Happy 1997 to All!
Well, the new year has come, and so far it's pretty much like
1996. A little too busy and a little too crazy. We'll see how the
rest of the year goes as things go along. Always best to take
things one day at a time, I suppose.
This week, Sunday Funnies goes into education mode as we
provide a glossary of terms for computer users. You too can around
this jargon to amaze your friends and confuse or confound your
enemies. I hope you find this helpful, or at least amusing. Hey,
maybe I can get a grant from the National Science Foundation...
Well, probably not...
Have a great week!
HANDY COMPUTER GLOSSARY -
Amiga - Older computer made by Commodore. Had no confusing
error messages, it instead had confusing 'Guru Meditations'.
Alpha - Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in
getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for 'doesn't work.'
Attachment - Software tool in electronic mail that allows users
to accidentally send millions of bytes of useless data with
a one line E-mail message.
Backup - Duplicate copies of critical data. This is a
mythological concept as they never have been seen to exist
in the real world.
Beta - Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's
released. Beta is Latin for 'still doesn't work.'
Cabling - The wires that keep computers from falling off of
Cache - Expensive high-speed memory used by the CPU as
temporary storage. See Cash Memory...
CD/ROM - Storage media that allows users to use multi-thousand
dollar computers to play music like a $5 radio.
CGA - Ancient color monitor standard. Mostly found haunting
closets near computer areas.
Computer - An instrument of torture. The first true computer
was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British
scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy
disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention
as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked. On April
8, 1945, Hitler became so enraged at the "Incompatible File
Format" error message that he shot himself. The war ended
soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for IBM.
CPU - Central propulsion unit. The CPU is the computer's
engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a
tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a
mouse if the machine is a 286, a gerbil if it's a 386, a
ferret if it's a 486 and a ferret on speed if it's a
Customer Service - A way to listen to radio stations in cities
far away while you wait on hold for the one person who
understands your problem to return from a three-week
vacation in the Bahamas.
Default Directory - (See Black hole) The Default directory is
where all the files that you need disappear to.
Device Driver - Operating software for a particular piece of
hardware. Allows one manufacturer to blame another in case
DOS - D_isk O_perating S_ystem. Basic program that allows a
computer to be more than an illuminated doorstop. Despite
it's simplicity and that the basic design was taken from
other operating systems, it has allowed Bill Gates to make
more money than any other human, living or dead.
Electronic Mail - System that allows managers to instantly
distribute thousands of copies of useless memos.
Error Message - Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to
place blame on users for the program's mistakes.
File - A program or document that has been saved with an
useless name. It helps to think of a file as something
stored in a file cabinet - except when you try to remove the
file, the cabinet gives you an electric shock and tells you
the file format is unknown.
Floppy Disk - Removable computer storage media most often used
as coasters for soda cans and to level monitors.
Font - Style of lettering either printed or on screen. May be
mixed many times in the same message to achieve the same
look as a ransom note.
Hard Drive - Main storage unit for a modern computer. The Hard
in the name refers not only the physical type of disk but
also the trouble it takes get and keep one working.
Hardware - Collective term for any computer-related object that
can be kicked or battered.
Help - The feature that assists in generating more questions.
When the help feature is used correctly, users are able to
navigate through a series of Help screens and end up where
they started from without learning anything.
HTML - H_yperT_ext M_arkup L_anguage. Programming language
that allows even novice users to create web pages that can
stop all communication on networks.
IBM Card - Antique data input medium using small cardboard
pages with holes in them. See also scroll, parchment, quill
IBM compatible - old term for a computer that isn't made by
Apple and isn't made by IBM, either.
IDE - I_tegrated D_evice E_lectronics. Interface standard for
Hard Drives and CD/ROMs that allows users to configure their
system in at least 64 incorrect ways.
Input/Output - Information is input from the keyboard as
intelligible data and output to the printer as
Interim Release - A programmer's attempt at repentance.
Internet - Name for a con game that gets major universities and
government agencies to pay for all the equipment to allow
users to play the computer game 'Doom' with people in Nepal.
