Do you know your jargon?

Feature

Do you know your jargon?

A new pocket dictionary called The A2Z of IT Bullshit aims to debunk the jargon that permeates our industry. Ross Bentley invites you to test your knowledge with a quiz based on the book.

When David Albert, a sales executive for an IT training firm, realised that the language used in the IT industry was starting to diverge from that used by "normal" people, he decided to bridge the gap by writing a pocket dictionary of IT terms.

However, rather than simply enlightening the techo-illiterate masses with a staid list of acronyms, The A2Z of IT Bullshit reveals what people outside the industry may believe our jargon to mean. The result is an amusing insight into the way we in IT are creating a whole new lexicon for ourselves.

As a bit of fun, and to allow you to test your knowledge of the language of IT, we have compiled a quiz based on Albert's book. To the right are definitions of IT words, acronyms and phrases. Of course, they are not genuine definitions - if you think they are, it could be time for a career change - but what do they really mean? The answers are listed below.

Artificial intelligence
The illusion that computers are clever

Basic
Bill's attempt to seize industry control

Bluetooth
Keeping your partial denture in the fridge

Browser
Someone who hangs around libraries

Clip-art
The skill of smacking someone around the ear

Cybersquatters
Homeless Martians sitting on top of a PC

Downtime
Period between leaving the aircraft and realising you have no parachute

Drag and drop
Saucy nightclub act being sacked

Footprint
Something to indicate you are not alone on a desert island

Gigo
A one-legged gigolo

GUI
First three letters of an Irish stout

Hard disc
Any Motorhead CD

Hot-key
We've got access to an empty flat for a party

IBM
I blame Microsoft

Janet
A friend of John

Kermit
Has been in computers ever since he was a tadpole

Least significant bit
A husband at his wedding

Michelangelo Virus
Ceiling painter with flu

Net surfers
Californian fishermen

OLE
The cry at a Spanish bullfight

Patch
Article of clothing worn by pirates over one eye

Peer-to-peer network
Dukes, earls, viscounts and baronets all communicate this way

Quicksort
What intelligent bouncers do outside nightclubs

Rom
Two Roms don't make a write

Screen dump
A cemetery for monitors; what Customs officers have to do when a suspect swallows the goods

Stuffit
Say this to your boss and see who doesn't have a job tomorrow

Token Ring
A rushed engagement; something to do with Hobbits

Voice mail
The singing postman

Wordwrap
A lawyer's favourite game

Yaper
Programmer with verbal diarrhoea

Zip
A trouser-based device for preventing indecent exposure

The A2Z of IT Bullshit , compiled by David Albert and illustrated by Clive Collins, is published by Athena Press, ISBN 1-84401-013-9, price £9.99

Definitions for the IT industry:

Artificial Intelligence

Devices and applications that exhibit human behaviour

Basic
Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code is a simple programming language developed in the 1960s

Bluetooth
An open standard for short-range transmission of digital voice and data between mobile and desktop devices

Browser
Software facility that allows a user to easily access and search through text or a database

Cybersquatters
People who register, traffic in, or use a domain name in bad-faith, intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else

Clip-art
Pictures and graphics for desktop publishing

Downtime
The time a computer system is not available

Drag and drop
To pull an icon or other object across the screen using the mouse

Footprint
The space taken up by a piece of hardware

Gigo
Garbage in, garbage out

GUI
Graphical user interface

Hard disc
A rigid, aluminium, magnetic disc for storing data

Hot-key
A special key that activates a program

IBM
International Business Machines

Janet
The Joint Academic Network, which links colleges across the world

Kermit
Method of switching files between different systems

Least significant bit
The last number at the right-hand side of a binary set, which affects it least

Michelangelo virus
A virus that destroys data on a hard disc if the computer's system date is
6 March (the birthday of Michelangelo)

Net surfers
People who use the Internet

OLE
Object linking and embedding allows objects such as a spreadsheets or video clips to be put into a document

Patch
Software to correct program errors. Usually a temporary or quick fix

Peer-to-peer network
A communications environment that allows all computers in the network to act as servers and share their files with all other users on the network

Quicksort
A rapid sorting algorithm

Rom
Read-only memory

Screen dump
Sending the text or graphics on a computer screen straight to a printer or file

Stuffit
A utility for compressing Mac files

Token Ring
A Token Ring network is a local area network in which all computers are connected in a ring or star topology. The Token Ring protocol is the second most widely-used protocol on Lans after Ethernet

Voice mail
Electronic mail that consists of digitised speech

Wordwrap
In word processing and desktop publishing, a feature that ensures that a word is not split over two lines

Yaper
Young, arrogant programmer

Zip
A small, portable disc drive.

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This was first published in January 2003

 

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