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Gee! It's geekspeak

The language used by the IT world or geekspeak is Greek to many. K. T. RAJAGOPALAN feels it is a growing language that borrows from all walks of life, be it medicine or mathematics


COINAGES HAVE assumed interesting proportions now with the prestigious dictionaries lapping up all kinds of words. IT lingo gets more and more curious with ordinary mortals feeling out of place amidst them. If you visit places where IT professionals inhabit, the conversations may well sound like Greek to you. The denizens of this `IT country' speak a different tongue altogether. If you want to, eavesdrop on the muffled conversation in the canteen, listen to the shop-talk in the company buses, amble along the corridors without seemingly following anyone, and you will be convinced.

IT lingo

"I've been Dilberted again," said Satish Gupta, sipping a cup of tea in one of the several restaurants in one such IT campus. Shilpa Unnithan knew what he meant. "Did the old man revise the specs again?" "Yeah, for the fourth time this week." What do you make of it? You will be clueless unless you have been following the comic strip, Dilbert, who is harassed by his boss. Hence `to be Dilberted' is to be exploited and oppressed by one's boss.

Most companies have their own codes of conduct regarding use of their computers for surfing the net and e-mail service for personal messages. Some employers are very rigid and personal use of office equipment by microserfs is a strict no-no. Those working under such rigorous conditions are said to be `under mouse arrest'.

Speaking of surfing, one cannot resist the temptation to scan the net, databases, print media and research papers, hoping to find one's own name. The geeks have a word for it too. It is called `ego-surfing'.

Amir Hasan is disgusted with the palmtop he bought three months ago during his last trip to the United States. "I paid three grand, and now it's nothing but chip jewelry (Note that the yankee spelling stays!)," he grieves. The expression is a euphemism for old gizmos destined to be scrapped or turned into decorative ornaments.

Haven't you seen people, particularly luddites, stopping mid-sentence when the telephone rings or the mobile beeps, heralding the arrival of an SMS message? The brief seizure they experience, characterised by physical spasms and goofy facial expressions on hearing beeps is called `beepilepsy'.

Dentistry too has contributed to the geekspeak. The disgusting build-up of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards is called keyboard plaque. Referring to the computers in a public office, Vinay George says: "I dare not go near the terminals in that office. Each one of them is a bad case of keyboard plaque."

A highly eclectic `language', if IT lingo borrows from medical profession, it picks words from the toy industry with equal felicity.

The GI Joe popular with kids is resurrected in the form of CGI Joe. To the techie, he is a hard-core Computer Graphic Interface (hence CGI) script programmer with all the social skills and charisma of a plastic action figure!

When in doubt, what do you do? Turn to someone knowledgeable, naturally. The most competent, technically proficient person in an office or work group is called an `alpha geek'.

Employers are looking for `Plug-and-play' workers because they can be entrusted with projects on day one. "This Neeraj Kondepudi, the new guy we poached from Chennai, is great. He's totally plug-and-play." He is experienced and good at his job and therefore needs no training. With a couple of them on the payroll, beating deadlines is easier.

It is not just the twenty-somethings that get hired. Young entrepreneurs hire older, experienced people in order to lend their firms an image of being reputable and established. Employees belonging to this genre go by the monicker, `grey matter'.

There are `green' people too in the IT field. It must be certainly one of them who coined the expression `the dead tree edition'. This is nothing but the paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms.

Thus one could say, "The dead tree edition of the newspaper today carries the ad I mentioned to you about."

When the system is low, you might daydream, staring at the monitor, watching the grey bar creep across the screen. Hence the expression `in greybar land' as in `I was in greybar land for what seemed like hours, thanks to the poor connectivity.' A website that has not been updated for a long time or a dead web page is called a cobweb site.

A few of the expressions belong to the category mother would frown at. Take `Crapplet', for instance. Jasmine Singh throws up her hands in desperation and says: "I just wasted 30 minutes downloading this stinkin' crapplet!"

Asked what it means, she clarifies: it stands for `a badly written or profoundly useless Java applet.

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