term% ls -F
term% cat index.txt
========= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 2.1.5 28 NOV 1990  =================
   This `jargon file' is a collection of slang terms used by various
subcultures of computer hackers. 

   The original `jargon file' was a collection of hacker slang from
technical cultures including 1) the MIT AI Lab, 2) the Stanford
AI lab, 3) the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, 3) Carnegie-
Mellon University, 4) Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Some entries
dated back to the early 1970s. This version was published as _The_
Hacker's_Dictionary_ in 1983.

   This new version casts a wider net than the old jargon file;
its aim is to cover not just AI but all the technical computing
cultures wherein the true hacker-nature is manifested. More than
half of the entries now derive from USENET and the C and UNIX

    The present maintainers of the jargon file are Guy L. Steele
( and Eric S. Raymond ( Send
all additions, corrections and correspondence relating to the
jargon file to

   The original jargon file was compiled by Guy L. Steele Jr., Raphael
Finkel, Don Woods, and Mark Crispin, with assistance from the MIT and
Stanford AI communities and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Some contributions were submitted via the ARPAnet from miscellaneous
sites. The `old' jargon file was last revised in 1983; its revisions
are all un-numbered and may be collectively considered `Version 1'.

   Version 2.1: the jargon file reorganization and massive additions
were by Eric S. Raymond, approved by Guy Steele. Many items of UNIX,
C, USENET and microcomputer-based slang were added at that time (as
well as Appendix A, The Untimely Demise of Mabel The Monkey). Some
obsolescent usages (mostly PDP-10 derived) were moved to appendix B.
The bibliography (Appendix C) was also consed on.

   Our thanks to all the USENETters who contributed entries and
encouragement. Special thanks to our Scandinavian correspondent Per
Lindberg (, author of the remarkable Swedish language
'zine _Hackerbladet_, for bring FOO! comics to our attention and
smuggling the IBM hacker underground's own baby jargon file out to
us. Also, much gratitude to ace hacker/linguist Joe Keane
( for helping us improve the pronunciation guides; and
to Maarten Litmath for generously allowing the inclusion of the
ASCII prononunciation guide he maintains. 

   Try to conform to the format already being used -- 70 character
lines, 3-character indentations, pronunciations in parentheses,
etymologies in brackets, single-space after def'n numbers and word
classes, etc. Stick to the standard ASCII character set.

   We are looking to expand the file's range of technical specialties
covered. There are doubtless rich veins of jargon yet untapped in the
scientific computing, graphics, and networking hacker communities;
also in numerical analysis, computer architectures and VLSI design,
language design, and many other related fields. Send us your slang!

   We are *not* interested in straight technical terms explained by
textbooks or technical dictionaries unless an entry illuminates
``underground'' meanings or aspects not covered by official histories.
We are also not interested in ``joke'' entries -- there is a lot of
humor in the file but it must flow naturally out of the explanations
of what hackers do and how they think.

   It is OK to submit items of slang you have originated if they
have spread to the point of being used by people who are not
personally acquainted with you. We prefer items to be attested by
independent submission from two different sites.

   The slang file will be regularly maintained and re-posted from
now on and will include a version number. Read it, pass it around,
contribute -- this is *your* monument!

   There are some standard methods of jargonification which became
established quite early (i.e before 1970), spreading from such sources
as the MIT Model Railroad Club, the PDP-1 SPACEWAR hackers and John
McCarthy's original crew of LISPers. These include:

Verb doubling: a standard construction is to double a verb and use it
   as a comment on what the implied subject does.  Often used to
   terminate a conversation.  Typical examples involve WIN, LOSE,
	``The disk heads just crashed.''  ``Lose, lose.''
	``Mostly he just talked about his @#!!$% crock.  Flame, flame.''
	``Boy, what a bagbiter!  Chomp, chomp!''

