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ALPHA v0.3

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Computer Dictionary Ver. 1 --------------------------

Topic: computer

Computer Dictionary Ver. 1 --------------------------

Advanced: (adj.) doesn't work yet, but it's pretty close. See: bug, glitch. Advanced user: A person who has managed to remove a computer from its packing materials. Alpha test version: Too buggy to be released to the paying public. American-made: Assembled in the United States from parts made abroad. Analyst: (n.) one who writes programs and doesn't trust them. A cynic. Artificial intelligence: The amazing, humanlike ability of a computer program to understand that the letter y means "yes" and the letter n means "no". Assembler: (n.) A minor program of interest only to the obsessed programmers. Autoexec.Bat: A sturdy aluminum or wood shaft used to coax AT hard disks into performing properly. Available: Available any day now Available Soon: Should be out within a year Available May 1: Version 1.0 may ship to dealers August 1 Backup: The duplicate copy of crucial data that no one bothered to make. Basic: (n.) A computer one-word oxymoron. BBS: (n.) A system for connecting computers and exchanging gossip, facts, and uniformed speculation under false names. Beginner: A person who believes more then one-sixteeth of a computer salesperson's spiel. Benchmark: (n.) A test written ostensibly to compare hardware or software, but actually used by manufacturers to misinterpret or quote out of context in advertisements. Beta test version: Still too buggy to be released... Binary: (n.) a two-valued logic especially susceptible to glitches and bugs. It originated as a way of counting on the thumbs, since programming managers usually find fingers far too confusing. See: Hexadecimal, Octal. Bug: (n.) any program feature not yet described to the marketing department. Bus: (n.) a connector you plug money into, something like a slot machine. Business Graphics: popular with managers who understand neither decimals, fractions, Roman numerals, nor PI, but have more than a passing acquaintance with pies and bars Byte: (n.) eight bits, or one dollar (in 1950 terms). Presently worth about two-tenths of a cent and falling fast. C: (n.) the language following A and B. The world still awaits D and E. By Z, it may be acceptable for general use. CD-ROM: An optical device with storage sufficient to hold the billions of predictions claiming it will revolutionize the information industry. Chip: (n.) A stylized picture of a logic diagram on refined and alloyed sand. See: glitch, bug. Cobol: (n.) An old computer language, designed to be read and not run. Unfortunately, it is often run anyway. Code: (n.) A means of concealing bugs favored by programmers. (v.) the process of concealing bugs by programming. Consultant: A former sales manager who has mastered at least one- tenth of the dBase III Plus manual. Convertible: Transformable from a second-rate computer into a first-rate doorstop or paperweight. (Lexiclogical note: replaces the term "junior.") Cookie: (n.) Any recondite message displayed by a time-shared system. The message is not often seen, because it only appears when the system is operating properly. Common cookies include the timeless "Murphy was an optimist" and "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." Copy-Protected: (1) a clever method of preventing incompetent pirates from STEALING software and legitimate customers from USING it. (2) a means of distinguishing honest users from thieves by preventing larceny by the former but not the latter. Copy Protection: (n.) a means of circumventing various rights granted by the Constitution so as to artificially inflate profits. CPU: (n.) acronym for Central Purging Unit. A device which discards or distorts data sent to it, sometimes returning more data and sometimes merely over-heating. Crash: (v.) to terminate a program in the usual fashion, i.e. by locking up the computer or setting a fire at the printer. (n.) the process of such termination. Data: (n.) raw information, esp. that supplied to the central purging unit for transformation and disposal. Data Base Manager: (n.) any fast filing system which gives misleading answers. Also see: menu, bug. Database Manager: a program that allows the user to manipulate data in every conceivable way except the absolutely essential one he or she conceives of the day after entering 20 megabytes of raw data. Desktop publishing: A system of software and hardware enabling users to create documents with a cornucopia of typefaces and graphics and the intellectual content of a Formica slab, often used in conjunction with encryption. Diagnostic: (n.) A test foolishly but often believed to determine the reason for a particular failure. Competent professionals prefer the I Ching or phrenology. Disk Crash: A typical computer response to any critical deadline. Digital: (adj.) Of or pertaining to the fingers, esp. to counting on them. See: Binary, Hexadecimal, Octal. Documentation: (n.) A novel sold with software, designed to entertain the operator during episodes of bugs or glitches. Documentation: A perplexing linen-bound accessory resorted to only in situations of dire need when friends and dealers are unavailable, normally employed only as a decorative bookend. DOS: (n.) Acronym. a program which outputs questions given answers, putting users in jeopardy. DOS shell: An educational tool forcing computer users to learn