Nerd Speak

by Fred Gault

© 1993 by Frederick P. Gault, Jr.

Recently a nerd came up to me and said: "This vacation mode scene is non trivial, I haven't got the bandwidth to hack together a cool relaxation paradigm." I think what he was saying was that he wasn't used to being on vacation. But it got me to thinking that what we need is a Silicon Valley Nerd Speak Dictionary. So I "hacked" one together:

30,000 foot view - The big picture. "the 30,000 foot view is that we are screwed".
affirmative - yes. "Can I code this by tommorrow?, thats an affirmative".
alpha - The first cut of a program - usually not much more than the design on the back of a napkin.
awesome - see "cool"
ballistic - to go banannas, crazy. "The binary croaked and the dude went ballistic."
bandwidth - A dude's ability to do something within his schedule. "I haven't the bandwidth to do more than a hack."
beta - The state of a program when it goes out for testing - usually some code has actually been written.
binary - the executable form of a program.
bitchin - see "cool"
bogus - not "cool"
boss - see "cool"
brew - Beer. "Lets pound some brews."
brewski - Beer.
bugs - bad logic. "That bogus hack introduced a non-trivial bug."
cool - Something nice or amazing - "My new 'puter is cool."
coolski - A beer (see brewski). "Lets stick a coolski down our necks".
code - A computer program. Also used as a verb. "That dude can really code!"
come to Jesus time - a deadline. "Friday its come to Jesus time".
cop - see "scored" as in "I coped a coolski"
crater - to blow up or be destroyed. "Your binary is gonna crater".
croaked - Destroyed , "The beta binary croaked."
cycles - The time to do something "Do you have the cycles to hack this together?"
delivery - Final release of a program. "I smoked the disk so delivery is moved out a week."
deadline - A point in time that "suits" seem to get really upset about.
do - Ingest. "I did some twinkies when I was coding."
drop - To take a pill. "I dropped some aspirins when the alpha binary got fried."
dude - Any living humanoid. "Those dudes at Intel are boss".
done - Mythical event where a program is complete.
elegant - code that is not a "hack"
e-mail - a communication mechanism that is easier to ignore than a telephone.
flame out - To "go south" with extreme prejudice. "My audio card flamed out."
fried - wrecked. "My directory structure is fried."
girls - not sure, can I get back to you on that?
golden master - The final build of a binary before release, usually occurs when a "suit" has lost his patience and has insisted that something be shipped. Also "to go golden" or "go GM"
guru - Someone who knows everything about a particular program.
hack - something done quickly without elegance - "I hacked together this code and now my 'puter has burst into flames."
heads down - to concentrate. "Sorry I didn't get on the horn to you, we were heads down coding".
history - to be finished, kaput. "This dude's code sucks, he's history".
horn - the phone - "Get that dude on the horn, stat!"
in - to be included. "You want to score some java, I'm in."
intense - see "cool"
interface - talk to.
java - A black liquid, usually found cold in a styrofoam cup ready to spill into the keyboard.
joe - see "java" "I'm going out for some joe, anybody need some?"
manual - A book which describes how to do stuff that any moron should be able to figure out on their own and besides no one can find it anyway.
mega - Really big. "This hacked code is mega cool."
mode - A dude's condition or state. "I'm in documentation mode."
moron - Anyone who doesn't instantly grasp the elegance of your code.
mud - see "java". "I dumped a cup of java into your keyboard, sorry!"
negative - No. "We have negative mud, time to score some!"
net - Internet, a global e-mail system. "I met that dude on the net".
non-trivial - not so easy - As in: "Having kids is non trivial."
object - highly overused buzzword meaning a part of a program. "Everything you see on the screen is an object".
paradigm - A way of doing something. "Drinking beer while I code is a whole new work paradigm."
'puter - short for computer
positive correlation- in line with. "We have a positive correlation with a success factor".
pound - drink a lot of, especially beer. As in, "I pounded a case before breakfast!"
roger - OK. "You want me to write some cool code, Roger that!"
rubber meets the road - A hard deadline. "July 1st the rubber meets the road, we go GM".
schedule - A humerous document that purports to describe the time and steps to create a "binary"
score - to acquire. "Its time to score some diskettes".
ship date - The time a program goes to market. Usually several months later than the "suits" want it.
smoke and mirrors - something fake. "Joe's claim of an elegant solution is smoke and mirrors".
smoked - To have something be corrupted - "Your hard drive got smoked when I spilled my Jolt Cola into it."
smoking crater - a company that went bankrupt. "XYZ corp will be a smoking crater next year."
stat - Immediatly, borrowed from emergency medial teams as in "Black coffee, STAT!"
sub-optimal - not very good. "Using a screw driver to butter toast is sub-optimal".
sucks - something that is not cool - "This dude's hack sucks."
suits - anyone who doesn't write code. "What do suits do all day anyway?"
toasted - wrecked. "I was toasted after that hack went south."
torched - To erase something from the hard disk. "I torched your directory by mistake."
totally - Really. "This 'puter is totally toasted".
trivial - easy
unit - Any object or person, "Bob sure is a strange unit".
vaporware - An announced program that hasn't been written yet.
virtual - anything unreal. "Virtual RAM is 8Meg but there is really only 2Meg".
voice mail - something you have to erase when the telecommunications manager tells you your voice mailbox is full.
went south - form of "to go south", a program that crashes.
wetware - the human brain. "It takes wetware to hack a cool binary."
wired - really connected with something. "We've got that new system wired." Also, strung out from working too many hours. "Mary's been working on that system for 3 days, she's really wired."
zoned - really tired. "I'm really zoned out after that code review".

So, the question is do you have the cycles to cop a new paradigm and do some nerd speak. I say 'Roger that dude'. Getting hip to nerd speak is non-trivial, what with doing coolskis, hacking cool code, scoring java and not being a moron. If you aren't with the program you are history. Your best bet is to score a cool 'puter slap together some intense mega binaries and totally zone out. But if the suits don't pour a few brewskies down their necks they're going to go ballistic over the beta delivery when you slip the schedule. If you don't flame out you could become a mega guru and get that golden master out the door by the ship date.

Now you try it. See if you can translate the following:

"This hack is going to be non trivial I'll have to go heads down. Since my hard drive got torched I've been wired. Alpha delivery is fried dude. Tim is a moron, his approach was sub-optimal. We have the binary but we've had a negative correlation with a success factor. I've been doing mega java and my wetware is cratering. I need assistance, stat! Its come to Jesus time. The suits are going ballistic. That schedule is just smoke and mirrors. If we slip beta, GM will be blown away too. The suits won't ship vaporware so we'll be a smoking crater."


Writing this program is going to be difficult I'm going to have to do nothing but code. I lost my hard drive and I'm upset. The first cut of the product will be late. Tim's idea didn't work out. We have a program but it doesn't work properly. I've been drinking too much coffee and I'm getting fuzzy. I could really use some help. This has got to be done now. Management is getting worried. The schedule wasn't realistic, if I don't get the Beta delivery out on time, the final ship date won't happen either. Management won't announce the product if it isn't done, the company could go bankrupt!

Nerds don't use normal language when they can obfuscate things with longer and more entertaining words, for example don't say "I'm going to get a cup of coffee" say "I'm going to acquire an acquous suspension of methylated xanthenes in a complex polymer vessel." Or "My domesticated feline meow production unit has ceased functioning due to a lack of nutrients."

During your next trip to Silicon Valley be sure to keep this glossary handy and I'm sure you'll be able to interface with the nerds much more elegantly.