Jeff Dray offers these alternative Geek-Speak glossary terms with all-new, expanded definitions.


There’s a very popular download in TechRepublic’s white paper directory, “Geek-Speak Glossary: A Manager’s Guide to IT Terminology” by Global Knowledge. While this one is very useful for the manager who wants to understand what the IT staff is saying, we thought it would be entertaining to “update” some of those definitions to address what’s really going on in the IT department.

ARP (address resolution protocol): Network layer protocol provided with TCP/IP; used to map an IP (internet protocol) address to a MAC (media access card) address. As can be read later, this can involve some obscure and dark rituals that can be performed only by virgins, by the light of a full moon, thus explaining why we have so much network trouble here in the UK, where it is often cloudy.
Bit: contraction of the expression “binary digit”: Smallest unit of data in a computer. Bits can also be all that remain of a desktop or laptop computer when it locks up for a particularly stressed worker. Not to be confused with expressions of older origin, such as, “Getting the bit between your teeth,” which has a far more positive connotation.
Bluetooth: Specification that allows mobile phones, computers, and PDAs to be connected wirelessly over short ranges, also a condition prevalent among a certain class of geek, known as the “Furry Toothed Geek.” The term came from a Viking king by the name of Eric Blatand, demonstrating that dental hygiene was not afforded great importance in tenth- and eleventh-century Scandinavia. I still can’t work out why the example of a mouldy-toothed Viking should put someone in mind of short-range radio communication, but what do I know?

GUI (graphical user interface):
Easy way of accessing applications with the use of a pointing device, such as a mouse; pronounced “gooey.” The user interface is the last frontier for wit and reason before your actions are passed to the machine forever. The user interface gives rise to such terms as “PEBCAK,” an acronym for “Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.” Keyboards can be particularly GUI if rules about not eating and drinking near computer equipment are not strictly enforced.
Host address: Part of an IP address that is uniquely assigned by an administrator, not as interpreted by one of my apprentices, as the address of the hotel we were staying in.

IEEE (Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers):
Voluntary organization of engineers that creates consensus standards for network wiring and other technologies; pronounced “eye-triple-E.” Also the sound made by the aforementioned apprentice when I jammed his fingers into a live power socket.
I/O (input/output devices): Hardware used to enter and retrieve data from the system. As these are the direct physical connection between the user and the machine, they are often the first parts to suffer when frustration and rage take the better of the situation.
Jitter: Distortion in a digital signal caused by a shift in timing pulses; can cause data interpretation errors. This term is also used to describe the feelings of department managers about the time that next year’s budgets are being fixed.
Menu: Used in some DOS shells and early versions of Windows; an improvement on the command line but cumbersome when a task requires the submenu of a submenu of a submenu of a menu item. Menus can be found in almost any context, including pinned to the wall of the tech’s workshop, where one’s late night takeaway can be ordered by phone and delivered to reception.

TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol):
The dominant protocol suite used in networking. Not as you might think a logical and scientific approach to a problem but very much of a black art, involving blood sacrifices, wild naked dancing around forest clearings, and inspecting the entrails of chickens. May also be misunderstood as a type of antiseptic fluid with a particularly unpleasant odor. Having spent several evenings studying for my Network Administrator Exam a couple of years ago, I was asked to go to our local chemist shop for some TCP antiseptic. Without thinking I asked for a bottle of TCP/IP.

Do you have your own special meanings for technical terminology? By all means, share them with the rest of us below. They might make the next edition.