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Computers can be fun?
June 17, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

What are some geeky terms in computer/internet/technology scene which are obvious to geeks but may sound funny/hilarious/amusing to someone out of computer field?

I want to prepare a 5 minutes speech for my next toastmasters meeting around this subject. one example would be "graceful degradation". it's obvious for someone in computers field. But if you think of it, it's a weird/funny term for a layman. Degradation and graceful at that? Are you saying that you are going to degrade someone or something and you are going to do it gracefully? really?

You see where I'm going with this? Another term would be GUI (Gooey). That gives me about 2 minutes of material. I need at least 3 more terms.

Did you, as someone outside of computer field came across any such terms which puzzled you or made you laugh? Can you, computer geeks out their think of any such terms? Please share with me.
posted by tvjoshi to Computers & Internet (90 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
dongle.
posted by jeb at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


I also came in here to say dongle.
posted by thejanna at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2010


SCSI (pronounced scuzzy) drives might work. To me that always sounded like they might be dirty or covered in goop.
posted by frwagon at 10:28 AM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Deprecate?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:29 AM on June 17, 2010


Hee hee, dongle.

I'm going with WYSIWYG. Downright hilarious.
posted by cereselle at 10:29 AM on June 17, 2010


Salted hash is one of my favorites. Also, "man date" is a command I have frequently typed into the Linux command prompt.
posted by invitapriore at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


foobar. snafu.
posted by Melismata at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2010


ha! also came in for dongle. As in: don't dangle your dongle. Never say that out of context.
posted by kch at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Master/slave bus.
posted by box at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bit twiddling is a good one
posted by burnmp3s at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2010


Fsck? Finger? Mount?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I recently (like 2 hours ago) used ICANN in a sentence, and realized I sounded like I was Sara Palin-ing, changing thoughts in the middle of a sentence.

"To get this domain transferred we first have to verify our identity to I can then initiate the transfer"
posted by fontophilic at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2010


"Everything about UNIX sounds silly. We're talking about an OS with commands like chown, awk, and grep here and where 'zombie children floating in the pipe' is a legitimate description of an error state."

— Bruce Bethke — Headcrash
posted by adipocere at 10:32 AM on June 17, 2010 [16 favorites]


Ha, box! Don't forget the male/female connector.
posted by Melismata at 10:32 AM on June 17, 2010


ya, mount, as "I can't get my stupid USB stick to mount"

bash? RAID? teraflops?
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:33 AM on June 17, 2010


unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; umount; sleep;
posted by kmz at 10:33 AM on June 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


I always giggle when I type "bjobs" to display batch jobs I'm running. But I'm kind of a twelve year old sometimes.
posted by shaun uh at 10:33 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frontend/backend?

Someone who works on databases or server-side code is occasionally referred to as a "backend guy."
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are some OSS names that you could use. GIMP comes to mind.

How about a smurf attack?
posted by ODiV at 10:36 AM on June 17, 2010


Yeah, we used to play with unix to get it to say certain things, such as:

% make love
Make: Don't know how to make love. Stop.
posted by Melismata at 10:37 AM on June 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


foobar and snafu originated in the British and/or US (exact origins murky) militaries in WW2
posted by Bwithh at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


+1 for dongle. I only very recently found out that it had a legitimate meaning in the computer world (me being of the non-computery persuasion).

How about Pebcak? I dunno how prevalent it is, but my brother uses it a lot.
posted by just_ducky at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2010


Sometimes there is amusing use of the term "length."

For example, my old boss was once trying to figure out how to express how many site users were in a list. Since it was an array of "members" of the site, he suggested "member length." He wanted to display this to the public. He wasn't joking.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:39 AM on June 17, 2010


If we're going to bring in SCSI, how about another largely obselete tech:
WAP!

