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Computer Jargon Too Difficult for Office Workers

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the ping-me dept.

Education 601

slashflood writes "Most office workers find computer terms such as javascript and jpeg just as difficult to understand as a foreign language, according to a new survey. A poll of 1,500 staff by recruitment firm Computer People showed that three out of four wasted more than an hour every week simply finding out what some technical term meant. 'A massive 61% don't understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.'"

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Its not just computers. (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631127)

Its not just computer jargon that is confusing

I still don't know what TPS stands for.

TPS Reports? (1)

Kimos (859729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631158)

I still don't know what TPS stands for.
I'm not sure but I've got some suggestions. [acronymfinder.com]

Re:Its not just computers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631172)

You're not supposed to.

That's the joke.

Re:Its not just computers. (1)

Nasa Rosebuds (867909) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631254)

Uh, yeah! Isn't that what is supposed to make the parent posters comment funny and ironic. As well as the article.

Re:Its not just computers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631441)

No it wasn't dumbass. The joke was that he made a simple mistake, but he kept getting the same lecture.

Re:Its not just computers. (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631213)

"Test Procedure Specification" as defined by IEEE 829, mostly used in government work.

And as far as I'm concerned, workers need to get used to the jargon or take a hike. Measurements and particular jargon abound in all walks of life. If you're making cookies, for example, you need to understand a cup, teaspoon, pint, etc. (or liter and the like if you're not American). If you build a shed, you need to know what a foot or meter is, don't you? In those disciples, you also need to know things like what a hammer is, or a mixer. Computers aren't any different. No one is asking that the average user understand coding, but understanding things like storage space is a requirement.

Re:Its not just computers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631374)

While I totally agree with you, a lot of people are very lazy and don't want to take the time to learn. Most just want the dang PC to work. When I start work at a new company, I always like to ask to give a few training classes or give a copy of my own 'computers for beginners' manual to everyone. Also, I find a lot of companies hire people who are clueless about computers, when the majority of their job revolves around using it. Here, unfortunately, they hire the cutest, DUMBEST bimbos as sales agents, and we spend the majority of our time trying to clean up their spyware riddled or corrupted (via "I tried to install ") Windows.

Re:Its not just computers. (1)

dlZ (798734) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631308)

I still don't know what TPS stands for.

Tiny Plastic Sword, of course!

http://www.kingdomofloathing.com/ [kingdomofloathing.com]

Re:Its not just computers. (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631408)

> Tiny Plastic Sword, of course!

That was my first thought. GPoaS was the one that threw me for the longest time. Now I have one,
it's name is Vlasic. Hurray for in-jokes !

Re:Its not just computers. (5, Funny)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631311)

I still don't know what TPS stands for.

Didn't you get that memo?

Article misses the point (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631128)


I laughed myself sick reading this article...especilly the oh-so-helpful second page, entitled 'what it all means'.

Here's an especially good one from the list:
  • Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.

With 'helpful' articles like this, us IT professionals should remain in demand for a good long time. ^_^

But seriously, a good IT professional isn't one who's good at explaining the jargon, or getting laypeople to understand the technical isues...it's one that takes care of the issues for the laypeople, so they don't need to worry about them. A correctly managed IT department should be all but transparent to the other people in the office. Everything should just work, with the IT guy making certain the users' needs are met before they even know what they are. In a correctly managed facility, the IT guy's phone should almost never ring.

Re:Article misses the point (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631166)

'Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.' Ummm. And reading articles like this really helps the lusers too.

Re:Article misses the point (2, Funny)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631245)

Erm. There were no studies cited by this article, making it even more laughable. Some guy in Wales says Office people have a hard time understanding ITSpeak. I say I have a hard time understanding a welsh accent in the FIRST place, so it's completely possible that if someone was discussing Network setup in Welsh I wouldn't even have anything to compare it to, seeing as NetworkSpeak is so foreign to even certain types of IT professionals.

But regardless, it has no 'base' layer of knowledge, no gradation, and no real study... Now a study, I'd be quite interested in that kind of study.

Re:Article misses the point (3, Insightful)

canfirman (697952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631288)

Also notice from TFA:

Among office workers 26% aren't sure what a firewall does and therefore have been tempted to turn it off.

...and yet, on the second page, they didn't even explain what a firewall was, so I guess that 26% still won't know.

Re:Article misses the point (2, Funny)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631309)

Is it some UK term that I'm missing? Or is he just proving he is part of the statistics in his report?

Re:Article misses the point (5, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631341)

But seriously, a good IT professional isn't one who's good at explaining the jargon, or getting laypeople to understand the technical isues...it's one that takes care of the issues for the laypeople, so they don't need to worry about them.

