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The Language of the Cube Farm

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The Dilbert generation - a cadre of technologically savvy drones growing up in a world where employers want to own you body and soul, and where geexploitation1 is a way of life.

This is the language of the Dilbert generation: the lexicon of the cube dweller. Many of these have been circulated in snitterings2; others are less widely circulated, though most are in reasonably common use.

  • 404 - Clueless. From the HTTP error code 404 (page not found).

  • Adminisphere - The rarefied organisational 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.

  • Alpha Geek - The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group.

  • Assmosis - The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

  • Batmobiling - Putting up emotional shields (from the retracting armour that covers the Batmobile, as in 'she started talking marriage and he started Batmobiling').

  • Beepilepsy - The way someone dances when their vibrating pager goes off.

  • Betamaxed - When a technology is overtaken in the market by inferior but better-marketed competition.

  • Blamestorming - The process of ensuring that the innocent take the blame for failure; a meeting convened for the assignment of blame with no constructive purpose.

  • Body Nazis - Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out.

  • BRB - Stands for 'Big Red Button'. The thing you hit when all else fails.

  • BSOD - Known by Microsoft as a 'stop error' and by everybody else in the world as the 'Blue Screen Of Death', this is Windows' number one way of spoiling your day.

  • Buzzword Bingo - A game played in meetings. Players each have a card with meaningless buzzwords arranged in a grid. As the buzzwords are used in the meeting they players cross them off. The winner is the first to get all the buzzwords in a line (horizontally, vertically or corner to corner).

  • Chips and Salsa - Chips = hardware, Salsa = software, as in 'Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa'.

  • Chainsaw Consultant - An outside expert brought in to reduce head count, leaving the bosses with clean hands.

  • CLM - Stands for 'Career Limiting Move' - used among microserfs to describe ill-advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.

  • Cube Farm - An office filled with cubicles.

  • Dilberted - To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character, and his pointy-haired boss (PHB); as in 'I've been dilberted again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week'.

  • Dinky - 'Dual Income, No Kids Yet'. Euphemism for Married Yuppies.

  • Easter-Egging - The process of replacing unrelated components at random in the hope of making a problem go away. Usually used of field servoids, also known to be done by vehicle technicians.

  • Ego Surfing - Scanning the Internet, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references to one's own name.

  • Elvis Year - The peak year of something's popularity; for example, Barney the Dinosaur's Elvis year was 19933.

  • Flight Risk - Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.

  • Generica - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food outlets (especially McDonald's). For example: 'We were so lost in generica that I forgot what city we were in.'

  • Going Postal - Euphemism for being totally stressed out, or losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.

  • GOOD Job - A 'Get Out Of Debt' Job. A well-paying job taken in order to pay off debt, one that people will quit as soon as they are solvent again.

  • Idea Hamster - One who always seems to have his or her idea generators running.

  • Irritainment - Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The OJ Simpson trials were a prime example. Bill Clinton's shameful video Grand Jury testimony is another.

  • Keyboard Plaque - The disgusting build-up of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards.

  • LART - 'Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool'.

  • Luser - A clueless user (used by support people).

  • Meatspace - The physical world (as opposed to the virtual), also 'carbon community', 'facetime', 'F2F', 'RL'.

  • Mouse Potato - A couch potato with broadband.

  • Mushroom Management - Keep them in the dark and feed them on taurean faeces4.

  • Ohnosecond - That minuscule fraction of time in which you realise that you've just made a big mistake.

  • PEBKAC - Fault code used by helplines and call centres. Stands for 'Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair' - ie, a meatware issue.

  • Percussive Maintenance - Beating an electronic device with a stick in an attempt to get it to work again.

  • PHB - 'Pointy Haired Boss'. From the Dilbert cartoons; a manager who has risen beyond the level of his incompetence.

  • Prairie Dogging - To make a loud noise in a cube farm (eg, by dropping something), so that people's heads pop up over the walls in the manner of prairie dogs to see what's going on.

  • Salmon Day - The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

  • Screenager - An online teen (18-24) that grew up in front of a TV or computer screen.

  • Seagull Manager - A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything in sight and then leaves.

  • SITCOM - 'Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage'. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to look after the kids.

  • Square Headed Girlfriend (or Boyfriend) - Euphemism for a computer.

  • Squirt the Bird - To transmit a signal to a satellite.

  • Starter Marriage - A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

  • Stress Puppy - A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

  • Swiped Out - An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

  • TFQ - Taurean Faeces Quotient - ie bulls**t factor. Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Initiative is said to have a near-unity TFQ; ie, almost 100% bulls**t.

  • Three-fingered Salute - The Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination required to reboot old versions of DOS, bring Windows 95 back to the real world, and log on in Windows NT/2000/XP.

  • Treeware - Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.

  • Tourist - People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. As in: 'We had three serious students in the class; the rest were just tourists.'

  • Umfriend - A sexual relation of dubious standing or a concealed intimate relationship, as in 'This is Dale, my... um... friend.'

  • Uninstalled - Euphemism for being sacked. Heard on the voice-mail of a vice president at a downsizing computer firm, eg: 'You have reached the number of an Uninstalled Vice President. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance' (also quoted as 'de-installed') (Synonym = decruitment).

  • Vulcan Neck Pinch - The taxing hand position required to reach all the appropriate keys for certain commands. For instance, the arm re-boot for a Mac II computer involves simultaneously pressing the Control key, the Command Key, the Return Key, and the Power On key.

  • Xerox Subsidy - Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

  • Yuppie Food Stamps - Large denomination notes (in US: $20 bills) as spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal, for example 'We each owe $8, but all anybody's got is yuppie food stamps.'

Further Reading

  • The Language of the Cube Farm was first postulated in the comic strip Dilbert.
1Taking advantage of people with huge brains and no social skills, who are prepared to work for a hundred hours a week in return for stock options and broadband access.2See The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd.3A purple dinosaur featured in children's television.4Taurus = bull; you can guess the rest.

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