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Monday, December 11, 2000

Computer terminology redefined

What do various computer terms mean? A site, www.danielsen.com, tells about them in a lighter vein. Here are a few samples:

640 K: The salary the average Wall Street PC analyst pulls in each year.

Availability: Date when a dozen copies of the beta version will be hurriedly shrink-wrapped for the benefit of the Press and the investment community.

Backup: The chore you were really, honestly, going to do the very next thing before you switched drive letters and accidentally copied older, out-of-date versions of you files over all your newer ones at 3 a.m.

CD-ROM: A $ 30 mechanism in a $ 300 cabinet that accesses vast quantities of valuable information too slowly to use.


Copy protection:
A sly technique employed by hardware vendors to combat software piracy by continually changing the size and compatibility of disk drives (from 160 K to 320 K to 360 K to 1.2 MB to 720 K to 1.44 MB to 2.88 MB.).

Debugging: The process of uncovering glitches by packaging pre-release software as finished products, then waiting for irate customers to report problems.

Downward compatibility: You really didn’t have to spend the money for the upgraded version, since all you use anyway is the old set of features.

End user: One born every minute.

Entry level: Only slightly above most users’ heads.

Fax: Originally a last resort for procrastinators who missed the final Federal Express pickup; these days, an expensive way to order lunch from the pizza place around the corner.

Icon: One picture is worth a thousand lawsuits. Or, as Shakespeare might have put it, "He who steals my trash better have a large purse."

Laptop: A dinky keyboard wedded to a lousy LCD screen, all with bad battery life.

Low-bandwidth: The process of talking to a corporate press relations official. (Question: How many IBM PR types does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: We’ll have to get back to you on that.)

Nanosecond: The time it takes after your warranty expires for your hard disk to start making a sound like a monkey wrench in a blender.

NiCad battery: A cell that powers a laptop long enough to let you do three solid hours of work, then dies before you’re ready to save any of it to disk.

Partition: A wall you have to build around a noisy dot matrix printer that makes only slightly less noise than a tree chipper.

Productivity: Printing out 30 different versions of your document before getting the spacing correct.

Shell: A clumsy program that forces users to stumble through 10 menus to get anything done instead of typing a simple three-character command.

Standard: Manufactured by the company that does the flashiest advertising.

Toner cartridge: A device to refill laser printers; invented by the Association of American Dry Cleaners.

Tutorial: A program that forces you to sit through lessons on every last obscure and little-used feature of an application while ignoring overall fundamental tricks that would make you far more productive.

Value-added: A lot more expensive.

Virus: Commonly, the belief of incompetent users that some mysterious external force is to blame for their mistakes at the keyboard.

Workstation: Any PC that sells for more than $ 10,000.

XT: All the computer that most users who just type letters and run typical spreadsheets will ever need, even though a 386 machine will reformat their text a whole tenth of a second faster.

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