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---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."
---Computer. Instrument of torture. The first computer was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked. On April 8, 1945, Adolf became so enraged at the "Incompatible File Format" error message that he shot himself. The war ended soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for IBM.
---CPU. Central propulsion unit. The CPU is the computer's engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is a 286, a ferret if it's a 386 and a ferret on speed if it's a 486.
---Default Directory. Black hole. 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 three 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.
---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 six 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.

NEW DEFINITIONS (updated 01/21/99)

A word used to describe computers, as in "Our son's
computer cost quite a bit."

What your friends give you because you spend too
much time bragging about your computer skills.

What your eyes do after you stare at the tiny
computer screen  for more than 15 minutes.
Also: what computer magazine companies do to you
after they get your name on their mailing list.

The fattening, non-nutritional food computer users
eat to avoid  having to leave their keyboards for

What you have to do during school tests because you
spend too much time at the computer and not enough

What you turn into when you can't get your computer
to perform, as in "You  $#% computer!"

What goes out in your back after bending over a
computer keyboard for several hours.

The place all your former hobbies wind up soon after
you get a new computer.

What you made the first time you walked into a
computer  showroom to "just look."

The new room you have to build on to your home to
house your computer and all its peripherals.

What your secretary can now do to her nails six and
a half hours a  day, now that the computer does her
day's work in 30 minutes.

The condition of a constant computer user's stomach
due to lack of exercise and a steady diet of junk
food  (see chips).

Tools, such as lawn mowers, rakes and other heavy
equipment you haven't laid a finger on since getting
your computer.

The kind of missile your family members and friends
would like to drop on your computer so you'll pay
attention to them again.

What you'll never see again after buying a computer
because you'll be too poor to eat in a restaurant.

Often thought to be a word associated with
computers, this word actually refers to those
obnoxious kids who always want to see your
hall pass at school.

Those things you used to look at on your television
before you hooked your computer up to it.

What lots of people do with their computers after
only a week and a half.

A place where you can find buses, trains and really
good deals on hot computers.

What you heave the computer out of after you
accidentally erase a program that took you three
days to set up.

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