I think you came very close to hitting the nail on the head, but instead walked away with a brusined thumb. For most of us, understanding the issues that these people don't understand is common knowledge to us. We can take the time to explain these things to our customers or we can fix the problem, we can explain how to avoid similar problems in the future, or structure the environment to avoid them. To me, a "good IT professional" is one who recognizes what the customer wants and provides. Having worked a few help desk and similar type positions, I can tell you that some people don't want the problem fixed, they want to understand the problem. Others don't care, they just want it to work.

Now, there may be other obstacles to providing exactly what the customer wants. Most help desks don't want you spending 20 minutes on the phone with someone explaining why sending Grandma who's on dial up, 20 pictures from your 8MP digital camera may not be a good idea. However, I've always found that taking the time you have available to explain things at the level the customer wants, results in a much happier customer.

I said customers, but this of course can apply to anyone for whom you are working on a problem for. This also applies outside of IT. When I had someone in last year to clean our ducts, I spent a lot of time talking with him to find out what I could do to reduce dust and such in the air and picked up a lot of valuable information that has saved me money since then. Next time I need the ducts cleaned, I'll be calling him back because he was willing to pass on information and experience to me.

Re:Article misses the point (2, Insightful)

sedyn (880034) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631346)

I almost spit out my tea while reading the worm part.

But to comment on the quote: "But I don't feel I should know more - that is their job. If we did it all ourselves they would be out of a job." There is a big difference between knowing how to do day to day things (like not running programs from shady websites / MSN / email / etc.) and knowing how to configure a computer.

To entend the car analogy, I recall being a small child and not knowing what the "triangle" button did. And, being four or five, I had two viable options, push the button, or ask. In my experience with supporting users, either case is terrible for support staff (they either have to explain way too much, or fix the broken machine). Pity support staff.

Re:Article misses the point (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631379)

But seriously, a good IT professional isn't one who's good at explaining the jargon, or getting laypeople to understand the technical isues...it's one that takes care of the issues for the laypeople, so they don't need to worry about them.

This is only sort of true. Sometimes users have to know some jargon. Sometimes users have to understand the technical issues well enough to avoid them. A real helpdesk pro (or anyone that deals with customers/users) will avoid jargon when possible. When technical issues need explaining, a good IT professional will distill the issues into a couple simple metaphorical ideas, making them no more complicated than they must be, and expect that the user probably won't remember the explanation for next time.

Some users even insist on knowing why. You tell them you can't send an EXE through the e-mail system, and they ask "why?". You tell them it's a security issue, and they say, "so?"

Some users won't accept any explanation they're given if it keeps them from doing what they want, and that's the real measure of your skill. How well does your helpdesk tech deal with the belligerent CEO who is completely irrational and has unrealistic expectations? If your tech can walk away, without giving in to the unrealistic demands, but also without the CEO feeling insulted or ignored, your tech has just earned his paycheck.

So what am I saying? Forget the education angle. Users can't be educated. The real key to helpdesk interaction is to keep your users happy and feeling good about their computers, so that when you tell them "You can't do that," you won't really have to explain why (with all the jargon). They'll just believe you.

I'm barely joking.

Re:Article misses the point (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631381)

Yet... we're the ones who live in fear of outsourcing. Ain't that a kick in the teeth?

News Flash - Lusers Don't Get It (0, Redundant)

deutschemonte (764566) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631143)

This and more tonight at 11.

Users aren't the only problem (4, Insightful)

MoxCamel (20484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631144)

Among office workers 26% aren't sure what a firewall does and therefore have been tempted to turn it off.

Among CIOs, an amazingly large number of them think that office workers should have the permissions to turn their firewall off.

A massive 61% ... have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.

A massive number of mail administrators don't know how to configure their mailservers thus allowing this to happen.

I could go on...

Re:Users aren't the only problem (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631335)

A massive number of mail administrators don't know how to configure their mailservers thus allowing this to happen.

Yeah, you try explaining to a person that needs to be taught what Excell is how to share their 15 meg PDF via FTP, or a shared folder.

Most of the people I deal with do not understand what happens when a bounce they recieve says "mail quota full". When they see an error that says "mail size exceeded" they'll assume the server is broken and tell you to "please fix ASAP," literally.

Re:Users aren't the only problem (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631419)

A massive 61% ... have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.

A massive number of mail administrators don't know how to configure their mailservers thus allowing this to happen.

True confessions time: many years ago, I ran the mail server for a small non-profit ISP. One day, it started choking suddenly at regular intervals, for a few minutes at a time, before suddenly going back to normal.

As it turns out, two of the users of the mail system were working for local business: one was the manager of the other. The manager had decided that it was important for is employee to see some design blueprints he'd been working with, and attached them to an e-mail to her.

The attachment was over a gig. The figurative grinding sound was the pop server attempting to give the employee her mail over dial-up.

