Getting to Know your Computer

1.2.3
Key phrase missed out of the Lotus Symphony manual.
3270_PC
Seven functions at once. As long as only one is a PC function.
3270_EMULATION
Add-in card costing almost as much as a real 3270 terminal.
3274 CONTROLLER
Device for turning expensive, powerful PC's into dumb terminals. See DUMB TERMINALS.
ALT KEY
For calling up extra functions. Conveniently placed where you'd expect to find the SHIFT key, it let's you delete entire documents when all you wanted was a capital L.
APPLICATIONS GENERATOR
Enables you to write any kind of program you want - as long as it's a database. See PROGRAM GENERATOR.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Man-made method for making a machine even more irrational than man. See EXPERT SYSTEM.
BACKUP
Don't worry, it'll never happen to me.
BACKING-UP
Mythical ceremony, often discussed, but rarely encountered. See SECURITY COPY.
BASIC
Language that's unsuitable without additions.
BIGGER ICONS
Large pictures on PC's screen which don't infringe Apple's copyright. See ICONS.
BIOS
Legal term for the method used by IBM to settle out of court with it's competitors over copyright problems.
BOOTING
Arcane term for the aching delay as the PC dutifully checks that it's got all it's bits and pieces.
COMMAND_DRIVEN
Term used to describe the way a data management package works. You tell it to do one thing, and it does something else.
COMMS PORT
Russian submarine base.
COMMUNICATIONS
Method of combining incompatible software working to incompatible standards to produce difficult to understand results.
COMPATIBLE PRICE CUTS
Example of largesse on the part of manufacturers of PC_compatible microcomputers. Nothing to do with IBM price cuts. See IBM PRICE CUTS.
CONCURRENCY
The facility to handle several tasks at one, without doing any of them properly.
COPY_PROTECTED
Stops thieves from stealing it and genuine PC users from running it.
DAISYWHEEL PRINTER
Slow, letter-quality output device designed to seriously impair the hearing of the people who work near it.
DATA PROCESSING DEPARTMENT
Part of a large company whose job it is to discourage the use of PC's.
DEBUGGER
The person who sold us our system.
DECISION SUPPORT
Special software package which includes business plan, darts and blindfold.
DOS
Do it Our-Selves.
DUMB TERMINAL
Exactly what it says. See 3274 CONTROLLER.
EASILY EXPANDABLE
Minimum price configuration is unsuitable for practical use.
EASY TO INSTALL
Difficult to install, but instruction manual has pictures.
EASY TO USE
Not very powerful
ELECTRONIC MAIL
Method of sending messages between PC users, rather than letting them talk to each other.
ENTROPY
The universal process of things changing for the worse. See UPGRADE.
ERGONOMICALLY DESIGNED
Has highly unusual appearance.
ESCAPE SEQUENCE
Lash computer securely to desk. Pull out plug. Detach parallel printer cable and tie one end round desk leg. Open window. Throw other end of cable out of window. Climb down cable, and make way to nearest airport.
EUROPEAN HEADQUARTERS
The only branch of a US software company not to employ any knowledgeable product support staff.
EXECUTIVE CURSOR CONTROL
Joystick.
EXPANSION SLOTS
1) Sparse resource quickly used up by clock/calenders, games adaptors and mouse cards. 2) Specially contrived means of cramping PC users' style by limiting the number of options available for expansion. See EXPANSION UNIT.
EXPANSION UNIT
Enormous, obtrusive box which houses IBM's specially contrived expanion slots.
EXPERT SYSTEM
Program that duplicates your mistakes, only faster. See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
FAX
Fiction.
FIXED DISK DRIVE
Difficult-to-back-up storage device sold by IBM to make it easy for PC users to lose large amounts of valuable data.
FLIGHT SIMULATOR
Microsoft game which mimics a light aircraft, said to be the ultimate test for PC compatibility.
FLEXIBLE
Difficult to use.
FLOPPY DISK
Long-playing record left out in the sun.
FOOTMOUSE
Not a joke, but a genuine American PC product. The input device that responds to your every toe prod.
FOURTH GENERATION
Technology that would have been appreciated in 1905.
FUNCTION KEYS
Outmoded hardware devices passed over by software authors in favour of complex combinations of CONTROL KEYS and mnemonic codes.
GATEWAY
Ingenious and expensive upgrade that allows PC users on a local area network to switch from easily corrupting each other's data to easily corrupting the data on a main-frame computer. See LOCAL AREA NETWORK.
GRAPHICS GAME
Describes matchstick men fighting upside-down pound signs.
HANDS-ON-TRAINING
Where groups of would-be users huddle round a single PC for two days, and watch someone else use it.
HARD DISK
Device enabling naive PC users to lose vast amounts of data quickly and easily.
HIGH LEVEL OF FUNCTIONALITY
Does some of the thing's it's claimed to.
HIGH RESOLUTION GRAPHICS
Reasonable-quality full colour charts and graphs.
HIGH RESOLUTION GRAPHICS(IBM)
Black and white graphs.
HOUSEKEEPING
Just like the real thing, doesn't get done.
IBM's HIGH RESOLUTION COLOUR GRAPHICS
On the PC, black & white.
IBM COMPATIBLE
Term used to describe a microcomputer that might run some PC software
IBM PRICE CUTS
Reduction of prices so that they're only slightly more expensive than rival products. See COMPATIBLE PRICE CUTS.
ICONS