I know this is totally in the reverse direction, but the following quote from the short lived series "John Doe" is just too good not to share: "I reverse-encrypted their firewall with a pseudo IP and deconstructed their Telnet with a viral protocol." This is an example of something that just sounds mysterious and tech-y to someone unfamiliar with computers, but ridiculous to the point of hilarity to even the most noob computer geek. Also notable: creating a GUI interface using Visual Basic.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Camel case" is pretty damn funny too.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2010


daemon
posted by donovan at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2010


Floppies, three finger salute, crunch, PCMCIA, public/private/shared keys, sudo.
posted by ecurtz at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2010


There was a voice-mail on our phone last night from a recruiter seeking a L.A.M.P. developer. My non-computer-geek wife found it really funny in ways I couldn't quite parse. She's been trying with little success to fix at lamp in our bedroom, and apparently the voice-mail means fixing it is my job now. It was cool, though, her giggles got kinda dirty when I starting explaining was a LAMP stack was.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2010


Some of the languages have odd names: Python and Groovy are two that come to mind.
posted by dbmcd at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2010


Ruby on Rails conjures an images of a damsel tied to train tracks.
posted by ODiV at 10:44 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Defrag, ping, driver, coupling, illegal operation, fatal error, Blue Screen of Death, beachballing (on the Mac), flash the RAM, and man (for "manual" on *nix) might all be good for a chuckle.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:44 AM on June 17, 2010


Zap the pram always makes me laugh, visions of a thunderbolt blowing a baby carriage to bits.
posted by jamaro at 10:46 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everything about UNIX sounds silly.

As someone who thinks a lot more about ancient history than about computers, just the word Unix (said aloud) is pretty funny all on its own.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


The double-ended male (or female) connector that's called either a gender-bender or a sex-change?

Or if you want to get even more inside-joke-ish, The Great Enspousening and its first anniversary.
posted by DaveP at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2010


cat
posted by lukemeister at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2010


duck punching and monkey patching - wiki
posted by yeoldefortran at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Master and Slave... As referring to multiple hard drives.

It always stuck in my PC (that's Polictially Correct, not Personal Computer) filter when trying to explain them to a novice client.

But it was especially bad if they were black AND old enough to have experienced mandated segregation.

Me:
"See this is your main drive, like, the the one you really need for everything you use your computer for, this is the important one, so it's the Master. Your other one is only being used for all the photos your grandkids sent you, so it's a slay... sl... slayer...second..y drive?"

Elderly Black Lady: ....?

Though my favorite computer/geek term of all time is PEBKAC. Though I guess that would only be funny TO a computer geek and not so much for someone out of the field, depending on the person.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2010


Bitrot. Bohrbug, Heisenbug, Mandelbug, and Schroedinbug. Monkey patching. Duck typing.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


BigEndian and LittleEndian. Plus "wiki" itself sounds funny to folks who aren't on the internet much.
posted by travertina at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2010


The Jargon File is full of all sorts of good stuff, including many things already mentioned here.
posted by grouse at 10:58 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh! Its Never Lurgi reminded me of "unit testing." I never even thought about that way until just now.
posted by invitapriore at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2010


Master/slave bus.
See: California legislative memo which asks hard drive manufacturers to refrain from using the technical term "slave" out of sensitivity to people offended by it. CNN link
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:03 AM on June 17, 2010


Operator Error
posted by rickim at 11:05 AM on June 17, 2010


kernel panic, or the Amiga equivalent guru meditation. Also, 0xDEADBEEF.
posted by Emanuel at 11:07 AM on June 17, 2010


Using the word "bang" as a negator.
posted by KathrynT at 11:10 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forcibly mounting (and unmounting) a share is one, and there are "hard mounts" of server storage. A long pause with a significant look after showing a diagram of male and female connectors can elicit giggles. *shrug*

Of course this may not be what you want, but I like to remind everyone to "always mount a scratch monkey."
posted by wenestvedt at 11:10 AM on June 17, 2010


LART. It's the tool used to smash stupid users that do not know what a LART is.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2010


I like NERD UP!

Also LEGACY as in legacy ports, denoting obsolete tech. I laugh whenever I see ads in my area for LEGACY CHURCH or when a SUBARU LEGACY drives by.
posted by No Shmoobles at 11:13 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Windows only] Not sure if this counts as funny, but it is weird to someone just starting on Windows (or to someone with a half-ounce of common sense), and made my mother absolutely crazy. In order to turn off your computer, you have to click "Start"...

When I "boot", I always picture a giant foot kicking my computer to get it going.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2010


cron job
posted by jclovebrew at 11:20 AM on June 17, 2010


No sexual undertones, but I always think "evergreening" strange and kind of funny. Makes me think of lumberjacks.
posted by kitcat at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2010


'joystick' is one that has obvious phallic connotations but it predates computers and in this day most people are familiar with it even if they're never used a computer so I don't know that it would meet your criteria.

