Do You Know These Techie Acronyms?

HTML, PDF, USB... Do you know your technology acronyms? Learn the basics here for a better understanding of the tech surrounding us every day!
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on May 07, 2014

Technology is just swimming in acronyms. So many things -- programs, projects, units, tasks -- have complex names and need to be abbreviated to make them user-friendly. For today's Wordy Wednesday, let's review and define some tech-related acronyms that you've probably seen but might not know what they mean.

HTML -- HyperText Markup Language. HTML is, on a fundamental level, the language programmers use to build websites. Programmers create lines of code, which computers translate into instructions for how a website should look and function. Any website you visit online is composed of HTML. Whether you scroll through images in a photo gallery, watch videos, or read an article, the way websites work can be broken down into a complex language (code) that your computer can understand. The image at the top of this article is an example of what HTML code looks like.

OS -- Operating System. This is the main software on your computer, and its job is to help you run everything else. Windows 7 is a popular OS for PCs, while Apple's latest OS is called OS X Mavericks. Even smartphones have operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry are examples. When you're considering new software for your computer, you have to check your computer's compatibility; newer software almost always requires an updated OS.

PDF -- Portable Document Format. PDF is a file format that doesn't change between computers. What does that mean? There are so many different computers in the world, and sometimes, if you save a Word document and email it to a friend, the formatting can change because your computers are different. If you export a document in the PDF format, it flattens everything in your document so it can be easily read -- with all your fonts and formatting intact -- on any computer, anywhere. It can also be printed and copied easily. Use PDFs to send documents that you want the reader to see but not edit.

URL -- Uniform Resource Locator. Or, in plain English, a web address. A URL is a set of characters that, when entered into the address bar of your web browser, takes you to a certain website. For example, the URL for Bask's homepage is Entering that URL into the address bar at the top of your browser window will take you to that page.

USB -- Universal Serial Bus. USB are connectors on the end of cables (or on the side of your computer) used to plug in peripherals like keyboards, external hard drives and digital cameras. Many smartphone cables have a USB connector that plugs into a wall charger or a USB port on your computer. When computers started to become media hubs around 15-20 years ago, lots of different devices were created to connect with your computer, but they all had different cables and ports. Compatibility became a big problem. With its universality, USB is the perfect solution. An example of a USB cable is pictured above, and an example of its port is below.

With these acronyms, you're in a better position to understand the common technology that surrounds us every day. Impress your friends and family by dropping a few of these letters in your next conversation!