A poll on computer terms

Not an official poll because I don’t know if it’s possible to set up a grid.

I was reading The Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words. It has a bunch of lists of words used in different fields which are supposedly unfamiliar to a layperson.

One of the lists is of slang terms used in the computer field. Some I recognized but many I had never heard of. I’m curious if it’s just me, if it indicates the list is outdated (it was published in 2008) or if they’re just off-base.

Here’s a list of terms:

angry garden salad
arrow shooter
banana problem
Barney page
bear paw
bit flip
blow a buffer
boat anchor
boiling the ocean
code 18
crash test dummies
dancing baloney
eating their own dogfood
ego surfing
fat pipe
key pal
lasagna syndrome
leaky reply
link rot
open your kimono
pin bender
scooby snacks
silver surfer
twitch game
vulcan nerve pinch

I’m interested in what people’s opinions of these terms are.

A. I’ve never heard of this term (in relations to computers).
B. I know what it means but I’ve never used it.
C. I know what it means but it’s outdated and people don’t use it anymore.
D. I know this term and use it but it is obscure.
E. I know this term and use it as it’s quite common. Nemo is obviously out of touch.
F. Other. Because every poll should have an other.


First off, calling this “computer terms” is reaching, it defines computer in an oddly broad sense.

I’m gonna be using “F” for, “haven’t heard it, but upon looking it up, would of guessed it in context.”

administrivia A
aliasing E – I imagine a small majority of gamers would know this
angry garden salad A
arrow shooter A
banana problem A
Barney page A
bear paw A
biobreak[sic] E – Barely a computer term, more of an “Online Game” term
bit flip – E, pretty basic comp sci term
bitslag – A
blow a buffer – A, to my surprise, has nothing to do with buffer overflows, except perhaps symbolically

boat anchor – A
boiling the ocean – A
bozon – A
code 18 – A
crash test dummies – A
crog – A
dancing baloney – A
debbie – A
eating their own dogfood – A
e-bomb – A
ego surfing – E
fat pipe – F
firefighter – A
fisk – A (not really a computer term, IMO)
forelash – A
Googleganger – A
jaggies – E (Like aliasing, I assume many gamers know this one)
key pal – F, in context it makes sense, in practice we still say “pen pal”
lasagna syndrome – A
leaky reply – G, surprisingly it doesn’t have anything to do with networking packets, it has to do with human error

link rot – F
meatloaf – A
nooksurfer – A
open your kimono – A
pin bender – A
ping – E (fairly basic comp sci term)
scooby snacks – F (it only makes sense in context)
silver surfer – A
splog – A
turklebaum – A
twitch game – E (I’d say most people could guess this one)
typosquat – A
vulcan nerve pinch – C
whack – ? Um… depends what meaning of whack we’re going for
zerg – E (I’d say most gamers, and many non-gamers know this one)
zot – A

I suspect a lot of these are either archaisms or incredibly community/context specific. Many of them, upon looking them up, are net subculture (i.e. blogger, hacker, etc) terms and that there’s probably very few people who know all of them since it’s unlikely they’d be tapped into every one of these subcultures.

You’re probably not thinking of the same meanings the dictionary offered. Neither of these was used as a technical term.

I know several definitions of “ping” and I could make a very good crack at “bit flip.” Are you planning on ever telling us what they mean? It would make this a lot easier if we knew the meanings, it would prevent a lot of misunderstandings at least.

I don’t have the time to go through every one, but terms move on. When I was in school (long before Google) the terms were a lot more hardware oriented - such as post an interrupt or go into a high Z state, and a lot more UNIX oriented, such as sending something to /dev/null. Some stuff, like administrivia and biobreaks (used in meetings, not just games) are not especially computer oriented, neither is opening the kimono.
I’m not sure about Vulcan nerve pinch, but I suspect it is equivalent to the triple bunkie in Raymond’s Hackers Dictionary.

I’m quite familiar with “fisk” and “link rot” and I’m pretty sure I know what administrivia is, as well as a silver surfer. The rest, I have no clue.