I can't believe no one has mentioned 'megahertz' yet.

In the old days you would regularly compare floppy and hard disks, but I think mostly now the term floppy has disappeared from everyday use.

Also: poke/peek, bit banging, bit blit, raster scan, hard boot, tarball, memory dump
posted by Rhomboid at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2010


What I always find hysterical is not words, per se, but when hardware gets anthropomorphized. Computers and servers have names, and are various described with motives and attitudes. "Don't use that machine, dude. It's evil."

Once worked in a place where a server utility was called "datapimp," because it allowed someone to access the database server, which was of course called the "datawhore."

This same place had a massive archive of pirated mp3s and various warez and apps. This server's name was RIPNBURN.

Another place had three web servers named King, Coho and Chinook, which were collectively referred to as "the fish."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2010


Gopher and GNU
posted by CharlesV42 at 11:25 AM on June 17, 2010


I have to dump databases regularly and it often sounds very funny.
Do you want to watch me take this dump?
I took a dump earlier this afternoon.
We don't want to mess with their dump.

Not sure if this is funny, but it sounds off to describe killing someone's connection:
Can you kill me?
I killed myself/her/him.
Before we start, I'll kill everyone.
posted by valeries at 11:25 AM on June 17, 2010


"rooting"

The mental image brought on by "rooting a phone", for example, causes significant cognative dissonance, not to mention barely supressed snickers.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2010


I used to keep a 'gender changer' on top of my monitor. it transformed a pin end (male) to ports (female) or vice versa. very handy if you require a quick gender change!
posted by kuppajava at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2010


thumb drive
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:27 AM on June 17, 2010


Floppy disk
Hard drive
Splat
Sneaker net (meaning file transfer via sticking a thumb drive in one computer, downloading, then walking it over to another computer--using your sneakers--for upload)
Thumb drive
Cavemaning (implementing an ineligant low tech solution to a high tech problem is "cavemaning" it)
Heritage (kinda the same thing as "Legacy")
Slash
Wetware
Firmware (combine those two for innuendos. You can work software in there too I'm sure.)
Vaporware (software yet to be built and probably won't ever)
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 11:28 AM on June 17, 2010


And: hot swap, tree walk, web spider, drive/data wipe, ANSI (sounds like antsy), bit/byte/nibble, hex editor, core file
posted by Rhomboid at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2010


This thread is probably of interest, though it wasn't looking for funny-sounding things per se.
posted by Zed at 11:38 AM on June 17, 2010


the placeholder term "foo" always made me laugh
posted by Juicy Avenger at 11:38 AM on June 17, 2010


Flash Drive always sounded to me like an alternate way of saying "mooning someone out your car window"
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2010


And it's now out of date, but floppy was pretty funny. "You put your floppy in the slot"
posted by bardophile at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2010


This just came up the other night. Apparently, my boyfriend is very good ad shell scripting. Even though I've heard the term before, I still think of a play in which all the actors are mollusks.
posted by phunniemee at 11:51 AM on June 17, 2010


Any talk of getting a dump and examining logs. Especially since the two usually go together.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:18 PM on June 17, 2010


re shells: one of the most common shells used to be "csh", the "C Shell", which I always thought merited a giggle.

How about "bitblt" (pronounced "bit blit"), which is a generic term for a procedure to bulk transfer a contiguous bitmap.

My kids got a kick out of the fact that someone built a computer (a quite impressive one, at that) called the Super Foonly.
posted by lex mercatoria at 12:26 PM on June 17, 2010


At lunch with designers some day the waitperson gave us some odd looks when she heard us talking about PMS colors.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2010


gui, pronounced gooey.
posted by specialnobodie at 12:49 PM on June 17, 2010


Plus "wiki" itself sounds funny to folks who aren't on the internet much.