Soundalike slang: similar to Cockney rhyming slang.  Often made up on
   the spur of the moment.  Standard examples:
	Boston Globe => Boston Glob
	Herald American => Horrid (Harried) American
	New York Times => New York Slime
	Prime Time => Slime Time
	government property - do not duplicate (seen on keys)
		=> government duplicity - do not propagate
   Often the substitution will be made in such a way as to slip in
   a standard jargon word:
	Dr. Dobb's Journal => Dr. Frob's Journal
	Margaret Jacks Hall => Marginal Hacks Hall
	Data General => Dirty Genitals

The -P convention: turning a word into a question by appending the
   syllable ``P''; from the LISP convention of appending the letter ``P''
   to denote a predicate (a Boolean-valued function).  The question
   should expect a yes/no answer, though it needn't.  (See T and NIL.)
     At dinnertime: ``Foodp?''  ``Yeah, I'm pretty hungry.'' or ``T!''
     ``State-of-the-world-P?''  (Straight) ``I'm about to go home.''
			      (Humorous) ``Yes, the world has a state.''
   [One of the best of these is a Gosperism (i.e., due to Bill
   Gosper).  When we were at a Chinese restaurant, he wanted to know
   whether someone would like to share with him a two-person-sized
   bowl of soup.  His inquiry was: ``Split-p soup?'' --GLS]

Peculiar nouns: MIT AI hackers love to take various words and add the
   wrong endings to them to make nouns and verbs, often by extending a
   standard rule to nonuniform cases.  Examples:
		porous => porosity
		generous => generosity
	Ergo:	mysterious => mysteriosity
		ferrous => ferrocity

	Other examples: winnitude, disgustitude, hackification. 
   Also, note that all nouns can be verbed.  eg: ``All nouns can be
   verbed'', ``I'll mouse it up'', ``Hang on while I clipboard it over'',
   ``I'm grepping the files''. English as a whole is already heading in
   this direction (towards pure-positional grammar like Chinese);
   hackers are simply a bit ahead of the curve.

Spoken inarticulations: Words such as ``mumble'', ``sigh'', and ``groan''
   are spoken in places where their referent might more naturally be
   used.  It has been suggested that this usage derives from the
   impossibility of representing such noises in a com link.  Another
   expression sometimes heard is ``complain!'', meaning ``I have a

Hacker speech style: Features extremely precise diction, careful
   word choice, a relatively large working vocabulary, and relatively
   little use of contractions or ``street slang''. Dry humor, irony,
   puns, and a mildly flippant attitude are highly valued -- but an
   underlying seriousness and intelligence is essential. One should
   use just enough jargon to communicate precisely and identify
   oneself as ``in the culture''; overuse and a breathless, excessively
   gung-ho attitude are considered tacky and the mark of a loser.

This speech style (a variety of the precisionist English normally
spoken by scientists, design engineers, and academics in technical
fields) is fairly constant everywhere. Of the five listed
constructions, verb doubling,  peculiar noun formations, and
(especially!) spoken inarticulations  have become quite general; but
rhyming slang is still largely confined to MIT and other large
universities, and the P convention is found only where LISPers

   One final note. Many words in hacker jargon have to be understood as
members of sets of comparatives. This is especially true of the adjectives
and nouns used to describe the beauty and functional quality of code. Here
is an approximately correct spectrum:


The last is never actually attained.


   Pronunciation keys are provided in the jargon listing for all
entries which are neither dictionary words pronounced as in standard
English nor obvious compounds of same. These guides use the following
simple system:

   1) Syllables are hyphen-separated, except that an apostrophe
      or back-apostrophe follows each accented syllable (the
      back apostrophe marks a secondary accent in some words of
      four or more syllables).

   2) Consonants are pronounced as in American English. The letter
      ``g'' is always hard (as in ``got'' rather than ``giant'');
      ``ch'' is soft ("church'' rather than ``chemist"). The letter
      ``j'' is the sound that occurs twice in ``judge''. The letter
      ``s'' is always as in ``pass'', never a z sound (but it is
      sometimes doubled at the end of syllables to emphasize this).
      The digraph `dh' is the th of `these clothes', not of `thick'.

    3) Vowels are represented as follows:

	a	back, that
	ah	father, palm
	ar	far, mark
	aw	flaw, caught
	ay	bake, rain
	e	less, men
	ee	easy, ski
	eir	their, software
	i	trip, hit
	ie	life, sky
	o	cot, top
	oh	flow, sew
	oo	loot, through
	or	more, door
	ow	out, how
	oy	boy, coin
	uh	but, some
	u	put, foot
	y	yet
	yoo	few
	[y]oo	oo with optional fronting as in `news' (noos or nyoos)

An at-sign is used for the ``schwa'' sound of unstressed or occluded
vowels (the one that is often written with an upside-down ``e"). The
schwa vowel is omitted in syllables containing vocalic r, l, m or n;
that is, ``kitten'' and ``color'' would be rendered ``kit'n'' and

   References such as `malloc(3)' and `patch(1)' are to UNIX
facilities (some of which, such as patch(1), are actually freeware
distributed over USENET). The UNIX manuals use `foo(n)' to refer to
item foo in section n) of the manual, where n=1 is utilities, n=2 is
system calls, n=3 is C library routines, n=4 is file formats, n=5 is
a miscellany, n=6 is games, n=7 is device drivers, and n=8 is system
administration tools.


