Research tools - laptops for the Internet and handhelds for mobile usability testing

isham research

The Devil's IT Dictionary (after Ambrose Bierce)

ACRONYM
acr. - A Completely Random Order Never Yields Meaning - or A Convenient Reduction Of Nomenclature Yielding Mnemonic Syllables
acrostic acr.
A
Concealed
Rant
Of
Simple
Terms
Insulting
Consultants

The Pakistanis fell for it and Arnold Schwarzenegger even used it. You may want to check out some of the comments in your shop's code. Remember to look at the last letters of each line, too. Some programmers are sneaky that way.
adjective
n. In IT usage, any noun.
air motion device
n. Fan. Usually shortened to 'AMD' to save space.
airline magazine
n. A cookbook, but all of the recipes are for disasters.
alpha release
n. The venture capitalists have threatened to cut the money unless we ship something
any key
n. A special key on systems programmers' keyboards. When the system says: "Press any key", don't bother looking for it. Unless you're an expert you won't have one.
aßhole
n. An IBM lawyer. No - not just one chosen at random - a special one.
Austria
n. A country that has convinced the world that Hitler was a German.

"The public relations coup of the century."

Volker Leutloff, National Advanced Systems, 1982
(The poor lad had just spent 4 hours in a one-hour meeting with an Austrian CEO who talked to his shoes.)

automagically
adv. Similar to automatically, except the automated function is being performed for someone fully conversant with its complexity who is both grateful and impressed.
benchmark
n. A measurement of a computer's ability to do what no one will ever want it to do. Including you. And your manager.
benchmarketing
n. Using a benchmark for a purpose its designers never intended in a way that terrifies the vendor's financial controller. See LSPR
beta release
n. Still doesn't work, but the alpha release didn't convince the VCs and we need the revenue stream.
blogger
n. A derogatory term used to belittle the correspondent and their opinions.
bonus
n. Money your boss gets each year for controlling your department's costs. Of course, if he paid your bonus he wouldn't achieve that target.
bottom up
adj. Obviously the opposite of 'top down'. Sometimes used to refer to programming methodologies, but actually more important in data centre air conditioning, where it ensures that the beer stashed under the raised floor will be cold by the time preventive maintenance starts.
budget
n. A method of ensuring that spending reaches a predefined level even if the organisation's income doesn't.
budget dump
n. The phenomenon of users buying equipment they don't need at the end of their financial year so as to support their budget demands for the following year. Now rarely seen, except in multinationals and the public sector. Well, who else buys mainframes?
bundled software
n. A free Esperanto spell checker.
butt dialing
v. tr. the inadvertent calling of a random number caused by gluteus maximus pressure on the keypad of a poserphone in a rear pocket. Easily detected, since the disembodied voice calling "Hello, hello" from the posterior region generally makes much more sense than the individual carrying the phone, even if they were to speak from that orifice.
capostrophe
n. A mis-placed apostrophe with catastrophic results.
CD-ROM
n. A disk you left in the office that Microsoft will sometimes demand you place in your laptop's nonexistent CD-ROM drive just after you start a long international trip so you can by their grace continue to use the Windows XP software you've paid for. Or not, if you left either the CD-ROM or the drive in the office. Welcome to Microsoft's world. Or not. Best place for it is in a microwave oven - ten seconds on 'High'. Put it on a plate you won't want to use again. More fun than erasing tapes.
clone
n. 1. A perfect duplicate, as in "our product is a clone of their product." 2. A shoddy, spurious copy, as in "their product is a clone of our product."
clue
n. Something one may only be accused of not having.
cluebat
n. A type of LART (q.v.) used on suppliers. Also "clue-by-four".
codename
n. A way of allowing your competitors to swap information about your plans without confusion. But care is required. The Third Reich used "Freya" as one codename for RADAR - great, a one-eyed goddess who could see through clouds. Care should be taken about association - Amdahl used "Trigger" without having heard the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band track "Intro and Outro" featuring "Roy Rogers on Trigger"; a horse peeing into a bottle. All creation myth figures failed to create an image of paradise and left us in the mess we're in today. Pandora comes to mind.

