Online Extra: Do You Know a FIF from a FRAD?

How about 3G vs. G.lite? Test your technobabble skills by taking our not-exactly-college-level tech quiz

If the hallmarks of the New Economy were creativity and invention, nowhere were each more eloquently expressed than in the language of the times. Obscure terms, inscrutable acronyms, and plain old Net slang appeared and vanished within the half-life of an average dot-com (remember the 2,400-baud modem?). The words helped define not just the tools of the age but the energy and attitude that (catch your breath) powered it.

Even though the tech titans have lost some luster, much of their language lingers on. We thought it might be entertaining -- even educational -- to review the technolingo that has survived the dot-com meltdown, terms that may be around until, say, next year. You can join in the fun by participating in this BusinessWeek Online quiz.

Many of the definitions for the terms you'll find below come from,, and Others are just made up.

We've even provided all the answers (no peeking!) so you can score yourself. Find out if you've been tone-deaf to the whole era or if you're a geek guru. Here goes:


A -- Metal containers with handles used for cooking or brewing

B -- Piss off, tomorrow is Saturday (Australian slang)

C -- Plain old telephone service

D -- Multiple packages of an illegal substance

2. G.lite

A -- A diet drink

B -- Technology that makes possible "always on" digital communication over copper lines

C -- A new beverage from Miller Brewing

D -- Old-generation wireless technology


A -- Short for "family life and sexual health"

B -- Florida Alliance for Safe Homes

C -- A type of solid-state electronic memory used to store everything from music to photos

D -- Technology that lets Web developers draw animations or import images

4. X2

A -- The X-Files II, a sequel in which Mulder finally proposes to Scully

B -- A not-quite XXX porn flick

C -- A technology for delivering data at rates of up to 56 kilobytes per second over POTS

D -- Underwear size of the typical pizza-and-pop-guzzling programmer


A -- "Fred" misspelled

B -- Short for "freaking ridiculous application device"

C -- A First-rate ad

D -- Short for "frame relay assembler/disassembler"

6. BER

A -- What "beer" sounds like if you've had too many

B -- First name of Borochov, a "Marxist Zionist" born in Russia in 1881 who died shortly after the Russian Revolution

C -- "Beware of elephants on the right," an irrereverent acronym technoids use for corporate bean-counters

D -- Short for "bit error rate"


A -- A soft, amorphous mass

B -- Binary large object, a collection of data stored in databases

C -- Another name for jellyfish

D -- A popular online game

8. UPS

A -- Unpredictable processing system (a synonym for "That *&%!#@ computer!")

B -- United Parcel Service

C -- Uninterruptable power supply

D -- An acronym for a big labor union

9. 2G

A -- Twice the earth's normal gravity

B -- Two thousand dollars

C -- Today's wireless network, designed to handle voice calls but not provide Internet access

D -- Short for "To Go," as in "G2G!" (meaning "Got to go!")

10. 3G

A -- Three times the earth's normal gravity

B -- Next-generation wireless network that can handle voice and data and Web browsing

C -- Extra-large t-shirt to go with the X2 underwear

D -- Short for Star Trek: The Third Generation

11. Palmtop

A -- Leaves at the top of a palm tree

B -- A small computer that fits in your hand

C -- Name of a magazine devoted to the products of a company called Psion

D -- Name of a publisher based in Seattle

12. FIF

A -- Short for a dog named Fifi

B -- Short for a cat named FiFi. (A Web page dedicated to her can be found at

C -- Fractal image format, a graphic file standard

D -- Nickname of actress whose real name was Marie-Rose Angelina Yvonne Lussier

13. MCI

A -- Name of a phone company

B -- Airport code for Kansas City (Mo.) International Airport

C -- An acronym for media control interface

D -- Most crazy intern

14. Mouseover

A -- A rodent that has been hit by a truck

B -- A JavaScript element that triggers a change in a Web graphic when a computer mouse passes over it

C -- A misspelling for the technique, used by balding men, of adding thickness to a combover through a heavy application of styling foam

D -- A rich dessert bathed in cognac

15. RTT

A -- Rocket-thrown torpedo

B -- Round trip to Toronto

C -- Real-time technology

D -- Right. That's that. (As in, this is the last question!)



To see how you did out of a possible 100 points, simply add up your score based on the table below. Each correct answer is worth four points.


A - 0 (We're talking technical terms here!)

B - 1 (For knowing Australian -- it can be a difficult language)

C - 4

D - 0


A - 0

B - 4

C - 0

D - 0


A - 1 (Only for programmers -- for even being aware of those two aspects of life)

B - 0 (True, this organization exists. But this quiz is about technical terms!)

C - 4

D - 4


A - 0 (Yeah, right. Well, maybe someday)

B - 0

C - 4

D - 0


A - 0

B - 0

C - 0

D - 4


A - 0

B - 1 (Hey, you deserve a point for knowing Russian history!)

C - 0

D - 4


A - 0 (Sorry, you were thinking of blob, not BLOB)

B - 4

C - 0

D - 4


A - 4

B - 0 (Not exactly a tech term. No freebies in this quiz)

C - 4

D - 0


A - 4

B - 0

C - 4

D - 0


A - 4

B - 4

C - 0

D - 4


A - 0

B - 4

C - 4

D - 4


A - 0

B - 0

C - 4

D - 1 (Congratulations, you know some obscure celebrities. Her stage name was Fifi D'Orsay)



B-4 (Maybe you travel too much!)




A - 0

B - 4

C - 0

D - 0


A - 4

B - 0

C - 4

D - 0


0 to 10 -- Loser!

10 to 50 -- Reasonably knowledgeable -- but no geeks' cocktail-party star

50 to 70 -- Very good, indeed! You must be a programmer!

70 to 100 -- Get a life

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.