Computer Terms

By Michael Finley, American Reporter Technology Writer

ST. PAUL -- I was touring a development site for a major technology firm
last week.  Suddenly, as if to mock the power of all the machines stacked
everywhere, nature called.  I ducked into an employee-only area, looking for
a rest room.  Instead I found a bulletin board, with a memo on it that was
so intriguing that I had to pocket it and retype it here for you:



As you know, we upgrade our product offerings very frequently.  It is
important that we remember to upgrade the meaning of industry phrases.
Attached are phrases which we will continue to use this selling season,
along with their new meanings.  This bulletin includes nuances as recent as
March, 1996.

* Data backup recommended.

   Used to mean:  "Our technical people are good enough to detect bugs but
                   not fix them."

   Now means   :  "Our legal people had a good long look at our technical

* Debugged in beta tests by over 100,000 power users.

   Used to mean: "Before we gave strangers a first glimpse of our product,
                  we showed it to people who already knew us and valued our

   Now means   :  "Now that we've alienated people we know, it's your turn."

* DOS-free.

   Used to mean:  "You won't need DOS to launch this operating system."

   Now means   :  "You can't get to DOS now if your life depends on it."

* Double your disk space -- or better.

   Used to mean:  "You can improve your hard disk capacity up to 300%."

   Now means   :  "Once your data is permanently scrozzled, your new
                   capacity is virtually unlimited."

* Easy installation.

   Used to mean:  "Your repairman can stick this in your system for
                   about $30."

   Now means   :  "Your repairman can stick this in your system for about
                   $30, plus another $50 to fix the mess you made trying
                   to do it yourself."

* Help is just a phone call away.

   Used to mean:  "Our tech support is available 24 hours, offering fresh
                   advice from flesh-and-blood experts."

   Now means   :  "They were still alive when you dialed."

* Incredible productivity tool.

   Used to mean:  "One person will be doing the work of 20 with this

   Now means   :  "You're one of the 19."

* Industry standard.
   Used to mean:  "Our protocol is so accepted, everyone else copies us."

   Now means   :  "Improvement on this product ground to a halt five
                   years ago, and are we glad."

* Legacy system.

   Used to mean:  "The mainframe your organization spent $28 million for
                   six years ago, confident of 20 years of pumped-up
                   data muscle."

   Now means   :  "Landfill."

* Major upgrade.

   Used to mean:  "We think we can convince you you can't live with a
                   two-year-old interface."

   Now means   :  "No new user with multiple brain cells is going to
                   spend money for this, so we're targeting people who
                   are perfectly happy with the product the way it is."

* Modest memory requirements.

   Used to mean:  "We're too modest to tell you what the actual
                   requirements are."

   Now means   :  "We've lost track of what the actual requirements are."

* Multimedia-ready.

   Used to mean:  "We found out you need cartoons to understand anything."

   Now means   :  "We can now annoy your every sense but smell, and
                   we're working on that."

* Our trained technical support staff is manning the phones to serve you.

   Used to mean:  "Both of them."

   Now means   :  "Ed."

* PC Journal Product of the Year!

   Used to mean:  "Amazing how well advertisers do in these competitions."

   Now means:  "Of course, that was years ago."

* Powerful challenge to Microsoft.

   Used to mean:  "We're trying to make two killings, one before Microsoft
                   knows we exist, and another when they buy us out."

   Now means   :  "Please don't hurt us."

* Real time.

   Used to mean:  "Denoting information that is true right now, as distinct
                   from aging data posted at regular intervals."

   Now means   :  "Denotes higher cost for fresh data; short for real bad

* Reengineering.

   Used to mean:  "We know you have more money."

   Now means   :  "What about collectibles and coins?"

* Reliability is our middle name.

   Used to mean:  "You don't want to know our first and last names."

   Now means   :  "We stand behind our products -- well behind them."

* Requires minimal maintenance.

   Used to mean:  "At a minimum this requires lots of maintenance."

   Now means   :  "There's not much you can do by yourself to keep
                   this thing up and running."

* Revised release date.

   Used to mean:  "We're sorry we did not meet last year's shipping

   Now means   :  "We're not sorry we did not meet last year's
                   shipping schedule."

* Robust.

   Used to mean:  "We dropped your system from the door of a rail car
                   and the green light still came on."

   Now means   :  "We haven't dropped it yet."

* Screamer.

   Used to mean:  "This machine can process instructions way faster
                   than your operating system can provide them."

   Now means   :  "May require Windows 95 to prevent overheating."

* Superhighway speed bump.

   Used to mean:  "The scary high-tech future that you must master or

   Now means   :  "Your grave marker."

* Upgrade.

   Used to mean:  "Shame on us."

   Now means   :  "Shame on you."

* Virtual reality.

   Used to mean:  "A mind-twisting dimension where you are besieged
                   by blood-sucking monsters."

   Now means   :  "You needed that job, didn't you?"

Thanks to Sebastian for this contribution

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This message was sent on 21 Nov 1996