(Answering before reading anything.) I have heard of these: administrivia, aliasing, biobreak, boat anchor, jaggies, link rot, ping

I can image what several other are. Like silver surfer sounds like an AARP member who is on the internet. The word zot only reminds me of the cartoon anteater capturing the ant. Zot!

My answers without looking anything up (except how to define a word I already know but can’t describe)
[li]administrivia - F: I know this term but don’t personally use it. Its meaning in programming is the same: trivial administrative tasks, or, as a play on words, a FAQ about the administration[/li][li]aliasing - C, but it has two uses: making shortcuts, and what causes jaggies. Most people only encounter the last in the form of anti-aliasing.[/li][li]angry garden salad - A[/li][li]arrow shooter - A[/li][li]banana problem - A[/li][li]Barney page - A[/li][li]bear paw - A[/li][li]biobreak - between B & C: bathroom/sleep/eating break. [/li][li]bit flip - B. It’s only used by a select few who still code or at least think about coding at lower levels.[/li][list][li]A apparently also applied to RL or “meatspace” as it was called back then.[/ul][/li][li]bitslag - A[/li][li]blow a buffer - A: I can guess what it means, based on the meanings of the main terms, but I’ve never heard of it. [My guess was wrong.][/li][li]boat anchor - A[/li][li]boiling the ocean - A[/li][li]bozon - A: cam guess: the midichlorians of stupidity. [Right][/li][li]code 18 - A[/li][li]crash test dummies - A. guess: program designed to screw up computers [wrong][/li][li]crog - A[/li][li]dancing baloney - A[/li][li]debbie - A[/li][li]eating their own dogfood - A[/li][li]e-bomb - A: could maybe guess: a really strong computer virus [right][/li][li]**ego surfing **- A guess: old term for vanity searching [right][/li][li]fat pipe - between B and C. It means having a high bandwidth connection.[/li][li]firefighter - C: someone who tries to put out flame wars[/li][li]fisk - A[/li][li]forelash - A[/li][li]Googleganger - A[/li][li]jaggies - E: when enlarging an image without interpolation, or reducing without aliasing or supersampling, you get abrupt pixel changes that appear unnatural.[/li][li]key pal - C: Wow that’s old. It’s a pen pal on the Internet. It only makes sense as a term if you don’t regularly talk to people around the world, which most people do.[/li][li]lasagna syndrome - A.[/li][li]leaky reply - A. guess: accidentally using reply-all, common more in USENET days [right][/li][li]link rot - F: I’ve heard it, but didn’t know what it meant. [/li][li]**meatloaf **- A[/li][li]nooksurfer - A: Unless it means someone who uses a Nook a lot. [wrong, joke][/li][li]open your kimono - A[/li][li]pin bender - A guess: hard to plug in peripheral [wrong][/li][li]ping - E: to contact another computer on a network[/li][ul][li]C: to contact another user: usually now called a poke.[/ul][/li][li]scooby snacks - A or C if it means what it means in RL–carrot on stick (right)[/li][li]silver surfer - A, unless it means an old experience user [right][/li][li]splog - A[/li][li]turklebaum - A[/li][li]twitch game - C: game that requires fast reflexes.[/li][li]typosquat - F: Don’t use it, but is common. Grabbing the typos of famous website URLs, like, say, youtub.com[/li][li]vulcan nerve pinch - C: old name for CTRL-ALT-DEL[/li][li]whack - A [/li][li]zerg - A Not a Starcraft species, that’s for sure.[/li][li]zot - A probably not an old lighthearted comic.[/li][/LIST]

Now I’ll look through and see which ones are either really new or likely still common, but I just don’t know about them:

[li]bit slag - probably still used by search engine designers. It’s what Bing claims to eliminate: useless search results.[/li][li]crog - not into blogging, and sounds silly enough that it might have been replace: A carefully researched blog [/li][li]**eating their own dogfood **- common enough that it’s use was discouraged 3 years ago: using your own products, usually as a form of advertising[/li][li]fisk - popular enough for a current Wikipedia page: particularly aggressive quote parsing[/li][li]Googleganger - never had one: someone with your name that shows up in your search results about yourself[/li][li]link rot - I’ve heard it: over time more and more links will become obsolete.[/li][li]splog - not into blogging: A spam blog or individual spam blog post.[/li][/ul]

