Dictionary of the Electronic Tongue
By Lincoln Spector
AC Adapter : A specialized power cord for plugging a notebook computer, router, or other device into your wall socket. Distinguished from conventional power cords by plugs the size of Milwaukee.
Autoload : The act of a program launching itself when you start your computer, whether you want that program to launch itself or not. Many autoloading programs serve vital and important functions, such as putting pretty little icons in your system tray and finding a use for excess memory.
Backup : A mythical activity that someone, somewhere, might someday actually do.
BIOS : Basic In/Out System. That's not what it means; get your mind out of the gutter! The BIOS is a chip on the motherboard (see Motherboard ) that helps the CPU (see CPU ) relate to the world outside (see World Outside ). Without the BIOS, your PC wouldn't know what it's incompatible with.
Blue Screen of Death : A standard user interface component of Microsoft Windows.
CD-R/RW : Compact Disc-Recordable/Rewriteable (or something like that). A failed attempt to create an acronym more ridiculous that PCMCIA (see PCMCIA ). Let me explain: The R in CD-ROM stands for Read, as in "Read-only." The first R in CD-R/RW stands for not being read-only (although the CDs you wRite with CD-R are occasionally readable). The second R means you can write to it twice.
Cookie : A small text file placed on your computer by a web page to help identify you. Unlike hardware cookies, these generally multiply faster than you can eat them.
CPU : Central Processing Unit. A large and expensive microchip that, like Mick Jagger, tends to overheat and burn out unless supplied with plenty of fans. Computer geeks like to brag about the size and performance of their CPUs.
Display Adapter : Also known as video card, display card, and video adapter. Circuitry that connects your computer to your display monitor (the thing you are looking at right now if you're reading this online).