Cover image for What the heck does that icon mean?

What the heck does that icon mean?

dvddpl profile image Davide de Paolis ・3 min read

Less than 2 weeks ago was the 4th anniversary since my dad´s death and when today I stumbled in this article: Icons that don´t make sense anymore (which is somehow updating an old post from famous Scott Hanselman I could not help but thinking nostalgically at something funny that happened a few months before he died.

In the articles the authors mention lots of icons that refers to items that do not exist anymore, are not used in everyday´s life anymore, or simply look very different now - so for new generations they really make no sense, and they do not provide any help whatsoever to identify the purpose of the icon.

I guess something similar happens with language and I bet there are plenty of idiomatic expressions that do not really make sense anymore, but probably the process is slower, and while speaking we have probably more opportunities of finding out the meaning (because parents or grandparents explain old saying or repeat them all the time and we get used to them). Probably we pay less attention to it, we just get used to them and click on them without questioning.

Is the save icon a floppy disk or a vending machine

Until a Japanese teen asks why the save button resembles a Vending Machine with a ready to grab can - or a 80 years old man struggles to find the microphone icon in skype.

I already moved from Italy to Germany, therefore, most contacts with my father happened via Skype.
Every Skype call was a bit of a struggle, for him having to cope with technology, and for me, having to cope with him through that.

One evening, the connection was good and we could pretty easily see each other, but I could not hear him. When I told him to check if the mic was ON he told me annoyed with gestures( we are Italians, we can easily communicate just with our hands and facial expression! ;-) ) that he could not find any microphone.
I resolved to a phone call to guide him and then told him, with quite exasperated tone:

"C´mon! The microphone icon is the second from the left: Just between the Camera Icon and the Plus sign!!"

Skype Icons

A few seconds of silence... then he just said:

and that is supposed to be a microphone? Looks more like an upside-down shopping cart wheel to me!

Alt Text

At that point, I was the one silent for a few seconds. Trying to figure out what the hell was going on, where he could have seen an upside down shopping cart wheel, and why on heart something like that could have popped in his mind ( other people in the articles said that the microphone look like a giant pill inside a glass ... but an upside-down shopping cart wheel !!!)

Then I saw it and I laughed out loud.

From that moment on, I could not unsee it. And every time I open Skype, I think at my Dad and smile, then I am a bit sad and then again I remember him with a laugh.
I really hope that that icon will be left untouched, and no restyling will ruin that lovely upside down shopping cart wheel.

Goodbye Dad.

looking up to the stars

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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Davide de Paolis


Sport addicted, productivity obsessed, avid learner, travel enthusiast, expat, 2 kids. 🏂✈🚞🌍📷🖥🤘👨‍👩‍👦‍👦🚀 (Opinions are my own)


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Thank you for taking the time writing this story.


This is a beautiful post. Made me laugh and cry a little at the same time. Sorry for your loss Davide.


What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing.