Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nameware


Somethings from your school days always stay with you.   Like my English Teacher, who didn't like us using numerals in essays; we had to spell out the number, and those who didn't lost marks, with a red circle around the number.  She also didn't encourage usage of things like etc, and eg .  I still  figuratively look over my shoulder when I defy her in blog posts occasionally today. 

While abbreviations were not encouraged, acronyms were simply non existent.  The only acronyms I remember from those days are LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) , USA, and UK. 

I  was struck with acronyms when I functioned as a programmer in the very early seventies, when it was not yet pompously called IT  err, Information Technology.

There was no element of willfulness a la today, in naming things, and we programed in Autocoder (full name), COBOL,BASIC,FORTRAN, and PL/1, which had full meaningful expansions in English. Coding sheets and papers were the norm, we punched cards, the programs gave polite messages that told us we were dividing by zero, or flying out of range ; we punched cards again, and ran again. Life was in order.

At some point, the mainframes gave way to personal computer systems, and life has never been the same. The speed with which things changed was phenomenal .  Dbase happened. At least that made you think of "Database". Then someone went haywire and did a smarter version called Foxpro.

And the random naming started.

Bill Gates randomly decided to call his Operating system (OS) as Windows. For those brought up on a diet of Command Prompts, and Disk Operating Systems (DOS), it took a while understanding. But I wonder why he didn't call it Tabletop, or Doors, or Rooms. Steve Jobs took things further, by simply starting Apple and Macintosh. 

The days of acronyms were shoved back, and random willful naming was the norm. I remember using something called LYNX, in those (graphical) browser less days, and it would show the individual counting of bytes as you accessed a page somewhere. Then the World Wide Web and Internet happened, and Hyper Text Markup Language( HTML) was king.  Someone even told me about a software for using that, and the software was randomly called "Coffee Cup".

I tried learning that. Then gave up, and learnt to use HTML by  the donkey method, typing in each tag , with the assorted opening and closing brackets and stuff. Even today, when blog posts do not do what I expect them to, in a preview, I go into HTML mode and change things in the editor.

Like the Congress Grass which has wildly sprung like a weed, today, there is no restriction on attributing names to softwares and systems.   There is LINUX , that reminds me of Linus from Charlie Brown,  and something called GNU. There is UBUNTU, which would be a lovely shoutout, if it were not a version of Linux. Some versions were called Red Hat.  There are softwares called  MAYA,  COMBUSTION; some like SWISH MAX , making it sound like a razor blade place; and even something called AUDACITY. There is  NERO, which has burning fires on its cover.  There is BLENDER, which has nothing to do with cooking.  And we don't even mention the thousands of acronyms and abbreviations that form file extensions and networking terms. 

As if this was not enough , cell phones happened, someone felt the do-or-die need to call, text, surf and photograph things from a single contraption; what was worse is that the general public fell for it, and  so we are now in a period, when we have lots to say, no time for it, and so  messaging lingo was born, at the cost of murdering the English language. Applications and softwares called Bluetooth, Android, Icecream Sandwich  were touted as absolute needs.

Lately, there is a campaign on Facebook asking for a new operating system for phones to be called Kaju Katli, in honor of the well loved Indian sweet dessert.

In this big onslaught of applications and systems, that endeavour to make people more like machines, we are now bringing up an entire generation that grows up smiling at machines rather than friends and neighbors.  I've seen folks attending social functions, clicking away on their phones in a corner  oblivious to where they are, deaf to folks who talk to them. LOL-ing, ROTFL-ing, saying YMMV. Now there is even a movie called OMG.  (We wont mention all those 5-6 word movies, mentioned as meaningless acronyms).

This seems to be an age for meaningless acronyms. Like GOM. for Group of Ministers that get assigned an inconvenient  problem topic to work on, NREGA , and  IGNOU, welfare and educational schemes respectively (the latter being and Open University Scheme).  

We really shouldn't go anywhere near medicine and its practice. Someone I know who had an angioplasty ,  had a stent put in his LAD with PEMA (don't ask me what that is), some folks get certified for FUO close to examination time, and you are supposed to breathe a sigh of relief when someone stares at your reports and scribbles NAD, illegibly.