		       =   =

@BEGIN [primarily CMU] with @End, used humorously in writing to
   indicate a context or to remark on the surrounded text.  From the
   SCRIBE command of the same name.  For example:
	Predicate logic is the only good programming language.
	Anyone who would use anything else is an idiot.  Also,
	computers should be tredecimal instead of binary.
   On USENET, this construct would more frequently be rendered as
   <FLAME ON> and <FLAME OFF>.

/DEV/NULL [from the UNIX null device, used as a data sink] n. A
   notional `black hole' in any information space being discussed,
   used or referred to. A controversial posting, for example, might
   end ``Kudos to, flames to /dev/null/''. See

			= A =

ABEND (ab'end) n. Abnormal termination (of software); crash; lossage.
   Derives from an error message on the IBM 360, but has passed into
   more general use, esp. at mainframe shops.

ACK (ak) interj. 1. [from the ASCII mnemonic for 000110] Acknowledge.
   Used to register one's presence (compare mainstream ``Yo!''). An
   appropriate response to PING. 2. [prob. from _Bloom_County_] An
   exclamation of surprised disgust, esp. in ``Oop ack!''.
   Semi-humorous. Also in the form ACK? meaning ``Are you there?'',
   often used in email when earlier mail has produced no reply, or
   during a lull in TALK MODE to see if the person has gone away (the
   standard humorous response is of course NAK, i.e. ``I'm not

ADGER (adj'r) [UCLA] v. To make a bonehead move that could have been
   foreseen with a slight amount of mental effort. E.g., ``He started
   removing files and promptly adgered the whole project.''

AD-HOCKERY (ad-hok'@r-ee) [Purdue] n. Gratuitous assumptions made
   inside certain programs, esp. expert systems, which lead to the
   appearance of semi-intelligent behavior, but are in fact entirely

ADVENT (ad'vent) n. The prototypical computer adventure game, first
   implemented on the PDP-10 by Will Crowther as an attempt at
   computer-refereed fantasy gaming, and expanded into a
   puzzle-oriented game by Don Woods. Now better known as Adventure,
   but the TOPS-10 operating system only permitted 6-letter filenames.
   This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style now expected in
   text adventure games, and popularized several tag lines that have
   become fixtures of hacker-speak. ``A huge green fierce snake bars
   the way!''  ``I see no X here.'' (for X some noun). ``You are in a
   maze of twisty little passages, all alike''. The ``magic words''
   XYZZY and PLUGH also derive from this game. Crowther, by the way,
   participated in the exploration of the Mammoth/Flint Ridge cave
   system; it actually *has* a `Colossal Cave' and a `Bedquilt' as in
   the game, and the `Y2' that also turns up is cavers' jargon for a
   map reference to a secondary entrance.

ALIASING BUG [C programmers] n. A class of subtle programming errors
   which can arise in code that does dynamic allocation via malloc(3).
   If more than one pointer addresses (`aliases for') a given hunk of
   storage, it may happen that the storage is freed through one alias
   and then referenced through another, leading to subtle (and
   possibly intermittent) lossage depending on the state and the
   allocation history of the malloc ARENA. Avoidable by use of
   allocation strategies that never alias allocated core. Also called

ALT BIT (ahlt bit) [from alternate?] adj. See META BIT.

ANGLE BRACKETS [primarily MIT] n. Either of the characters ``<'' and
   ``>''.  See BROKET.

APP (ap) n. Short for `application program', as opposed to a systems
   program. What systems vendors are forever chasing developers to do
   for their environments so they can sell more boxes. Hackers tend
   not to think of the things they themselves run as apps; thus, in
   hacker parlance the term excludes compilers, program editors,
   games, and messaging systems, though a user would consider all
   those apps. Oppose TOOL, OPERATING SYSTEM.

