Hey, cube-farm permalancers: here's the treeware you've been waiting for

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The Independent Online
Do you prairie dog ? Worried about being a permalancer? Stuck doing vampire hours in graybar land? If you felt confused by the vocabulary of computers and the Internet - such as floppy disks (which aren't) and surfing (sitting down) - then get ready to be overwhelmed by a whole new wave of next-generation language on its way over here.

It comes courtesy of a new piece of treeware - a "book", some might call it - from the San Francisco offices of Wired magazine, the style bible of the digerati.

Who? You know, the people who make their living by tweaking bits and bytes. Called Jargon Watch, the book has been compiled by sifting the constantly flowing river of data that pours by on the Net, as people on the US West coast get used to the new working style that computers afford ... and, sometimes, impose.

"Prairie dogging", for example, is the action of jumping up to see what's happening when there's a commotion in one of those offices split into endless rows of cubicles - a "cube farm". Drop your drink, have a row, and the faces of your co-workers will suddenly appear over those dividing partitions. Just like prairie dogs, which stand on their hind legs to look for predators.

"Permalancers" are increasingly common: they're people employed as freelancers to fill a short-term vacancy which somehow never gets filled. They keep being signed up, on a monthly or weekly basis, but never join the company payroll.

Vampire hours? The classic programmer's hours - sleep in the day, come in at night (when it's quieter, so that the suits [salespeople] aren't around). As for graybar land, that's the situation where your computer is doing some monumental task which takes all its capacity, leaving you to watch a bar marked "Progress" crawl slowly across the screen towards its conclusion.Jargon Watch, pounds 5.99 from Beer Davies, is published on 21 July.

A non-surfer's guide to digitalese

Alpha Geek: the most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in the office.

Dawn Patrol: programmers who are still at their terminals when the day shift returns to work the next morning.

Designosaurs: a species, nearing extinction, of designers who refuse to use computers.

404: someone who's clueless (from the World Wide Web error message, "404 Not Found".)

Facetime: spending time in person with someone mainly known online.

Heat Index: amount of response to an online discussion.

Jitterati: 1. What the digital generation becomes after tanking up on too much coffee. 2. Fear and anxiety associated with not knowing the latest jargon, acronyms and buzzwords.

Meatspace: one of the many slang terms for the physical world as opposed to the virtual.

Mouse potato: online wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

Ohnosecond: that minuscule fraction of time in which you realise that you've just made a BIG mistake.

Paintmonkey: someone with less than glamorous entry-level computer graphics job.

Zen Mail: e-mail messages with no text in the message body.