Things that are too funny not to mention.
[li]dancing baloney - useless animation or blink tags added to “jazz up” a page. 1999 Geocities called…[/li][li]whack - Apparently an old term for /, like “bang” for !. “Slash” is already short enough, silly! (Also used for stupid hacking by one guy.)[/li][/ul]
I notice a lot of you want to know what the other words mean. Look them up on netlingo.com: every Google search had that as a result somewhere. It seems to be a repository of (mostly) old Internet and computer terms.

I didn’t want to influence it but okay.

Keep in mind, I was unfamiliar with all of these terms. And I’m going to cheat and use some of BigT’s definitions.

administrivia - the text on a website that announces stuff like copyrights and privacy policies that nobody really reads
aliasing - what causes jaggies (distortion on a screen)
angry garden salad - apoorly constructed GUI that doesn’t give you the responses you wanted
arrow shooter - a person who comes up with a radical new idea
banana problem - an easily solved problem (worth only one banana)
Barney page - a website about some popular but short-lived trend
bear paw - a command that requires hitting five keys at once
biobreak - a bathroom/sleep/eating break
bit flip - a complete reversal of somebody’s persoanlity or opinions online
bitslag - useless search results
blow a buffer - forgetting what you were about to say
boat anchor - obsolete hardware
boiling the ocean - starting an overly ambitious project
bozon - a unit for measuring stupidity
code 18 - a problem cause by the user (who is sitting 18 inches from the computer)
crash test dummies - customers how buy a product that hasn’t been fully tested
crog - a blog by a person who really knows the subject (carefully researched blog)
dancing baloney - useless animation or blink tags added to “jazz up” a page
debbie - a person who knows less than a newbie
eating their own dogfood - a company using its own products
e-bomb - a really strong computer virus
ego surfing - old term for vanity searching
fat pipe - a high bandwidth connection
firefighter - someone who tries to put out flame wars
fisk - a long post listing all the errors in what somebody said in great detail
forelash - bad publicity about a product before its release
Googleganger - someone with your name that shows up in your search results about yourself
jaggies - when enlarging an image without interpolation, or reducing without aliasing or supersampling, you get abrupt pixel changes that appear unnatural
key pal - somebody you correspond with online
lasagna syndrome - a problem causing by overlapping windows on your screen
leaky reply - accidentally using reply-all
link rot - a webpage with links to sites that no longer exist
meatloaf - garbage e-mail from people you know (like spam but not as bad)
nooksurfer - a person who only goes to one or two sites online
open your kimono - to reveal future products that are still in development
pin bender - a bad computer technician
ping - to contact another user with a very short message and response
scooby snacks - non-monetary rewards
silver surfer - an old experience user
splog - a blog set up to post advertisments
turklebaum - a hoax spread online
twitch game - game that requires fast reflexes
typosquat - grabbing the typos of famous website URLs, like, say, youtub.com
vulcan nerve pinch - a command that requires hitting three keys at once (like CTRL-ALT-DEL)
whack - a backslash
zerg - a bunch of people ganging up on somebody online
zot - to censor material online

I can infer the meaning of a lot of these terms but most are obscure. Some, such as ‘ego-surfing’ (to google ones self) were coined and used fairly exclusively by journalists. Others like ‘biobreak’ (bathroom break) and ‘jaggies’ (rough edges around graphic objects) are gamer terms.

I like bozon. It means a fake or fanciful particle. Originally derived from bogon, which is a unit of bogosity, the degree to which something is bogus. Nowadays bogon is rather seriously used to refer to bogus IP addresses.

I’ve often used ‘fat pipe’ to mean high bandwidth. Amongst other things.