new methods of doing what they already can do. Easy To Learn: Hard to use Easy To Use: Hard to learn Easy To Learn & Use: Won't do what you want it to Emulate: (v.) To simulate hardware glitches with software bugs. Emulator: (n.) A program which emulates. See: Virtual. Encryption: A powerful algorithmic encoding technique employed in the creation of computer manuals. Engineer: (v.) To build something with bugs (software) or glitches (hard-ware). (n.) One who engineers. Enhanced: Less awful in some ways than the previous model, and less likely to work as expected; e.g., "Enhanced Graphics Adapter", "Enhanced Keyboard", "Enhanced Extended Memory Specification." FCC-certified: Guaranteed not to interfere with radio or television reception until you add the cable required to make it work. Floppy: (adj.) The state of your wallet after purchasing a computer. Format: (v.) To erase irrevocably and unintentionally. (n.) The process of such erasure. Forth: (n.) A stack-oriented programming language written right to left and read from bottom to top. It runs efficiently on no common computers and is written effectively by no common programmers. FORTRAN: (n.) an ancient programming language which changed IF's to GOTO's by using a strange three-valued logic on binary computers. Glitch: (n.) An undocumented design feature, esp. of hardware. GOTO: (n.) An efficient and general way of controlling a program, much despised by academics and others whose brains have been ruined by overexposure to Pascal. See: Pascal. Hard Disk: (n.) A rapidly spinning platter divided into sectors. See: Sector, Glitch, Bug. A device that allows naive users to delete vast amounts of data with simple commands. Hard Drive: (v.) The sales technique employed by most computer salesmen. Hardware: (n.) Anything prone to physical failure. Head: (n.) The part of a disk drive which detects sectors and decides which of the two possible values to return: 'lose a turn' or 'bankrupt.' Hexadecimal: (adj.) Of or referring to base-16 numbers - binary numbers grouped four digits at a time so as to quadruple the opportunity for glitches and bugs. Originated as a means of counting on the fingers of one hand, using the thumb for the 'carry.' Purists who don't like to use the thumb at all prefer 'octal.' See: Octal, Binary. IBM-Compatible: Not IBM-compatible Fully IBM-Compatible: Somewhat IBM-compatible, but won't run BASIC 100% IBM-COMPATIBLE: compatible with most available hardware and software, but not with the blockbusters IBM always introduces the day after tomorrow IBM: Somewhat like an IBM product; in current parlance, invariably followed by the word "compatible". IBM Product Centers: Historical landmarks forever memorializing the concept of "list price only." Icon: (n.) A complex, blurry, and easily-misinterpreted pictorial programs representation of a single unambiguous word. Preferred by illiterates and semiliterates for these reasons. Increment: (v.) To increase by one, except when segments are used; then, the increase may be by sixteen unless word mode addressing is used in which case the increase is by one or two, depending on the processor and whether the address is on an even boundary or such increase causes an overflow exception processor fault, which may either cause the program to crash or decrease by a large number instead of increase, depending the register used and the operation being attempted. Integrated Software: a single product that deftly performs hundreds of functions the user never needs and awkwardly performs the half dozen he uses constantly. Iterate: (v.) To repeat an action for a potentially and often actually infinite number of times. Joystick: (n.) A device essential for performing business tasks and training exercises esp. favored by pilots, tank commanders, riverboat gamblers, and medieval warlords. K: (n., adj.) A binary thousand, which isn't a decimal thousand or even really a binary thousand (which is eight), but is the binary number closest to a decimal thousand. This has proven so completely confusing that is has become a standard. Kernal: (n.) A misspelling of 'kernel' used by beginning (funtionally illiterate) programmers, especially those with some knowledge of C. Kernel: (n.) The core of a program, i.e. the source of all errors. Thus the common misspelling, 'kernal.' Keyboard: The standard way to generate computer errors. Keyboard: (n.) A device used by programmers to write software for a mouse or joystick and by operators for playing games such as 'word processing.' Kludge: (v., adj., or n.) To fix a program in the usual way. LAP-TOP: Smaller and lighter than the average secretary Laser printer: A xerographic copying machine with additonal malfunctioning parts. Leading Edge: (n., adj.) Anything which uses advanced technology. See: Advanced. License: (n.) A covenant which tells the buyer that nothing has been purchased and that no refund, support, advice, or instruction may be anticipated and that no resale is permitted. A modern way of saying "Thanks for all your money and goodbye," far less crude than "Stick 'em up" but even more effective since the purchaser will often borrow the funds requested. Logic: (n.) A system of determining truth or falsity, implication or exclusion, by means of a sort of binary Oneiromancy. Loop: (n., v.) 1. A series of instructions to be iterated. 