(Failure can be an excellent teacher: I never failed to set the maximum acceptable attachment size after that, and converted all our mail servers to use maildir format for storage instead of mbox.)

Simple solution (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631154)

Empower IT with HR's traditional roles of hiring, promotion, and termination. Allow IT to veto any hire or promotion decision, and to terminate employees who are completely techno-clueless.

This will aid the security mission greatly as well.

Another word for this arrangement is "meritocracy".

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631286)

In practice, the word for this would actually wind up being "bureaucracy".

Not enough hoops and approvals? Let's add more! Surely it will always go to plan and no one will ever be sitting on something forever for fear of making the wrong decision. That never happens!

Re:Simple solution (2, Insightful)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631293)

Well, a more appropriate decision would be to train those that are tech-clueless and help them learn more things about technology. Firing employees because they don't know something they never learned seems a bit harsh, especially since most of those employees could become quick learners at technology.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631394)

That is a good solution, when and where it does work, but frequently it does not work. There are people who can't and won't learn. If IT skills and knowledge are indeed important for their jobs, then they are unqualified and are in need of remediation -- whether that be training and education, transferral to a position where those skills are not essential, giving them an IT "seeing eye dog" to follow them around and explain and handhold every thing they do, or termination. Whatever works best should be done, but by and large the capability for IT to deny access to its clueless (l)users to corporate assets (such as higher positions in the company or even access to the company at all beyond "guest" level access) would be a smart thing.

Re:Simple solution (1)

SoloTraveller (829696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631418)

And when those "lusers" are completely unwilling and uninterested to learn all those nifty IT things that WE think they should know? They have their own work to do: why the heck should they have to learn to speak like us?? We're the customer support people, not them: we damn well better know how to converse with them and determine what they want/need, or it's US that should be fired! ;) Simple fact is most office people don't give a crap about that kind of thing, and will care even less if we try to make them talk like us!

Re:Simple solution (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631317)

Empower IT with HR's traditional roles of hiring, promotion, and termination.

And you wonder why people hate IT departments.

Listen, this "holier than thou" attitude is just stupid. Do you know how to diversify a portfolio to meet acceptable risk according to an efficient frontier formula? Well, some of those "idiot users" do. Does that make them smarter than you? If so, should they have veto power on how you run the network?

IT people are not necessarily smarter, despite what they may think. The goal is to work together in a company, and find solutions that take into account problems that employees may have. Which also means that locking everyone's computer so they can't do anything may not be the correct solution. Maybe, just maybe, users occassionly have a need that you're going to have to work extra to fullfill. That's why you were hired, not so you can sit on your duff and complain about all the work that users make for you.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Demonix (140379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631432)

Then again, we don't really NEED to know how to do that to do our job (as IT professionals), do we?

However, the better a user's grasp is on technology, and specifically a few computer basics/intermediate concepts can do wonders in boosting tier productivity...if they would ever bother to take the time to find out.

I'm not saying that the OP is correct in giving IT HR functions and authority, but saying that the end user needs to know nothing about computers and still be productive (or as productive as a knowledgable user) is laughable to the point of absurdity.

Re:Simple solution (1)

jinzumkei (802273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631439)

IT people are not necessarily smarter

I'd say more often than not, they aren't smarter.

Re:Simple solution (1)

ddimas (629883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631373)

Empower IT with HR's traditional roles of hiring, promotion, and termination. Allow IT to veto any hire or promotion decision, and to terminate employees who are completely techno-clueless. This will aid the security mission greatly as well. Another word for this arrangement is "meritocracy".

You mean like the PhD Chemist who still uses a slide rule for calculations?

News at 11... (4, Insightful)

Steamhead (714353) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631155)

In other news people have trouble understanding lawyer speak, medical terms, names of car components, how to build a house to proper code, publishing industry slang etc...

I guess that means people just have to learn eh?

Re:News at 11... (1)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631223)

As well, people who take a trip to France often have trouble understanding what people are saying. If you take that trip, you either expect to be confused or you learn the language. The same goes with computers, cars, and the rest of your excellent examples.

Re:News at 11... (3, Insightful)

swestcott (44407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631234)

OH my god Learn somthing new you must be crazy I want you to do it for me and no I am not going to watch and learn how to do it my self

Re:News at 11... (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631246)

> In other news people have trouble understanding lawyer speak, medical terms, names of car components, how to build a house to proper code, publishing industry slang etc...
>
> I guess that means people just have to learn eh?

And that's the fundamental problem. Most people these days not only don't think they have to learn, they don't think they should have to learn. (And why, indeed, should they? Since the 1970s and 1980s, their teachers pretty much gave up teaching in the name of boosting self-esteem. If self-esteem is something everybody has - that is, if it's not something earned through performance, then everybody can feel great about themselves even though they're a bunch of ignorant fuckspittles who'll be first under the water when the revolving hurricane comes.)

