Computer Definitions

[Computer definitions courtesy of my father the software manager]

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."

Hardware: Collective term for any computer related object that can be kicked or battered.

CPU: Central Propulsion Unit. The CPU is the computer's engine. It consists of a hard drive, RAM, interface cards, and a tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is an old 486 and a ferret if it's a Pentium.

RAM: Fuzzy creature with horns that likes to eat. The rodent is NOT a fitness buff. It's running to get away from the bytes of the RAM.

Printer: A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of 3 main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray, and the blinking red light.

Input/output: Information is input from the keyboard as intelligible data and output to the printer as unrecognizable junk.

Reference Manual: Object that raises the monitor to eye level. Also used to compensate for that short table leg.

User-friendly: Of or pertaining to any feature, device, or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.

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 anything.

Programmers: 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.

Default Directory: Black hole. The default directory is where all files that you need disappear to.

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.

Scheduled Release Date: A carefully calculated date determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting 6 months from it.

Users: 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.

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