Deciding to bite the bullet and finally bring myself out of the Dark Ages (DAs), I this week made my most energetic New Year’s resolution to date.
I resolved to become computer literate in 2009.
Yes, I know it must bring dismay to many readers. And laughter to others. But consider the shock to members of my family, who for more than four decades (that’s two score for those of you who count by 20s) have witnessed me fumble with anything involving technology.
On New Year’s morning, my first step was to Google “computer terms glossary” and go to Saugas.net. There I was provided a list of computer terms — just what I needed to bring myself into the Technical Age (TA).
The glossary explanation read that the first section “is dedicated to the basics and is meant more for beginners … the first section was deliberately kept as short as possible.”
For beginners? Oh yeah? How’s this for beginners:
The list started with A11Y — that’s A-one-one-Y — and means accessibility. My reaction: Why not just ACC? And why A11Y? The explanation is that accessibility has 11 letters between A and Y, and thus A11Y. Make sense to you?
Then I went to the last term on the list — zoomer. So what’s a zoomer? Here’s the explanation:
A zoomer is a type of PDA that is used for GEOs for their OS. I took OS to mean “operating systems” — give me 10 points here — and found GEO in the glossary, but PDA wasn’t listed, leaving me with a blank look on my face.
So I decided to simplify my research, starting with words I had heard when in the company of computer geeks. I started with “bit.”
A “bit,” according to the glossary, “… can be either on or off, one or zero. All computer data can ultimately be reduced to a series of bits.” Well, that certainly clarifies things.
I couldn’t argue with that. So I went on to “byte.”
The glossary explained a byte this way: “… a grouping of bits. It is typically eight bits, but there are those who use nonstandard byte sizes.”
It went on: “Bytes are usually measured in large groups, and thus a kilobyte means 1,024 bytes.”
And why not 1,000, my brain immediately asked? Or would that be an underbyte?
Well, some unscrupulous computer manufacturers do short you on capacity by using 1,000, the glossary explained, thus making their disk drives seem larger than they really are. But that’s another story for another column.
Now stay with me here.
Another term I apparently needed to know on my first venture into the TA glossary was “nybble.” A “nybble” is four bits — or half a byte — and is sometimes spelled with an “i.” Cute, wouldn’t you say? A nibble being a small byte.
At this point in time (or is it tyme?), I thought I was really flying. That is, until I got scrolling down through the full glossary of computer terminology. Between A11Y and zoomer are listed no fewer than 283 terms, all of which are recommended for a beginner like me to fully get out of the DA.
Really — a total of 285! And they said they were keeping the list short!
One of the 285 terms is “newbie” which is described as “a novice to the online world or computers in general.” At that point I decided to remain a newbie for all “tyme.”
After all, I never was good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.
THE ANNUAL REPORT
Those illustrious members of the Knights of the Square Table, few in number but lively in spirit, finished 2008 on a high note and a new record.
One of the KOST members, Allister Allen to name names, paid $291 for coffee for his friends in the 12 months that ended Wednesday. That gave Allister the honorary title of president, a moniker he was called all year on an interim basis.
Allister, the last charter member of KOST, started 2008 on a hot note. By the end of February he had already paid $100, and thus was on pace to spend $600 for the entire year. The roll of the dice was not treating him well, and his lead over fellow KOSTers proved to be insurmountable in the next 10 months.
Nobody in 24 years had ever topped the $300 level in payment for the brew, and in the final days of December, the tension mounted as Allister’s total neared that mark. But alas, his $291 stands as the highest paid in KOST’s 24 years of record-keeping.
Ron Roos, secretary of the group, earned second-place honors when he totaled $253.50, while this scribe was third with $232.50.
By the way, KOST members have now paid $42,888.50 for coffee over those 24 years. The group of mid-morning slurpers formed in July 1984, currently meets at Mil’s and cordially welcomes new members. Although a roll of the dice is used daily to determine the payee, the procedure is perfectly legal and breaks no laws.
Just bring your wallet. Waitress Patti Dunn insists.
Word has it that Florence Hove was making a business run to Shooters restaurant the other day when she inadvertently set off the alarm system. Florence called down to Mil’s for assistance, insisting that she did nothing wrong, and soon got it in the way of the local fire department.
FOR THE SPORTS FAN
What do you think the odds were of both the Raiders and the 49ers winning their final two games of the season? A megabyte-to-one?
AND FINALLY …
Here’s a notice I received via e-mail that supposedly appeared in a weekly church bulletin:
“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.”
And another with a typo:
“This evening at 7 p.m. will be hymn singing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.”
Despite being in the DA, I do e-mail.
Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. His column appears weekly in this space.