ALPHA: Software undergoes alpha testing as a first
step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for "doesn't work."
BETA: Software undergoes beta testing shortly before
it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work."
COMPUTER: Instrument of torture. The first computer
was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to
overthrow Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his
invention as a gift to the dictator. The plot worked. On April 8, 1945, Hitler
became so enraged at the "Incompatible File Format" error message that he shot
himself. The war ended soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for
CPU: Central Propulsion Unit. The CPU is the
computer's engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny
spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is
a 206 model, a ferret if it's a 386, and a ferret on speed if it's a 486.
DEFAULT DIRECTORY: Black Hole. Default directory is
where all the files that you need disappear to.
ERROR MESSAGE: Terse, baffling remark used by
programmers to place blame on users for their program's shortcomings.
FILE: A document that has been saved with an
unidentifiable name. It helps to think of a file as something stored in a file
cabinet except when you try to remove the file, the cabinet gives you an
electric shock and tells you the file format is unknown (which can kill you,
just ask Hitler).
HARDWARE: Collective term for any computer-related
object that can be kicked or battered when inclined to do so.
HELP: The feature that assists in generating more
questions. When the Help feature is used correctly, users are able to navigate
through a series of Help screens and end up where they started from without
learning a damn thing.
INPUT/OUTPUT: Information is "input" from the
keyboard as intelligible data and "output" to the printer as unrecognizable
MEMORY: Of computer components, the most generous in
terms of variety and the skimpiest in terms of quantity.
PRINTER: A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of
three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray, and the blinking red
PROGRAMMER: Computer avengers. Once members of that
group of high school nerds who wore tape on their glasses, played Dungeons and
Dragons and memorized "Star Trek" episodes; now millionaires who create "user
friendly" software to get revenge on whoever gave them noogies.
REFERENCE MATERIAL: Object used to raise the monitor
to eye level. Also handy to compensate for that short table leg.
SCHEDULED RELEASE DATE: A carefully calculated date
determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting six months
USER FRIENDLY: Of or pertaining to any feature,
device or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.
USERS: Collective term for those who stare blankly at
a monitor. Users are divided into three types: novices, intermediate and
experts. Novice users are those who are afraid that simply pressing a key might
break their computer. Intermediate users are those who don't know how to fix
their computer after they've just pressed a key that broke it. And expert users
are those who break other people's computers.