"Wiki" still sounds stupid and hilarious to me, and I've been hearing it for ten-odd years now. So does "blog", for that matter.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2010


packet sniffer
posted by premortem at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Dirty Bit.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 1:13 PM on June 17, 2010


BogoMIPS (bogus millions of instructions per second) were a reasonably common measure of CPU capability (even if it is, as the name suggests, not really a useful measure of much) on UNIX systems.
posted by Dysk at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2010


@Bwithh, you're confusing foobar with fubar. One of my favorite RFC's is RFC 3092, which explores the origin of foo.
posted by paulg at 1:24 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


frwagon writes "SCSI (pronounced scuzzy) drives might work. To me that always sounded like they might be dirty or covered in goop."

SCSI is great because Larry Boucher, the guy mostly responsible for it, thought it should be pronounced SEXY. And two of the extensions are refered to as wide scsi and ultra scsi (and the combination ultra wide scsi)
posted by Mitheral at 1:32 PM on June 17, 2010


Wow!! People!! This is where you shine!! Thank you all very much!!

All the suggestions are hilarious. ++ marks for "don't dangle your dongle" & "I can't get my stupid USB stick to mount." Unfortunately I'm not allowed to use any inappropriate words (toastmaster rule - no foul words, no politics, no religion). And I cannot make most of this sound funny unless I hint toward inappropriate meaning.

But I so love all of this - dongle, Master/slave bus, male/female connector, unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; umount, sleep, joystick, poke/peek, bit banging

This could be useful for my purpose -
Deprecate
WYSIWYG
salted hash
man date
foobar
Back end guy
L.A.M.P.
Ruby on Rails
Defrag, ping, driver, coupling
Illegal operation,
fatal error,
Blue Screen of Death,
Flash the RAM,
Duck typing.

Anecdote about LAMP is very funny.

Thank you all again!!!
posted by tvjoshi at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2010


The WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) interface is for people who aren't hardcore enough for a command line.
posted by jacalata at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2010


You could have quite a weird conversation talking about safari, chrome, opera, and aye-ee.
posted by smackfu at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2010


Thanks Rhomboid! for hot swap, tree walk, web spider, drive/data wipe, ANSI (sounds like antsy), bit/byte/nibble, hex editor, core file. I could definitely use "web spider".

These are some more I found using Aardvark -

Phishing - pronounced "fishing"
Cookie
XAML pronounced "zammel"
Cache memory - pronounced "cash"
posted by tvjoshi at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2010


As seen on AskMetafilter: The meaning of "In the gooey" (though I realize you already have that one covered).

Also, hash table.
posted by ellenaim at 2:40 PM on June 17, 2010


Yak shaving.
posted by BinaryApe at 3:25 PM on June 17, 2010


Along the lines of others, but the phrase "sudo make me a sandwich" is pretty hilarious to me.
posted by rabbitsnake at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2010


Another classic tome along similar lines is Stan Kelly-Bootle's Computer Contradictionary

... but then again, I always enjoyed dropping big O notation into random conversations...
posted by oldefortran at 4:22 PM on June 17, 2010


Possibly a little outside of the parameters but I've always liked the helpdesk acronym PICNIC: Problem In Chair Not in Computer
posted by Captain Najork at 4:59 PM on June 17, 2010


FUBAR is actually a military term: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair
SNAFU is the same: Situation Normal All Fucked Up
same with BOHICA: Bend Over Here It Comes Again
posted by eatdonuts at 5:25 PM on June 17, 2010


As a linux/unix user, I've definitely done a "man on man" a few times in my past.
posted by Precision at 5:32 PM on June 17, 2010


"Ping Of Death" and "Packet Of Death" are good ones. Who knew you could get death in packets?
posted by contraption at 5:50 PM on June 17, 2010


"Load testing" always makes me think it's something you'd do before purchasing a toilet....
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:35 PM on June 17, 2010


The stream of non-sequitur metaphors used for talking about GUI's never fails to amuse me. "Click with the mouse on the icon on the desktop and the window will open ..." It wasn't that long ago talking like this wouldn't make any sense, but everyone understands it now.

Also, "buffer." Possibly unusual, since it's use in computing naturally follows from meanings it's had all along. It's just fun to say. "Buffer? I hardly know 'er!"
posted by wobh at 12:06 AM on June 18, 2010


I was once chatting with an M2F transexual at a women-in-computing meeting. She was complaining about the speed of the wifi, and without thinking, I replied "Too many women with dongles".
posted by handee at 12:56 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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