Saturday, December 6, 2008

Please Speak English

I think I am experiencing some melancholic moments. After my '
Potty Blues' I am ready to rant on my 'Geeky Blues'.

This article is best read by lay people who are not in the IT profession.

At work and at play, I am virtually glued to geeky stuff. It is not as if I am in love with these things but that is how life is nowadays.

I can go on ranting about the frustration I experienced in keeping up with the 'geek train' but I guess I just want to growl about, at the moment, the 'geek language'.

Technical people and specialists use lots of jargon and there is no exception for people in the IT industry. The only problem is that, lay people like me, who work closely with IT people, need to talk to them very often. Inevitably, we get entangled in very confusing and frustrating communication.

I have, time and again, begged IT co-workers to 'speak English' to me but I guess as far as they are concerned, they are already doing so. can I explain my exasperation? These people refer to me as 'A User'. What they probably are not aware is that I refer to them as 'AB Users'. Get it?

IT people adulterated many everyday words and make them theirs. They expect the poor lay people to accept that henceforth, those words shall take on the predominant meanings, their way.

My geography teacher taught me that 'Java' is a place in Indonesia. I later also fondly associate the word with my favorite beverage: coffee. Somehow, if you google 'java' today, you will be told first that it is a programming language.

I grew up watching Sesame Streets and knew perfectly well what 'cookies' meant in 'cookie monster'. Today, I have to be mindful that some cookies are not meant to be eaten. To the geeks, cookies are data being sent to and fro between the web server and your browser. Why must they call it cookie just to confuse me?

I don't really enjoy circuses but I admire the guts of the acrobats (perhaps due to my own fear for heights). Somehow, 'acrobat' has been mutated into a computer program that is used as a way to present information with a fixed layout similar to a paper publication. Does "PDF" ring a bell to you?

I learnt in school that 'ram' is the papa sheep but my IT colleagues told me that RAM is 'Random Access Memory'. When I went 'Huh? Excuse me?" they helpfully explained that it is 'the computer memory for running programs and temporary storage of data which you can access at random order.'

I could not fault them for any wrong usage of words or grammatical error but errr ... can someone please help me... I swear I did not hear them in English!

There are many other similar encounters that sent me off pulling my hair.

Once I met a guy at a business seminar and he introduced himself in his slightly accented English, "I am dealing with doors and windows..." Throughout our short conversation, I was under the impression that he was in the building industry. I was utterly confused when our conversation did not seem to converge in any way. My brief meeting with him ended up with some embarrassment when I finally realized that he was dealing with 'DOS and WINDOWS". Oh, man, I hate those techno babbles!

Besides those strange terms, there are gazillions other disorienting acronyms.

How many of these make some sense to you? BIOS, ISDN, OEM, PIM, SIM, UPS, URL, Wi-Fi, GSM, CPU, JPG.....

Most of us vaguely understand some of these terms and are still struggling with many more. If you are not an IT personnel and you fully comprehend these terms, it is time to get a life! You are a certified geekhead!

There are many terminologies that I would need to find some time to read up. Each time I attempt to learn one, I have to fight my inertia. I find myself learning each new concept like a cat learning how to swim. (Cats can swim it's just that they hate it)

Even dealing with computer hardware can be mind boggling. Once I was trying to connect two cables and was seeking help from a helpdesk technician. He asked me in an 'as-a-matter-of-fact' manner, "are you having a male or female part?" and had me stunned for a moment. The fact is, it is common for a pair of electrical connectors to be assigned a gender and the IT people are fairly used to it.

Which side is female and which side is male? I leave it to you to figure out.

I guess the IT people are not having any easier time with their lay users. It is not uncommon to hear some hilarious moments they encounter in their profession.

I think I could just share some geek humor before I sign off to heal my blues...

A Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the technician discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it
in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.

Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand-new computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it
in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"

An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.

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