2. the process of iterating them. Most loops are unintentional and can be quite droll. Macro: (n.) A series of keystrokes used to simulate a missing but essential command. Megabyte: (n.) More than you can comprehend and less than you'll need. See: UNIX. Megaherz: (n.) A way of measuring how well your computer matches the frequency of your local television channels. Most computers perform exceptionally well on this test, especially the higher-quality foreign-made ones. Memory-resident: Ready at the press of a key to disable any currently running program. Menu: (n.) Any list of choices, each of which is either unsatisfactory or in some fashion contradictory. Micro-: (prefix) Anything both very small and very expensive. Mode: (n.) A way of forcing a glitch or bug. Modem: (n., v.) A device used to connect computers (see: BBS) or the process of transmitting data between or among computers, esp. for those unable or unwilling to speak. Monitor: (n.) A sort of television with exceptionally poor picture quality and limited to a single very local station. Motherboard: (n.) The hardware version of the software 'kernel.' Mouse: An advanced input device to make computer errors easier to generate. Mouse: (n.) An input device used by management to force computer users to keep at least a part of their desks clean. Multitasking: A clever method of simultaneously slowing down the multitude of computer programs that insist on running too fast. Nano-: (prefix) A thousandth of a thousandth, but not a binary thousandth in either case. Decimal is used for all very small measurements since no further confusion is necessary. Network: An electronic means of allowing more than one person at a time to corrupt, trash, or otherwise cause permanent damage to useful data. Octal: (n.) A base-8 counting system designed so that one hand may count upon the fingers of the other. Thumbs are not used, and the index finger is reserved for the 'carry.' Offset: (n.) A method which permits access to any memory location in thousands of ways, each of which appears different but is not. Used with segments. See: Segment. Operator: (n.) 1. One who has no experience with computers. 2. Any beginner, esp. one part of whose salary is paid in soft drinks and processed salted food treated with dangerous and illegal drugs or preservatives. Differs from a programmer in that a programmer will often take the dangerous and illegal drugs or preservatatives directly. Pascal: (n.) A classroom project which was released before it could be graded - probably a good idea, considering. One wishes the University had a better system of academic controls. Patch: (v.) To fix a program by changing bytes according to the rules of logic. (n.) Any repair of this form. Pirate: (v., n.) To steal software, or one who is such a thief. True pirates see nothing wrong with thievery, having successfully forgotten or repressed all moral values. Plotter: A terroristic hypodermic device used to inject boring graphic representations of boring data into boring meetings. Pop: (v.) To remove from an area of memory naively thought to be the stack in a futile attempt to keep a program running. Portable: (adj.) That which can be physically moved more than a hundred yards by an unaided olympic athlete without permanent damage to that individual more than 50% of the time. Portable Computer:A device invented to force business men to work at home, on vacation, and on business trips. Power User: Anyone who can format a disk from DOS. Power user: A person who has mastered the brightness and contrast controls on any computer's monitor. Printer: (n.) A small box attached to a computer and used to start fires in cold weather. An electromechanical paper shredding device. Procedure: (n.) A method of performing a program sub-task in an inefficient way by extensively using the stack instead of a GOTO. See: Pascal and C. Processor: (n.) A device for converting sense to nonsense at the speed of electricity, or (rarely) the reverse. Program: (n.) That which manipulates symbols rapidly with unforeseen results. Also: a bug's way of perpetuating bugs. Programmer: (n.) 1. One who writes programs and trusts them. An optimist. 2. Any employee who needs neither food nor sleep but exists on large quantities of caffeine, nicotine, sucrose, and machine-vended preservatives thinly disguised as foodstuffs. Programming Language: (n.) A shorthand way of describing a series of bugs to a computer or a programmer. Prompt: (n.) A computer request for a random operator error. Also a game where the computer plays the part of Vanna White and the operator, a contestant. There are no prizes for winning. Push: (v.) To put into an area of memory believed to be the stack for the ostensible purpose of later retrieval. Tonkin's rule: In any program there are always more 'pushes' than 'pops.' See: Recursion. Quantum leap: (adj.) Literally, to move by the smallest amount theoretically possible. In advertising, to move by the largest leap imaginable (in the mind of the advertiser). There is no contradiction. Recursion: (n.) A programming method which tests the limits of available memory in an iterative way by using the stack. When the program fails, all memory has been used. Memorize this definition, then see: Recursion. Register: (n.) A part of the central purging unit used to distort or destroy incoming data by arbitrary rules. See: Increment. Relational: (adj.) Purchased from, or sold to, blood kin. See: True relational. Release version: Alternate pronunciation of "beta test version." RISC: The gamble that a computer directly compatible with nothing else on the planet may actually have decent software written