Computer Laws

  • Any given program, if running, is obsolete.
  • Any given program costs more, and takes longer.
  • If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
  • If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
  • Any program will expand and fill all of available memory — plus one byte.
  • The value of a program is proportional to the weight of its output.
  • Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of the programmer who must maintain it.


(With Apologies to Lewis Carroll)

‘Twas e-mail, and the ftp
Did route and telnet to the node.
All rlogin to Xterms free
To let gopher download.

“Beware the Internet, my son!
The posts that spam, the speech that’s free!
Beware the Netscape cache, and shun
The AOL mail id!'”

He took his HP mouse in hand.
Long time a higher bandwidth sought —
And wished had he for his old PC
A faster modem bought.

And, as that wistful thought he gripped,
The Internet, with bait of flame,
Ran applets through the Javascript,
And mailbombed as it came!

The war he waged! As on each page
The HP mouse he double-clicked!
And ’twas absurd, the hype he’d heard
‘Bout sites that he had picked.

“And, hast thou surfed the Internet?
Come link my page, my newbie bud!
O Lycos night! Yahoo! Excite!”
He messaged on his MUD.

‘Twas e-mail, and the ftp
Did route and telnet to the node.
All rlogin to Xterms free
To let gopher download.

by Mike “Hammerwocky” Hammond

Cyber Nursery Rhymes

Mother McGee went to drive C:
to find her poor Windows a byte
But, when she enquired, all drive space expired
And not even Stacker would put it right.

Little Miss Muffet opened her notebook
and called on WordPerfect to write
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her,
and explained how the function keys worked.

Jack and Jill are married still
but things look kinda scary
He loves a PC; she’s fond of a Mac
and RISC makes both of them wary.

Mary had a little Lan
Then, she wanted more
First she bought a lot of RAM
Then part interest in a computer store.

A Minnesota Guide to Computer Lingo

  • LOG ON: making da vood stove hotter
  • LOG OFF: don’t add no more vood
  • MONITOR: keep an eye on da vood stove
  • MEGAHERTZ: vhen da big log drops on your barefoot in da morning
  • FLOPPY DISK: vhat you get from pilingk too much vood
  • RAM: da hydraulic thing dat makes da voodsplitter vork
  • HARD DRIVE: getting home during most of da vinter
  • PROMPT: vhat ya vish da mail vas during da snow season
  • ENTER: come on in
  • WINDOWS: vhat ya shut vhen it gets below zero
  • SCREEN: vhat you gotta fix on da windows during black fly season
  • CHIP: vhat ya munch during Vikings games
  • MICROCHIP: vhat’s left in da bag vhen da chips are gone
  • MODEM: vhat ya did to da hay fields last Yuly
  • DOT MATRIX: Eino Matrix’s wife
  • LAPTOP: vhere da grandkids sit
  • KEYBOARD: vhere ya suppose to hang da keys so da Misses can find em
  • SOFTWARE: da plastic picnic utensils, ya?
  • MOUSE: vhat leaves dem little turds in da cupboard
  • MAINFRAME: da part of da sauna dat holds up da roof
  • PORT: vhere da commercial fishin guys tie up dere boats
  • DOCKING STATION: da same as PORT
  • RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY: vhen ya can’t remember how much ya spent on da new deer rifle vhen da wife asks about it

Computer Vocabuluary

  • Analog
    Hors d’oeurve, usually made from cheese and covered with crushed nuts
  • Backup
    Opposite of go forward
  • Batch Processing
    Making a lot of cookies at once
  • Binary
    Possessing the ability to have friends of both sexes
  • Bit
    12 1/2 cents
  • Branch
    If watered, it will grow into a computer club (see computer club)
  • Buffer
    Programmer who works in the nude
  • Bug
    Programmer’s term for a feature

    An elusive creature living in a program which makes it incorrect.

    Note: the activity of “debugging” or removing bugs from a program ends when a programmer gets tired of doing it, not when all the bugs are removed

  • Character Density
    The number of very weird people in the office, divided by the floor space
  • Computer
    A device designed to speed and automate errors
  • Computer Club
    Used to strike computer forcefully upon receiving error messages
  • Coding
    An addictive drug
  • Compile
    A heap of decomposing vegetable matter
  • Compiler
    Noah Webster (1758-1843)
  • Console
    What one does to a depressed computer
  • Cursor
    An expert in 4-letter words
  • Dump
    A system programmer’s work area
  • Feature
    Hardware limitation as described by a marketing representative
  • Hardware
    The parts of a computer which can be kicked
  • Keyboard
    An instrument used for entering errors into a system
  • Language
    A system of organizing and defining error messages
  • Loop
    See loop
  • Machine-independent Program
    A program which will not run on any machine
  • Microcomputer
    One millionth of a computer
  • Null String
    The result of a 4-hour database search
  • On-line
    The idea that a human should always be accessible
  • Password
    The nonsense word taped to your terminal
  • Performance
    A statement of the speed at which a computer system works. Or rather, might work under certain circumstances. Or was rumored to be working about a month ago
  • Printer
    Johann Gutenberg (1400-1468)
  • Quality Control
    Ensuring that the quality of a product does not get out of hand and add to the cost of its manufacture or design
  • Strategy
    A long-range plan whose merit cannot be evaluated until sometime after those creating it have left the organization
  • User
    Someone requiring drug rehabilitation
  • 8-bit machine
    A computer selling for $1.00 (see bit)
  • 16-bit machine
    A computer selling for $2.00 (see bit)

Computer Technical Terms

  • State-of-the-Art
    Any computer you can’t afford.

