Saturday, June 23, 2012

Upload, download or offload?

Okay, I'm easing into the new vocabulary here. For several years I've understood download. It's something you do with photos and music and information files you see on the internet and want to load onto your own computer. You can also find software manuals and other vital information to download with just a few clicks. Downloading is great. It's empowering. It's efficient. 

Upload: That's a newer concept for me. You take a file of your own and send it to a website on the internet. That can be a little daunting until you get used to it. Millions have uploaded video clips onto Youtube, though.On Facebook or a blog you can post a comment and/or picture. That's an upload. You can also go to an organization's contest webpage and paste an essay, short story, etc. into a designated box. With one click it's launched, and although you cringe at the thought of judges reading it, you can't take it back.  

Now we come to offload. From an online dictionary: to transfer data to a peripheral device. OK, I guess that would be to your e-reader, your phone, another computer, etc. That's logical. 

But it also makes me think of another situation. I've been in a lot of airports lately. Sitting at one of the many airports I visited going to and from Finland recently, I heard an occasional announcement like this: "Mr.John Jones, your flight to Taiwan is about to depart. Please report to the gate or your luggage will be offloaded."

Oh, now I get it. Your luggage will be unloaded, taken off, or thrown off the plane. Most likely thrown off the plane. (Why don't they just say that?)

Speaking of airports, I heard something in Amsterdam that made me wonder who was in dire straits. An announcement came over the entire terminal's PA system, spoken by an employee with a Chinese accent: "We are looking for a passenger who can speak English and Russian to translate for us. Please report to Gate B-9 immediately."  
Anyway, back to the new terms: I can now use the following three words with some degree of confidence:upload, download, and offload. May your uploads be successful, your downloads helpful and rewarding, and your offloads rewarding However, I hope you never experience an offload of your luggage. 

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