Small pictures on the PC's screen that infringe Apple's artistic copyright. See BIGGER ICONS.
INDUSTRY S TANDARD
Term used by suppliers which means "every one is out of step except us."
INTEGRATED SOFTWARE
Package with several functions-spreadsheet, graphics, and word processing-that only comes on four floppy disks.
JUSTIFICATION
Method used in a personalised word processed letter to make it look like a word processed letter.
LETTER QUALITY MATRIX PRINTER
Output device that produces print quality that is unsuitable for real correspondance.
LCD
Lousy computer display.
LOCAL AREA NETWORK
1) Electronic means of allowing multiple users to destroy data files simultaneously. 2) Highly complicated system that surrenders local control of personal computing to remote data processing dept.
LOW-END
Usually found in a sentence like: "We've discovered a new market at the low-end." Means they've been getting pulverised by the people at Software Publishing Corp.
KEYBOARD
Easy to use input device which fits snugly into the cassettte socket at the rear of the PC - and then won't work.
KEYBOARD TEMPLATE
Ill fitting plastic devie which prevents the smooth working of the PC's keyboard. Also comes in delux cardboard model which falls to pieces after a week.
MACHINE CODE
A language that's best left to machines.
MENU
A bit like a real menu - full of things you don't understand.
MOUSE
Hand-held controller that's even more embarassing for status-conscious executives to use than a keyboard.
MULTIFUNCTION BOARD
Add-in card for a PC, packed with features you don't need.
MATRIX PRINTER
Output device that produces print quality that even its makers say is unsuitable for correspondence.
NATURAL LANGUAGE
Like no other language anyone's ever heard of.
NEW VERSION
Software release or hardware product that does most, but not all of what the original version was supposed to do.
NEXT VERSION
Not-yet-available relese of a softtware package that's claimed to do all of the things claimed for the original version. Often turns out to be a NEW VERSION (see above).
NO SITE LICENSE
Method by which suppliers respond to corporate users who want discounts on software. "NO." See SITE LICENSING.
NON-FIXED FUNCTION WORKSTATION
Dumb terminal.
NUM LOCK
One of the mysteries on the PC's keyboard. Until you start typing you don't know whether it's switched on or not.
OPERATING SYSTEM
Difficult to understand piece of software which is supposed to be `transparent' to PC users.
PAPER FEED
Standard, chewy diet of dot matrix printers.
POP-UP MENUS
Little windows full of help messages that instantly cover up whatever it was you wanted help with.
PORTABLE PC
No such thing.
POWERFUL US FINANCIAL PLANNING PACKAGE
Doesn't display or print out pound signs.
PROGRAM GENERATOR
Package claimed to enable you to write programs without being a programmer as long as all you want to do is write database programs. See APPLICATIONS GENERATOR.
RAM
A goat.
RECOMMENDED FOR HARD DISK USE
A program that comes on 12 floppy disks.
SCHEDULING
Identifying those parts of a project which you hope no-one will notice have been left out.
SERIAL PORT
Hardware device that goes snap, crackle, then pops.
SHARED PRINTER
Expensive peripheral that's always being used by someone else.
SHELL
Designed to come between PC users and the complexity of the OS. Usually something you wish you'd left closed.
SIMPLE TO INSTALL
Installation procedure likely to invalidate IBM waranty.
SMOOTH SCROLLING
Slightly less juddery movement of text up and down the screen.
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
A dicipline which ensures that the correct and useful parts of a program are written in such a way that any programmer can undestand how they work. See ENTROPY.
STATEMENT OF DIRECTION
We only think we know where we're going, but we're going to try and take you along anyway.
TOTAL BUSINESS SOLUTION
1) Jargon used by computer salesmen to make you believe they understand what you're saying. 2) Give up business and move to Barbados.
UCSD.p
An opperating system that's more portable than most computers, but isn't used by many people.
UPGRADE
A new version of a program in which all the modules the programmers could understand have been re-written. See SOFTWARE ENGINEERING.

USER A four letter word. Used by manufacturers to describe someone who falls foul of their product.

UTILITIES 'Extra' pieces of software, more complicated than the problems they're supposed to help you solve.

VAPOURWARE Idea in a computer entrepreneur's mind and ad agency's copy for a product that doesn't actually exist.

VERSION II Re-packaged program that does all that was prommised for the origional product, but not as much as is claimed for in the brochure.

VOICE INPUT A (pause) way (pause) of (pause) talking (pause) to (pause) computers (stop). Voice training courses are recommended to help PC users project over the thundering of daisywheel printers. See DAISYWHEEL PRINTERS.

WINCHESTER An old English town.

WINDOWS Software device designed to confuse lay end users by letting them run five programs simultaneously.

WYSIWYG (Pronounced `wizzy wig'). Usually describes a word processing package that lets you display fancy typefaces on the screen, but won't work with any of your printers.

1995-2002 William Geoffrey Shotts. Last update: Tuesday, March 09, 2004