8-Bit Software Online Conversion

                    ---------------------------------- This is the world's first dictionary of computer terms to tell you the REAL meaning of the industry jargon! Acknowledgements to Bruce Tonkin, whose article in the December issue of Computer People Monthly this dictionary is based on. Expanded and corrected by Duncan Lilly and Dammon Butler. Advanced: (adj.) Doesn't work yet, but it's pretty close. Analyst: (n.) One who writes programs and doesn't trust them. A cynic. Assembler: (n.) A minor program of interest only to obsessed programmers. BASIC: (n.) A computer one-word oxymoron. BBS: (n.) A system for connecting computers and exchanging gossip, facts and uninformed speculation under false names. Benchmark: (n.) A test written ostensibly to compare hardware or software, but actually used by manufacturers to misinterpret or quote out of context in advertisements. Binary: (n.) A two-valued logic especially susceptible to glitches and bugs. It originated as a way of counting on the thumbs, since programming managers usually find fingers far too confusing. See: HEXADECIMAL, OCTAL. Bug: (n.) Any program feature not yet described to the marketing department. Bus: (n.) A connector you plug money into, something like a slot-machine. Byte: (n.) Eight bits, or one dollar ( in 1950s terms). Currently worth two -tenths of a cent and falling fast. C: (n.) The language following A and B. The world still awaits D. By Z it may be acceptable for general use. Chip: (n.) A stylised picture of a logic diagram on refined and alloyed sand. COBOL: (n.) An old computer language, designed to be read but not run. Unfortunately, it is often run anyway. Code: (n.) A means of concealing bugs favoured by programmers (v.) The process of concealing bugs by programmers. Computer: (n.) A box containing chips and other electronic devices. Capable of taking and destroying data at enormous speeds, returning only cryptic messages as it does so. Cookie: (n.) Any recondite message displayed by a time-sharing system. The message is not often seen, because it only appears when the system is operating correctly. Common cookies include the timeless "Murphy was an optomist " and " When in danger, or in doubt,run in circles,scream and shout". Copy Protection: (n.) A means of circumventing various legal rights so as to artificially inflate profits. CPU: (n.) Acronym for Central Purging Unit. A device which discards or distorts the data sent to it, sometimes returning more data and sometimes merely overheating. Crash: (v.) To terminate a program in the usual manner,i.e. by locking up the computer or causing the printer to produce reams of rubbish. (n.) The process of such termination. Data: (n.) Raw information, especially that supplied to the central purging unit for transformation and disposal. Database-Manager: (n.) Any fast filing system which gives false or misleading answers. Dedicated: (adj.) Will only do what it wants to - not what you want it to do. Diagnostic: (n.) A test foolishly but often believed to determine the reason for a particular faliure. Competent professionals prefer I Ching or phrenology. Digital: (adj.) Of or pertaining to the fingers, especially to counting on them. See: BINARY, HEXADECIMAL, OCTAL. Documentation: (n.) A novel sold with software, designed to entertain the operator during episodes of bugs or glitches. DOS: (n.) Acronym (Defunct Operating System). A program which outputs questions given answers, putting users into jeopardy. Down-time: (adj.) Said of networks, that period during which the network is useless - caused by external incidents such as lost keys and moths in the file server. Said of stand-alone computers, any period of time during which the equipment cannot be used constructively (i.e. normality). Emulate: (v.) To simulate hardware glitches with software bugs. Emulator: (n.) A program which emulates. See: VIRTUAL. Engineer: (v.) To build something with bugs (software) or glitches (hardware). (n.) One who engineers. Format: (v.) To erase irrevocably and unintentionally. (n.) The process of such erasure. Forth: (n.) A stack-oriented programming language written right to left and read from bottom to top. It runs efficiently on no common computers and is written effectively by no common programmers. FORTRAN: (n.) An ancient programming language which changed IF's to GOTO's by using a strange three-valued logic on binary computers. Glitch: (n.) An undocumented design feature, especially of hardware. GOTO: (n.) An efficient and general way of controlling a program, much despised by academics and others whose brains have been ruined by over- exposure to Pascal. See: Pascal. Hard Disk: (n.) A rapidly spinning platter divided into sectors. See: Sector. Hardware: (n.) Anything prone to physical faliure. Head: (n.) The part of a disk drive which detects sectors and decides which of the two possible values to return: 'Lose a turn' or 'Bankrupt'. Hexadecimal: (adj.) Of or referring to base-sixteen numbers - binary numbers grouped four digits at a time so as to quadruple the opportunity for bugs. Originated as a means