  • Obsolete
    Any computer you own.
  • Microsecond
    The time it takes for your state-of-the-art computer to become obsolete.
  • Syntax Error
    Walking into a computer store and saying… ‘Hi, I want to buy a computer and money is no object.’
  • Hard Drive
    The sales technique employed by computer salesmen, especially after a Syntax Error.
  • GUI
    What your computer becomes after spilling your coffee on it. (pronounced ‘gooey’)
  • Keyboard
    The standard way to generate computer errors.
  • Mouse
    An advanced input device to make computer errors easier to generate.
  • Floppy
    The state of your wallet after purchasing a computer.
  • Portable Computer
    A device invented to force businessmen to work at home, on vacation, and on business trips.
  • Disk Crash
    A typical computer response to any critical deadline.
  • Power User
    Anyone who can format a disk from DOS.
  • System Update
    A quick method of trashing ALL of your software.
  • 486
    The average IQ needed to understand a PC.
  • Glossary of Computer Terms

    • 640K barrier — the finish line in a mega-marathon
    • access time — foreplay
    • analog — what Ana tosses into the fire
    • assembly language — put tab A into slot B, then put tab C…
    • audit trail — what the IRS does
    • Bandwidth — limited by the size of the stage
    • BBS — going in reverse in a golf cart
    • benchmark — t-telling t-tall s-stories 
    • Battery Backup — what happens when your saw hits the bench
    • broadband — an all female rock group
    • cache memory — remembering how much you spent
    • carrier detect — “I see the mail man!”
    • CASE — 24 bottles
    • Control Character — prison guard
    • conventional memory — remembering what you did at COMDEX
    • copy protection — wearing a rubber
    • copyright — vs. copy wrong
    • cursor — a garbage mouth
    • daisy chain — a dog’s leash
    • DAT — the opposite of DIS
    • deadly embrace — making love to King Kong
    • delimiter — some who says, “Stop, that’s enough”
    • density — how to measure IQs of blondes
    • dhrystones — the stones that were tossed out of the water
    • DIP switch — how my sister gets a new boy friend
    • dot pitch — “Dorothy winds ups, and delivers a knuckle ball”
    • EDCDIC — similar to herpes
    • EMS — happens just before PMS
    • end user — a prisoner’s cell mate
    • escape sequence — Distract guard. Dig tunnel. Cut through fence…
    • Ethernet — used to catch Ether
    • fixed disk — a broken disk that comes back from the shop
    • flash EPROM — what they have on 90210 (Flashy Proms)
    • flat bed scanner — a hooker looking for loose change
    • flat file — a file with all the air out of it
    • full duplex — a 2-family house with 16 occupants
    • groupware — clothes swapping
    • hacker — a heavy smoker
    • half-height drive — a midget’s sexual capacity
    • hand scanner — singles bar prowler looking for wedding rings
    • heap — what I drive
    • high density diskette — a very stupid floppy
    • home computer — what you tell your computer when it follows you
    • hypertext — text on amphetamines
    • ink jet — a plan used for sky writing
    • integrated circuit —
      a circuit with black & white components
    • joystick — (requires little explanation)
    • local bus — stops at every intersection
    • lost chains — euphoria experienced by the recently divorced
    • low-level language — for basement programmers
    • high-level language — for penthouse programmers
    • machine dependency — an affliction of machine users
    • mag tape — tape used on the wheels of cars
    • mainframe — akin to “main squeeze”
    • main memory — remembering where the water line is
    • math coprocessor — the person you cheated from in math class
    • megaflop — the worst play you ever saw
    • minicomputer — the mate to Mickey’s computer
    • modem — what the gardener did to the lawns
    • multi-sync — can be sunk more than once
    • native mode — head hunting
    • on-line — where the birds sit
    • overlay — chickens making too many eggs
    • pentium — the thing that swings back-and-forth on a clock
    • plotter — a deceitful person
    • postscript — grafitti on a pole
    • protected memory — remembering to wear a condom
    • record locking — what you do to your Beatles White Album
    • right justified — vs. wrong justified
    • software piracy — stealing a ship’s program
    • spreadsheet — a hooker’s foreplay
    • streaming tape — party decorations
    • subroutine — not quite routine
    • surge protector — a condom
    • token ring — a group of people passing the bong
    • trackball — what sprinters and runners often get
    • twisted pair — tubes tied
    • word wrap — black music
    • worksheet — a prostitute’s office
    • Ymodem — because, modem

