"what Does This Mean?" - The Newcomers' Glossary


Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2008
So, you're totally new to this place (and maybe you haven't come across handhelds like this before?), and want a crash course in some of the terminology and phrases that quite commonly come up in conversations here? You've come to the right place. Here you will find some of these terms defined in plain-English, which should help you out. The list is in alphabetical order, and consists of two sections - "Common Terms and Abbreviations", and "Forum Dialect".

This document was written by observing forum conversations for several months, and picking up on terms which came up a lot, which many know, but which some who will be joining us may not know yet. If you find any problems with this list, or want to suggest additional terms or corrections (I am not a programmer, so I may well have made some mistakes in my understanding of some things), please drop me a PM and I will edit accordingly.


Common Terms and Abbreviations

Ångström - Sometimes also referred to as "The Ångström Distribution", or written simply as "Angstrom", this is the Linux distribution (see the entry "Linux" for more information) that the Pandora's operating system is based on. Ångström was created as part of an effort to make a user-friendly Linux distribution intended for embedded devices such as handhelds and set-top boxes.

ARM - The type of processor that the Pandora uses. The specific kind is an ARM Cortex-A8.

Case - Whilst this is not an uncommon term, around here it just as often refers to the plastic housing of the Pandora hardware as it does to carry-cases!

Compiling - The process of building computer code into a program that a user can run. This is sometimes, but not always, interchangable with the term "recompiling". See the entry "Recompiling" for more information.

Dependencies - In the Linux world, this refers to other programs or shared files that an application depends upon in order to run.

Dingoo A320 - A low-cost handheld from China which uses Mini SD Cards for storage, that took off quite rapidly in 2009, taking many people by surprise. A community grew up around it pretty quickly, and it has a port of Linux (named Dingux) which has allowed more flexibility in running and programming things for the machine. Sometimes also known as the Gemei A320.

DSP - Short for "Digital Signal Processor", this is a dedicated microprocessor that can decode various media with no impact on the CPU.

Emulator - A piece of software whose job it is to fool software and games written for older computers and consoles into thinking that they're running on the machines that they were originally designed to run on. A device such as the Retrode can be used in conjunction with an emulator in order to play games for some classic video game consoles from their original cartridges, via a USB port.

GP2X - This handheld was made by GamePark Holdings (this is a different company that split off from the original GamePark, made up of people who had different ideas for what the original company's next handheld should be) in 2005, and is considered to be the successor to the GP32. It used SD Cards for its storage, and people were able to write their own software for it from its date of release.

GP2X Wiz - GamePark Holdings' second machine, the follow-up to the GP2X. It's smaller in size, has an OLED touch-screen, and has a unique action button layout which has at times divided opinions. Like the GP2X, it uses SD Cards for storage, and many applications are available for it.

GP32 - A handheld console made by GamePark, which was released in 2001, and caused this community to come into existence. It was originally meant to be a competitor to the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, but due to its use of the then-common SmartMedia memory card format, people began writing their own software for it, and the rest is history.

Keymat - The correct term for the singular part that makes up the Pandora's keyboard. The keymat is actually one piece of rubber with hard-topped keys on it, not a keyboard with separate keys.

Linux - This is the kernel (essentially, the nucleus of a computer operating system) around which the Pandora's operating system is based. The names "Linux distribution", or simply "Linux", are also sometimes used to refer to this type of operating system as a whole, once the kernel is packaged up with other software and made into a product meant for end-users. In some cases, some believe it is more proper to refer to such an operating system as "GNU/Linux", but that is a political debate that is outside of the scope of this glossary.

Nubs - The term used to refer to the specific form factor of the flat analogue "sticks" that the Pandora has.

OMAP - When used in reference to the Pandora, this is simply referring to the OMAP3530 SOC that is used in the machine. When used in reference to other machines, it's usually done so in reference to either the same chipset, or a related one.

OpenGL - Short for "Open Graphics Library", OpenGL was originally developed by Silicon Graphics Inc., and defines a cross-platform standard for programmers to interface with graphics hardware. The Pandora uses a "reduced" version of this standard, intended for embedded devices, called OpenGL ES (short for "OpenGL for Embedded Systems"). Software written with OpenGL in mind may need to be adjusted for OpenGL ES when it is ported to the Pandora.