The head spins and the mind boggles.

 I yearn for the days of pencil sharpeners, fountain pens, and searching for ink erasers .  I yearn for the days when names had meanings associated with who was named.   I yearn for the days, when you back slapped someone and guffawed, till tears came out of your eyes,   and didn't have to spell out in bad fractured acronymed English , what was happening.  I yearn for the days when you had a decent fight and argument, with someone, without having to speak in asterisks.      

However.  I just might.

On second or even third thoughts, agree to support a campaign for naming the new  cell phone Application/ Operating system after something I love.

Not Kaju Katli. Not even Jilebi. 

But Varan Bhat.  Just think, you could introduce version 1.2 with lemon pickle....:-)

25 comments:

  1. I just smiled loud at this machine :-)
    Acronyms be damned, you are just wonderful in making people smile :-)

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    1. Sangeeta, sometimes ignorance has its utility....:-)

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    2. 'Oh My God' :) me completely brainwashed here. No OMG now.

      Coincidently today in IDC, one of my colleagues was sharing to see a sign labelled as 'OMG' outside a local hair-saloon South Mumbai :D Now, that makes me think how to brainwash visual decisions and content preferences of sign-painters and the shop owners...

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  2. hahahahah! you are too cute eh?

    I loved this post..or should I just say I ROFLed on this post :)

    PS - I love Varan bhat..if we ever meet, I plan to eat that at your place okie?

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    1. R's Mom, some folks may beg to differ with you in your assessment. :-) But thanks for rotlfl-ing. And yes, Varan Bhat Zindabad ! I await your visit....

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  3. I was very hesitant to ask what all this meant.
    Today,my questions have been answered

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    1. Chowlaji, I've realized that lots of people enjoy confusing other folks with jargon. Hence Varan Bhat :-))

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  4. I loved the part about not even having a decent fight but fighting with a series of asterisks :) And kaju katli sounds too cloying. I vote for Varan Bhat and the upgrade too with lemon pickle. Yum!

    The other day a friend came visiting with her daughter and the entire time they were there, the latter was on her phone on FB and whatever else it was. She replied distractedly when talked to and she is not a teen.

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    1. Yes Kaju Katli is cloying. Though I wouldnt mind Puran Poli or Payasam.

      I recently rapped a certain girl on the knuckles for doing exactly what the girl in your comment did. This generation is certainly going to have problems ....

      However, I have now started seeing visions for Varan Bhat version 1.3, with even roasted poha papaad and mirchi pickle.....:-))

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  5. What is Varan Bhat... I understood almost al the ACRONYMS... I suspect its some food ! Can it accompany Sabudana Khichdi when I visit ?! :P

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    1. HW, Varan Bhat is the marathi equivalent of Daal Bhaat. It is ideally eaten hot with a dollop of ghee, squeeze of lemon, and salt to taste. And I cant think of anything worse that having it with Sabudana Khichadi . YIkes !
      P. S. Dont vote for Kaju Katli. :0-)

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  6. Well, I suppose I am very out-of-date, and so do not understand most of the acronyms you've mentioned! :)

    I think varan-bhat is not a bad name though. I would support a campaign for this too!

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  7. Thanks , Manju ! Actually , I was debating between Dahi Bhat and Varan Bhat. :-)

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  8. You make me smile. I so agree with you. And you are so lucky you had such a great teacher because your writing is brilliant.

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    1. Liily, thank you, and yes , I did have a great English teacher .

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  9. All through the post, I had a smile tha just wouldn't go off!! Lovely post - brought back memories of struggling with BASIC!!

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  10. That was one riot ....and believe me when I am saying that I am smiling broadly from ear to ear while reading this post ...what about the evils of the ubiquitous ":P" and ":D" lolll harder ???

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  11. It's been a while since I have been reading your posts, now I'm kicking myself for not reading more through these days.. :) Btw, what OS do you use on your phone? Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread?? :) Hehehe..

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    Replies
    1. Would you believe, Sabudhana Khichadi OS ? :-) You make a call, and then it reminds you that the khichadi is getting cold !

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  12. I was reading for this. Very informative article. I also run a webpage and you to review it. This is:- http://consumerfighter.com/

    ReplyDelete