for it someday. Sales associate: A former cheesemonger who has recently traded mascarpone for MS-Dos. Sales Manager: Last week's new sales associate. Sector: (n.) A disk arc on which is inscribed 'lose a turn' or 'bankrupt.' See: Hard disk, Head, Glitch. Segment: (n.) A way of restricting or complicating access to memory in an attempt to break a programmer's will to live. Outlawed by both the A.S.P.C.A and the U.N. but still practiced in some backward areas of the world. See: Offset. Service: Cursory examination, followed by the utterances of the phrase "It can't be our" and either of the words "hardware" or "software". Shareware: Software usually distinguished by its awkward user interfaces, skimpy manuals, lack of official user support and particularly its free distribution and upgrading via simple disk copying; e.g., PC-DOS. Software: (n.) Anything other than hardware. That which hardware manufacturers can blame can blame for physical failures. Sort: (v.) To order a list of data in such a way as to destroy all relationships between the items. (n.) The process which accomplishes this, esp. if it takes a very long time. Source Code: (n.) A record of a programmer's thought for a period of time. A stream-of-consciousness novel or short story. Spreadsheet: (n.) A way of forcing repeatable answers from insufficient data for superficial purposes. Also, a game played during office hours by bored or restless yuppies. Stack: (n.) Any area of memory which grows and eventually destroys both code and data. (v.) To place in such an area. Standard: Similar to something else on the market Standard: (n., adj.) A design target which manufacturers may embellish, improve upon, or ignore as they wish, so long as it can be used profitably in their advertising. Support: The mailing of advertising literature to customers who have returned a registration card. Systems integrator: A former consultant who understands the term AUTOEXEC.BAT. Transportable: (adj.) Said of software - that which can be put on a new machine in less time than it took to write in the first place. Said of hardware - that which can theoretically be moved more than ten feet in one minute by some combination of machinery or explosives. The meanings are equivalent. Truly relational: (adj.) Relational, but where the paternity is indubitable. TSR: (n.) Acronym for Terminate and Stay Resident. A way of turning a useless computer with plenty of memory into a computer with no memory at all. Turbo-: (prefix) Computer software which uses air under pressure (supplied by a special fan) to achieve high performance. Turbo card: A device that increases an old-model computer's speed almost enough to compensate for the time wasted in getting it to work. UNIX: Sterile experts who attempt to palm off bloated, utterly arcane, and confusing operating systems on rational human beings. Upgraded: Didn't work the first time. Upgraded and improved: Didn't work the second time. User-friendly: (adj.) Trivialized, slow, incapable, and boring. See: Icon, Mouse. User-Friendly: Supplied with a full-color manual Very User-Friendly: Supplied with an on-disk and audiotape tutorial, so the user needn't bother with the full-color manual. Extremely User-Friendly: Supplied with a mouse so that the computer user needn't bother with the on-disk and audiotape tutorial, the full-color manual, or the program itself. UNIX: (n., v.) A DOS which needs more memory than you have and runs more slowly than you can bear. To UNIX: to grossly enlarge and slow down out of all proportion, esp. by using C. User: (n.) One who knows from experience that programs cannot be trusted. A realist. Vendor: (n.) A manufacturer's lackey. VERSION 1.0: Buggier than Mississippi in June, eats data VERSION 1.1: Eats data only occasionally, upgrades free to avoid litigation by disgruntled users of version 1.0 VERSION 2.0: The version originally planned as the first release [except for a couple of data-eating bugs that just won't seem to go away], no free upgrades or the company would go bankrupt VERSION 3.0: The revision in the works when the company goes bankrupt Virtual: (adj.) Emulated. See: Emulate. Warranty: (n.) A list of vendor's promises with carefully-worded exceptions which cancel each of the promises in turn. See: License. Warranty: An unconditional guarantee that the program purchased is actually included on the disk in the box Warranty: Disclaimer. Windowing: (n., adj.) a way of making a large and easily-read display into many small, cluttered, and confusing ones. Windows: A slow-moving relation of the rodent family rarely seen near a computer but commonly found in specially marked packages of display cards, turbo-cards and Grape-Nuts cereal. Word Processor: (n.) A program which makes a $5,000 computer into a $250 typewriter. A computer game for beginning operators. Word Processor: Software that magically transforms its user into a professional author. WORM: (n.) Acronym for Write Once, Read Mangled. Used to describe a normally-functioning computer disk of the very latest design. Workstation: A computer or terminal slavishly linked to a mainframe that does not offer game programs. Yarrow: (n.) Kind of stalks used by computer diagnosticians when performing the ritual of the I Ching. See: Diagnostics. Zaxxon: (n.) A sophisticated simulation and design program used by the brightest programmers to test the consistency of internal logic and memory. Management prefers to use games such as 'spreadsheet' for the same purpose.


ALPHA v0.3