Questions about computers, programming and IT.

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72
votes
9answers
20k views

“Username”, “user name” or “user-name”

In computer science, you should have a username or a user name or a user-name and a password to be able to log into the system. Which one is the correct spelling?
46
votes
3answers
1k views

How “macro” in computer programming came about

The prefix macro- is normally used for large things like macroeconomics and macroscopic. How did it come to be used to describe text macros in the programming world?
33
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is a “splash screen” so called?

Wikipedia describes a "splash screen" as such... "A splash screen is an image that appears while a game or program is loading." and its purpose... [Splash screens] are typically used by ...
23
votes
3answers
9k views

Origin of the term “driver” in computer science

According to Wikipedia: … a device driver or software driver is a computer program allowing higher-level computer programs to interact with a hardware device. What is the origin of the term ...
22
votes
8answers
1k views

What do you call a computer window when it is not maximized or minimized?

What do you call a computer window when it is not maximized or minimized? I have been using unmaximized, but I feel there is a more precise way.
18
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the noun to refer to the 64- or 32-bit -ness of an operating system

I know that "processor architecture" can be used to refer to whether the processor is 32-bit or 64-bit (or something else), but what word can be used for the operating system? Note that it's not ...
18
votes
5answers
13k views

Difference between “computation” and “calculation”

If the words computation and calculation are not perfect synonyms what is the difference between them? Which one describes more accurately what is done by a person computing or calculating something ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it “falsy” or “falsey”?

I have seen both versions of the word, falsy and falsey. It can mean "something that is equivalent to false" in computer science, such as "The only two falsy values in the Ruby Language are false and ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the correct pronunciation of “regex”?

The term regular expression is often shortened to regex. What is the correct pronunciation of the g in regex? Is it like the g1 in gallium, or is it like the g2 in giraffe? I’ve heard it said both ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of the term “wizard” in computing

In computer user interfaces a "wizard" is a set of screens that guide the user through a process. Does anyone know the origin of this term? I personally associate wizards with magic more than a ...
15
votes
7answers
551 views

Is there a word for the action of lifting the mouse to go further?

Using a computer mouse to point to a far away target and running out of table surface (or hand range), one typically lifts the mouse, moves it in the opposite direction, puts it back down, and ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the proper term for a ternary digit?

A binary digit is a bit. Is there an equivalent term for a three-state digit? (e.g., a digit representing true, false, or unknown)
12
votes
3answers
5k views

Why “motherboard” is used to refer to main board of computer

Why is motherboard used to refer to the main board of a computer? What is the relationship with the word mother here?
12
votes
6answers
3k views

What is “embarrassing” about an embarrassingly parallel problem?

In computer science, a problem that is obviously decomposable into many identical but separate subtasks is called embarrassingly parallel. An example is a cryptographic brute force attack, in which ...
12
votes
3answers
743 views

What do you call the phenomenon where a rectangle Ϳ is shown because a font lacks a glyph?

Is there a name to describe the situation where a particular character is shown on a computer screen in a particular font, but this font does not have a glyph for this particular character? Usually, ...
10
votes
4answers
16k views

Is there a word meaning “append”, but at the beginning, not the end? [closed]

In computer programming, when you append a "string" to another, you add it to the end of the former string. E.g. String string1 = "abcd"; String string2 = "efgh"; Appending the two strings would ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Does code run in or on a thread?

Any programmers around? Which of the following is correct, or more common: The code runs in a background thread. The code runs on a background thread. That's it. Just a simple word different. As ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Capitalization of User Interface Buttons

Being an amateur programmer and a bit of a perfectionist, I often find myself wondering about capitalization in user interfaces. If you look towards the top of this very website, you'll notice the ...
9
votes
1answer
843 views

When did “Easter egg” begin to mean “hidden feature”?

Can anybody trace the origins of 'Easter egg' for this meaning?
8
votes
3answers
2k views

How do you pronounce “cURL,” the computer utility? [closed]

Are there programmers here? I'd like to know how you guys pronounce cURL. Because I don't live in a country that uses English, I haven't heard it yet.
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Etymology of “ping”

According to Wikipedia ping, the IP network utility, was named after the sonar "ping", which is apparently onomatopoeic. However, "ping" is now used in the vernacular in the sense of "pinging" ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

call vs invoke - informatics context

Particularly in computer science and informatics, when should one use them? Is call the preferred form? For instance, call function invoke method Googling for "call operation" returns +300 000 ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the difference between obsolete and deprecate in computer science?

Given the two terms "obsolete" and "deprecate" in computer science, what is the difference between them? What I understand, Deprecated means still available for use but will no longer be developed ...
7
votes
2answers
157 views

Etymology of “compiler” (computer term)

A friend and I were debating on the origin of the word "compiler". A quick google search led me to discover that Grace Hopper coined the term. But I'm not sure how or on what basis did she coin the ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Less derogatory term for dump

I’m making a (multiple-)photo editing web-app, and there is a certain feature which allows users to sort of “hibernate” their accounts and log out, allowing them to pick up exactly where they left off ...
6
votes
3answers
342 views

Origin and scope of “cruft”

I just had to look up "cruft" (jargon for software or hardware that is of poor quality), as used in a comment to an earlier question. But I can't find any details of etymology, and I don't know how ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the origin of “beta” to describe a “user-testing” phase of computer development?

