By Ed Bott
ONE MICROSOFT NO-OP HAD THE RANDOM IDEA THAT HE COULD IGNORE
THE SHRIMP AND WEENIES. NOW THE SMART GUYS ARE READY TO PIMP THIS TWO-FIVE.
I've just returned from a strange and exotic land. An
insular culture, almost completely cut off from the outside world, where the
natives have their own dialect, practically incomprehensible to the outside
world. Now, I'm no anthropologist, but if I play my cards right I could become
as famous as Dian Fossey and her gorillas, or Margaret Mead and her South
Pacific islanders, or any of those brave souls who are living among the
teenagers of the San Fernando Valley trying to figure out that bizarre
I'm talking, of course, about the natives of Microsoftland.
Anyone who's willing to move to Seattle (and kiss the sun good-bye for the next
six months) might be able to discover what makes this curious race so different
from the rest of us. Is it the caffeine? The hyperactive competitive culture?
The uncut adrenaline in the water supply? Who knows?
Over the last decade, I've spent many multiple man-months
among the Microsoftians. I don't have all the answers, but in the interest of
science, I can share my preliminary research: the first draft of a
Microsoft-to-English dictionary. The next time you hear someone from Redmond
use and of the following words and phrases, here's what they really
Bandwidth Human information processing capacity. The
more bandwidth the better. A high-bandwidth conversation is the ultimate in
human communications, in which two people practically finish each other's
sentences. Also used as an insult: "I just talked to Furbish
there's not a
lot of bandwidth there."
Buttoned Down Tight, clean, well thought out. A high
compliment. The opposite of random. "No one could believe it. Bill's keynote
was totally buttoned down!"
Dog Food The kind of hardware and software used by
real people, in the real world. "Eating your own dog food" means actually using
the software you write. "Sure, I still use a few DOS applications - they make
great dog food."
No-Op Ineffective person, time waster. After a
software instruction that uses clock cycles without actually accomplishing
anything productive. A serious insult. Contrast with smart guy. "Of course the
new build is filled with bugs - what do you expect when you put a complete
no-op in charge of things?!"
Nonlinear Inappropriately intense negative response.
"I told him we didn't have any Starbucks Gazebo Blend and he went totally
nonlinear." In the caste-conscious Microsoft culture, this phrase is usually
uttered by a grunt-level worker referring to a higher-level manager.
Party Kick out the managers and add new features to a
program, especially after the deadline for adding new features ahs passed. Also
used to refer to what software does to memory and hard disks. "This new code
parties on the hard disk for a while and then locks up the system."
Pimped Screwed, hosed, stopped cold. As in "Tough
luck, dude. Your project just got pimped." Etymology unknown, although it
probably goes back to Bill G's high school days.
Random Not well thought through. Humorous when used
in a self-deprecating sense, a deadly insult when used of others. "Steve had
this totally random idea and it took us two hours to convince him he shouldn't
Shoot in the Head Remove a feature from a program.
"Sure, we can ship on time, as long as we can shoot the TCP/IP connectivity
module in the head." In the aggressive but nonviolent Microsoft culture, it's
never used to refer to a person.
Shrimp and Weenies Shorthand reference to a bit of
Microsoft folklore inspired by an executive who evangelized about the need to
pinch pennies, even in a billion-dollar company. "All right, you can have the
press reception. But make it less shrimp and more weenies."
Smart Guy In an IQ-obsessed world, the ultimate
compliment. "He doesn't shower often, but he's a real smart guy
Take Offline Postpone till later. Usually used to
shut down a random argument between two members of a larger group. "Can you
guys please take this offline?"
Total Disconnect An extremely low-bandwidth human
interaction. "It was a total disconnect. I spent half an hour explaining how
this stuff worked, and he just didn't get it."
Two-Five In the Microsoft performance evaluation
system, in which a 4 is excellent and a 3 is OK, a 2.5 is less than acceptable.
If you're a two-five, you've got one foot out the door. "Well, yes, I need more
people, but don't send me another two-five!"
No doubt I've messed a few choice phrases and mangled a few
definitions. Sorry - I really don't have the bandwidth to deal with that kind
of criticism right now.