Computer Related Dafinitions

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BASIC: A language similar to FORTRAN, but without the latter's structure, sophistication and elegance.

C: A programming language, widely available on all but IBM/MVS machines. The name was chosen so that it would get lots of free advertising among people who only read the first column of FORTRAN programs.

IBM-compatible: Resembling an IBM product. User-unfriendly, bug-ridden, and confusingly documented.

Mouse: A filthy creature that squeaks and spreads disease. Hence, any piece of hardware with the same qualities.

LISP: (Lots of (Irritating (Spurious Parentheses)))

USER n.: A programmer who will believe anything you tell him.

YOYO MODE n. State in which a computer (relatively) rapidly changes states between 'UP' and 'DOWN'.

SOFTWARE ROT n. A hypothetical disease of which the existence has been deduced from the observation that unused programs or features will stop working after sufficient time has passed, even if "nothing has changed!" Also known as "BIT DECAY."

LINE STARVE n. inverse of a line feed.

PESSIMAL [Latin-based antonym for 'optimal'] adj. Maximally bad.

PESSIMIZING COMPILER n. A compiler that produces object code that is worse than the straightforward or obvious translation.

BUG [from telephone terminology, "bugs in a telephone cable", blamed for noisy lines.] n. An unwanted and unintended (and undesirable) property of a program. See FEATURE.

FEATURE n. A surprising property of a program. Occasionally documented. To call a property a feature sometimes means the author did not consider that case, and the program makes an unexpected, though not necessarily wrong response. See BUG. "That's not a bug, it's a feature!" A bug can be changed to a feature by documenting it.

CRT - Computer Replacement Therapy (as in the compulsive need to change machines as often as underwear)

Consultant - someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time.

FAT: what you get when you exceed the feed limit.

AUTOMAGICALLY adv. Automatically, but in a way which, for some reason (typically because it is too complicated, too ugly, or perhaps even too trivial), I don't feel like explaining. See MAGIC. Example: by assigning a logical name to SYS$PRINT, a program writing to that logical name causes the file to be spooled to the line-printer automagically.

Break Key: Usually the one next to the RETURN key.

Cold Start: 9am Monday.

Common Block: Management strategy by which limits are put on the number of staff for promotion.

Console: What you do for trainees on running their first program.

Design Methodology: A job-creation scheme.

Escape Key: A significant win on the lottery, or similar.

Feature: Emergent bug.

Forced logout: A redundancy notice.

Optical disc: Monocle.

Parity Error: The feeling one has of being unjustly low in the hierarchy.

Pie Chart: Canteen tariff.

Program Spec: A work of imaginative fiction.

WEAR-OUT BITS n. A hypothetical (and sought after) mechanism by which software houses could charge for software preventive maintenance, and thus make a fortune. The idea is that some instructions in the machine would become softwarily unreliable after N executions. However, having software specialists come over to a shop and 'brush the wear-out bits' every so often would prevent this from happening.


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