On occasions, codenames are self-selecting. For instance, if POWER5 is known as I5 in its iSeries persona, and as P5 in its pSeries persona, then a zSeries implementation using POWER6 technology (see numerous references to "eCLipz" on the Internet) is inevitably going to be called "Z6", isn't it?

coffee
n. Someone coughed upon.
cold water
n. Something sceptics are often accused of throwing. It is a natural product of hot air on thin ice.
comment
n. 1. A superfluous element of a source program included so the programmer can remember what the hell he was doing six months before. Or indeed the day before, if using Tanglefoot. Only the weak-minded need them, according to those who think they aren't. n. 2. An ideal place to hide insults about your boss - nobody ever reads comments.
Computer Associates
n. Two words that, if not spoken together in this order, do not require a forfeit in the swear box. Also a company thankfully hard to find in a free text search system. Reputedly acquisitive. See also 'new business model' and 'change of focus'. Oddly, for a company with both spreadsheets and word processors, they just can't seem to manage cut'n'paste.
computer programmer
n. A device for converting beer into code. In advanced use, specific beers are used for certain types of code. Tanglefoot should be avoided in safety-critical applications.
consultant
n. Someone employed to tell you the time - who then borrows your watch, tells you the date, keeps the watch, and sends you an invoice for the Bolivian national debt. Sometimes known in the UK as a contractor.
contingent liability
n. An expression of an accountant's jealousy of a salesman's salary. See SFAS 5 (1975).
copy protection
n. A method of preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate users from using it.
Coupling Facility
n. A device for propagating DBMS crashes around an enterprise.
credit card test
n. A way of detecting badly wired pins in early mainframes by running a plastic card across them. A sufficiently large magnet in a fan motor on the motherboard can result in the card's stripe being demagnetised and the engineer thus being stuck in Berlin. Before the wall came down. Giggle.
CRM
n. Customer Relationship Management - conventional data processing, except the company has to fit the solution rather than the solution fit the company. And it never fits the hardware.
cubicle
n. A space designed to prevent workers being distracted by the wonders of nature outside the window and make them concentrate on a 19" flat panel display. At least there are plenty of porn sites.
cursor
n. A computer user who can't get anything to work.
data stick
n. A device that fits on your keyring and plugs into the USB port in your cubicle's computer, emulating a disk drive. The largest ones can bring in a porn movie or take out a set of the company's accounts. Or both. Or the USA's nuclear secrets. Or a list of every serving prisoner in the UK's jails. Or :

Al-Rubaie said a laptop, flashdrive and other documents were found in the debris after the airstrike that killed the al-Qaida in Iraq leader last week outside Baqouba, and more information has been uncovered in raids of other insurgent hideouts since then.

He called it a "huge treasure ... a huge amount of information."

When asked how he could be sure the information was authentic, al-Rubaie said "there is nothing more authentic than finding a [USB] thumbdrive in [the corpse's] pocket."