Every time you hear someone say "I shouldn't have to read the manual to figure out how to use it!", you're seeing another example of the problem.

Re:News at 11... (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631421)

The difference:

You can get a for dummies book on your computer. Countless free guides exist online that will help you solve any computer problem you may ever run into. There is tons of quick, easily available computer information.

Likewise, your car comes with a manual, and an endless supply of car-oriented-websites will provide you with insite on the parts of your car.

There are numerous free help information systems available for medical advice. Here in Canada, all the medical treatment you could ever want is free (but slow).

Law, on the other hand, which was made by and for the people of your country, is not meant for your eyes. No, you cannot figure out your tenant problems without a lawyer. There is no "law for dummies". You'd better have a darned impressive heroic cause before you try and get pro bono help.

Which industry has the barriers? hmm.

Computer jargon too difficult for authors? (1, Redundant)

shiloh.sharps (881311) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631160)

I always thought Excel was a spreadsheet program (from article):
Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.

Are they stupid? (1)

CypherXero (798440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631171)

In 30 minutes, I learned how to calculate the derivitive of a limit, and I suck at math. So how the hell can it take someone 60 minutes to look up a definition of a technical term?! Damn.

Just Words... (1)

eMartin (210973) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631181)

The article mentions foreign languages, but we aren't asking people to be able to read code.

Learning a few common terms is no different than understanding what taco or rendevous mean.

Re:Just Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631401)

I think taco is something to eat, but I have no idea what rendevous is. But I do know what firewall and gigabytes are, and I can speak more than 5 languages (C, C++, Java, Javascript, QBasic, PHP, ... )

Why should they care? (3, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631184)

Some people don't need to know what javascript is. They just want to use their computer to type documents and read email. I'd say a good portion of business users need their computers for just that.

As far as sending huge files goes, they still don't need to know the differences between file sizes. People shouldn't be sending large documents through email anyway. A few megs at the MAX. Public drives or a webserver for anything else and the users should be educated on that.

Re:Why should they care? (1)

Requiem Aristos (152789) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631344)

You say: they still don't need to know the differences between file sizes.

Then you say: People shouldn't be sending large documents through email anyway. A few megs at the MAX. Public drives or a webserver for anything else and the users should be educated on that.

The problem is that these people have no conception of "a few megs" or even what's "large" and "what's small". This is basic computer literacy, which many people don't have, and what's worse, don't think they need.

Of course, part of the problem is many places equate "computer literacy" with "is able to move the mouse and click on things". It's like saying that using a McDonalds cash register with pictures on the buttons indicates [English] literacy.

Re:Why should they care? (1)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631399)

As far as sending huge files goes, they still don't need to know the differences between file sizes. People shouldn't be sending large documents through email anyway.

If people don't need to know the differences between file sizes, how do you expect them to identify which files are too large for email?

Re:Why should they care? (1)

Delphiki (646425) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631424)

As far as sending huge files goes, they still don't need to know the differences between file sizes. People shouldn't be sending large documents through email anyway. A few megs at the MAX. Public drives or a webserver for anything else and the users should be educated on that.

So, if they don't need to know the differences between file sizes, how do they determine what stuff they can email versus what goes on the public share? If you're suggesting that file size limits be configured on the mail server, that's all well and good, but you're saying they should be educated on using public drives and a webserver, which seems to suggest they would need to be taught when to use them, not just how to use them. I don't think educating them to just use the public drive when email gives them an error is a good idea, so you would have to teach them file sizes.

Abort mission, they have the port! (5, Funny)

Namronorman (901664) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631185)

Has anyone else had a friend that works in an office enviroment that is extremely paranoid call you up screaming that the hackers have their port?

Re:Abort mission, they have the port! (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631297)

I had someone get woried because they saw a vibrating banner ad that said "WARNING - Your computer is broadcasting its IP address!" My kingdom for a bottle of valium, please.

WTF? (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631186)

A massive 61% don't understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.

And a massive 99% of people don't need to understand that. Mail servers should be designed to ignore e-mails of a larger size than they can handle. It's not up to the users to understand KB, MB, GB, mail server loads, HTTP, FTP, SMTP, SSH, whatever.

Their understand lies in doing their jobs effectively, whatever that may be. When my doctor refers to medical jargon I may not know what it means and may be confused (I'm generally well versed in my particular conditions) so do you really expect them to understand what the jargon in your field is?

Blah.

Re:WTF? (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631261)


Mail servers should be designed to ignore e-mails of a larger size than they can handle

mine is, yet i still get an amazing number of angry queries asking why i was blocking their very important email!

it's set at 25megs damnit! i am NOT increasing that, no matter how much you bitch.