ARENA [UNIX] n. The area of memory attached to a process by brk(2) and
   sbrk(2) and used by malloc(3) as dynamic storage. So named from a
   semi-mythical ``malloc: corrupt arena'' message supposedly emitted
   when some early versions became terminally confused. See OVERRUN

ARG (arg) n. Abbreviation for ``argument'' (to a function), used so
   often as to have become a new word (like ``piano'' from
   ``pianoforte'').  ``The sine function takes one arg, but the
   arc-tangent function can take either one or two args''.  Compare

ASBESTOS LONGJOHNS, UNDIES (uhn'dees), or OVERCOAT n. Metaphoric
   garments often donned by USENET posters just before emitting a
   remark they expect will elicit FLAMAGE.

ASCII (as'kee) Common slang names for ASCII characters are collected
   here. See individual entries for BANG, CLOSE, EXCL, OPEN, QUES,
   This list derives from revision 2.2 of the USENET ASCII
   pronunciation guide. Single characters are listed in ASCII order,
   character pairs are sorted in by first member. For each character,
   ``official'' names appear first, then others in order of popularity
   (more or less).

    !   exclamation point, exclamation, bang, factorial, excl, ball-bat,
        smash, shriek, cuss, wow, hey
    "   double quote, quote, dirk, literal mark, rabbit ears
    #   pound sign, number sign, sharp, crunch, mesh, hex, hash,
        flash, grid, pig-pen, tictactoe, scratchmark, octothorp (from
        Bell System)
    $   dollar sign, currency symbol, buck, cash, string (from BASIC),
        escape (from TOPS-10), ding, big-money
    %   percent sign, percent, mod, double-oh-seven
    &   ampersand, amper, and, address (from C), andpersand
    '   apostrophe, single quote, quote, prime, tick, irk, pop, spark
    ()  open/close parenthesis, left/right parenthesis, paren/thesis,
        lparen/rparen, parenthisey, unparenthisey, open/close round
        bracket, ears, so/already, wax/wane
    *   asterisk, star, splat, wildcard, gear, dingle, mult
    +   plus sign, plus, add, cross, intersection
    ,   comma, tail
    -   hyphen, dash, minus sign, worm
    .   period, dot, decimal point, radix point, point, full stop, spot
    /   virgule, slash, stroke, slant, diagonal, solidus, over, slat
    :   colon, two-spot
    ;   semicolon, semi, hybrid
    <>  angle brackets, brokets, left/right angle, less/greater than,
        read from/write to, from/into, from/toward, in/out, comesfrom/
        gozinta (all from UNIX), funnel, crunch/zap, suck/blow
    =   equal sign, equals, quadrathorp, gets, half-mesh
    ?   question mark, whatmark, what, wildchar, ques, huh, quark
    @   at sign, at, each, vortex, whorl, whirlpool, cyclone, snail,
        ape, cat
    V   vee, book
    []  square brackets, left/right bracket, bracket/unbracket, bra/ket,
        square/unsquare, U turns
    \   reversed virgule, backslash, bash, backslant, backwhack, backslat,
        escape (from UNIX)
    ^   circumflex, caret, uparrow, hat, chevron, sharkfin, to ("to
        the power of"), fang
    _   underscore, underline, underbar, under, score, backarrow, flatworm
    `   grave accent, grave, backquote, left quote, open quote, backprime,
        unapostrophe, backspark, birk, blugle, back tick, push
    {}  open/close brace, left/right brace, brace/unbrace, curly bracket,
        curly/uncurly, leftit/rytit, embrace/bracelet
    |   vertical bar, bar, or, v-bar, spike, pipe, gozinta, thru,
        pipesinta (last four from UNIX)
    ~   tilde, squiggle, approx, wiggle, twiddle, swung dash, enyay

ASSEMBLER 1. A program translator that allows human beings to generate
   machine code using mnemonics and symbolic names for memory
   locations rather than raw binary; distinguished from an HLL (q.v.)
   by the fact that a single assembler step generally maps to a single
   machine instruction (see also LANGUAGES OF CHOICE). 2.  A NANOBOT
   which is a physical REPLICATOR (This is the ``official'' term,
   coined by Eric Drexler; see NANOTECHNOLOGY).