Database, flat-file
n. A program selling for under £250 that most people use to keep lists of their LPs and CDs on.
Database, relational/programmable
n. A program selling for over £250 that most people use to keep lists of their LPs and CDs on.
Debugging
v. tr. Hiring extra staff to take support calls from the irate customers to whom you've just shipped the code that development swears is perfect.
decimal self-defining term
n. Number.
diagnostic
n. 1. A person who doubts the existence of two gods. n. 2. A programme guaranteed to run perfectly on a system known to be defective.
distributed processing
n. Allowing a competitor's products to permeate the enterprise.
dump
n. The sort of place that still prints them.
easy to learn
adj. Hard to use.
easy to use
adj. Hard to learn.
easy to learn and use
adj. Doesn't do what you want. Rule-proving exception - z/OS Job Control Language
Education
n. Elitist activity considered cost ineffective by Grey Suits. Now largely replaced by Training
eLiza
n. A computer simulation of intelligence. Microsoft's version was called 'Bob' and so impressed Bill Gates that he married its manager. But wives cannot give evidence against their husbands. IBM chose a lizard as a logo for eLiza - a very similar beast is available from Audi as a screen saver.
ELIZA
n. A simulation of computer intelligence.
encryption
n. A powerful algorithmic encoding technique designed to deny useful content to casual readers. Often used in the creation of computer manuals.
end user
v. A command unfortunately not implemented in most systems.
error message
n. Terse uninformative text to irritate users and imply the problem is entirely their fault.
ESP
acr. Extra Sensory Perception - the process by which Early Support Program customers learn the details of a product in the absence of any documentation or knowledge on the part of the support staff.
ETLA
n. Extended Three Letter Acronym. See also VETLA.
exciting
adj. A word used as a placeholder for the real adjective in draft copies of American press releases and presentations, unfortunately often forgotten and left in place for the actual event. People who are 'excited' by many of the things they talk about must lead exceptionally dull lives. It's often quite good stuff, but 'exciting'?
experience
n. 1. Something that adds the ability to get out of trouble to the ability to get into it. 2. Something no one will let you obtain unless you already have a lot of it.
expert
n. One of an opinionated group holding views that are incompatible with the views of all others in the group. In German, a 'Fachmann'.
filter
n. A 20-cent component, the occasional cursory inspection of which justifies a $1,000-a-month maintenance charge.
firmware
n. Software with bugs that will outlast the product.
foil
1 n. A thin weapon inadequate for defence and prone to break at critical moments. 2 v. To block or frustrate 3 n. A thin transparent object laid on an overhead projector before a company's board of directors. These definitions may be related.
forecast
v. & n. A guess made convincing by a dash of spurious quantification. See statistics.
fourth quarter
n. A time of year when vast hordes of users seem to develop an irresistable urge to buy huge quantities of computer equipment. Oddly, the year in question is neither the calendar year nor their own financial year - it's their supplier's. No matter when it ends. At least the local restaurants are grateful.
FUD
acr. A form of aversion therapy developed by mainframe salesmen.

The English acronym is a contraction of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and it's a finely structured technique. The German version is FUZ - Furcht, Unsicherheit und Zweifel - which means exactly the same thing. But "FUZ" sounds pretty much like "Futz", which is German for "fart". One German DP manager once said: "I had the IBM salesman in here this morning and he was "futzing" all the time." "Don't you mean "FUZing?" "No. God knows what he'd been eating."

fugly
adj. (Am) Not pretty.
functionally stabilised
adj. The last person who knew anything about it just became an independent consultant.
futility
n. A programme that just damn well WON'T do what you want. And every manual you have tells you it's the right programme to use.
galvinising
v. A process of protecting a nut from corrosion and then over-tightening it.
Gartner
n. A company prepared to believe everything it's told, unless someone pays it to believe otherwise.
geek
n. A person whose experience of lingerie is limited to shop windows and catalogues. Geeks divide their own clothes into two piles - filthy, and filthy but wearable.
Gemütlichkeit
n. A German word describing what only an English pub can achieve.
General Availabilty
n. The date when a dozen copies of the beta version will be hurriedly shrink-wrapped for the benefit of the press and the investment community. With scratches, so none can be read.
gender bender
n. A device used to connect female-to-female or male-to-male plugs. Not to be confused with a gay bar or a vendor bender, perhaps happening at the same place. And even including plugs.
GOTO
n. See JUMP.
Grecian 2000 victim
n. A male with dark hair on his head and white hair in the photograph on his security pass. The Grecian 2000 game consists of publicising this concept and seeing how many males "lose" their passes during the next 24 hours. Pictures of family groups may also disappear from cubicles. A game is played by suppliers, who keep books on who can spot the most in a given organisation on a single day.
hard drive
n. A mainframe sales technique.
HELP
n. Contributive assistance.
heterogeneous network
n. An information technology work creation scheme in which applications are pointlessly separated by walls and moats so that management can praise themselves for jumping over one or two of them and briefly achieving the kind of synergy quite normal between 1960s mainframe applications.
HTML
n. HyperText Markup Language - a way to negate all in-house coding standards and reveal to the entire globe just how poor your programming standards are. One day Wall Street analysts will take this into account. Try opening your company's home page, view the source and look for comments, structured indentation, and all the other things you've thought essential for decades. Who are these cowboys?
IBM
n. A computer company. Supposedly an abbreviation of I've Been Moved, Inaccurate B***** MSUs, I've Been Misled, I've Been Mugged, Insert Bug under Mask, Immense Blue Mountain, Intercourse Beats Masturbation or International Brotherhood of Mechanics. It really stands for "I Buy Microsoft".
IBM Confidential
A string placed at the bottom of many documents to be read as the last item met on the page. Real meaning - "Please Turn Over".
IEBEYEBALL
n. A conflation of IEB - IBM's prefix for Data Set Utilities, which let you destroy your own data with impunity - and the name of a human organ. Refers to the process of divination by noninvasive inspection.
IEHEYEBALL
n. IEBEYEBALL with attitude. IEH is the prefix for the more dangerous System Utilities, which let you destroy everyone else's data.
ignoranus
n. Someone who is both stupid and an .... - see software salesman
illegally obtained
adj. Received in unsolicited email and reported no less than thirteen times. "Duty of care", anyone?
ILM
1. acr Industrial Light and Magic" - professional users of smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of spectacular action.
independent consultant
n. Someone whose income is derived from multiple sources, not just one. Often derided by people with "real jobs" until those same people are invited into their manager's office shortly before their fiftieth birthday. See 'self employed'.
industry analyst
n. A harmless drudge.
infinite loop
n. See loop, infinite.
ISDN
acr. It Still Does Nothing.
issue
n. My name for your problem.
IT strategy
n. An irreversible path to destruction down which the company is hurtling, having been started by an individual who realised you'd seen through him and wanted to make sure you'd never forget him. The ultimate source is probably an airline magazine.
JAVA
acr. Just A Vague Approximation.
JUMP
n. See GOTO.
kneecapping
v. trans. See slugging.
landmine
n. An apparently innocuous change (such as a random codename) or a couple of changes in a table of numbers inserted into internal materials in an attempt to generate an audit trail for a leak when someone steps on it. An obvious prerequisite is that there's only one leak.
laptop
n. A poor substitute for a secretary, though sometimes warmer.
LART
acr. Luser (sic) Attitude Readjustment Tool - see "cluebat" or "clue-by-four".
Leeson Scale
n. A scale used to measure IT disasters, classifying them into three groups:
Most of the latter are perpetrated by the Government. And of course the Royal Bank of Scotland is now largely Government-owned.

