10 Secret Code Words IT People Use

IT professionals can appear like angels in human form in times of need. With a few mouse clicks, they eliminate problems that baffled you. But not all technical problems are as hopeless as they seem.

Some computer problems have simple solutions that you can try yourself. Tap or click here for five easy solutions to common technical problems. If you harass an IT worker with one of these simple problems, they may roll their eyes and tell their friends about your “user error.”

That’s one of the many insider tech terms IT people use when you’re not around. Only those in the know will have an idea what they mean when they say “Biological Interface Error” or “ESTO”. If you want to know what these terms mean, check out this list of 10 secret code words IT people use.


It stands for “Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities.” This is a technical term that indicates that you are not capable enough to use your equipment. They may use this phrase if you don’t understand how to make the most of your device or if you make a simple mistake that betrays your lack of knowledge.

It’s a bit mean, but look at it from an IT person’s perspective.

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They know machines inside out, so they fully understand how capable smartphones, computers and other devices are. These gadgets are 100% focused on efficiency, calculations and more. By comparison, we mortals have a lot more to focus on.

For example, computers don’t have to worry about fighting traffic, picking kids up from school, preparing meals or socializing. So it’s easy for us not to remember everything our equipment does. There is always a learning curve for us.

So, from an IT person’s point of view, your device may be much more capable than you are – for now. The great thing about this is that you can always learn more about your devices. Tap or click here for the best online learning resources for developing computer skills


This one is quite similar to the code above. It stands for “Equipment Smarter Than Operator”. When you hear someone say that about you, it’s understandable if it stings.

But neither EEOC nor ESTO will sting as much as this next codeword. Here’s one that’s actually mean.

3. ID10T Error

You never want to hear this one. (It’s pronounced ID-10-T, by the way. Read those letters with a 10 in the middle.)

When you hear it out loud, it doesn’t sound like an insult. But look at the word ‘ID10T’. Does it remind you of anything? If you think it resembles the word “idiot,” you’re in the right place. Ouch!

Here is an example of an ID10T error. Suppose your mouse doesn’t work, so call IT and ask them for help. They only come to say, “Looks like your mouse isn’t plugged in.”

Sure, they might not say anything to your face, but they might have a funny story for the rest of the IT team when they come back: “I just dealt with a major ID10T bug. You won’t believe this!”

4. Code 18

This is one of the rare codes that lets you know it’s a code. Although at first glance you may not know what it refers to. Here’s a hint: the 18 refers to inches.

In other words, Code 18 means “The problem is 18 inches away from the screen.” Yes, it’s another way for IT staff to say that the problem you’re dealing with is due to user error.


You may think this is a fun way to say, “This job was as easy as a walk in the park. I should have taken a picnic basket because it was so effortless!” Unfortunately, when an IT person says PICNIC in the context of helping you, it’s not their frame of mind.

More realistically, they use an acronym that stands for “Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.” In other words, they say the problem came from you, not the computer. It’s okay: User errors are common.

get this. A joint study by security firm Tessian and Stanford University professor Jeff Hancock found that: Employee mistakes cause 88% of data breach incidents

So if you ever hear this term, don’t feel too dejected. It is not uncommon for employees to struggle with their computers. Some make such big mistakes that they put their business at risk – so if you’ve never done that, you’re one step ahead.

If you want to stop cybersecurity problems before they start, we’ve got some resources for you to check out. Tap or click here to see a tricky password-stealing phishing scam in action.

Many corporate breaches start as phishing attacks, so it’s good to see how they work. That way, you’ll be better able to spot scams before they fool you. Tap or click for help detecting phishing attacks.


Sometimes the problem you are dealing with is not in the computer. Sometimes the problem exists between keyboard and chair or PEBKAC for short. Yes, they say you caused your technical problems.

If you don’t want to hear this term, you may want to learn some basic technical issues that you can usually solve on your own. Tap or click here to learn how to fix five common computer problems.

7. Problem with layer 8

You may not get these if you don’t understand the OSI model for networking. Computers connected over a network use a complex architecture. By “complex” we mean that there are seven layers in the OSI model for networks.

So the eighth layer has nothing to do with the hardware. It has to do with the interaction of humans with the computer system. In other words, “Layer 8” refers to you!

8. Short circuit between the headphones

Here’s a creative one. Think about what’s in between headphones. When you put on a headset, your brain is somewhere in between.

For example, stupid user mistakes are often called “short circuit between the headphones”. I’ve heard of pilots, farmers, engineers and manufacturers using this term. It’s not mean, because it refers to those moments that we all have.

After all, “brain freeze” is one thing. We all make simple mistakes. Or, in other words, we all have to deal with a “short circuit between the headphones”.

9. IBM Error

No, this has nothing to do with the computer hardware company. But when you learn what this acronym means, you’ll wish it were. In reality IBM means ‘Idiot behind the machine’.

Yep: This is yet another acronym that refers to human error. Your machine is not at fault. Your problems are caused by you, according to the person who says this.

Hopefully no one will say this when you’re in earshot. If they do, turn around and say, “I know what that means, so the ‘I’ doesn’t apply!” That should make you feel a little better afterwards.

10. Biological Interface Error

This one is pretty clear. There is nothing biological about a computer. It’s a metal machine.

Humans are biological machines made of blood, flesh, fat, water and other natural materials. Thus, a human error can also be called a biological interface error. Smart, huh?

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