OS - An abbreviation for the words "operating system", which refers to a software product that is intended to work with the components of a computer, and (usually) make the operation of the machine easier for the user. Linux, Mac OS X, BSD UNIX, and Microsoft Windows are all examples of operating systems.

Package - In Linux terms, a package often refers to a ready-to-use piece of software. Imagine a boxed-up item of computer software, but in virtual form, and you're pretty close to the intended meaning.

PND - The main software system for the Pandora. A PND file (recognisable by having the extension ".pnd") contains the application itself, and several other things that the user doesn't need to concern themselves with if they don't want to. The system requires no installation or uninstallation - you simply put your PND files onto your SD Card, and when you insert the card, your Pandora will see the PNDs and add them to the relevant menus with no user intervention necessary. If you no longer need a PND file, simply delete it, and the application will be gone.

Porting - A process whereby a programmer converts an application that relies on a particular type of processor or system to work on a different type of processor or system. This requires the program's original source code.

Recompiling - The process of building open source code that's usually used on one type of machine, on a different one instead. If someone says something to the effect of "Most likely, all it will need is a recompile.", this means that any user can try to build this, and it may just work. This is quite easy to do, and when all goes as expected this process usually does not require any programming knowledge - just an ability to follow simple instructions.

Repository - A term often used in the Linux world, which refers to an online location containing pre-packaged software that's ready for the user to grab and install. Its name comes from a term that's a synonym for warehouse, so imagine a warehouse full of boxed software (see the entry "Package" for more information) that's waiting for you to pick it up, and you've got the right idea.

SD Card - An SD Card (short for "Secure Digital Card") is a type of small memory card, and is the one used as the Pandora's primary method of storage. SD Cards comes in a variety of sizes, with the sizes of 4GB and above more properly referred to as "SDHC Cards" (SDHC is short for "Secure Digital High Capacity"), although most people simply refer to them all as SD Cards. It is best to buy SD Cards from only from well-known, reputable stores, due to a plague of fakes which lie about their capacity, which has flooded eBay and the stock of some third-party sellers on otherwise-reputable and well-known online retail websites. For more information on this problem, please click here.

SDL - SDL is short for "Simple DirectMedia Layer". It is a library used by programmers (often for making games), which allows simple access to the hardware it's running on. It's cross-platform, and as a result, this can help to make porting software that uses it easier.

SOC - This is short for "System-on-[a]-Chip", and refers to the chipset that makes up part of the guts of the Pandora, the OMAP3530 from Texas Instruments.

USB HID - This is short for "Universal Serial Bus Human Interface Device". Human Interface Devices tend to "just work" when plugged into a device that supports them. This standard includes mice, keyboards, and most joypads and joysticks. Note that if the device you want to use is USB 1.1, you will need to use a USB 2.0 hub to connect it to your Pandora - please click here for more information on this.

Wiki - A type of website where the pages can be edited by anyone, the most famous example being Wikipedia. The name comes from a Hawaiian word meaning "quick" or "fast". There is a Pandora-specific wiki that contains information such as compatibility lists and support documents, amongst other things - this can be found here.

x86 - A type of processor made by Intel and AMD, which is found in many generic desktop computers and also in more recent Apple Macintosh machines. If you are using a machine running the Microsoft Windows operating system, you are almost certainly using an x86 processor in your machine, and if you are using an Apple Macintosh manufactured since 2007, you are definitely using one. Software written for x86 processors cannot be run on ARM processors without being ported.


Forum Dialect

Bikeshedding - One of the names often given to a 1999 internet mailing list variation on the 1957 Parkinson's Law of Triviality, which contrasted the development of a nuclear power plant with the building of a bicycle shed. The "law" basically goes that you can easily get approval for a complex power plant, as many people are not familiar with their workings and won't speak up for fear of possibly looking silly, but if you want to build a bike shed next to it, you will quite likely get caught up in large debates over the trivial matters relating to the shed.

Confirmed: [Insert ludicrous text here] - Another forum meme, this one referring to particular, and usually fictional, Pandora features or Pandora-related events being confirmed. It is usually used in a humourous manner, and originated due to misinterpretations of what members of the Pandora team had said (in a fashion much like the childhood game of "Chinese Whispers").

Hellollo - A Pandorian greeting, established when EvilDragon made a typographical error with a touch-screen keyboard, in a video demonstrating a prototype Pandora unit that didn't have a case or a keyboard. Hellollo is sometimes misspelled as "Hellolo".