Named in honour of the late Donovan Leeson, killed enjoying his motorcycling passion on the Isle of Man.
legacy
adj. Pays your salary. And your boss's. As long as you both keep quiet about having lost the source code three decades ago.
Linux
n. A free operating system being adopted by IBM in the hope that it might generate lots of demand for hardware. See 'OS/360'. Linux should not be confused with Linus, who was abandoned by his mother and eaten by dogs. But it's got Microsoft worried - note the order in which Linux and UNIX are mentioned.
Loop, infinite
n. See infinite loop.
Lotus position
n. Sitting crosslegged on the floor in front of a ThinkPad, waiting for replication to finish.
loved ones
n. A group who have bought the systems programmer beer in the last month. (See Page 2).
LSPR
acr. Largely Spurious Pricing Racket.

(It is indeed tedious having to mark the initial letters in a different colour to make the point, but this page is occasionally read by Australians and lawyers.

MACINTOSH
acr. Macs Always Crash, If Not The Operating System Hangs.

(Didn't bother that time, but even you-know-who has probably worked it out by now.)

mainframe
n. 1. An obsolete device still used by thousands of obsolete companies serving billions of obsolete customers and making huge obsolete profits for their obsolete shareholders. And this year's run twice as fast as last year's. n. 2. A large PC peripheral
mainframe software salesman
n. A species working with dedication towards its own extinction
maintenance-free
adj. irreparable.
management
n. Administration
management by walking about
n. The embodiment of the entirely fallacious notion that a manager can tell how effectively people are working by observing how much they are working. One coder once managed to pick up a management award for his hard work, despite spending four-fifths of each coding day furiously devising new start patterns for a version of Conway's Life he had running in a background partition on the production DOS/VS machine.
mantra
n. Something repeated monotonously to heaven in the forlorn hope of changing something on Earth. "Om" is quite popular, as is "server consolidation".
market share
n. Something stressed by companies that have just made a loss. See "revenue".
meddle marks
n. Fine scratches around a fold-over tang on a $20,000 component confirming that the manufacturer's warranty document can be shredded.
meeting
n. A method of letting thirty people who don't know what's going on set priorities for the three who do.