AUTOMAGICALLY (aw-toh-maj'i-klee, aw-toh-maj'i-kl-ee) adv.
   Automatically, but in a way which, for some reason (typically
   because it is too complicated, or too ugly, or perhaps even too
   trivial), the speaker doesn't feel like explaining to you.  See
   MAGIC.  Example: The C-INTERCAL compiler generates C, then
   automagically invokes cc to produce an executable.

			= B =

BACKBONE CABAL n. Semi-mythical group of large-site administrators who
   pushed through the GREAT RENAMING and reined in the chaos of USENET
   during most of the 1980s. The cabal mailing list disbanded in late
   1988 after a bitter internal catfight, but the net hardly noticed.

BACK DOOR n. A hole in the security of a system deliberately left in
   place by designers or maintainers. The motivation for this is not
   always sinister; some operating systems, for example, come out of
   the box with privileged accounts intended for use by field service
   or the vendor's maintenance programmers. Historically, back doors
   have often lurked in systems longer than anyone expected or
   planned, and a few have become widely known. The famous RTM worm of
   late 1988, for example, used a back door in the BSD UNIX
   sendmail(1) utility. See also IRON BOX, CRACKER, WORM, LOGIC BOMB.

BACKGROUND v.,adj. A task running in background is detached from the
   terminal where it was started and running at a lower priority
   (oppose FOREGROUND). Nowadays this term is primarily associated
   with UNIX, but it was appears first to have been used in this sense
   on OS/360. By extension, to do a task ``in background'' is to do it
   whenever FOREGROUND matters are not claiming your undivided
   attention, and ``to background'' something means to relegate it to
   a lower priority. Compare SLOPSUCKER.

BAD THING n. Something which can't possibly result in improvement of
   the subject.  This term is always capitalized, as in ``Replacing
   all of the 9600 baud modems with bicycle couriers would be a Bad
   Thing.'' Oppose GOOD THING. One correspondent suggests that BAD
   THING and GOOD THING (and prob. therefore RIGHT THING and WRONG
   THING) come from the book ``1066 and All That'', which discusses
   rulers who were Good Kings, but Bad Things.

BAGBITER (bag'biet-@r) n.  1. Something, such as a program or a
   computer, that fails to work, or works in a remarkably clumsy
   manner.  Example: ``This text editor won't let me make a file with
   a line longer than 80 characters!  What a bagbiter!''  2. A person
   who has caused you some trouble, inadvertently or otherwise,
   typically by failing to program the computer properly. Synonyms:
   LOSER, CRETIN, CHOMPER. 3. Also in the form BAGBITING adj.  Having
   the quality of a bagbiter.  `This bagbiting system won't let me
   compute the factorial of a negative number.' Compare LOSING,
   v.  To fail in some manner. ``The computer keeps crashing every
   five minutes.''  ``Yes, the disk controller is really biting the
   bag.'' The original loading of these terms was almost undoubtedly
   obscene, probably referring to the scrotum, but in their current
   usage they have become almost completely sanitized.

BAMF (bamf) [from comix] interj. Notional sound made by a person or
   object teleporting in or out of the hearer's vicinity. Often used
   in VIRTUAL REALITY (q.v.) electronic fora when a character wishes
   to make a dramatic entrance or exit.

BANG 1. n. Common spoken name for `!' (ASCII 33), especially when used
   in pronouncing a BANG PATH (q.v.) in spoken hackish. In elder days
   this was considered a CMUish usage, with MIT and Stanford hackers
   preferring EXCL or SHRIEK; but the spread of UNIX has carried BANG
   with it and it is now certainly the most common spoken name for
   `!'. Note that it is used exclusively for non-emphatic written `!';
   one would not say ``Congratulationa bang.'', but if one wanted to
   specify the exact characters ``FOO!'', one would speak ``Eff oh oh
   bang''. See SHRIEK, ASCII. 2.  interj. An exclamation signifying
   roughly ``I have achieved enlightenment!'' or ``The dynamite has
   cleared out my brain!''.  Often used to acknowledge that one has
   perpetrated a THINKO immediately after one has been called on it.

BANG PATH n. An old-style UUCP electronic-mail address specifying hops
   to get from some assumed-reachable location to the addressee, so
   called because each hop is signified by a BANG sign.  Thus the path
   ``...!bigsite!foovax!barbox!me'' directs correspondents to route
   their mail to machine bigsite (presumably a well-known location
   accessible to everybody) and from there through the machine
   ``foovax'' to the account of user ``me'' on ``barbox''.  See

BAR (bar) 1. The second metasyntactic variable, after FOO and before
   BAZ.  ``Suppose we have two functions FOO and BAR.  FOO calls
   BAR...''  2. Often appended to FOO to produce FOOBAR.