Re:WTF? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631388)

And...if the two people emailing each other are in the same office, they should NOT send file attachments to each other! They should both work with the same file on the server. This happened today...a Word doc was going back and forth, the edited version staying in the Outlook message. No one realized that whatever happens to the copy of the doc in Outlook does not affect the original file sitting on the server. Long story short--the email was deleted along with the changes to the Word file. Guess who had to scan and OCR an old printout that had the info we needed?

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631395)

When my doctor refers to medical jargon I may not know what it means and may be confused... so do you really expect them to understand what the jargon in your field is?

I'm not a mechanic -- hell, I don't even change my own oil -- but I understand "spark plug", "alternator", "transmission", "brake pad", "muffler"...

I'm not a doctor, but I understand "catheter", "seratonin reuptake inhibitor", "priapism", "cyst", "tumor", "intestinal tract"...

So why the fuck can't these people understand that 1,000,000 KB = 1,000 MB = 1 GB, and that it takes about a minute to download 20 MB? I don't mind that they can't write a shell script, set up keys for SSH, configure a firewall, or understand that MSIE is not "the internet". But for fucks sake, you know how much a galon of gas is, you know how much a quart of oil is, how much 10mg of prozac is... How hard is it to understand one more unit of measurement?

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

eMartin (210973) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631396)

"And a massive 99% of people don't need to understand that. Mail servers should be designed to ignore e-mails of a larger size than they can handle. It's not up to the users to understand KB, MB, GB, mail server loads, HTTP, FTP, SMTP, SSH, whatever."

I don't get this.

You suggest blocking emails past a certain size, but you don't think people need to understand those sizes?

How are they supposed to know whether what they are trying to send is too big or not?

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631400)

Having a mail server simply ignore messages greater than a certain size will no doubt cause just as many problems as it will solve. Now the user will wonder, "Why the hell didn't my email get sent?" and chances are they'll hassle their IT guy or administrator about being unable to sent their mail. Either way, it will be their lack of very basic knowledge that is causing the problems. And until they acquire such knowledge, perhaps the best thing to do is for them to not use such systems at all.

Have fun with it! (5, Funny)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631188)

This is why I like to throw in the term "flux capacitor" every once in a while when I'm explaining stuff to end users...

Re:Have fun with it! (5, Funny)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631334)

I do that, too. When there's too much technobabble jargon being bandied about in meetings, I said, "Do we have the 1.21 jigga watts for the flux capacitor?" At least one person always thinks I'm serious. I also frequently suggest that we solve any given problem by degaussing the main deflector dish or reversing the flow control to the plasma relay conduits.

Re:Have fun with it! (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631420)

My flux capacitor overheated because the oscillation overthruster fan was pointed at it.

In other news, 3 out of 4 are thick .. (1)

bushboy (112290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631190)

It doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to grok that most these complaints are from complete morons - duffers with more shine that substance, more muck that spine. :)

Education (4, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631193)

Proper computing education should be mandatory for high school graduation and equivalent. Not knowing this kind of information in today's world is the equivalent of being illiterate. You wouldn't hire an illiterate person to read books all day. So don't hire a computer illiterate person to sit at a computer all day.

Re:Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631326)

Why should we care about explaining, informing or educating people in IT? This desire of explaining our knowledge to others is part of the reason for the decline of IT - meaning decline of how IT people are handled. Think about it hard.

I don't remember having had a law, medical, engineering and so on education in my computer science curriculum. Don't expect a surgeon to explain each medical term he's using, care about the result.

AC

In related news (4, Insightful)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631194)

Your average office worker is lazy and doesn't want to learn what those terms mean.
The terms aren't the problem; it's the fact that your average cubical dweller simply doesn't want to learn them.
I've personally explained how to fix a the same problem several times to the same person, yet they keep asking me how to fix it every time it comes up. If they'd simply listen the first time and learn how to do it rather then noding the whole time maybe they'd be able to help themselves once and a while.

There's only 1 thing office workers need to know.. (1)

octaene (171858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631207)

(Insert completely sarcastic obligatory flame-bait 'RTFM' exclamation here)

Eeeeecellent (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631212)

Rubs hands together a'la Mr Burns

Our long-term job security protection program is going precisely as planned.

Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.

Especially with assistance like this from our allies in the media

RTFM n/t (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631215)

n/t

ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631220)

What does IT stand for?

Whata buncha n00bs!! (0, Troll)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631221)

Geez... newbies...

Well (5, Funny)

Ikn (712788) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631222)

They don't seem to understand basic instructions, either. "Don't open any suspicious attachments, especially from someone you don't know." == "Open anything! It's fun! Oooh, pretty smileys!"

PEBKAC (1)

McLetter (915953) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631232)

This is just further evidence supporting PEBKAC.

Best advice ever.. "RTFM!"

seriously? (1)

solesoul (917195) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631237)

C'mon now, not knowing what Excell is? Thats a bit to much, pun intended.

