Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for "doesn't work."
Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work."
A method of referring to a computer, as in, "My son's computer cost quite a bit."
An elusive creature living in a program that stops it working properly. The process of debugging or removing bugs from a program stops when people get tired of doing it, not when the bugs have been removed.
A very expensive part of the computer's memory system that nobody is supposed to know is there.
Instrument of torture. The first computer was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked. On April 8, 1945, Adolf 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 IBM.
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 old machine and a ferret if it's a Pentium.
The "black hole" where all files that you need disappear to.
What you, later on, regret not doing.
Instructions translated by Chinese from Japanese for English speaking people.
Economies of scale
The notion that bigger is better. In particular, that if you want a certain amount of computer power, it is much better to buy one big one than a bunch of small ones. Accepted as an article of faith by people who love big machines and all that complexity. Rejected as an article of faith by those who love small machines and all those limitations.
Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to place blame on users for the program's shortcomings.
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.
Collective term for any computer-related object that can be kicked or battered.
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 anything.
A room staffed by professional computer people whose job it is to tell you why you cannot have the information you require.
A term for data processing when people are so disgusted with it they won't let it be discussed in their presence.
Information is input from the keyboard as intelligible data and output to the printer as unrecognizable junk.
A programmer's feeble attempt at repentance.
A program that won't run on any machine.
An assembly of computer experts coming together to decide which person not present must solve the problem.
A computer that can be afforded by a middle-level manager.
The use of computers to improve efficiency in the office by removing anyone you would want to talk to over coffee.
The idea that a human being should always be accessible to a computer.
A statement of the speed at which a computer system works. Or rather, might work under certain circumstances. Or was rumoured to be working about a month ago.
A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking orange light.
A statement of the importance of a user or a program. Often expressed as a relative priority, indicating that the user doesn't care when the work is completed so long as he is treated less badly than someone else.
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 the world.
A way of ensuring that the quality of a product does not get out of hand and add to the cost of its manufacture or design.
Object that raises the monitor to eye level. Also used to compensate for a short table leg.
Scheduled release date
A carefully calculated date determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting six months from it.
A long-range plan whose merit cannot be evaluated until sometime after those creating it have left the organization.
Of, or pertaining to, any feature, device or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.
Collective term for those who stare vacantly at a monitor. Users are divided into three types: novice, intermediate and expert.
Novice Users: People who are afraid that simply pressing a key might break their computer.
Intermediate Users: People who don't know how to fix their computer after they've just pressed a key that broke it.
Expert Users: People who break other people's computers.