TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
In the interest of keeping up in this wired world, these came in...
The most knowledgable, technically proficient person in
an office or work group. "Ask Larry, he's the alpha geek
A new hire who doesn't need any training. "The new guy,
John, is great. He's totally plug-and-play."
The rarified organizational layers beginning just above the
rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are
often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the
problems they were designed to solve.
Dead Tree Edition
The paper version of a publication available in both paper
and electronic forms, as in: "The dead tree edition of the
San Francisco Chronicle..."
To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived
from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic
strip character. "I've been dilberted again. The old man
revised the specs for the fourth time this week."
The process by which links on a web page became as
obsolete as the sites they're connected to change location
A euphamism for old computers destined to be scrapped
or turned into decorative ornaments. "I paid three grand
for that Mac SE, and now it's nothing but chip jewelry."
A badly written or profoundly useless Java applet. "I just
wasted 30 minutes downloading this stinkin' crapplet!"
World Wide Wait
The real meaning of WWW.
A hard-core CGI script programmer with all the social
skills and charisma of a plastic action figure.
Feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction triggered by
addictive substances that lack nutritional content. "I just
spent six hours surfing the Web, and now I've got a bad
case of Dorito Syndrome."
Under Mouse Arrest
Getting busted for violating an online service's rule of
conduct. "Sorry I couldn't get back to you. AOL put me
under mouse arrest."
Corporate-speak for sleeping with your eyes open. A
popular pastime at conferences and early-morning
meetings. "Didn't he notice that half the room was glazing
by the second session?"
Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web
message "404, URL Not Found," meaning that the
document you've tried to access can't be located. "Don't
bother asking him...he's 404, man."
Scanning the net, databases, print media, or research
papers looking for the mention of your name.
The place you go while you're staring at a computer that's
processing something very slowly (while you watch the
gray bar creep across the screen). "I was in graybar land
for what seemed like hours, thanks to that CAD
People who work at home or telecommute.
Squirt The Bird
To transmit a signal up to a satellite. "Crew and talent are
ready...what time do we squirt the bird?"
A biproduct of a bloated mind producing information
effortlessly. A burst of useful information. "I know you're
busy on the Microsoft story, but can you give us a brain
fart on the Mitnik bust?" Variation of old hacker slang that
had more negative connotations.
A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated for a
long time. A dead web page.
It's a Feature
From the adage "It's not a bug, it's a feature." Used
sarcastically to describe an unpleasant experience that you
wish to gloss over.
The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer
keyboards. "Are there any other terminals I can use? This
one has a bad case of keyboard plaque."
Career-Limiting Move (CLM)
Used among microserfs to describe an ill-advised activity.
Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a
The peak year of something's popularity. "Barney the
dinosaur's Elvis year was 1993."
People who are taking training classes just to get a
vacation from their jobs. "We had about three serious
students in the class; the rest were tourists."
Blowing Your Buffer
Losing one's train of thought. Occurs when the person
you are speaking with won't let you get a word in
edgewise or has just said something so astonishing that
your train gets derailed. "Damn, I just blew my buffer!"
(Also used as "Head Crash")
Older, experienced business people hired by young
entrpreneurial firms looking to appear more reputable and
To take note of a person for future reference (a metaphor
borrowed from web browsers). "I bookmarked him after
seeing his cool demo at Siggraph."
Nickname for AOL's less-than-full-featured Web
The brief siezure people sometimes suffer when their
beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized
by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and stopping
speech in mid-sentence.
The experience of spending an entire day swimming
upstream only to get screwed in the end.