BARF (barf) [from mainstream slang meaning ``vomit''] 1. interj. Term
   of disgust.  See BLETCH.  2. To say ``Barf!'' or emit some similar
   expression of disgust. 3. v. To fail to work because of
   unacceptable input.  May mean to give an error message.  Examples:
   ``The division operation barfs if you try to divide by zero.''
   (that is, division by zero fails in some unspecified spectacular
   way) ``The text editor barfs if you try to read in a new file
   before writing out the old one.''  4. Also BARFULOUS, BARFUCIOUS:
   adj. Said of something which would make anyone barf, if only for
   aesthetic reasons. See CHOKE, GAG.

BAUD BARF (bawd barf) n. The garbage one gets on the monitor when
   using a modem connection with some protocol setting (esp. line
   speed) incorrect, or when someone picks up a voice extension on the
   same line, or when really bad line noise disrupts the connection.

BAZ (baz) 1. The third metasyntactic variable, after FOO and BAR and
   before QUX.  ``Suppose we have three functions FOO, BAR, and BAZ.
   FOO calls BAR, which calls BAZ...'' 2. interj. Term of mild
   annoyance.  In this usage the term is often drawn out for two or
   three seconds, producing an effect not unlike the bleating of a
   sheep; ``Baaaaaaz!''  3. Occasionally appended to FOO to produce

BEAM [from ``Beam me up, Scotty!''] v. To transfer SOFTCOPY of
   a file electronically; most often in combining forms such as ``beam
   me a copy'' or ``beam that over to his site''. Compare BLAST,

BELLS AND WHISTLES [by analogy with locomotives] n. Features added to
   a program or system to make it more FLAVORFUL from a hacker's point
   of view, without necessarily adding to its utility for its primary
   function. Distinguished from CHROME which is intended to attract

BENCHMARK n. An inaccurate measure of computer performance.  ``In the
   computer industry, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies,
   and benchmarks.'' See also MIPS.

BERKLIX (ber'kliks) n.,adj. Contraction of Berkeley UNIX. See BSD. Not
   used at Berkeley itself. [This one, in my experience, is more
   common among suit-wearers attempting to sound ``hip'' than hackers
   -- ESR]

BERZERKELY (b@r-zer'klee) [from the name of a now-deceased record
   label] n. Humorous, often-used distortion of ``Berkeley'' used esp.
   to refer to the practices or products of the BSD UNIX hackers.

BIG-ENDIAN [From Swift's ``Gulliver's Travels'' via a famous 1980
   paper by Danny Cohen] adj. Describes a computer architecture in
   which, within a given 16- or 32-bit word, lower byte addresses have
   higher significance (the word is stored `big-end-first'). Most
   processors including the IBM 370 family and the PDP-10 and Motorola
   microprocessor families and most of the various RISC designs
   current in 1990 are big-endian. See LITTLE-ENDIAN, MIDDLE-ENDIAN.

BIG IRON n. Large, expensive, ultra-fast computers.  Used
   generally of number crunching supercomputers such as Crays, but can
   include more conventional big commercial IBMish mainframes.  Term
   of approval, oppose DINOSAUR.

BIGNUM (big'num) n.  A multiple-precision computer representation for
   very large integers.  More generally, any very large number.
   ``Have you ever looked at the United States Budget?  There's
   bignums for you!'' When playing backgammon, large numbers on the
   dice, especially a roll of double fives or double sixes.  Most
   computer languages provide a kind of data called ``integer'', but
   such computer integers are usually very limited in size; usually
   they must be smaller than 2 ^ 31 (2147483648) or (on losing BITTY
   BOXES) 2 ^ 16 (32767).  If you want to work with numbers larger
   than that, you have to use floating-point numbers, which are
   usually only accurate to six or seven decimal places. Computer
   languages that provide bignums can perform exact calculations on
   very large numbers, such as 1000! (the factorial of 1000, which is
   1000 times 999 times 998 times ... times 2 times 1) exactly.  For
   example, this value for 1000! was computed by the MACLISP system
   using bignums:
   00000000. The MACLISP language was not the first computer system to
   calculate very large integers, but it was @c[MACLISP] that provided
   the name ``bignum''.]