Some Users Drive Me Nuts! (1)

canfirman (697952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631239)

From TFA:

'But I don't feel I should know more - that is their job. If we did it all ourselves they would be out of a job.'

Oh, it's users like this that drive me nuts! Because this user feels she 'should know more' is the reason we have so many computer viruses/worms running rampant. I'll bet any cash that she'll be the first person who's demanding the IT staff fix her PC when things go wrong - probably because she didn't know but felt she doesn't feel she 'should know more'.

(/rant)

Simple prefixes (1)

rxrfrx (313795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631249)

Megabytes - the amount of disc space on your computer and the amount of memory

Gigabytes - also refers to disc space, but measures it in larger quantities


These people are in Europe for crying out loud! They use the metric system! It's hard to believe that they can't understand that "giga" means something larger than "mega." I mean, it's not as if people can't understand that a kilometer is bigger than a meter is bigger than a centimeter. jeez people

Re:Simple prefixes (1)

malraid (592373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631360)

People lack basic math knowledge, that's it. Sad, I know, but true.

Users (1)

Kiashien (914194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631255)

Well, sadly, this is why Microsoft continues to be in power of the desktop.

People (in general) seem to have no flaming clue what in the name of they are running. Or how to run it.

Or even what to call it. There's plenty of people in my office that walk in, and after 2 minutes glaze over. Even if I'm just talking about Word. They just don't know the lingo. It's kind of odd... Someone who does things that I couldn't dream of doing on Excel (because I simply never had a need to do them, and therefore never learned) doesn't know what a Macro is. And gets confused when I start talking about formatting tables.

It's just.. baffling, I suppose.

Then again, I write helpfiles for software that'll be used by 60-year-old people. Oh-so-much fun, when you can't assume they know what "keyboard" and "mouse" means (yes, I was told I can't assume they even know those terms, or the word Monitor).

Just goes to show... the only way to combat it is to compare it to what you'd say/do if you hired a contractor. Do YOU know what a 2x4 is? Can YOU read a blueprint? Do YOU know the exact term for where two supporting beams come together to form a load-bearing doorway? Do YOU even know that doorways are load-bearing? I suppose it's the same principle. I have no interest in carpentry, yet I have to interact with carpentry-type things daily. Same concept.

However unthinkable it is to Code Monkeys (tm), they don't even want to know.

Sounds like Pebcak (1)

SCO STINKS (858283) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631259)

Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard

Jpeg png, javascript T-1 (5, Funny)

Rinzai (694786) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631264)

GIF USB IT, Java Ethernet Perl. PHP? Jpeg bandwidth kilobyte, iPod Bluetooth nano buffer kilobyte!

Visio, visio--powerpoint PCX GIMP tar c++ RAM. Outlook? Gigahertz!

Level of Knowledge (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631289)

There should be a certain level of understanding when required by office users when they are given access to things like email, computer systems, etc. If they can't learn and function in their role at work... maybe they should be looking for a new job. Ignorance is self afflicted.

Partly IT's fault (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631294)

Users shouldn't have to know about a firewall, and the IT department should have their computers locked down so much, they should never even know there is one.

HOWEVER...if your job requires you to use a computer all day, you should know something about them. Saying "I shouldn't have to know that stuff to do my job" is a copout.

As far as e-mails cloggin the servers....well, that shouldn't happen unless the server is really underpowered/misconfigured. Now, users sending HUGE attachments for no reason...that's the user's fault. I blame digital cameras. Everyone takes pictures with their 3 megapixel camera, and then tries to email the un-resized picture to all of their friends, not realizing how big those files are. And trying to explain how to resize an image to someone who barely can operate their camera is an exercise in futility.

Dangers of Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631295)

So, the other night I was watching a DVD of the old TV show Profit. In one episode, our hero, Jim Profit, is helping a Russian gangster clean his books. At some point, he is supposed to have a new version of the spreadsheet program "modemed" to him (this was pre-Internet) but an enemy of the gangster who working in Profit's company sends him a Trojan horse instead which will allow him to steal all the accounting information and erase it on the host computer.

Of course, when the Russian gangster finds that all his files have been erased, he plans to kill Jim and feed him to some rats. Jim explains to him that the files were stolen electronically, and fortunately when the gangster asks his accountant, "You can do that?" the gangster's accountant nods his head.

