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MIS stands for Management Information System, and in schools describes whatever electronic system the school uses to manage its staff and pupil data. As well as basic record keeping, it may also include electronic registration and finance functionality.

School MIS packages are usually bloody awful. The most commonly used one in UK state schools is SIMS, which is a prime example of the previous generalisation.


A fudge is an inelegant or clumsy solution to a problem. Usually a quick fix, will more often than not come back to haunt you if you don’t fix it properly later, and almost always not supported by the manufacturer. The occasional ‘dirty fudge’ or superlative ‘filthy fudge’ are indications of the extremity of the inelegance.

May also be used as a verb:

“The licence activation doesn’t work properly, so I fudged it instead.”

(Not this kind of Fudge)

Mysterious Blue Smoke

As Adam Savage says:

“…when you see the mysterious blue smoke, electronics don’t work any more.”

Curiously, it also smelled like TCP.

IT vs. ICT

These are essentially the same thing. The difference is that the term ICT is now the dominant term in education, but is rarely used outside schools, at least in the UK. Even in education, by the time you reach university level the term IT is much more widely used than ICT.

In the context of my work and this blog, ICT refers to the curriculum subject that is taught up until students leave school at 18. IT refers to the job I do and that is done in industry. I am an IT Network Manager. My teaching colleagues are ICT teachers. This is by no means a universal nomenclature, but it is the one I use.


A brownout is when the mains electrical power voltage drops below normal; similar to a blackout, but instead of the lights going out, they go dim.

When it comes to computers and the effects of a brownout, all bets are off. Depending on the severity and duration of the brownout, and the quality of the computer’s power supply, it may be fine. It may spontaneously reboot itself. It may do anything in between, including memory corruption, application crashes, displaying a BSOD, or causing the printer to start printing MELON MELON MELON *** OUT OF CHEESE *** over and over.


Among the many derisory terms we can safely employ in the presence of students, Donkey is one of my favourites. It was also quite popular amongst the staff in general at my last school, resulting in calls from teachers in IT rooms that would begin “I’ve got some donkey in my class who’s forgotten his password.”


This donkey was a leaving gift from MrsRobinson and her staff. It was “to remind you of all the donkeys you’re leaving behind.”

Donkey does not yet have a name. Suggestions?

The Round File

The ’round file’ is where we file almost all the software install discs that come with new hardware, along with any software we’ve decided is unfit for purpose, or unworthy of us spending any time trying to make it work correctly.

A: Here’s the software install disc for the new printer.

B: Thanks, I’ll just put that in my round file. Read More…