Magic Nub Dance - A term used to refer to the calibration of the Pandora's analogue nubs, which must be performed during the boot-up process. This is done by making sure the nubs are centred before powering the machine on, and then pushing the nubs up, releasing them, pushing them down, releasing them, pushing them left, releasing them, pushing them right, and releasing them. The process is also sometimes referred to by other similar permutations of the name, such as "Magical Nub Raindance", or simply "Nub Dance".

Ninja'd - A phrase often edited into posts, particularly in the very active General Talk [Pandora] section. It is used to mean something along the lines of "You beat me to responding while I was writing my post!".

P&|a - A very old abbreviation for "Pandora" that is occasionally still seen. The ampersand and pipe represent "and" and "or", thus spelling out the name.

Panda - A nickname that some use for the Pandora.

Pandorian - A Pandora owner. That's us!

Pandy - See "Panda".

ph34r - The word used, in conjunction with colons on both sides, to produce the ninja emoticon ( :ph34r: ) that is often used in conjunction with the common forum phrase "Ninja'd" (see entry "Ninja'd" for more information). It is a mangling of the word 'fear', which replaces the "f" with the similar-sounding "ph", and changes the letters "e" and "a" to the numbers "3" and "4".

Red Baron - A member of the forum who buys a lot of electronic goods, and who at one point had a number of different forum accounts. This led to somebody joking that all new members would be considered to be the Red Baron until proven otherwise. Examples of usage can be found peppered throughout the replies to this glossary.

Two Months - A long-running forum meme that jokingly referred to the time until the first batch of Pandoras shipped. A variation of this, which is used to refer to something taking a bit less time, uses the term "Two Weeks" instead.

"What's your order number?!" - A forum meme that grew from Craig asking for someone's order number one day. It is usually used jokingly.
Saw this, and thought "Why isn't Ångström in there"? Then I noticed that Å was at the top of the list instead of at the bottom... Very confusing indeed :p

Anyways, good job; all the descriptions are pretty much accurate as far as I can tell.
Thanks very much, guys. :) PM me if anything needs adding, though - just in case I miss any posts in here, please. (I've probably missed some forum dialect stuff, no doubt. :p)
Would italics do? (Since bold is already in use for the section titles.)
Prometheus said:
Would italics do? (Since bold is already in use for the section titles.)
It's OK I guess. :)
It could be possible that Titles and phrases booth are bold if the titles have a taller font and/or different colours.
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Monk said:
Bold would be better - even bold AND italics if you want to differentiate.
I didn't even think of that. Let's go with that one. It'll be done in a few minutes, now I'm here. :lol: (EDIT: There we go, done.)

SomeGuy99 said:
Good job! I have some suggestions, which I'll message you about later.
Thanks very much. I eagerly await to hear them. :)
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For the record, once the second official firmware is released, I'm going to add a third section for what the chosen version names refer to, as well. Should be fun. :D
Well done Prometheus ! :)
This is very clear and informative also for non native english speaker (at least for me ;) ).
Pretty nice! A few notes...

"Confirmed:" and "What's your order number" aren't explained very well for newcomers, I think.

Please add that the "confirmed" thing came to be because people kept misinterpreting what the team members said (like "Broken telephone"/"Chinese whispers")

And the joke in "what's your order number?!" is that any small complaint will get your order canceled. (Craig might never live that one down...)

Also, maybe add "Two Weeks". If it's not "Two Months", it's "Two Weeks". But it can go back to "Two Months". ;)
"Porting - A process whereby a programmer converts an application that relies on a particular type of processor or system to work on a different type of processor or system."

(often?) needs a source code
Why don't we make a LaTeX template for this stuff so that we can change the style easily if you guys wanna continue your bike shed painting ;)

(If you don't have any clue about what I just said, ignore me)

Also, sticky plox.
Just making a quick post to say that I'm not ignoring the thread. I have the suggestions here and a PM or two to catch up on. :p
r00tw00t said:
"Porting - A process whereby a programmer converts an application that relies on a particular type of processor or system to work on a different type of processor or system."

(often?) needs a source code

More like "Adapting a program to fit the feature set of a device or architecture. Required changes may range from optimizing configuration to changing significant parts of the program (eg. the part that draws things to the screen)"? Maybe?

EDIT: missing character
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