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Do you speak tech?

Keeping up with technology is nothing compared to keeping up with the acronyms and jargon that come with each new wave of gadgets.

HANNOVER, Germany--The technology industry never had it easy explaining technical concepts in plain language, but some at Hannover's CeBIT technology fair don't even seem to be trying.

There's "SAN extension over MAN/WAN" on offer, as well as "knowledge automation infrastructure" with "authentic cross-linguistic capability." That is all about computer networking and how companies store and access information.

"Public safety organizations"--police and fire brigades--might benefit from a Mobile Information and Communication System called MiKoBOS with an XBRL Tool Suite.

And if in doubt, there's always "high-quality antialiasing with arbitrary oversampling for optimal resolution," which relates to 3D graphics.

Even products that are straight-forward enough, like televisions, pose questions. Is a PDP display the same as a plasma TV? And what exactly is plasma, anyway?

More cutting-edge technology such as Internet phones--voice over IP, or VoIP, in the industry dialect--is generally followed by a string of acronyms.

It's probably a good thing that the phone supports SDP, RTP and RTCP. But do you really need VAD, CNG, NAT traversal and STUN? What if you just want to pick up the handset and dial?

And is a system that provides "WORM archival functionality" really trustworthy? Aren't computer worms bad?

The problem is hardly new. A standard for extension cards for laptops, commonly called PCMCIA, was derided as "People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms" when it launched. It actually stands for "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association."

It is a real problem for consumers, however, who have to make sure that their new DVD player--next to plain-vanilla DVDs--supports DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, CD, MP3 and JPEG.

If a player is missing one of those, a disc might simply not play.

To top if off, one of two new, mutually incompatible formats will be built into players within the next year--Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

It could be argued that some of the energy ("powered by vision," of course) poured into prototypes of cutting-edge technology could be used to perfect English translations of German descriptions.

"If the reduction of vibrations, undesired deformations and noise is desired at maximum economy, safety and comfort, Adaptronics is a key technology for the future and becomes a factor for success in many branches," informs a helpful leaflet distributed by CeBIT's so-called "future market."

The telephone industry isn't doing much better.

An employee of electronics group Philips recently took her GSM-GPRS mobile phone to South Korea, but could not get onto the CDMA network there. Or was it the CDMA-2001X EV/DO standard that was incompatible with her phone?

She must now decide whether to upgrade to a UMTS model--a standard that will be outdated as networks are upgraded with higher-speed HSDPA technology next year, with another HSUPA upgrade already waiting in the wings.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.