BIG RED SWITCH [IBM] n. The power switch on a computer, esp. on an
   IBM-PC where it really is large and red.  ``This !@%$% BITTY BOX is
   hung again, time to hit the big red switch.'' Sources at IBM report
   that, in tune with the company's passion for TLAs (q.v.) this is
   often acronymized as ``BRS''.

BIGNUMS [from Macsyma] n. 1. In backgammon, large numbers on the dice.
   2. Multiple-precision (sometimes infinitely extendable) integers
   and, through analogy, any very large numbers.  3. EL CAMINO BIGNUM:
   El Camino Real, a street through the San Francisco peninsula that
   originally extended (and still appears in places) all the way to
   Mexico City.  It was termed ``El Camino Double Precision'' when
   someone noted it was a very long street, and then ``El Camino
   Bignum'' when it was pointed out that it was hundreds of miles

BINARY n. The object code for a program.

BIT [from the unit of information] n. A mental flag: a reminder that
   something should be done eventually. Example: ``I have a bit set
   for you.'' (I haven't seen you for a while, and I'm supposed to
   tell or ask you something.)

BIT BANG n. Transmission of data on a serial line accomplished by
   rapidly tweaking a single output bit at the appropriate times
   (popular on certain early models of PRIME computers, presumably
   when UARTs were too expensive; and on archaic Z-80 micros with a
   Zilog PIO but no SIO). The technique is a simple loop with eight
   OUT, SHIFT, OUT etc for each byte.  Input is more interesting. And
   full duplex (doing input and output at the same time) is one way to
   separate the real hackers from the wannabees.

BIT BUCKET n. The great data sink in the sky. Data that is discarded
   is said to ``go to the bit bucket''. On UNIX, often used for
   /DEV/NULL (q.v.). Sometimes amplified as THE GREAT BIT BUCKET IN

BIT DECAY n. See SOFTWARE ROT. People with a physics background tend
   to prefer this one for the analogy with particle decay.


BITBLT (bit'blit, bit'belt) n. [from BLT, q.v.] 1. One of a closely
   related family of algorithms for moving and copying rectangles of
   bits between main and display memory on a bit-mapped device, or
   between two areas of either main or display memory (the requirement
   to do the right thing in the case of overlapping source and
   destination rectangles is what makes BitBlt tricky). 2. An early
   experimental bit-mapped terminal at Bell Labs, later commercialized
   as the AT&T 5620.

BITS n. Machine-readable representation of a document, specifically as
   contrasted with paper.  ``I only have a photocopy of the Jargon
   File; does anyone know where I can get the bits?''.  See SOFTCOPY.

BITTY BOX (bit'ee boks) n. 1. A computer sufficiently small, primitive
   or incapable as to cause a hacker acute claustrophobia at the
   thought of developing for it. Especially used of small,
   obsolescent, single-tasking-only personal machines like the Atari
   800X, Osborne, Sinclair, VIC-20, or TRS-80. 2. More generally, the
   opposite of `real computer' (see GET A REAL COMPUTER). Pejorative.
   See also MESS-DOS, TOASTER, and TOY.

BIXIE (biks'ee) n. Synonym for EMOTICON used on BIX (the Byte
   Information Exchange); BIXers believe (probably incorrectly) the
   emoticon was invented there.

BLAST v.,n. Synonym for BLT (q.v.), used esp. for large data sends
   over a network or comm line. Opposite of SNARF. Usage: uncommon.

BLAZER n. Nickname for the Telebit Trailblazer, an expensive but
   extremely reliable and effective high-speed modem, popular at UNIX
   sites that pass large volumes of EMAIL and USENET news.

BLETCH (blech) [from Yiddish/German ``brechen'', to vomit] 1. interj.
   Term of disgust.  2. BLETCHEROUS: adj. Disgusting in design or
   function.  ``This keyboard is bletcherous!''  Usage: slightly

BLINKENLIGHTS (blink'@n-lietz) n. Front-panel diagnostic lights on a
   mainframe CPU.  Derives from the last word of the famous
   blackletter-Gothic ``ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!'' notice in
   mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer
   rooms in the English-speaking world. The following text ran: ``Das
   computermachine ist nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben.  Ist
   easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit
   spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das
   rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen
   und watch das blinkenlichten.'' This silliness dates back at least
   as far as the London University ATLAS site in the 1960s, but
   (judging by the idioms) was probably composed by an American at
   some still-earlier date.