The original definition of 'meeting' was: "A way of wasting nine people's time with one person's problems" but the version above replaced it at the absolute insistence of one of our industry's great technical gurus. He was a little irritated at the time, and the company in question no longer exists. So he must have been right.

Curiously even the Germans can't think of a nasty enough word in their own language and use the English one.

Microsoft
n. A computer software company that will not rest until it has replaced the mainframe, especially as the term occurs within the phrase; "usurious, swingeing and totally unjustified increases in mainframe software charges." Also reputedly the USA's biggest non-taxpayer and not shy of doing a little vote-rigging to help sell its notoriously insecure software.
Microsoft Brainwash
n. A soft drink made from: "Carbonated water, fructose, citric acid, natural and artificial flavours, sodium benzoate, American ginseng, Siberian ginseng, Korean ginseng, (a lot of) caffeine, buchu, dillweed, jalapeno, African capsicum, ginger, yohimbe, ginko biloba, skullcap, mad dog weed, na huang, gotu kola, dong quai, super echinacea, golden seal, artificial coloring FD&C #40". That's what the label says - do you trust Microsoft labels? And even that label isn't the best.
MIPS
acr. Misleading Indication of Processor Speed - once regarded as the most misleading way of expressing a computer's performance, but now overtaken in that by MSUs - which have been deliberately rather than incompetently perverted.
MSUs
acr. Misappropriated Service Units - units that once represented a reasonable indicator of work done by a system, but which have recently been lost to marketing. A replacement is sought, but may not be found - it is now suggested that publishing any statement of a system's performance constitutes making a "performance guarantee" that has to be seen as fulfilled before the contract is deemed completed. This means the revenue cannot be recognised up-front and - basically - the salesman doesn't get paid. Now - is that a bad thing?
multitasking
n. the easiest way to hide Harry Potter behind Office 2000
NDA
acr. Nominally Deniable Announcement - the process of imparting a secret to someone whose sole purpose in life is passing it on to others.
net nanny
n. A piece of software designed to prevent you reading shit. Or stop you doing your job.
network
[from net "reduced from gross" + work] n.1. The antisynergetic interconnection of noncompatible nodal systems divided by a common protocol. n.2. A mechanism for transmitting viruses. v. 1. To reduce [net] the work rate (of a computer resource) by connecting it to others. v. 2. To talk shop with people around the water cooler and see if they know of better jobs elsewhere.
neural network
n. The most promising approach to mechanical cognition. Both neural networks and Homo Sapiens are sods to train, and neither can explain their conclusions.
object orientation
n. Focussing on the how to the detriment of the why. A poor technique for designing toasters. Energetic adoption of new programming methodologies is usually a sign that the programming office has too much time on its hands.
operator
n. In a programming language, something that applies rules to something else. In a data centre, something that doesn't.
OS/360
n. A small free operating system that took IBM to total dominance of the global computing market. See Linux
OS/390
n. A vast expensive operating system with a declining market share. Go figure. See also z/OS.
oops
excl. A word used by systems programmers, network administrators and air traffic controllers to strike terror into all within earshot.
outsourcing
v. An activity triggered when the CIO runs out of people to blame.
P'n'P
acr. Plug and Pray
parallel
adj. Being or pertaining to everything going wrong at once.
parity
n. A way of increasing the probability of a single-bit error by one eighth.
PASCAL
n. A programming language named after a man who would spin in his grave if he knew.
password
n. A word written on the bottom of the device.
PENTIUM
acr. Produces Erroneous Numbers Through Incorrect Understanding of Mathematics.
percussive maintenance
n. The act of beating seven shades of crap out of computer equipment in the hope it will start to work. Disturbingly often successful.
PERFORM
v. An invitation to a COBOL compiler to do the opposite.
politician
n. Someone who enters public life to do good and does rather well.
portable computer
n. Stealable computer.
pratperch
n. Apparently the Formula One mechanics' name for the pit wall.
preventive maintenance
n. A superstitious ritual in which an engineer is allowed to break things and display his inability to fix them in the forlorn hope that this will appease some unknown gods.
printer
n. A hardware device consisting of three components; a case, a jammed paper tray and a flashng red light. And it's in Hong Kong and you're in Denver.
priority
n. A statement of the importance of a unit of work, interpreted by its owner as a statement of their own importance and irrelevant in absolute terms as long as it's higher than that of at least one person in a nearby cubicle.
problem
n. My name for your issue.
Product Announcement
n. The grudging acknowledgement that a product exists, made as soon as the analysts have stopped talking about it.
profit
n. Mis-spelling of 'prophet' - an unreliable indicator of what has happened, much less what will.
progress
n. The process of replacing smart people at dumb terminals with dumb people at smart terminals. Smart terminals often take longer to boot than thermionic-valve televisions took to warm up - and a lot longer to shut down - but that's progress. Most early shops refused to let programmers punch their own cards - ".. using a keyboard is a waste of most programmers' time". Still true today.
prototype
n. The first stage in the life cycle of a computer product, followed by pre-alpha, alpha, beta, release candidate, release version, corrected release version, gold, upgrade, corrected upgrade, service pack 2, etc. Unlike its successors, no one except the venture capital partners expects the prototype to work.
prototyping
v. (gerund) A living embodiment of the law that 90% of the system is written during the first 15% of the project, but with the refinement that the rest is not even attempted.
quantum leap
n. syn. 'quantum jump'. The smallest movement known to physics - entirely unpredictable in timing and direction. Often used by politicians to describe the effect of their policies and IT directors to describe the effects of implementing something they've read about in an airline magazine.
quatily
n. Honest - that's what it said on one Amdahl Quality Manager's door. His name wasn't Paperlova, though.
quota
n. A most fitting punishment for a software salesman.
RACF
acr. Resident of an Assisted Computing Facility.
raptor
n. A vicious and terrifying bird of prey - such as a Golden Eagle - clearly dominant at the top of the food chain. Certainly NOT a dinosaur, unless one believes either Steven Spielberg or Poughkeepsie.
read-only memory
n. Memory containing a simple bug that would be easy to fix if only ...
replicating
v. Something IBMers do at home every evening.
rerun the job
v. An admission in many IBM manuals that computing is not a rigorous and predictable business. If it were, why would the results be different the second time? For z/OS 1.4:

ManualTitle"Rerun the job"
occurences
SA22_7593_04Installation exits3
SA22_7626_04System Codes162
SA22_7631_05System Messages Vol 1 ABA-AOM849
SA22_7632_05System Messages Vol 1 ARC-ASA6
SA22_7635_03System Messages Vol 1 EDG-GFS3
SA22_7636_04System Messages Vol 1 GOS-IEA243
SA22_7637_03System Messages Vol 1 IEB-IEE501
SA22_7638_03System Messages Vol 1 IEF-IGD234
SA22_7639_04System Messages Vol 1 IGF-IFW45
SA22_7640_03System Messages Vol 10 IXC-IZP15

research
v. To steal from many people, rather than just one.
response time
n. The interval between pressing ENTER and regretting it. Usually measured in ohnoseconds.
resumé (Eng. curriculum vitæ)
n. A document that proves time travel is possible by listing five years experience with products only three years old.
revenue
n. Something stressed by companies that have just made a loss. See "market share".
ring in
v. tr. Locating a cubicle-dweller by picking up the nearest phone and dialing his/her extension, listening for the ring, moving closer to it, and repeating the process. Also the reason no cubicle-dweller actually picks up the phone until the third ring. And also an excellent early warning system for those expecting unpleasant visits, giving them a chance to hide in a nearby cubicle. If there's room once the incumbent has pinned family pictures to the walls. C.f. the Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders' lyric: "Buddy, we're gonna put you so far back in jail they're gonna have to pump air in to ya."
SAP
acr. Stop All Processing. Usually for around 18 months. Also a way of completely eliminating the competitive advantage from your in-house IT.
SCSI
acr. System Can't See It.
SCSI-2
acr. System Can't See It again.
self-employed
adj. Having come to the notice of a spreadsheet in a personnel department for having a large pension entitlement and being close to fifty years of age. The inevitable end of all careers with vendors. See 'independent consultant'.
SEO
acr. Search Engine Optimization. Something none of its practitioners know anything about.
September
n. The month that can never end.
sequential
adj. Being or pertaining to just one damned thing after another.
server sprawl
n. The practice of installing lots of UNIX servers to cover the holes that were cut in a false floor to accomodate a 3090 and were left exposed when the zSeries replaced it.
sheeple
n. Republican voters.
side letter
n. A document sent by one party to a lease to the other party confirming that the contract as signed is worthless.
slide rule
n. A calculating device that doesn't need a software license. Or a power supply. Just talcum powder. Like all computing devices, the quality of results is dependent on the skill of the operator. Except that slide rule operators know that.
SLIME
acr. Spin, Lies and Insults by Microsoft Employees - at least according to Joe Barr. It was a long time ago, but it's important to remember that the guys now trying to be nice at the top were not quite so nice on the way up.
slugging
v. tr. The process of selling a 200 MIPS system degraded to 100 MIPS at the same price/MIPS and still making a profit. Or even a 1786 MIPS system degraded to 26 MIPS.
smoke
n. Acrid gaseous material contained in all computing devices and essential to their operation. Letting the smoke out generally results in failure of the device.
smoke detector
n. Toast preventer.
smoke test
n. An ancient ritual in which employees of a mainframe manufacturer were called in to encircle a new machine the first time it was switched on. And sniff for their lives.
SMS
n. A way for children to send cellphone text messages to their parents in the certain knowledge there will be no reply - because no one over twenty can send SMS messages. Usually of the form: "I'm staying overnight at my boyfriend's unless you get back to me ..."
sneakernet
n. How viruses propagate around your office despite the firewall.
snubbing
v (gerund). A ceremonial greeting practiced at mainframe user groups such as SHARE. Depending on the situation it may involve the exchange of warm handshakes, business cards, amber fluid in open-topped containers, CD-ROMs containing a lifetime's contribution to Open Source started two decades before the term was invented, or first-born children.
Software Division
n. a.k.a. Software Group. A species of cuckoo that also tries to kill the parents.
