the files. Which is a very different thing.
Imagine your computer dangling below the Internet in the org chart of life and you’ll get it right.
Just as nobody sane would say they wrote a newspaper or that they wrote a magazine, nobody should say they wrote a blog.
A blog is one entity and the individual articles are called posts. So you wrote a blog post. Just like you wrote a story for a newspaper or an article for a magazine, you wrote a blog post if you’re referring to an individual piece of content.
Hack is one of those words that have many meanings, but when you say somebody hacked a computer usually what you mean is that person gained unauthorized access to a computer or network of computers.
Usually this means the attacker has downloaded proprietary information, like in the Sony hack.
A denial of service attack, on the other hand, is not a hack. A denial of service attack means unleashing a flood of malicious requests at a site, taking it offline. Which means the Web server is inaccessible, but does not mean there was any unauthorized access. (The denial of service attack could be used to trigger a vulnerability that then allows the attacker to get access, but that is less common and is certainly not implied.)
So when a site goes down from a denial of service attack, that is not the same thing as the site being hacked.
Also, if somebody leaves their phone unlocked at a bar while they go to the bathroom and you post a “funny” Facebook update while they’re gone, you didn’t hack their phone. You’re just a terrible person and you should think about your values.
For technical people, hack also means jerry-rigging a solution to a problem, as in “This is really hacky, but we’ll clean it up in the next version.” Be aware when talking to technical people or reading tech sites that this usage is very common.
Logging in to a computer means providing your credentials through a challenge-response system. Usually this means a user name and password.
When you visit a website you usually don’t log in. You just visit the site. If the site requires a user name and password to access, then, yes, you have indeed logged in to the site. Otherwise, you’re just visiting the site.
So please stop teasing your site in your newscasts by saying, “Log in to our site at blahblah.com.” There is no challenge-response. You are using words wrong.
If you’re a journalist you should care about using words correctly and not wanting to have to understand technology is not a valid excuse.
“I don’t understand it so it can’t be important” is not a great attitude.
Is there reason to upgrade from a 3 to a 5?
The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.
Nic reports his experiences so far with voice computing from Amazon and Google and is a bit mystified at the reaction to Apple’s HomePod.
After a few weeks of using iPhone X I’m ready to join the congratulatory choir.
Nic is interested in smart homes. His contractor let him know how the wealthy are already using them.
Apple’s neglect of the pro market is causing a lot of gnashing of teeth in Apple-nerd circles, but it’s true to Apple’s vision.
There is unrest in the Mac community about Apple’s commitment to the platform. Some are turning their eyes to building a Hackintosh to get the kind of computer Apple doesn’t provide. Here’s what it’s like to run a Hackintosh.
Car nerds are dealing with some cognitive dissonance as car technology changes.
The Oasis is Amazon’s best e-ink reader to date, but it’s not good enough for the price.
Nic buys an Amazon Echo and is indubitably happy with the fantasy star ship in his head.
The problem isn’t ads. The problem is being stalked like an animal across the internet.
The DS416j is a nice NAS for light home use. Just don’t expect raw power.
The Core Dump is moving to GitHub Pages. This is a good thing, most likely.
Thoughts on Apple Watch after half a year of daily usage.
Predictably, the Paris attacks brought the anti-encryption crowd back out of the woodwork. They're at best being willfully disingenuous.
Things to consider when planning to build a site on a compressed time table.
Nic provides some basic not-too-paranoid tips for securing your digital life.
Installing Jekyll on an EC2 Amazon Linux AMI is easy. Here are the steps.
After wearing the watch for over a month, Nic has thoughts on its future. Spoiler: Depends on how you define success.
Turns out “it's just a big iPhone” is a stroke of genius.
Some technical terms still confuse people who should know better, like journalists.
How to host a static site on Amazon S3 with an apex domain without using Amazon’s Route 53.
People fear change, so new technology is used as as a faster version of the old. This makes technologists sad.
Nic loves his Pebble and looks forward to the Apple Watch, but realizes he’s in the minority.
Nic loves books, but he loves their content more.
Nic is worried about the fragile state of our technology and thinks you should be as well.
Nic tries to understand the WATCH. It doesn't go well.
Nic thinks home integration could be Apple’s next major category. Read on to find out why.
Nic is frustrated with his Kindle and would love to see Apple make an e-ink reader.
The iPhone was announced Jan. 9, 2007. It now occupies a huge chunk of Nic’s life.
Nic is very impressed with the speed of the iPhone 5S and iPad Air.
Nic buys a Nexus 7 to test the Android waters.
Nic outlines some of the risks of ceding comments on news stories to Facebook.
Nic is bemused by the sturm und drang surrounding the iOS-ification of Mac OS X.
Web publishing used to require heavy-duty nerditry, but no longer.
Nic is creating an e-book. He shares what he’s learned so far.