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Geekspeak, Part 2

Aug 2, 2008
The term geekspeak refers to arcane jargon or a special vocabulary popularized by individuals immersed in computers and other fields of IT--which, coincidentally, is geekspeak for Information Technology. Most geekspeakers are blissfully oblivious and don't realize that they're speaking in digital tongues. If you happen to be at the receiving end of such discourse, the experience can enlightening in an eye-glazing, put-a-bullet-in-my-head kind of way. As the vast computer-using public becomes increasingly comfortable with technology, terms that may have formerly been considered geek become more familiar and may even become part of an unsuspecting individual's daily vernacular.

Picking up where we left off in Part 1 of this sweeping multi-part epic:

ASCII

Rhymes with PASS-key and should never be pronounced ASK-2 or ASK-One-One. ASCII, for acronym enthusiasts, stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is the worldwide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters. There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented by a seven-digit number, 0000000 through 1111111.

Bandwidth

The amount of data you can send through an Internet connection, usually measured in bits per second (bps) or megabits per second (Mbps). The greater the bandwidth, the greater the perceived connection speed. In Internet circles, the eternal search for more bandwidth is a digital quest for the Holy Grail.

Flame

A hostile or negative response to an email message or newsgroup posting. Most flames are intended to be provocative. If you're at the receiving end of one of these digital diatribes, don't take the bait. The best defense against a flame is to ignore it completely. It's only "fun" for a flamer if his or her message generates a response.

Icon

A technologically motivating chant or mantra. When confronted with computer or Internet challenges, keep repeating, "Icon if I think icon." (It's not nice to groan at Mr. Modem.) An icon is a clickable image or picture that represents an object, program, file, or command. The little clickable objects that appear on your Windows Desktop, for example, are icons.

Internet Protocol

An agreed-upon method or standard by which computers "talk" to each other and transmit data, files, graphics, etc. An off-line analogy would be a conversation between two or more individuals. The "protocol" that permits individuals to communicate is a specific language such as English, Spanish, French, etc. Online, the IP (Internet Protocol) is the common denominator that allows our computers to communicate, thus enhancing and enriching our lives through unrelenting quantities of spam.

Inkjet

A type of printer that employs small nozzles to spray ink onto paper. Inkjet printers can print in black or color and are typically less expensive than laser printers. An Inkjet printer is an excellent choice for home use.

Lurking

Non-active participation in a forum, message board, newsgroup or other online community. Lurkers read what others write without participating themselves. Though "lurker" sounds like a pejorative term that conjures up images of men wearing trench coats, lurking is acceptable and recommended when you first join any online community. By lurking, you'll get a feel for the tone and tenor of an ongoing discussion before actually participating.

Mirror

The most common use of the term as it relates to the Internet refers to mirror sites, which are Web sites or FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites that maintain exact copies of material also available at other locations, usually for downloading purposes. FTP sites that receive a great number of visitors are mirrored to provide additional download locations to minimize delays in accessing material.

Pixel

One of hundreds of thousands of tiny dots that combined, make up any image displayed on your monitor. If you put your nose right up against the monitor, you'll see the tiny pixels. The word 'pixel' is a combination of the words "picture" and "element."

Platform

Typically, a computer operating system, such as Windows, Mac or Linux; used in a more generic context, the term refers to any computer-based environment such as a chat platform, newsgroup platform, etc.
About the Author
Mr. Modem (MrModem.com) is an author, syndicated columnist, radio host, and publisher of the wildly popular, always entertaining, Pulitzer-lacking weekly "Ask Mr. Modem" computer-help newsletter. Mr. Modem's columns appear in more than 300 publications and each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. Visit MrModem.com for additional information, to view a sample issue, or to subscribe.
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