NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2002
A Review by John R. Clark, WebMaster
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Years ago I read a book which argued that computers had to be developed in the english speaking world, because english was the only language that would accept new words without question. English will accept words that have different meanings depending on the context of use, words that have no root structure to the ancient languages, and words that are made from the first letters of an expression.

Acronyms -- or words made from first letters of an expression have dominated the computer field. Words like BOS which stands for Basic Operating Systems and GIF which is Graphics Interchange Format have dominated the computer field.

The Jargonary Development Team at http://www.jargonary.com have developed a most interesting shareware product which contains 130,000+ descriptions of computer terms. This is not just a dictionary, but an interactive listing which allows links to definitions of words within definitions. For several of the terms there are hot links to www, ftp, e-mail, and newsgroups.

The product is very easy to use with a very short learning curve. Naturally my first choice was APL and it came up with only a name. I thought that is not much, but then I noted the color of the name and clicked on it and got a lot of data which I found to be very accurate including links to the various types of APL. The links are colored and bold face in the text and if it is to an internet site the URL address pops up at the bottom of the display. This interactive feature is very handy.

The terms go back as far as I can recall. It knew about SOAP and FORTRANSIT as well as all the various FORTRANs that have at one time been the dominant language.

The display is divided into two main sections. On the left is the description, and on the right is a list of similar terms starting in alpha order. This means if you only know the first or the first two letters of a term you can type them in and then scan forward from there. Actually this feature is a modern version of the thumbnail indentations of the big old dictionaries. At the top of the display are back and forward buttons to use your mouse to bounce around a list of terms. For old timers or beginning students the right side of the display is handy, just type in a couple letters like 'IB' and get links to about all the IBM computers which is usefull for remembering the main frame days or writing papers on the good old days.

Jargonary is roughly a 3.2 Mbyte download which is a self extracting zip file. When executed it wants to default to c:\program files, but you can do a browse and put it anywhere. I like to keep application files separate from the operating system. Once expanded it takes a bit over 12 Mbytes and has its own "Uninstal" function.

Jargonary is a growing system with updates to be scheduled every 6 to 8 weeks. Proposed additions are '.extension database' and 'URLs .country domains'. This will be handy on checking on a type of a file and the location where it came from.

Drawbacks: When the Jargonary pops up, hangs most of the display off the bottom right edge of the display. It is simple to square this away by clicking on the upper left corner of the window and then on "Maximize". This does not bother me, I contacted support@jargonary.com for a possible fix. -- Support indicates this will be fixed probably before this article is mailed.

The install places an icon on the task bar -- I made a copy of it which I moved to my "tools" folder and deleted from the task bar.

I find Jargonary a most interesting tool. If I were back in my old teaching position I would be pushing the department to acquire a site license for my students. For an individual it is well worth the $19.00 charge for the product.

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