Have you ever read a story about some high tech product and not been able to get the gist of the story because you didn’t understand the high tech terminology?

Have you gone into a store to purchase a high tech gadget without understanding what you are really getting?   Or, even worse, have you ever tried to look up how to perform some task on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and not been able to come up with the proper words to insert in the search box?

Actually, the high tech world moves so quickly that most folks are can’t take the time to understand it all.  So today I am going to give you a brief round-up of some of the technology terms that you might find helpful in living in and understanding today’s high tech world.                 

3D Printer
A regular printer puts ink on flat paper to create visual images. The computer or scanner tells the printer what to print. With 3D printing, the computer or scanner still tells the printer what to print. However the 3D printer uses plastic and other materials instead of ink. Instead of a flat image, the 3D printer produces layers of materials on top of one another. The materials are fused together during the process creating a 3-dimensional product that has height, width, and depth. The beauty of 3D printers is that they can create extremely complex designs. They have been used to create everything from skin that can be used for healing wounds to guns that shoot real bullets to jewelry. The cost of these printers has come down dramatically in the last two years and more and more applications are being developed quite rapidly.

Cloud Storage 
Storing data in the cloud means sending it over the Internet to a server where it is stored. Actually the data may be physically stored on multiple servers that are separated geographically, but the data will appear to be a single storage location to the user. That is why the data is said to be “in the cloud”. Because it is out there somewhere, but the user never knows exactly where it is stored. The user only knows that it is stored by a certain entity. For instance, Gmail is stored on Google’s servers. Yahoo mail is on Yahoo’s servers. The same is true of entities like Dropbox, Mozy, and SkyDrive. This type of cloud storage provides real convenience to the end user. Since their data is stored on the Internet rather than on their personal computer or device, it can be accessed through any Internet-connected computer, smartphone, or device.

You have probably hear this word in conjunction with social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  A hashtag is a word, phrase or a collection of letters preceded by a hash (#) symbol. For instance is your were writing a Tweet about Kleenex, you would put  #Kleenex in your message so others can find it easily.

 Crowdfunding is the funding of a project by taking a small contributions from a large number of people in return for some form of reward. The reward is usually equity in the venture. The Internet is used to make a large number of people aware of a new project or product and get them to make a financial contribution. Popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) and Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com). If you haven’t yet investigated crowdfunding, take a look at these websites. They are fascinating.

Google Glass

Although Google Glass is a pair of glasses, they are referred to as Google Glass rather than Google Glasses.  Google Glass looks like and is worn like a pair of glasses. Glass is really a wearable computer with a battery powered display that sits just above the user’s right eye. Glass displays visual information right above your field of view. This can be any type of information about what you are viewing and/or other useable information like that found on a smartphone. Google Glass can take a picture of what you see when you wink your eye and it can record an ongoing video of what you are seeing. Google Glass is currently available to developers for $1,500. A consumer edition is expected within the next year at a much lower cost. If you are a golfer you might find Google Glass very helpful. Using a program called GolfSight for Glass you can get accurate pin distance, course data and scoring information right before your eyes.

(NFC) Near Field Communication
This is a wireless system that allows data transfer over very short distances or by two devices coming into physical contact with each other. This technology is currently being incorporated into many Android phones and is expected to be available in the next version of the iPhone. NFC can be used to make financial payments and to transfer files. For instance if both you and your husband have a Samsung Galaxy 4S smartphone, you can transfer a picture that you just took with your phone to his phone by simply tapping them together.

I guess I’ll have to stop here, but to be honest, I could probably fill up this whole newspaper just writing about the many new high tech terms that have become commonplace today. Hopefully I have given you a better understanding of some of today’s common jargon. If you there is some special term that you would like to understand better, just email me and I’ll try to incorporate it into a future column.