The “ultra” list of undefined tech definitions

Just received a few notes from luvable ol’ Mike Cane in the Inbox; looks like I’ll need to adjust my spam filters again. (I kid, Mike!). He was asking how a 13-inch notebook could be considered an ultra-portable since many sites are kicking the Mac ultra-portable or ultra-compact rumor around with that size estimate. Clearly this is a case where size does matter: I’ve used a 12.1-inch slate Tablet PC that’s relatively thin, but if I called it an “ultra-portable”, I’d have to turn in my UMPC membership card.And what’s with everyone throwing that “ultra” term around anyway? The word is usually followed by a term that’s already defined. It’s as if you could suddenly become “ultra-pregnant” or I suddenly became “ultra-talented”. Women are either pregnant or not; likewise I’m talented or not. Hmm… probably shouldn’t have brought that up in public. What an ultra-stupid move.Anyway, these thoughts made me turn to a number of tech terms being bandied around these days. Here’s a few that get kicked around six ways ’til Sunday because they’re not clearly defined:

  • Open networks – Verizon plans one, AT&T says all of a sudden they have one. Who’s right? Besides, you’re either open or closed…
  • MIDs or Mobile Internet Devices – aside from desktops, aren’t most laptops and phones MIDs these days?
  • Sub-notebook – is this a notebook that can be submerged in water for great lengths of time? Smaller than a breadbox but larger than smartphone? Speaking of which…
  • Smartphone – are all other phones “dumb” by comparison? Must a phone work for the enterprise to be “smart”?
  • UMPC – our perennial fave; what if it’s just “mobile” and not “ultra-mobile”? I say: if it can teleport itself to where I need it to be, it’s “ultra-mobile”. 😉

Yes, the list is just an ultra-poor attempt at humor, but one aspect isn’t funny: we still have many tech terms that mean different things to different folks and that’s ultra-helping nobody.