of counting on the fingers of one hand, using the thumb for the 'carry'. Purists who dont like to use the thumb at all prefer octal. See: OCTAL, BINARY. Increment: (v.) To increase by one, except when segments are used; then the increase may be by sixteen unless word mode addressing is used in which case the increase is by one or two, depending on the processor and whether the address is on an even boundary or such an increase causes an overflow exception processor fault, which may either cause the program to crash or decrease by a large number instead of increase, depending on the register used and the operation being attempted. Iterate: (v.) To repeat an action for a potentially, and often actually, infinite number of times. See: ITERATE. Joystick: (n.) A device essential for performing business tasks and training excercises. Especially favoured by space pilots, tank commanders, medieval warlords and planetary rulers. K(ilo): (n., adj.) A binary thousand, which isn't a decimal thousand or even really a binary thousand (which is eight), but is the binary number closest to a decimal thousand. This has proven so completely confusing that it has become a standard. Kernal: (n.) A mis-spelling of kernel used by beginner (functionally illit- erate) programmers, especially those with some knowledge of C. Kernel: (n.) The core of of a program, i.e. the source of all errors. Thus the common mis-spelling, 'kernal'. Keyboard: (n.) A device used by programmers to write software for a mouse or joystick, and by operators for playing games such as 'word processing' Kludge: (v., adj.) To fix a program in the usual way. Leading Edge: (n., adj.) Anything which uses advanced (dodgy) technology. See: ADVANCED. License: (n.) A covenant which tells the buyer that nothing has been purchased and that no refund, support, advice, or instruction may be anticipated and that no resale is permitted. A modern way of saying "Thanks for all your money and goodbye". Far less crude than "Stick 'em up!" but even more effective since the purchaser will often borrow the funds requested. Logic: (n.) A system of determining truth or falsehood, implication or exclusion, by means of a sort of binary oneiromancy. Loop: (n., v.) 1) A series of instructions to be iterated. 2) The process of iterating them. Most loops are unintentional and can be quite droll. Macro: (n.) A series of keystrokes used to simulate a missing but essential command. Megabyte: (n.) More storage than you can comprehend and less than you'll need. See: UNIX Megahertz: (n.) A way of measuring how well your computer matches the frequency of your local television channels. Most computers perform exceptionally well on this test, especially the higher-quality foreign- made ones. Menu: (n.) Any list of choices, each of which is either unsatisfactory or in some fashion contradictory. Micro-: (prefix) Anything both very small and very expensive. Modem: (n., v.) A device used to connect computers and sending data between computers, especially for those unwilling to speak. See: BBS Monitor: (n.) A sort of television limited to one very local station. Motherboard: (n.) The hardware version of the software 'kernel'. Mouse: (n.) An input device used by management to force computer users to keep at least a part of their desks clean. Nano-: (prefix) A thousandth of a thousandth, but not a binary thousandth in either case. Decimal is used for all very small measurements since no further confusion is nescessary. Octal: (n.) A base-eight counting system designed so that one hand may count upon the fingers of the other. Thumbs are not used, and the index finger is reserved for the carry. Offset: (n.) A method which permits access to any memory location in thousands of ways, each of which appears different but is not. Used with segments. Operator: (n.) 1) One who has no experience with computers 2) Any beginner, especially one part of whose salary is paid in soft drinks and processed, salted food treated with dangerous and illegal drugs or preservatives. Differs from a programmer in that a programmer will often take the dangerous and illegal drugs or preservatives directly. Pascal: (n.) A classroom project which was released before it could be graded -probably a good idea, considering. One wishes the University had had a better system of academic controls. Patch: (v.) To fix a program by changing bytes according to the rules of logic (a kludge). (n.) Any repair of this form. Pirate: (v., n.) To steal software, or one who is such a thief. True pirates see nothing wrong with thievery, having sucessfully forgotten or repressed all moral values. Pop: (v.) To remove from an area of memory naively thought to be the stack in a futile attempt to keep the program running. Portable: (adj.) That which can be physically moved more than one hundred yards by an unaided olympic athlete without permanent damage to that individual more then 50% of the time. Printer: (n.) A small box attached to a computer designed to make as much noise as possible and to light fires in cold weather. Procedure: (n.) A method of performing a program sub-task in an inefficient way by extensively using the stack instead of a GOTO. See: PASCAL, C. Processor: (n.) A devce for converting sense into nonsense at the speed of electricity or (rarely) the reverse. Program: (n.) That which manipulates symbols rapidly with unforeseen results. Also a bug's way of perpetuating bugs. Programmer: (n.) 1) One who writes programs and trusts them. An optomist. 