That’s just super (and a note on baking)

Microspeak has its own lexicon. (Even larger dictionary here. I take issue with some of the definitions, but they are generally accurate.)

In addition to the rather extensive use of the word "so" as an introductory particle, another peculiarity of Microspeak is the unusually frequent use of the word "super" as an intensifier, particular when used in the phrase "super excited".

Today's contribution to the lexicon:

Bake - (of a code change) to build confidence by observing its behavior over a period of time. "The fix seems to be working in our branch but I want to let it bake another few weeks before we RI." Related: "Bake time" - the time spent baking. "Fully-baked" - ready for distribution to a larger group. Etymology: Possibly influenced by "half-baked".

Comments (20)
  1. tsrblke says:

    If I had to guess on the etymology of "bake" I’d have to go with ceramic baking (i.e. the kiln (sp?)).  Just my best guess, but it makes sense.  You let things sit in the kiln just a bit longer to see if their done.

  2. Chris says:

    Don’t feel bad about "so." Even Beowulf’s author(s) had problems not using it.

  3. dhchait says:

    It’s not just the English language, MS also has their own little metric system! :-)

    "PowerPoint Centimeters Different from Actual Centimeters"

  4. If you’re talking to designers in UX, or SDETs dealing with security policy, "bake" has a different meaning entirely.  UI designers frequently undergo a "baking" process to generate ideas and the SDETs undergo the same process to deal with the terrific stress of their drab and thankless lives, since they are only noticed when things go horribly wrong.

    For many of these hapless souls, it all started when they were children and had unfettered access to EasyBake ovens.

  5. Alun Jones says:

    There’s a lot of internal terms that I missed being clued-in on, when I joined.  For instance, what are you to do when someone asks you to "S+ me"?  Why, send them a meeting invitation, of course!

    Acronyms like ZBB, RI, FI, PUM, GPM, and so on, are all thrown about with abandon, as if everyone understands what they mean – often in conversations external to the company, as if the world at large knew (or cared) about Microsoft’s names for their internal positions.

    But "super" is still the one that gets me – I think an award ought to be given to any Microsoft employee that can get through a presentation without using it.

  6. JenK says:

    S+ is a holdover from the pre-Outlook days when Schedule+ was the time management system of choice.

    I mainly remember how prevelant "fuck" was. One friend distinguished herself by NOT using profanity. She categorized it as "too inprecise to be useful". Come to think of it, I don’t remember her using "super" either.

  7. Ilya says:

    "Bake" is a useful word indeed; Also seen it used among the Mozilla developers, e.g. "Let the change bake in the trunk before we can merge it into the stable branch".

  8. Daev says:

    This is actually useful, since I’ve noticed that Microsoft developers take my questions more seriously when I sound clued-in on the jargon.

    One term nobody has mentioned yet is "repro" for what we in the outside world call a "bug report."

  9. Tim Farley says:

    There is an older lexicon here:

    I don’t think it has been updated in a while, and may largely overlap the others.  Just a link for the completists.

  10. Simon Cooke says:

    This is actually useful, since I’ve noticed

    > that Microsoft developers take my questions

    > more seriously when I sound clued-in on the

    > jargon.


    > One term nobody has mentioned yet is "repro"

    > for what we in the outside world call a "bug

    > report."

    Erm… repro isn’t a Microsoft-specific one. All it means is a way of getting a bug to trigger in a reproducible fashion – as opposed to having to deal with a wild goose chase to get things done.

  11. Joel Spolsky says:

    "super" comes from Bill Gates, who says it all the time — the weirdness in his usage is using it as a modifier of an adjective.

    In the days before Word was the email editor, there was this weird conceit of MS execs to dash off email without spell checking, and to deliberately leave in typos as a way of showing that you were too important and busy to backspace. BillG and SteveB had a tendency to leave in any typos that didn’t reduce the recipient’s ability to understand the message. Most employees didn’t immitate this strange practice, but occasionally you would find a really ambitious program manager deliberately emulating the practice, and looking kind of lame in the process.

  12. Joel Spolsky says:

    Oh… and "so," apparently, comes from German? It’s starting to seep out of Microsoft into the geek world at large. I’ve even seen blog entries by oblivious MSFT PM’s where every paragraph starts with "So,"

  13. Dean Harding says:

    I have a friend who uses "so" as an introductory particle all the time. "So I was at the shops the other day…"

    Peronally, I tend to use "anyway" in a similar fashion, though I try to stop myself when I notice it’s getting a little out of hand.

  14. :: Wendy :: says:

    It seems like conversational glue used for stringing sentences,  ideas, together.  Others I’ve heard ‘over-used’ include:

    – sorta

    – like

    – and then

    – (s)he says

    – consequently

    – yeah..

    and then, so, I’d sorta like, yeah to consequently. like, he said, to have a beer…

  15. David Conrad says:

    Joel, did you intentionally misspell "imitate" just to impress us that you’re too important and busy to backspace?

  16. Scott says:

    I think going with "immitate" displays a shocking lack of efficiency.  That’s 14% more letters than imitate.

  17. Stepto says:

    I actually got a phrase put into the "Microspeak dictionary" one time.  (for those who dont know thats our own internal list of "Microsoftisms")

    "Enabling Sticky Keys: Spilling a coke on your keyboard.  usage: I’ve only had my new tablet for 6 months but I had to get a new one because I enabled sticky keys on it."


  18. Dan McCarty says:

    Reading Jensen Harris’s blog teh other day–I’m leaving that typo in to show how silly^H^Himportant I am–I came across the word "actionable."  Having never seen it before, I looked it up.

    actionable: adj. Giving cause for legal action

    …which was clearly incorrect for the context it was being used in.

    According to a Microsoftie, "actionable" in Microsoft-ese means "We can do something about it" or "fixable."

    I’m a little confused why someone just didn’t use "doable," "feasible" or "possible," which seem to fit the definition perfectly and have the advantage of being perfectly cromulent words.

  19. John says:

    The difference between "actionable" and "fixable" is twofold.  First, an "actionable" entity is sufficiently well-specified that progress can be made on it can  right now, and second, an "actionable" entity need not be something which is broken.  That is, "this plan is actionable" is both syntactically and semantically acceptable Micro-jargon, meaning (roughly) "This is sufficiently well specified and staffed that we can safely start work on it without a high risk of wasted effort."

    Your other proposed synonyms don’t really work very well in that case: something might well be clearly feasible, but unstaffed, or possible but too cloudy to actually start work on.

  20. A little folksy jargon.

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