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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

the z factor

In our childhood, we would struggle to find words starting with the last letter of the English alphabets namely ‘Z’. Our minds would be blocked after zoo and Zulu. The former being a large enclosure, suitably protected by fences and gorges where four legged animals was on view for the benefit of their curious two legged counterparts. The zebra was one unique specimen that remains a mystery even today – does it sport white stripes on a black background or vice-versa? The second word, Zulu, would be used as a common noun to denote tribal characters who roamed the jungles of Africa, their ears and nose pierced with tiny human bones signifying that they belonged to a tribe who relished human tit-bits for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!
As we grew older, we learnt about a person called Zorro, a master swordsman capable of hiding his identity by just putting a patch over his eyes. With a sudden swish of his sword, he would leave his trademark imprint of ‘Z’ on all those who dared cross his path. Then there were the zombies – human shaped robots controlled by unseen elements. They were there before anyone thought in terms of ‘Star Trek’ and the likes.

In our youth, we were fascinated by the zip.

It was associated with fasteners and, starting with purses and bags, these one day graduated to become a part and parcel of our apparel. Pant buttons were outdated, jackets and evening gowns switched over to zips. It was more convenient to use and, when rust posed a problem, the manufacturers introduced nylon zips! Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. How right they are!! The latest zip is, of course, the zipouch – keep the veggies inside, zip up the pouch and store it in the fridge!

The word zip carries a different meaning to the computer geeks.

‘Zip a file’ means to compress it into a fraction of its original size. As and when required, the file can be ‘unzipped’ to its normal size.

Zap is another favorite of computer pros – it means deleting the contents of a file while retaining its database structure.

After zip and zap, we naturally come to zoom!

All TV sets have the options to view the offerings in either the normal or the zoom mode. Zoom means to magnify. It is still too early to comment on the magnification that can be achieved by ‘Zoom’, the latest entertainment channel to enter the Indian homes. In keeping with the growing popularity of the letter ‘Z’ (examples are aplenty in the automobile industry), it can be safely said that ‘Zoom’ need not struggle to survive – it is here to stay!!

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