Define Your Terms For Software Releases

Advanced User: A person who has managed to remove a computer from its packing materials.

Power User: A person who has mastered the brightness and contrast controls on any computer monitor.

American Made: Assembled in America from parts made abroad.

Alpha Test Version: Too buggy to be released to the paying public.

Beta Test Version: Still too buggy to be released.

Release Version: Alternate pronunciation of "Beta Test Version".

Sales Manager: Last week's new sales associate.

Consultant: A former sales associate who has mastered at least one tenth of the dBase III Plus Manual.

Systems Integrator: A former consultant who understands the term AUTOEXEC.BAT.

AUTOEXEC.BAT: A sturdy aluminum or wooden shaft used to coax AT hard disks into performing properly.

Backup: The duplicate copy of crucial data that no one bothered to make; used only in the abstract.

Clone: One of the many advanced-technology computers IBM is beginning to wish it had built.

Convertible: Transformable from a second-rate computer to a first-rate doorstop or paperweight.  (Replaces the term "junior".)

Copy Protection:  A clever method of preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software
and legitimate customers from using it.

Database Manager:  A program that allows users to manipulate data in every conceivable way except the absolutely essential way they conceive of the day after entering 20 megabytes of raw data.

EMS:  Emergency Medical Service;  often summoned in cases of apoplexy induced by attempts to understand extended, expanded, or enhanced memory specs.

Encryption:  A powerful algorithmic encoding technique employed in the creation of computer manuals.

FCC-Certified:  Guaranteed not to interfere with radio or television reception until you add the cable that is required to make it work.

Hard Disk:  A device that allows users to delete vast quantities of data with simple mnemonic commands.

Integrated Software:  A single product that deftly performs hundreds of functions that the user never needs and awkwardly performs the half-dozen he uses constantly.

Laptop:  Smaller and lighter than the average breadbox.

Multitasking:  A clever method of simultaneously slowing down the multitude of computer programs that insist on running too fast.

Network:  An electronic means of allowing more than one person at a time to corrupt, trash, and otherwise cause permanent damage to useful information.

Portable:  Smaller and lighter than the average refrigerator.

Support:  The mailing of advertising literature to customers who have returned a registration card.

Transportability:  Neither chained to a wall or attached to an alarm system.

Printer:  An electromechnical paper shredding device.

Spreadsheet:  A program that gives the user quick and easy access to a wide variety of highly detailed reports based on highly inaccurate assumptions.

Thought Processor:  An electronic version of the intended outline procedure that thinking people instantly abandon upon graduation from high school.

Upgraded:  Didn't work the first time.

User Friendly:  Supplied with a full color manual.

Very User Friendly:  Supplied with a disk and audiotape so the user need not bother with the full color manual.

Version 1.0:  Buggier than Maine in June; eats data.

Version 1.1:  Eats data only occasionally; upgrade is free, to avoid litigation by disgruntled users of Version 1.0.

Version 2.0:  The version originally planned as the first release, except for a couple of data-eating bugs that just won't seem to go away; no free upgrades or the company would go bankrupt.

Version 3.0:  The revision in the works when the company goes bankrupt.

Warranty:  Disclaimer.

Workstation:  A computer or terminal slavishly linked to a mainframe that does not offer game programs.