“I need to underclock.” — Time for holidays!

Afterburner Palm Overclock Benchmark

Most “knowledge workers” of “our information society” face a lot of stress. All the time the cellphone rings and emails arrive, then the WLAN is down, airplanes are late and the video projector’s lamp breaks just before the important PowerPoint® presentation.

When it all gets too much it’s time to relax. But the word “relax” is a bit spoiled because it was taken over by the wellness industry. And some IT professionals wouldn’t like their colleagues imagining them laying in a hot tub with slices of cucumber on the eyelids.

This is where the word “underclocking” can help out. Overclocking means to run a computer processor at a higher speed than it was intended by modifying hardware or toggling switches in hidden menus: Only for real phreax! So underclocking is the way for the competent computer user to chill out a bit, making everything go slower.

You might express your need to underclock on Fridays, after Xmas or when an tight project deadline was met.

“Let’s enlarge.” — Committing a small sin.

Hooy Program

A system administrator working for a large company once told me the story that if the IT staff was about to decide whether to buy licenses for a new piece of software, first they would use a cracked version to try it out. This process was internally called enlarging because there were numerous offers for enlarging certain male body parts on the well known Armenian website they got their cracks from. The saying went: “Before we buy it we should enlarge it.”

To crack the copy protection of a commercial software is not exactly a legally endorsed activity, but the IT staff was feeling little guilt. They had the intention of buying big amounts of licenses after this evaluation process. The small sin they committed would lead to a greater good.

If something is only in doubt of being legal, on the internet this thing will be very likely combined with enlargement offers. This common knowledge should finally enter everyday language.

You can use to enlarge in a sympathetic way for any activity that is a small sin. For example you can say “I enlarged the CD for you”, “Alice enlarged during the exam” or “I had to enlarge my iPod® to get my songs back”.

The ZX Spectrum screenshot above is from the great demo crew Hooy Program from Poland.

“It’s a norton thing.” — It’s a two-faced case.

Dr Norton in da house!

Many computer users are concerned about the dangers “viruses” and “worms” are causing on the internet. They read in computer magazines and see on the TV news that all the time new threats are appearing and their computer is under constant attack.

Some are driven into the entwined arms of Peter Norton, a software publisher that earned his reputation in the 1980s with Norton Commander, a software that could almost make you think MS-DOS was an operating system.

But this was a long time ago. Today you can ask yourself if it is worse to have your computer slowed down by a virus itself or by Norton AntiVirus, a software so heavy and baroque that it makes the latest Duo Core processors scream. A virus at least needs your computer to send spam messages and therefore keeps a minimum level of operability. Norton AntiVirus just makes sure nothing works anymore, including viruses.

Norton, once the synonym for really enhancing the computing experience, became the icon of the schizophrenic software business logic that once you really solve a problem you destroyed your own job.

Use Norton to express ambivalence, conflict within, split personality and day-to-day self-deception.

Norton Commander running in a DOS window

This is a screenshot of the ancient Norton Commander. Its killer feature was to split the text-only display of MS-DOS into two pseudo windows. This cleary shows that dispartment has always been a core idea in the Norton product line.

“Read my blog!” — Get lost!

This is the world we live in

You can use “Read my blog!” to end any ongoing face to face conversation. It expresses that you do not want to spend more time on your conversation partner because this person is getting on your nerves and is wasting your time.

This phrase suggest that your conversation partner should switch from personal talk to a mass medium. Before the internet came along, only celebrities could say things like “I have to go, why don’t you read up on me in Vanity Fair? Bye!” Today everybody can act with the same arrogance by quickly setting up a mass medium and refer annoying people to it.

“The Hand Moves the Mouse.” — You control your destiny.