Profit is actually a pretty cool evil cracker character, but the FreeLSD OS he uses in the episodes is painful to watch ^_^

Jargon problems? How about Reporting Problems! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631298)

From the second page of the article:
What it all means

The it terms most likely to leave you baffled:

Megabytes - the amount of disc space on your computer and the amount of memory
Gigabytes - also refers to disc space, but measures it in larger quantities
Jpeg - this is a compressed picture file
PDF - portable document format, which means the file is in a format that can be read on any PC
Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.
Java Script - a computer programming language.
Cookies - this enables some web pages to 'remember' your previous visits - for example, an E-Commerce site might use a cookie to remember which items you've placed in your online shopping cart.
Trojan horse - this is a virus disguised as an innocent programme.
Worm - this is a virus that replicates itself until it fills all of the storage space on a drive or network.

No wonder people are confused.
~opticsdoug

Office workers (1)

JymBrittain (880082) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631303)

Office workers, you mean those with IQs of 120+ that accept the term lifelong learning as an important fact of life? Or, do you mean the traditional office worker who thinks learning is like operating a trashcan, ie there's a switch in their arse...when they sit in a desk in a classroom that switch opens their head into which they expect the instructor to just shovel knowledge? Or, do you possibly mean the office worker bright enough to think Intelligent Design is scientific fact? /sarcasm

Learning is bad? (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631304)

A poll of 1,500 staff by recruitment firm Computer People showed that three out of four wasted more than an hour every week simply finding out what some technical term meant.

I see, so learning things and educating yourself is a waste of time. I love our modern mentality.

My Secretary (2, Insightful)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631320)

My secretary just came in and said "my email is broken" Well rather than ask her what the problem is I just went out to see. Seems what one of her stupid Cursor/screensaver/spyware/smiley things locked up and borked the system. I just hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete and ended Outlook, Dog thing (not sure, don't ask) and another unnecessary program. It gave me no real problems and I walked away. She asked what I did, I just say "I am not sure". See the problem is not that they don't get it. The problem is that we try and explain it to people who won't get it. She's 60 and never going to know the difference between 1 GB of Ram and 1.21 Gigawatts. Trying to explain it to her only wastes both our time.

Too Bad - Jargon Is Necessary (1)

taylor_venable (911273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631339)

It sounds heartless, but 'jargon' is absolutely necessary for people who do anything beyond the basics with computers. How else would we communicate precise information? And the truth is, most computer language comes from other contexts, where the phrases are even more established. So if comprehending the difference between kilo-, mega-, and gigabytes is too difficult (even though it's exactly the same for any other measurement dimension, like length or weight!), they should just surf over to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and type it in. Professionals can't spend their whole day educating clueless users; they'll have to do it themselves.

That is normal ... sort of (2, Insightful)

kbahey (102895) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631345)

Actually, this is normal.

Every field has its jargon that is virtually undecipherable for outsiders.

Think about medicine for example, and the names of medical conditions.

Or think about botany, or construction engineering.

Where the problem lies is that unlike the above fields, computers have become pervasive, and embedded everywhere.

If computers have remained in mainframe rooms with an army of programmers and operators, this would never have been an issue. It became an issue after the PC was invented and made it to every office and every home...

Live with it ...

jargon too difficult? (2, Informative)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631347)

My boss has been using computers since the early 80s, and was a tech journalist during that time. He still doesn't even understand the simple concept of a zip file. I don't think it's just the jargon that's too difficult. I think it's simply that computers are too difficult for many people. And no, I don't think that dumbing any of it down will ever make it better. I really think it's just that some people out there are too dense to begin to understand anything remotely technical.

Tell them... (1)

bchapp (905116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631353)

FTA:

Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.

Java Script - a computer programming language.

OK, Excell has been covered. But Java Script is not a programming language, hence the term "SCRIPT". It is a scripting language. Most people wouldn't know the difference only because stupid things like this give misinformation.

Really, if we are going to try and tell people what these terms mean, actually tell them the truth. Don't dumb it down because you think they wont understand. If they care, they want to know what it really means, if they don't care, why should you?

Why did they choose this job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631356)

I'm a pale geek with no muscles, thick glasses, and back problems. I don't work for "two men and a truck", that'd be stupid.

Simple answer - don't use Office then (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631365)

use Open Office [openoffice.org] instead.

Problem solved!

This'll Learn 'EM! (2, Funny)

Legendof_Pedro (900265) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631368)

A massive 61% don't understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.'

Give 'em all 28.8k modems, that'll teach 'em!

I always said (1)

gomel (527311) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631372)

they should be called klein bites, medium bites and grand bites.

don't blame the office worker community (5, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631375)

My experience has been that office workers (non-IT) are not the only ones who are confused by IT jargon.

From the article:

  • Among office workers 26% aren't sure what a firewall does and therefore have been tempted to turn it off.

    Yeah, well a LOT of IT people don't really know what a firewall does either. I've cringed at some of the definitions of firewalls I've heard peer IT workers give for firewall. And, of those who have an inkling, I would not be surprised at all if 75% of IT workers don't really know how and why firewalls work.

  • A massive 61% don't understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes...

