Microspeak: knobs

Recall that Microspeak is not merely for jargon exclusive to Microsoft, but also for jargon that you need to know because nobody will explain it to you.

Here are some citations.

This class has a lot of knobs and controls to support many scenarios, but are they all necessary?

The controls have a number of events and knobs to allow you to customize the animations.

The performance power slider controls knobs such as CPU performance, and GPU scheduling.

In informal discussion, knobs are things that allow you to configure something.

The term is a throwback to old-timey control panels with lots of dials and things to play with.

Many teams are building custom solutions because our website fails to provide the knobs and levers necessary to present the data in manner they require.

Sometimes you'll see knobs paired with levers for extra old-timey goodness.

Comments (10)
  1. camhusmj38 says:

    This word has an unfortunate secondary meaning in the UK & Ireland, which renders its use in a workplace setting awkward.

    1. Ken in NH says:

      It has the same secondary meaning in America too, but mostly has a personal insult in place of other euphemisms for male anatomy.

    2. Brian_EE says:

      That’s because you don’t have a former White House intern whose last name you can use to mean the same thing.

    3. I have a similar experience talking about the cryptographic concept of a “number used once”.

      1. camhusmj38 says:

        Yes, that is an unfortunate word.

  2. null1024 says:

    I’ve always heard Windows setting controls referred to as knobs, but it’s pretty neat to know that it’s also internal terminology at MS.

  3. pm100 says:

    related word ‘knobage’ – the degree to which a system exposes knobs. “There an awful lot of knobage there”, “Can we trim the knobage please”,

  4. George says:

    There was a column by P.J. Plauger long ago called something like “The Knob on the Back of the Set”, using “knob” in a slightly different sense: the place where a programming language didn’t do quite what you wanted out of the box, and needed fiddling, as with old TV sets.

  5. Vince Valenti says:

    A variation on this would be “nerd knobs” for those knobs that are for the more advanced user.

  6. Brian Knoblauch says:

    Used frequently around here such as describing software without any adjustments available, where you just have to live with it as-is – “no knobs to twiddle”

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