software fault
n. See hardware fault.
SPE
acr. Stealth Programming Enhancement.
standard
adj. Manufactured by the biggest supplier.
statistics
n. Exactly 76.4% of all statistics (including this one) are invented on the spot. However, in 83% of cases it is inappropriate to admit it. It is always a bad idea to quote IDC statistics on IT industry growth if anyone present has a mouthful of coffee. You might all get to smell it.
surpissed
adj. Somewhat taken aback and not pleased with the outcome.
switching power supplies
v. & n. Once an activity, now a feature.
systems programmer
n. A person in sandals who has just been in the elevator with the CEO and is ultimately responsible for the phone call you are about to receive from your boss. Also see "Ken Dubbo". Check the timestamps. If all the systems programmers are in the office when you arrive, they've been there all night. Order pizza - pepperoni with extra peppers - they don't eat quiche. A systems programmer looks both ways before crossing a one-way street.
tamper traces
n. See meddle marks.
TDNBW
acr. This Does Not Bode Well - originated by Bill Mattox on Canopus, and used in response to every item of bad news about OS2. See also SLIME (and follow the link).
teleconference
n. A way of holding an international meeting without having to smell the French.
telephone sanitizer
n. Someone using a dirty rag to ensure all occupants of the building get bird flu simultaneously.
testiculation
n. The act of waving your arms about while talking bollocks.
THINK!
v. Something IBMers were once reminded to do via signs in their offices. Then they took the signs down.
TLA
n. Three Letter Acronym. See ETLA
token ring
n. A virtual engagement gift.
trojan
n. A dead giveaway. Some years ago analyst firm X produced a report for vendor Y. The "Document Properties" in the Word file contained a comment: "We made a loss producing this for Y - see if you can find any more suckers." It was discovered by vendor Z.
troll
n. A malfeasant individual interjecting provocative rubbish for fun in the hope of exploiting the natural response. Not to be confused with a mainframe software salesman, who does it for money. In the USA, a synonym for trawl.
university
n. For most, a way of delaying the onset of the inevitable. And starting life with a mortgage but no house.
UNIX
n. A well known joke.
upgrade
n. En mass bug replacement.
UPS
acr. Uninterruptible Power Supply - a large box in the basement through which all of the redundant dual power cords pass.
user
n. An irritating noise on a telephone line. There are three types of user:
user-friendly
adj. Of or pertaining to any feature, device or concept that once made perfect sense to its creator - who was probably abusing chemicals at the time.
vapourware (Am. vaporware)
n. The result of documents prepared for the venture capital partners being leaked to the sales force.
VETLA
n. Very Extended Three Letter Acronym.
vendor subscription
n. Blackmail
voicemail
n. An audible firewall that invites you to press zero to speak with someone who knows zero.
WAP
n. A way to overcome the information display limitations of mobile devices by eliminating the information from the display. Stunning datum from the modern world - 42% annual growth is considered disappointing.
weasel
n. Mustela nivalis A vicious, aggressive and rapacious predator happy to take on animals many times its own size. Used admiringly by US politicians to describe the French. Chomh cantalach le mála easóg
webmaster
n. Power without responsibility.
webmister
n. Power without a bloody clue.
Windows
n. Handy orifices placed strategically in office walls for the disposal of computer monitors showing a blue screen for the third time that morning.
Windows 95
n. A 32-bit patch to a 16-bit GUI for an 8-bit operating system written for a 4-bit processor by a 2-bit company that can't stand one bit of competition.
Windows 98
n. Windows that takes 98 hours to install - three hours more than Windows 95.
Windows 2000
n. A speciously frustrating computer system that insists on reading a CD-ROM you last saw four years ago in a drive you no longer have just because you had the temerity to alter a dotted quad IP address in My Computer -> Control Panel -> Network -> TCP/IP -> Properties -> IP Address.