I was called a “hacker” before many of you were born, yet have never heard of most of these.

It was once said that IBM used its own methods and terminology, in part to make it harder for its engineers to find outside employment! :dubious:
I wonder if some of these terms are Microsoftisms, perhaps to help make the Bellevue minions feel elite.

If you were called a hacker before I was born, you must have been playing golf.

B - administrivia
C - aliasing
A - angry garden salad
A - arrow shooter
A - banana problem
A - Barney page
A - bear paw
B - biobreak
C - bit flip
A - bitslag
A - blow a buffer
D - boat anchor
A - boiling the ocean
A - bozon
A - code 18
B - crash test dummies
A - crog
A - dancing baloney
A - debbie
D - eating their own dogfood
B - e-bomb
B - ego surfing
B - fat pipe
A - firefighter
A - fisk
B - forelash
B - Googleganger
B - jaggies
A - key pal
A - lasagna syndrome
A - leaky reply
D - link rot
A - meatloaf
A - nooksurfer
A - open your kimono
A - pin bender
D - ping
A - scooby snacks
A - silver surfer
A - splog
A - turklebaum
D - twitch game
D - typosquat
C - vulcan nerve pinch
B - whack
A - zerg
A - zot

I may have heard some of these at some time, but wouldn’t recognize them out of context. Many seem like some ‘local’ slang, maybe used in internerd culture.

B - administrivia
D- aliasing (actually alleviates jaggies by color averaging)
A- angry garden salad
B- arrow shooter
A- banana problem
A- Barney page
A- bear paw
B- biobreak
E- bit flip (obvious connotation from the technical term)
A- bitslag
F- blow a buffer (never heard of it outside of technical term, but obvious meaning)
E- boat anchor (common in many industries)
A- boiling the ocean
A- bozon
A- code 18
B- crash test dummies
A- crog
A- dancing baloney
A- debbie
A- eating their own dogfood
B- e-bomb
B- ego surfing
A- fat pipe
A- firefighter
A- fisk
A- forelash
A- Googleganger
E- jaggies
A- key pal
A- lasagna syndrome
A- leaky reply
A- link rot
A- meatloaf
A- nooksurfer
A- open your kimono
B- pin bender
E- ping
A- scooby snacks
A- silver surfer
A- splog
A- turklebaum
A- twitch game
A- typosquat
D- vulcan nerve pinch
D- whack
A- zerg
A- zot

It wasn’t just said, it was and is true. I went to a talk by Andy Heller, youngest ever IBM Fellow at the time and a guy who never wore white shirts, and the talk was about how firmware was not microcode, but stuff in ROMs - because that is what the IBM dictionary said. (This was at the annual microprogramming workshop.) IBM has some sort of rule about calling pieces of computer biological names. IBM processors do not have memories, they have arrays.

blow a buffer
ego surfing
fat pipe
All “B.”

Programmer here.

administrivia B (but in a more generic Dilbertesque way, it’s not really computer specific)
aliasing E. There are actually multiple computer related definitions, one related to programming language grammar and one to graphics rendering.
angry garden salad C (If it’s the same as “angry fruit salad”)
arrow shooter A
banana problem B
Barney page A
bear paw A
biobreak A
bit flip E
bitslag A
blow a buffer B (but I would say “overload” or “overflow” a buffer without much thought)
boat anchor B
boiling the ocean A
bozon A
code 18 A
crash test dummies A
crog A
dancing baloney A
debbie A
eating their own dogfood E (it means to use the product that you make in your own office)
e-bomb A
ego surfing B
fat pipe B
firefighter B
fisk A (unless you mean fsck?)
forelash A
Googleganger A
jaggies A
key pal C
lasagna syndrome A
leaky reply A
link rot B
meatloaf A
nooksurfer A
open your kimono A
pin bender A
ping E
scooby snacks A (though I know the drug slang)
silver surfer A
splog A
turklebaum A
twitch game A
typosquat B
vulcan nerve pinch B (I use “three finger salute”
whack A
zerg B (as in “zerg rush?”)
zot D