10 March, 2007

A Devil's Dictionary of Web Terms

Sorry, guys, I’ve been neglecting you. Two days without a posting is quite unforgivable. My only excuse is that I have been excitedly working on the plot for my new novel and this has been obsessing me for days. However, just to show I have been thinking about you, below is an extract from a help file I have been working on to accompany this blog. I know I use a lot of technical terms and many of you are not technical folk, so I’m writing a dictionary of Web and computing terms to help you out. This lot is just the first batch. There will be more. Meanwhile, if you have any terms you would like explaining, please let me know so I can deride your ignorance in public (er, I mean include them, of course).

Back Button, n. 1. The most frequently-used button on a browser or Web page. 2. A metaphor for our whole society having clicked the wrong link somewhere along the line.

Denial of Service, adj. A type of virus attack where a huge number of infected computers (see zombie) attempt to access a website, overloading its servers. The name is inspired by the credo of the major telecoms companies (see telco).

DVD, n. The basic unit of software quality. Nothing less bloated can be taken seriously as a useful piece of software since it would fit onto a less capacious storage medium.

HTTP, n. A slow, primitive, lowest-common-denominator communications protocol on which most of the Web relies. If it got any more simplistic than this, we’d be lighting signal fires on our rooftops.

Java, n. Just another stupid programming language. Really, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. (See also Ruby, PHP, C#, etc., etc., etc..)

JavaScript, n. See Java.

Outsource, v. 1. To send jobs to poor countries where workers can be more easily exploited. 2. To provide a vital customer service in an impenetrable foreign accent.

Phishing, v. 1. Nigeria’s main export industry. 2. One of Nature’s most recent punishments for the greedy and stupid (see also lotteries and online gambling). The greedy and clever, of course, continue to go unpunished and are often found running phishing scams and/or large corporations.

Pornography, n. The main purpose for which the Internet was invented. It is a common mistake to believe that a US government research agency called DARPA funded the Internet’s development. In fact it was a Nigerian organisation called Digitally Assisted Rapid Porn Access.

Standard, n. See Microsoft. Also, any agreed format, method or protocol ignored by Microsoft.

Vista, acronym. VIrtually the Same Thing Again – only this time requiring a major hardware upgrade to run it and featuring VIRUS (Very Intrusive Redundant end-User Security).

Wireless, n. A big brown box with knobs on from which crackly, distorted music emerges (see also Windows Media Player). Also, adj., A method of networking components of a computer system such that they each interfere with one another, your digital TV, and the neighbour’s pacemaker.

YouTube, n. A dumping-ground for the outpourings of millions of wannabe pop-stars, porn-stars, actors, stand-up comics and news-readers. The distilled essence of human craving and lust for fame. The Matmos of the Web.

Zombie, n. 1. See helpdesk. 2. A re-animated corpse, mindlessly roaming the streets looking for human flesh to feed on (see salesperson). 3. A computer infected with a virus that can be directed to perform insidious and evil tasks by a third party (see Windows XP).

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