Windows XP mouse setup

Through a referrer link i learned about the Morning News’ Contest for Total Idioms, featuring an idiom that fits here:

The Hand Moves the Mouse

“I guess I just always thought that if it was wrong, Word would underline it or something.” I.e., you’re responsible for the mistakes you make while using a computer.—Nathan Johnson

Nathan projects this idiom applied to mistakes made with a computer, but i suggest it should be used to express that people control their complete destiny. After learning that they can decide if they want to use Worms&Viruses Internet Explorer or install bloated crap Norton virus scanners, they can also decide what directions their lives should take in general.

“I defragged all the morning.” — I pretended to work.


“Fragging” an enemy in a shooter game means to kill it, to blow it into pieces.

But there is also defragging, an activity mostly conducted in offices: employees are not actually working but just pretending to do so.

The term refers to “defragmenting the file system”, a maintenance function built into Microsoft Windows. Originally it was serving the purpose of optimizing how the content of files is laid-out on the harddisk by moving parts of the same file close together so the read/write head of the harddisk wouldn’t have to move so much. If management personal would drop by and see the defragmentaion running, they wouldn’t notice that no work is being done as managers of course lack any technical knowledge and the classic defrag visualization in Windows 95 and 98 looked really complicated and active (see animation above).

In later versions of Windows the visualization changed to boring and useless lines. But history demands that you should use the verb defragging all the time you are pretending to work, no matter what tactic you apply.

“The blocks didn’t fall right” — Something did not work out as it should have

The dreaded sqaure stone is coming!

Tetris is one of the most played games of all time. The player is up against a (pseudo) random generator that determines what kind of “block” will be the next to fall down. And when the stones do not fall right, there is little else for the player to do than taking it with pride and trying to close the gap later on. (Or playing in a way that no matter what block should fall, there will always be a place for it, right!)

Tetris has been described to depict life already in many cases. It’s time to shake of the novelty of this comparison and just use it as an idiom as often as possible.

Interestingly, newer variants of Tetris include their own story, with anthropomorphic cubes called “Minos” and the blocks themselves called “Tetrions” … However, this effort never catched on because these stories take away too much of associative potential. Tetris serves better as a projection ground for real life than for for Roger Dean type fantasy worlds.

Mino 4Mino 3Mino 2Mino 1

Update: After seeing it quoted “the blocks didn’t fall right” instead of “the stones didn’t fall right” i started to believe that “blocks” is the more correct word and changed this post’s title and content.

“That lady was bitmapped!” — This woman is stupid.

In 2001, Dwayne from Beige Records asked a woman in a Chicago Transit Authotity booth for a hint on what train to take to get home. The lady did not know anything and gave completely wrong directions. Later Dwayne said “That lady was bitmapped”, a nice way of vilifying her intellectual capabilities.

Bitmaps are computer graphics that are composed from two colors. Every pixel’s color is determined by just one bit. For example, if the bit is zero the pixel is white, if it is one the pixel is black. Computer images of today use at least 24 bits for every pixel and are referred to as “true color”. This was already the case in 2001, therefore calling somebody bitmapped could be considered a proper insult even back then. The picture of a brain as a bitmap serves well to express simple-mindedness.

Now follows an image of one of the most well known bitmapped ladies ever:


This bitmap was made in 1983 by Susan Kare who is not bitmapped at all.

“I gonna bang the bricks!” — I will draw money from an ATM

Mario is getting some money

Everybody knows how Mario from the Super Mario Brothers is getting money: He bangs against a brick with his head. In real life you can say that you “bang the bricks” if you go to an ATM to draw money from your bank account.

Through this you can not only express your taste in video gaming, but also hint to the fact that ATMs are in fact computers and operate by arbitrary rules. There could theoretically run any software inside. Maybe once you can play Super Mario on them, and if you win your mortgage rates will be lowered.

In the stupid video Mario in Vice City, at 00:37, Mario tries to bang bricks for coins in another game and fails. This video is bad because if favors a “realistic game” — Grand Theft Auto — over a more simple one — Super Mario Brothers. Mario is pictured as helpless because his known rules do not work anymore, and Grand Theft Auto is not pictured as a game at all.