    Computer Definitions

    • Alpha
      Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for “doesn’t work.”
    • Beta
      Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it’s released. Beta is Latin for “still doesn’t work.”
    • CPU
      Central Propulsion Unit. The CPU is the computer’s engine. It consists of a hard drive, RAM, interface cards, and a tiny spinning wheel that’s powered by a running rodent – a gerbil if the machine is an old 486 and a ferret if it’s a Pentium.
    • Default Directory
      Black hole. The default directory is where all files that you need disappear to.
    • Error message
      Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to place blame on users for the program’s shortcomings.
    • File
      A document that has been saved with an unidentifiable name. It helps to think of a file as something stored in a file cabinet – except when you try to remove the file, the cabinet gives you an electric shock and tells you the file format is unknown.
    • Hardware
      Collective term for any computer related object that can be kicked or battered.
    • Help
      The feature that assists in generating more questions. When the Help feature is used correctly, users are able to navigate through a series of Help screens and end up where they started from without learning anything.
    • Input/output
      Information is input from the keyboard as intelligible data and output to the printer as unrecognizable junk.
    • Interim Release
      A programmer’s feeble attempt at repentance.
    • Memory
      Of computer components, the most generous in terms of variety, and the skimpiest in terms of quantity.
    • Printer
      A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of 3 main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray, and the blinking red light.
    • Programmers
      Computer avengers. Once members of that group of high school nerds who wore tape on their glasses, played Dungeons and Dragons, and memorized Star Trek episodes; now millionaires who create “user-friendly” software to get revenge on whoever gave them noogies.
    • RAM
      Fuzzy creature with horns that likes to eat. The rodent is NOT a fitness buff. It’s running to get away from the bytes of the RAM.
    • Reference Manual
      Object that raises the monitor to eye level. Also used to compensate for that short table leg.
    • Scheduled Release Date
      A carefully calculated date determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting 6 months from it.
    • User-friendly
      Of or pertaining to any feature, device, or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.
    • Users
      Collective term for those who stare vacantly at a monitor. Users are divided into three types – novice, intermediate, and expert.
    • Novice users: People who are afraid that simply pressing a key might break their computer.
    • Intermediate users: People who don’t know how to fix their computer after they’ve just pressed a key that broke it.
    • Expert users: People who break other people’s computers.

    Cat’s Computer Dictionary

    Copyright 2001 Mark Mason
    All Rights Reserved

    • Browser
      What I like to be at 3:00 am when I rearrange all your books on your desk. Where’s a kitty supposed to lay down with all that mess?
    • Wallpaper
      My favorite stuff, mostly in the kitchen and bathroom, I use to exercise my claws on.
    • Defrag
      Coughing up hairballs. Hey, it’s just a little maintenance!
    • Hyperlink
      Fake hot dog filled with my favorite pick-me-up: cat-nip.
    • Server
      My human subject. You can’t call them waitress, or waiter, or slave anymore; it’s not politically correct.
    • Shut Down
      Nap time – my favorite 16 hours of the day.
    • Laptop
      Little ol’ me. Certainly cuter, more useful, valuable, and entertaining. and no batteries are required.
    • Default
      Blame. If something gets broken around the house, don’t look at me! It’s probably that human I have to share my house with, or the dog’s fault!
    • Window
      The best place to watch birds, squirrels, and that weird dog next door eat out of the trash can and chase cars.
    • Home Page
      My papers – newspapers, that is, that I used before graduating to the real kitty litter box. I think they were the “Wanted: DOG” ads.

    This is part of a great collection of great cat stories, told from the cat’s perspective. For more information please visit the website!

    If Operating Systems Were Women…

    • UNIX:
      She’s objective, very logical, and highly intelligent. She’s not terribly attractive but she looks okay with lots of makeup. She’s very tidy and a keeps a clean house. She only speaks ancient Greek and only listens to you if you use perfect grammar and punctuation. She’s very emotionally stable and refuses to argue. People seek her advice on the really important things because they know they can depend on her.
    • Mac OS:
      She’s even tempered and only blows up if you do something really stupid or if there’s something seriously wrong with her system. She’s beautiful and improves with age. She’s very stylish and sets trends. She never lies. She is easy to talk to and you can
      generally get her to do what you want without much of a fuss. She’s a good communicator and likes to talk to friends. She’s flexible and likes change. She’s always nice to people when they come to visit. People love her when they get to know her and she has devoted friends everywhere. She smiles at you when you turn her on.
    • Windows:
      She has a nasty temper and often blows up at you for no reason. You have to fight with her to get her to do anything and she insists that you do things the hard way. She’s extremely jealous and has been known to slip poison into the drinks of other women who
      come to visit. She even fights with her friends and it can take hours to get them to listen to each other. Even then, they only recognize each other when they feel like it. She has many psychological problems which carried over from her DOS childhood, although she claims to be over it. Her house is immaculate until you look in the closets and storage spaces where she hides all the crap she doesn’t want people to see. Her house is full of nifty appliances and home electronics but you’re lucky if you can get anything to work. Nothing in her house is where you would expect it to be; the kitchen is on the roof and the bathroom is through a trap door under a rug. She throws a tantrum if you rearrange the furniture. If she gets really mad she makes you go outside, ring the doorbell and wait for her to calm down and let you back in. She deteriorates with age and gets even more ornery the older she gets.