Are your tech friends making fun of you?

Have you heard of user error? It’s the official way of saying that the computer, phone, or other device that appears to be having problems is not the source of the problem… you are .

Let’s say you buy some external speakers for your laptop, plug them in, and they don’t work. There’s a real problem if you’ve done everything right, but it’s user error if you keep plugging them into the microphone jack instead of the headphone jack.

In other words, user error is the technical language of a mistake, and we all make it. Considering the complexity of our technology, it is not surprising that many mistakes are made with our computers, smartphones, home networks, etc.

Unfortunately, your pompous techie friend, IT helpdesk agent, or tech support representative will, on occasion, use their knowledge of your lack of knowledge to make fun of your user errors.

You may not know the difference in an EEOC, HAL, or ID-10T matter, but the technician you ask for help knows…. and he knows that you don’t. One of them is a real problem, and the other two are not so nice ways to make fun of you without you knowing.

Here’s a full list of euphemisms for what the pretentious tech you’re talking to really means: You’re an idiot .

ID-10T: The “IDIOT” error

That’s right, this one goes straight to the heart.

Pronounced eye-dee-ten-tee , this is an “old favorite” among techies. It rolls off the tongue and sounds as legitimate as any other computer jargon you’ll hear.

“Hey Bob! Yeah, that mouse problem sounds like an ID-10T bug. Try plugging it into the correct port and see if that helps.”

The ID-10T joke has almost reached a point of common use. Consider yourself lucky if it hasn’t been addressed to you yet.

PEBKAC: There is a problem between the keyboard and the chair

Your technical friend is very funny, isn’t she? How creative it is to physically trace the source of the problem for yourself!

This is normally pronounced as one word, pronounced as peb-kak . Most of the time, I see PEBKAC kicking it internally among tech support groups, so you may have never heard of it.

“I swear…nothing but calls from PEBKAC today.”

You’ll sometimes see this as PEBCAK (interchanging chair and keyboard ). Other times you’ll see computer or monitor changed to keyboard , doing all sorts of variations on it, like PEBCAC or PEBMAC.

PICNIC is a related one I see more often these days, probably because it’s so easy to remember. This stands for Problem In Chair Not In Computer .

EEOC: Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities

This one sounds so technical that it hardly feels wrong.

Look, we’ve tried everything. I guess it’s just an EEOC. There’s not much I can do for you there.”

The implication here is pretty clear: you’re not smart enough to use anything you’re having trouble with.

RTFM: Read the damn manual

This is more of an angry reaction than a statement about your intelligence.

“Interesting problem… sounds like you need RTFM!”

This particular techno-slur has a variation on the “F” part that we won’t explain in detail.

Code 18: The problem is 18″ from the screen

Another “proximity” joke here.

“I do not know what else to tell you. It must be a Code 18, which there is nothing I can do about.”

The metric version of this prank is Code 40 or Error 40 , so don’t let your centimeter-wearing friends get away from you.

Please note, however, that there is actually a Code 18 error that you can see for yourself – it is a Device Manager error code. No, it’s not that Bill Gates is making it difficult for you, it means that you need to reinstall the device drivers for whatever hardware you see them on in Device Manager.

Layer 8: That’s you

The OSI model is one way of looking at how computer systems communicate. The “deepest” layer is Layer 1 , the physical layer , and ends at Layer 7 , the application layer – which it interacts with.

If you take the OSI model a little further, you get Layer 8 (you), Layer 9 (your organization), and Layer 10 (your government).

“I have looked at your problem from all angles and have determined that it is a Layer 8 problem.”

This is, without a doubt, one of the dumbest ways to insult anyone who doesn’t have a computer science degree.

More user error pranks

Here is an extensive list of user error pranks, mainly for your reference so you can respond appropriately, but let’s be honest… sometimes it’s fun to hand them out too.

Additional User Error User Error What It Means Buffer 1K Implies low learnability (1K is tiny) C2K Chair 2 Keyboard problem CBE Carbon Based Error Code 18 Problem is 18″ away from screen EBCAC error Computer to chair error EBK error Behind keyboard EEOC Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities ESO Equipment Human Keyboard Interface Error I/O Error Human Interface Error I/O Error Ignorant Operator Error (of a legitimate input/output error) ID Error 10T The “IDIOT” error Layer 8 You are Layer 8 in the OSI model Operator Headspace Error PEBKAC There is a problem between the keyboard and the PICNIC chair Problem in the chair Not in the computer Reboot Computer RCSO, Slap Operator RTFM Read the Freaking Manual TSTO Too Stupid To Trade UPI User Perception Issue

While no one deserves the above “jokes” thrown at them, there are a number of things you can do to make that interaction with tech support, or even your know-it-all friend, a little more successful.