Glossary of Computer Terms BEGINNER: A person who believes more than one-sixteenth of a computer salespersons spiel. ADVANCED USER: A person who has managed to remove a computer from its packing materials. POWER USER: A person who has mastered the brightness and contrast controls on any computer's monitor. SALES ASSOCIATE: A former cheese-monger who has recently traded mascarpone for MS-DOS SALES MANAGER: Last week's new sales associate. CONSULTANT: A former sales associate who has mastered at least one tenth of the dBASE III Plus Manual. SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR: A former consultant who understands the term "AUTOEXEC.BAT". WARRANTY: Disclaimer. SERVICE: Cursory examination, followed by the utterance of the phrase "It can't be ours" and either of the words "hardware" or "software." SUPPORT: The mailing of advertising literature to customers who have returned a registration card. ALPHA TEST VERSION: Too buggy to be released to the paying public. BETA TEST VERSION: Still too buggy to be released. RELEASE VERSION: Alternate pronunciation of "beta test version." ENHANCED: Less awful in some ways than the previous model, and less likely to work as expected. CONVERTIBLE: Transformable from a second-rate computer to a first-rate doorstop or paperweight. (Lexicoginal note: replaces the term "junior.") UPGRADED: Didn't work the first time. UPGRADED AND IMPROVED: Didn't work the second time. FAST (6MHz): Nowhere near fast enough. SUPERFAST (8MHz): Not fast enough. BLINDINGLY FAST (10MHz): Almost fast enough. ASTOUNDINGLY FAST (12MHz): Fast enough to work only intermittently. MEMORY-RESIDENT: Ready at the press of a key to disable any currently running program. MULTITASKING: A clever method of simultaneously slowing down the multitude of computer programs that insist on running too fast. ENCRYPTION: A powerful algorithmic encoding technique employed in the creation of computer manuals. 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. HIGH RESOLUTION: Having nothing to do with graphics on an IBM-compatible microcomputers. FCC-CERTIFIED: Guaranteed not to interfere with radio or television reception until you add the cable required to make it work. AMERICAN: Italian or Taiwanese, as in "American Telephone and Telegraph." AMERICAN-MADE: Assembled in America from parts made abroad. WINDOWS: A slow-moving relation of the rodent family rarely seen near computers but commonly found in specially marked packages of display cards, turbo cards, and Grape-Nuts Cereal. TOPVIEW: The official position of IBM brass that an abysmally slow character-based multitasking program is the product of the future. 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; eg. PC-DOS. DOS-SHELL: An educational tool forcing computer users to learn new methods of doing what they already can. UNIX: Sterile experts who attempt to palm off bloated, utterly arcane, and confusing operating systems on rational human beings. EMS: Emergency Medical Service; often summoned incases of apoplexy induced by attempts to understand extended, expanded, or enhanced memory specifications. VIDEOTEX: A moribund electronic service offering people the privilege of paying to read the weather on their TV screens instead of having Willard Scott read it to them free while they brush their teeth. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: The amazing, human-like ability of a computer program to understand that the letter Y means "yes" and the letter N means "no". ELECTRONIC MAIL: A communications system with built-in delays and errors designed to emulate those of the United States Postal Service. TURBO CARD: A device that increases an older-model computer's speed almost enough to compensate for the time wasted in getting it to work. LASER PRINTER: A xerographic copying machine with additional malfunctioning parts. WORKSTATION: A computer or terminal slavishly linked to a mainframe that does not offer game programs. RISC: The gamble that a computer directly compatible with nothing else on the planet may actually have decent software written for it someday. AUTOEXEC.BAT: A sturdy aluminum or wooden shaft used to coax AT hard disks into performing properly. PLOTTER: A terroristic hypodermic device used to inject graphic representations of boring data into boring meetings. CLONE: One of the many advanced-technology computers IBM is beginning to wish it had built. CD-ROM: An optical device with storage sufficient to hold billions of predictions claiming it will revolutionize the information industry. IBM PRODUCT CENTERS: Historical landmarks forever memorializing the concept of "list price only." IBM: Somewhat like an IBM product; in current parlance, invariably followed by the word "compatible." IBM COMPATIBLE: Not IBM compatible. FULLY IBM COMPATIBLE: Somewhat IBM compatible, but won't run IBM BASIC programs. 100% IBM COMPATIBLE: Compatible with most available hardware and software, but not with the blockbusters IBM always introduces the day after tomorrow. LAP-TOP: Smaller and lighter than the average secretary. PORTABLE: Smaller and lighter than the average refrigerator. TRANSPORTABLE: Neither chained to a wall nor attached to an alarm system. HARD DISK: A device that allows users to delete vast quantities of data with simple mnemonic commands. MOUSE: A peripheral originally christened "vermiform appendix" because of its functional resemblance, renamed for its appropriateness as a cat toy. PRINTER: An electro mechanical paper-shredding device. MODEM: A peripheral used in the unsuccessful attempt to get two computer to communicate with each other. NETWORK: An electronic means of allowing more than one person at a time to corrupt, trash, or otherwise cause permanent damage to useful information. DOCUMENTATION: A perplexing linen-bound accessory resorted to only in situations of dire need when friends and dealers are unavailable, usually employed solely as a decorative bookend. USER-FRIENDLY: Supplied with a full-color manual. VERY USER-FRIENDLY: Supplied with a disk and audio tape so the user needn't bother with the full-color manual. EXTREMELY USER-FRIENDLY: Supplied with a mouse so that the user needn't bother with the disk and audio tape, the full color manual, or the program itself. EASY TO LEARN: Hard to use. EASY TO USE: Hard to learn. EASY TO LEARN AND USE: Won't do what you want it to. POWERFUL: Hard to learn and use. MENU-DRIVEN: Easy to learn. C-PY PR-T-CT--N: An obscenity unfit to print and fast disappearing from common parlance. COPY PROTECTION: (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 by the latter. WARRANTY: An unconditional guarantee that the program purchased is actually included on the disk in the box. VERSION 1.0: Buggier than Maine in June; eats data. VERSION 1.1: Eats data only occasionally, upgrade 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. SPREADSHEET: A program that gives the user quick and easy access to a wide variety of highly detailed reports based on highly inaccurate assumptions. WORD PROCESSOR: Software that magically transforms its user into a professional author. THOUGHT PROCESSOR: An electronic version of the intended outline procedure that thinking people instantly abandon upon graduation from high school. BUSINESS GRAPHICS: Popular with managers who understand neither decimals, fractions, percentages, Roman numerals, but have more than a passing acquaintance with pies and bars. 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 information. PROJECT MANAGER: Software for generating fantasy scenarios of amazing optimism; proven in computer firms, where it is extremely successful at scheduling advertising campaigns for unavailable products. INTEGRATED SOFTWARE: A single product that deftly performs hundreds of functions the user never needs and awkwardly performs the half-dozen he uses constantly. WINDOWS: A method of dividing a computer screen into two or more unusable tiny portions. NOW AVAILABLE: Available any day now. AVAILABLE SOON: Available in a year or so. AVAILABLE MAY 1: Version 1.0 may ship to dealers August 1. STANDARD: Similar to something else on the market. BACKUP: The duplicate copy of crucial data that no one bothered to make; used only in an abstract sense. COMPUTER JOURNALIST: (1) a data processing manager who can't write a coherent English sentence; (2) a writer who can produce a definitive opinion on a product after spending an hour with its manual; (3) a person with an insatiable lust for free hardware and software; (4) a harmless drudge.