Traductions John Lejderman Translations,, Montréal, Québec, Canada
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Translation and language jokes for the technical crowd

Glossary of Computer Terms

People are always complaining about the confusing terminology that you have to understand in order to communicate with (or about) computers. No longer. This little glossary should help you understand much better.


What it means.

640K barrier the finish line in a mega-marathon
access time foreplay
analog what Ana tosses into the fire
assembly language put tab A into slot B, then put tab C…
audit trail what the IRS does
bandwidth limited by the size of the stage
battery backup going in reverse in a golf cart
BBS t-telling t-tall s-stories
benchmark what happens when your saw hits the bench
broadband an all female rock group
cache memory remembering how much you spent
carrier detect “I see the mail man!”
CASE 24 bottles
Control Character prison guard
conventional memory remembering what you did at COMDEX
copy protection wearing a rubber
copyright vs. copy wrong
cursor a garbage mouth
daisy chain a dog’s leash
DAT the opposite of DIS
deadly embrace making love to King Kong
delimiter some who says, “Stop, that’s enough”
density how to measure IQs of blondes
DIP switch how my sister gets a new boy friend
dot pitch “Dorothy winds ups, and delivers a knuckle ball”
EBCDIC similar to herpes
EMS happens just before PMS
end user a prisoner’s cell mate
escape sequence Distract guard. Dig tunnel. Cut throw fence…
Ethernet used to catch Etherbunny
fixed disk a broken disk that comes back from the shop
flash EPROM what they have on 90210 (Flashy Proms)
flat bed scanner a hooker looking for loose change
flat file a file with all the air out of it
full duplex a 2-family house with 16 occupants
groupware clothes swapping
hacker a heavy smoker
half-height drive a midget’s sexual capacity
hand scanner singles bar prowler looking for wedding rings
heap what I drive
high density diskette a very stupid floppy
home computer what you tell your computer when it follows you
hypertext text on amphetamines
ink jet a plane used for sky writing
integrated circuit a circuit with both black & white components
joystick (requires little explanation)
local bus stops at every intersection
lost chains euphoria experienced by the recently divorced
low-level language for basement programmers
high-level language for penthouse programmers
machine dependency an addiction of machine users
mag tape tape used on the wheels of cars
mainframe akin to “main squeeze”
main memory remembering where the water line is
math coprocessor the person you cheated from in math class
megaflop the worst play you ever saw
minicomputer the peer to Mickey’s computer
modem what the gardener did to the lawns
multi-sync can be sunk more than once
native mode head hunting
on-line where the birds sit
overlay chickens making too many eggs
pentium the thing that swings back-and-forth on a clock
plotter a deceitful person
postscript graffiti on a pole
protected memory remembering to wear a condom
record locking what you do to your Beatles’ White Album
right justified vs. wrongly justified
software piracy stealing a ship’s program
spreadsheet a hooker’s foreplay
streaming tape party decorations
subroutine not quite routine
surge protector a condom
token ring a group of people passing the bong
trackball what sprinters and runners often get
word wrap black music
worksheet a prostitutes office
Ymodem because, modem

For another source of “daffy”nitions – see Avi Bidani. 


The Saga of Management Review of Writing Style

QUESTION: How many feet do mice have?

Original reply: Mice have four feet.
Management Comment: Elaborate!
Revision 1: Mice have five appendages, and four of them are feet.
Comment: No discussion of fifth appendage!
Revision 2: Mice have five appendages; four of them are feet and one is a tail.
Comment: What? Feet with no legs?
Revision 3: Mice have four legs, four feet and one tail per unit-mouse.
Comment: Confusing — is that a total of 9 appendages?
Revision 4: Mice have four leg-foot assemblies and one tail assembly per body.
Comment: Does not fully discuss the issue!
Revision 5: Each mouse comes equipped with four legs and a tail. Each leg is equipped with a foot at the end opposite the body; the tail is not equipped with a foot.
Comment: Descriptive? Yes. Forceful? NO!
Revision 6: Allotment appendages for mice will be: Four leg-foot assemblies, one tail. Deviation from this policy is not permitted as it would constitute misapportionment of scarce appendage assets.
Comment: Too authoritative; stifles creativity!
Revision 7: Mice have four feet; each foot is attached to a small leg joined integrally with the overall mouse structural sub-system. Also attached to the mouse sub-system is a thin tail, non-functional and ornamental in nature.
Comment: Too verbose/scientific. Answer the question!


Buzzwords for Managers
0. integrated 0. management 0. options
1. heuristic 1. organizational 1. flexibility
2. systematized 2. monitored 2. capability
3. parallel 3. reciprocal 3. mobility
4. functional 4. digital 4. programming
5. responsive 5. logistical 5. scenarios
6. optional 6. transitional 6. time-phase
7. synchronized 7. incremental 7. projection
8. compatible 8. third-generation 8. hardware
9. futuristic 9. policy 9. contingency

The procedure is simple. Think of any three-digit number; then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 257 produces “systematized logistical projection”, a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with that ring of decisive knowledgeable authority. No one will have the remotest idea of what you’re talking about, but the important thing is that THEY ARE NOT ABOUT TO ADMIT IT.

Technology Terminology – WWW (World Wide Wait) Technology Terminology

Link Rot | The process by which links on a web page became obsolete as the sites they’re connected to change location or die.

Crapplet | A badly written or profoundly useless Java applet. “I just wasted 30 minutes downloading this stinkin’ crapplet!”

Under Mouse Arrest | Getting busted for violating an online service’s rule of conduct. “Sorry I couldn’t get back to you. AOL put me under mouse arrest.”

404 | Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web message – “404, URL Not Found,” meaning that the document you’ve tried to access can’t be located. “Don’t bother asking him…he’s 404, man.”

Dead Tree Edition | The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms, as in: “The dead tree edition of the San Francisco Chronicle…”

Egosurfing | Scanning the net, databases, print media, or research papers looking for the mention of your name.

Graybar Land | The place you go while you’re staring at a computer that’s processing something very slowly (while you watch the gray bar creep across the screen). “I was in graybar land for what seemed like hours, thanks to that CAD rendering.”

Cobweb Site | A World Wide Web Site that hasn’t been updated for a long time. A dead web page.

Keyboard Plaque | The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards. “Are there any other terminals I can use? This one has a bad case of keyboard plaque.”

Bookmark | To take note of a person for future reference (a metaphor borrowed from web browsers). “I bookmarked him after seeing his cool demo at Siggraph.”


Acronyms – Abbreviations Coded Really Ominously Nullifying Your Memory System

PCMCIA People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms
SCSI System Can’t See It
DOS Defunct Operating System
BASIC Bill’s Attempt to Seize Industry Control
IBM I Blame Microsoft
CD-ROM Consumer Device, Rendered Obsolete in Months
OS/2 Obsolete Soon, Too
ISDN I Simply Don’t Know