It occurred to me that I use the term "beta" to describe a "release candidate" of a computer product that has passed all expectations of the development team, and is now being given limited exposure ...
6
votes
1answer
511 views

Is “catenate” used in IT parlance?

When I was doing my IT degree in the 80s we learned that, in programming terms, concatenation was the act of joining two strings together. Recently I was reading a technical manual and came across ...
5
votes
2answers
344 views

“Timeboxing” versus “time-slicing”

What is the difference between timeboxing and time-slicing? From what I can tell, it is the same concept, but timeboxing is applied to project management and time-slicing is applied to scheduling ...
5
votes
1answer
138 views

Provenance of 'deprecated' (in the programming sense)

What are some early uses of "deprecation" in computer science? When did the word enter common usage in the field of programming? Are there any particularly well-known examples of early deprecations ...
5
votes
1answer
148 views

The origin of binary “image”? [closed]

I'm curious why a chunk of binary data is called image? Like disk image, boot image, Linux image, flash image, etc. In my brain, image is something two-dimensional, but binary data is a ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

“Intended” vs. “intentional”

I'm reading an article about intention recognition in computing areas and somehow robotics. I came across this sentence: This problem has been discussed as the difference between “intended and ...
5
votes
1answer
463 views

Does a recursive procedure “recur”?

In programming, a recursive procedure is defined as a procedure which refers to itself in the code. The question is, is "recur" the corresponding verb to the adjective "recursive"? Can I say that a ...
5
votes
1answer
327 views

Who first used the term “bit rot”?

Wikipedia says: Bit rot, also known as bit decay, data rot, or data decay, is a colloquial computing term used to describe either a gradual decay of storage media or the degradation of a software ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

What does the word “hacking” or “hacker” come from? [closed]

Is there a history behind the word "hacker" and "hacking"? Could it have anything to do with "hashing" i.e. using a hash function?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the origin of != in the meaning “not equal to”?

As a programmer I have always assumed that using != as meaning not equal to when writing text (usually on the internet) came from programming languages. Is this true or is the origin different?
4
votes
4answers
231 views

What is the etymology of “[computer] terminal”?

I suspect it's something to do with the fact that back in the Olden Days of computing, a terminal was connected to a mainframe computer system, and thus a user would be sat at the terminal end of the ...
4
votes
1answer
4k views

Are software titles italicized?

The titles of freestanding works (books, movies, plays, albums, etc.) are italicized; smaller parts within these works (chapters in a book, articles in a magazine, songs within an album) are not (they ...
4
votes
1answer
729 views

When did “creep” get associated with computer controlled units in games?

I first saw this term in use for neutral units in Warcraft 3 (released 2002), and then that got carried through derivatives such as Dota (2003). Was Warcraft 3 the first time creep was used as a ...
4
votes
4answers
57 views

Is there a term for a highlighted option?

I'm curious - is there a term for a character that is used to denote a highlighted option in text-based navigation? For example, say we have this menu when navigating a text-only menu: One > ...
3
votes
3answers
154 views

“Run on an OS” vs. “run under an OS”

What is the correct way to specify the operating system you are targeting or using? Is a program running on or under an operating system (OS)? Is a machine running an OS or under an OS?
3
votes
1answer
175 views

Version control “in revision” vs. “at revision”

Should a programmer use in or at as a preposition when referring to the version-control revision number? Example: Which is correct, fixed in revision 12345 or fixed at revision 12345? The ...
3
votes
2answers
422 views

How popular are the terms “software” and “hardware” outside the computer world?

If I’m not mistaken, the terms software and hardware were ordinary English words, but they have been widely popularized by popularity of computers. How much they are common (and acceptable by native ...
3
votes
3answers
123 views

What is the etymology of 'munge'?

My own brief investigation into the etymology of munge yielded the following entry from The New Hacker's Dictionary: [derogatory] To imperfectly transform information. A comprehensive ...
3
votes
3answers
182 views

Primary is to Secondary as Principal is to…what? [closed]

If something is divided into principal divisions, what is the next level "down"? For example, if a generic term for a US state or Canadian province is a "principal country division", what is a good ...
3
votes
3answers
237 views

Expression to describe error’s way

In the context of a computer system, events that fail to go to their destination are redirected to another one through several steps. I’m looking for an expression to describe the way they take. I ...
3
votes
3answers
95 views

Antonym for “machine readable data”?

I want to describe data that is easy for a human to understand but very difficult for a machine to understand. Like, raw unfiltered user input. For example, suppose I have a column in a table that ...
3
votes
1answer
61 views

String slicing nomenclature

Maybe I'm just not very good with Google, but I'm looking for good terms to use when describing manipulation of strings of characters, specifically words to describe: Removing a prefix Removing a ...
2
votes
5answers
184 views

“Printfing” or “printingf”?

At this point the program starts printfing the pot value. At this point the program starts printingf the pot value. Both sound wrong, and yet... one of them must be used.
2
votes
2answers
234 views

What is the word for a pair of bytes?

Bit is a portmanteau of binary digit. A byte is 8 bits. A nibble is 4 bits (half a byte). Is there a word for a pair of bytes?