2) Any employee who needs neither food nor sleep but exists on large quantities of caffine, sucrose, nicotine and machine-vended pres- ervatives thinly disguised as foodstuffs. Programming Language: (n.) A shorthand way of describing a series of bugs to a computer or a programmer. Prompt: (n.) A computer request for a random operator error. Also a game where the computer plays the part of Vanna White and the operator, a contestant. There are no prizes for winning. Push: (v.) To put into an area of memory belived to be the stack for the ostensible purpose of later retrieval. Tonkin's Rule: In any program there are always more 'pushes' than 'pops'. Quantum Leap: (adj.) Literally,to move by the smallest amount theoretically possible. In advertising, to move by the largest leap imaginable (in the mind of the advertiser). There is no contradiction. Recursion: (n.) A programming method which tests the limits of available memory in an iterative way using the stack. When the program fails, all memory has been used. Memorise this definition, then See: RECURSION. Register: (n.) A part of the central purging unit used to distort or destroy incoming data according to arbitrary rules. Relational: (adj.) Purchased from, or sold to, blood kin. See: TRUE RELATIONAL Sector: (n.) A disc arc on which is inscribed 'Lose a turn' or 'Bankrupt'. Segment: (n.) A way of restricting or complicating access to memory in an attempt to break a programmer's will to live. Outlawed by the R.S.P.C.A. and the U.N. but still practised in some backward areas of the world. See:OFFSET Software: (n.) Anything other than hardware. That which hardware manufact- urers can blame for physical faliures. Sort: (v.) To order a list of data in such a way as to destroy all relation- ship between the items. (n.) The process which accomplishes this, especially if it takes a very long time. Source Code: (n.) A record of a programmer's thought for a period of time. A stream-of-conciousness novel or short story. Speech sythesizer: (n.) A highly advanced piece of electronic hardware which produces speech of a quality closely resembling that spoken by a man with serious laryngitis who is being slowly strangled. Spreadsheet: (n.) A way of forcing repeatable answers from insufficient data for superficial purposes. Also, a game played during office hours by bored or restless yuppies. Sprite: (n.) A small, movable graphic which is difficult to produce, never looks as intended and moves in the opposite direction to that desired. Stack: (n.) Any area of memory which grows and eventually destroys both code and data. (v.) To place data in such an area. Standard: (n., adj.) A design target which manufacturers may embellish, improve upon, or ignore as they wish, so long as it can be used profitably in their advertising. Transportable: (adj.) Said of software - that which can be put on a new machine in less time than it took to write in the first place. Said of hardware - that which can theoretically be moved more than ten feet in one minute by some combination of machinery and/or explosives. The meanings are equivalent. Truly Relational: (adj.) Relational, but where the paterinty is indubitable. TSR: (n.) Acronym for Terminate and Stay Resident. A way of turning a useless computer with plenty of memory into a useless computer with no memory at all. Turbo-: (prefix) Computer software which uses air under pressure (supplied by a special fan) to theoretically improve it's performance. User-Friendly: (adj.) Trivialised, slow, incapable and boring. UNIX: (n.) An operating system which needs more memory than you have and runs more slowly than you can bear. (v.) To UNIX: to grossly enlarge and slow down out of all proportion especially by using C. User: (n.) One who knows from experience that programs cannot be trusted. A realist. Vendor: (n.) A manufacturers lackey. Virtual: (adj.) Emulated. See: EMULATE. Warranty: (n.) A list of vendor's promises with carefully worded exceptions which cancel out each of the promises in turn. See: LICENSE. Windowing: (n., adj.) A way of making a large and easily-read display into many small, cluttered and confusing ones. Word Processor: (n.) A program which turns a `2,000 computer into a `80 typewriter. A computer game for beginner operators. WORM: (n.) Acronym for Write Once, Read Mangled. Used to describe the normal functioning of a computer disc of the latest design. XYZZX: (n.) A common user input. Yarrow: (n.) A kind of sticks used by computer technicians when performing the ritual of I Ching. See: DIAGNOSTICS. Zaxxon: (n.) A sophisticated simulation and design program used by the brightest programmers to test the consistency of internal logic and memory. 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