OK Ladies and Gentlemen, I have two items of news for today. One good, one bad.
So here's the bad news:
As we all know, Windows 2000 has around 63,000 bugs.
And now the good news:
All we need now, is about-a-couple-of-thousand new ones, and this whole Bug thing will just wrap around and go away.
Thank you.

And you have to click on 'Start' to stop it - shouldn't that tell you something?

Windows Printing System
n. Power-assisted brakes for PCs - a very little pressure stops everything.
Windows Update
n. The World must Wait. You carefully time your work on a plane or train so you can shut down just in time to disembark. But Mickeysoft has other ideas - "Do not switch off or disconnect this computer". So you carry your laptop - open - all the way to the cab. And then to the hotel. Fortunately most lobbies have power points.
Windows XP
n. Software to lie to.
write-only memory
1. n. A backup tape of which there is only one copy. 2. n. STC8650 Double Density disk drives.
WWW
n. World Wide Wait.
z/Architecture
n A relatively complete implementation of a zarking system. Also living proof that IBM is NOT committed to open software - try licensing any of the patents!
z/OS
n. A 13% more expensive name for OS/390, designed to accelerate the decline in market share. For a real laugh, ask Gartner Group for a copy of ET-12-4022 and then ask your IBM salesman to price your current environment on the next larger z9. See 'Software Division', above.

If you've got any more entries - let us know. You can also get a daily joke delivered to your cubicle, and there's always Dilbert. Leonard Woren has a humour page, Systems Modelling also have a 'funstuff' page and there's a wonderful library of computer jokes here.. The VSE mailing list hosts a humour section. Then there's the Fast Guide to IT Humour and Kimberley Bateau's page. If you're American, but especially if you're not, try some political humour and a collection of Shrub jokes. If you're really bored, there are some one liners here too.

We're also grateful for hints about broken links.

Copyright © Isham Research 1999-2011. May be reproduced in part or whole if attribution (preferably in URL form) is given. If used in presentations, a reference in handouts suffices. If used on web pages, a link should be provided. No charge is made.

Ambrose Bierce's book - now downloadable from Project Gutenberg - has been the inspiration for many attempts. See, for instance, "The Devil's Bedside Book" by the late Leonard Rossiter. The original modern IT work was "The Devil's DP Dictionary" by Stan Kelly-Bootle, published in 1981 by McGraw-Hill and unfortunately now out of print, although occasionally seen on eBay. Stan has a newer version, published in 1995 - The Computer Contradictionary. Some of the definitions here are the same as those in Stan's earlier work - this version started life with an email (before the term was coined) received in 1983, so it's possible some plagiarism occured. Another large collection with a somewhat more rigorous bent is the New Hacker's Dictionary. The definition of "education" is from Michael O'Donnell, in A Sceptic's Medical Dictionary (BMJ publishing, 1997 - ISBN 0727912046).

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