Java - A new graphical page description language. Widespread
acceptance awaits settlement of a lawsuit between Sun
Microsystems and the government of Indonesia. Both claim to
have had the name 'Java' in common use first.
Keyboard - User input device that sacrifices itself to protect
the rest of the computer system by attracting spilled soda,
dropped jelly donuts, etc.
Macintosh - A type of computer made by Apple. Has remained a
minor player in the industry for many years, despite having
most every innovation first. If Apple's fabulous marketing
department was selling Kentucky Fried Chicken, they'd
probably describe it as 'Warm, Dead Fowl in Crumbs and Oil'.
Memory - The temporary storage area for computer data. The
memory consists of three areas: Regular memory (640K),
expanded memory (above 640K), and the part corrupted by
Windows in a General Protection Fault.
Modem - Communications device used to slow the computer to a
near stop while hooked to a phone line.
Monitor - The glowing TV screen that allows users to see the
error messages they are creating by operating the keyboard
Mother Board - The main board of modern computers, contains the
CPU, memory and other expensive parts. Must be replaced at
at least six month intervals to keep up with current
Mouse - Pointing Device attached to a computer. Designed by
the clever people at Xerox PARC in the 1960's to give users
something cheaper and easier to throw when the computer
doesn't work right.
Network - a link between computers that allows users to blame
their errors on other users located thousands of miles away.
Plug and Play - New concept in IBM-style machines where the
machine does not allow the user to set hardware incorrectly
so it can't be used. Instead, the computer itself adjusts
the hardware settings wrong so the device can't be used.
Translated incorrectly from Japanese, the original phrase
was 'Plug and Pray'.
Printer - The output device of most computers. A printer
consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper
tray and the blinking error light. Even novice users can
destroy whole rain forests by printing thousands of
Programmers - Computer avengers. Once members of that group of
high school nerds who wore tape on their glasses, played
Dungeons and Dragons, and memorized Star Trek episodes; now
millionaires who create "user-friendly" software to get
revenge on whoever gave them a difficult time in school.
Reference Manual - Object used to compensate for that short
Reset Button - Control used to restart computer from the very
beginning. Placed on the front of most machines so it can
be pushed accidentally to cause loss of data, sanity, etc.
Scheduled Release Date - A carefully calculated date determined
by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting six
months from it.
SCSI - Hard drive and CD/ROM interface protocol that allows
similar devices made to the same standard to be completely
Serial Port - Communication connection to certain external
devices. Corruption of a US Navy term for a place to obtain
Software - the instructions that allow a computer to operate
and appear to be almost as intelligent as a really stupid
Sound Blaster - A brand name of standardized audio card
guaranteed to be incompatible with some type of software you
Sub-Directory - A part of disk organization that allows users
to hide files in ever more complex hiding places.
TCP/IP - An acronym so obscure that it means as little to most
users as LSMFT.
UNIX - highly complex operating system that allows users to get
completely lost in thousands of interesting ways.
UPS - U_ninterruptable P_ower S_upply. Hardware unit to used
assure constant electrical power to critical computers.
Installed by management the day after all data has been lost
in a power failure.
URL - U_niversal R_esource L_ocator. The address to non-
existent sites and files on the World Wide Web.
User-Friendly - Of or pertaining to any feature, device or
concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer and no
other human or animal.
Users - Collective term for those who stare vacantly at
computer monitors. Users are divided into three types:
novice, intermediate and expert.
- Novice Users - People who are afraid that simply pressing
a key might break their computer.
- Intermediate Users - People who don't know how to fix
their computer after they've just pressed a key that
- Expert Users - People who break other people's computers.
VGA - V_ideo G_raphics A_rray. A video card supplied by
management when they're too cheap to spend the money for
Virus - Rarely seen, damaging programs used as a sales tool to
sell virus protection software.
Windows - Operating system used to slow most recent computers
down to the same performance as old XT's & AT's from 1986.
Windows 95 - Complete re-write of Windows made necessary as
computers continually got faster. Slows even the latest
machines to XT speeds.
World Wide Web - Font of all knowledge and wisdom, if you only
have a long enough life span to let the stupid pages load.
© 1997 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.