    I've seen IT people play fast and loose with these terms too. I've been on projects where estimations are off by 1 to 6 magnitudes because some erudite IT person didn't understand the differences. (I got an emergency call one time because an entire project was going to get canceled because a team member had confused baud (bits per second) with Bps (bytes per second, combined with parity bits, essentially a magnitude difference) and had said what we were attempting would kill our network. I walked them through a pencil estimate and put them back on track that night with an estimate of bandwidth within 2%.

  • Around 48% are confused by different kinds of files like Jpegs and PDFs and don't know how they should be used.

    Again, find me an IT team fo which the majority knows this, too. It's amazing how many times jpg's vs. gif's vs. pdf vs. pbm, etc. are selected mostly on the basis of only what the person involved knows.

  • further 23% are not sure whether to upload or download - requiring further conta ct with the IT department for an explanation.

    yeah, good luck getting consistent answers on this one. Again, my experience, IT people can be amazingly clueless about the notion of "direction" and server-side vs. client-side technology.

  • Nearly 75% of people said they spend more than an hour every week simply trying to find out what something means in order to finish a task, according to the survey by recruitment consultants Computer People.

    Yeah, me too! The IT jargon is inconsistent, overloaded, pseudointellectual, and obfuscated. It's a constantly moving target making true currency in technology jargon a royal pain-in-the-ass.

  • And it isn't just the older generation who feel out of the loop - more than one in two (54%) office workers under 30 have made a blunder because of confusion over the meaning of IT jargon.

    This is NOT a surprise. As may be inferred from my previous points, IT "experts" probably reach this level of blundering also.

The fluid and obfuscated universe of IT jargon has long driven me crazy. And foisting it on the lay community is a crime -- it's fscked enough in the IT universe, who the heck would expect the user community to spend the time and energy to stay current. I would like to think in an industry as driven by rigorous technological underpinnings the language would distill to a more formal, stable, and consistent language. Unfortunately, that's not been my observation.

Theory(?) The language is less driven by the technology and more by the commercial/business bent, thus pushing all in IT to distinguish themselves with the best and most sophisticated sounding terminology. (Just my theory.)

Bad headline. Not too difficult. Unkonwn. (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631382)

It's worth remembering that what you know you had to learn. These technical terms are not "too difficult." They are merely unknown or unfamiliar, and many people couldn't give a rat's ass what they mean, because they don't have to. Danish is not "too difficult for English-speakers," it's just not what they speak. If I said "crocheting patterns and terminology are 'too difficult' for IT workers," you'd spot the fallacy right away.

Fun-ducation! :D (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631392)

Let's teach them computer jargon the fun way [nyud.net] !

Metric system (2, Insightful)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631405)

A massive 61% don't understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients' systems.


This is partially a side effect of not understanding the metric system. Cue Grandpa Simpson's quote about gas milage. While certainly a mail administrator can configure this to avoid overflowing their own system, the end user will still generate a complaint as to why they can't send mail. The real misunderstanding is file size comparisions. For example, if you didn't know how big a "gigabyte" was, you might think one or two gigabytes wasn't very large (as far as emails go).

What the hell? (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631417)

Megabytes - the amount of disc space on your computer and the amount of memory


Gigabytes - also refers to disc space, but measures it in larger quantities


Excell - this helps to run programs on your PC.

Is this supposed to help or hurt things? These definitions don't explain anything. Maybe this is the problem. What they should get is a simple course or some terms with proper definitions posted. If people learn the basics, they can figure out a lot more on their own. These just raise more questions than they answer.

Please do not generalize! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13631423)

Computer Jargon Too Difficult for AMERICAN Office Workers.
Office Workers from other countries are doing just fine.

I didn't need to be told this.... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631427)

The number of idiots I work with who don't know the difference between a hard drive, a modem and their PC is astounding, and most of these people are also home users.

I just love getting the calls about how "My Microsoft isn't working".

It gets even better when you localize (1)

xiando (770382) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631431)

I have the humble opinion that some things just should not be localized and this applies very much to computer jargons. Understanding the commonly used English version is one thing, but it is very much harder when someone translates already hard computer terms into the local gibberish and then makes a short term for the local version which, obviously, is completely different from the English equivalent..

I know the feeling... (2, Insightful)

bassgoonist (876907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631437)

PC Load letter? What the %*&# does that mean!?

blame M$ (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631440)

"Around 48% are confused by different kinds of files like Jpegs and PDFs and don't know how they should be used."

if windows shipped with the default of "extentions turned on", this wouldnt be a problem. Theres also the fact that every time you create a user it defaults to this behavior. I have never found a group policy setting that addresses this issue, but i havent really looked too hard either.

its just one of those intelligent microsoft decisions that make things "easier". because theres nothing like having no idea what a file is when your talking ease of use...
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