BLIT (blit) v. To transfer a large contiguous package of information
   from one place to another.  This usage has outlasted the PDP-10
   BLock Transfer instruction for which it derives.  See BITBLT, BLT,
   DD, CAT, BLAST, SNARF, Appendix B.

BLOCK [From computer science usage] 1. vi. To delay while waiting for
   something.  ``We're blocking until everyone gets here.''  2. in
   BLOCK ON vt. To block, waiting for (something).  ``Lunch is blocked
   on Phil's arrival.''

BLOCK TRANSFER COMPUTATIONS n.  From the Dr. Who television series: in
   the show, it referred to computations so fiendishly subtle and
   complex that they could not be performed by machines.  Used to
   refer to any task that should be expressible as an algorithm in
   theory, but isn't.

BLOW AWAY v. To remove files and directories from permanant storage
   with extreme prejudice, generally by accident.  Oppose NUKE.

BLOW OUT v. Of software, to fail spectacularly; almost as serious as

BLOW PAST v. To BLOW OUT despite a safeguard.  ``The server blew past
   the 5K reserve buffer.''

BLT (bee ell tee, [rarely] belt) n.,v. Synonym for BLIT. This form is
   older but now less common.

BLUE BOOK n. Informal name for one of the three standard references on
   PostScript; the others are known as the GREEN BOOK and RED BOOK.

BLUE GLUE [IBM] n. IBM's SNA (Systems Network Architecture) an
   incredibly losing and bletcherous protocol suite widely favored at
   commercial shops that don't know any better.  See FEAR AND

BLUE GOO n. Term for ``police'' NANOBOTS intended to prevent GRAY GOO
   (q.v.), denature hazardous waste, destroy pollution, put ozone back
   into the stratosphere, prevent halitosis, and to promote truth,
   justice, and the American way, etc., etc. See NANOTECHNOLOGY.

BNF (bee-en-ef) n. Hacker acronym for `Backus-Naur Form', a
   metasyntactic notation used to specify the syntax of programming
   languages, command sets and the like. Widely used for language
   descriptions but seldom documented anywhere, so that it must
   usually be learned by osmosis from other hackers. Consider this BNF
   for a postal address:

   <postal-address> ::= <name-part> <street-address> <zip-part>

   <name-part> ::= <first-name> [<middle-part>] <last-name>

   <middle-part> ::= <middle-name>
                  |  <middle-initial> "."

   <street-address> ::= [<apt>] <street-number> <street-name>

   <zip-part> ::= <town-name> "," <state-code> <zip-code>

   This translates into English as: A postal-address consists of a
   name-part, followed by a street-address part, followed by a
   zip-code part. A name-part consists of a first-name followed by an
   optional middle-part followed by a last-name. A middle-part
   consists of either a middle name or a middle initial followed by a
   dot. A street address consists of an optional apartment specifier
   followed by a street number, followed by a street name.  A zip-part
   consts of a town-name, followed by a state code, followed by a zip
   code. Note that many things such as the format of a first-name,
   apartment specifier or zip-code are left unspecified. These are
   presumed to be obvious from context or detailed in another part of
   the specification the BNF is part of.

BOA [IBM] n. Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor in
   DINOSAUR PENS. It is rumored within IBM that 370 channel cables are
   limited to 200 feet because beyond that length the boas get

BOAT ANCHOR n. Like DOORSTOP (q.v.) but more severe, implies that the
   offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless.

BOGOMETER (boh-goh'm@-tr) n. An instrument to measure BOGOSITY,
   generally a conversational device, as in ``my bogometer is reading
   in the red on that idea'' or ``I think you just bent the needle on
   my bogometer''.

BOGON (bo'gon) [by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless
   reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to ``Vogon''] n. 1. The
   elementary particle of bogosity (see QUANTUM BOGODYNAMICS).  For
   instance, ``the ethernet is emitting bogons again,'' meaning that
   it is broken or acting in an erratic or bogus fashion. 2. A query
   packet sent from a TCP/IP domain resolver to a root server, having
   the reply bit set instead of the query bit.  3. Any bogus or
   incorrectly formed packet sent on a network.  4. By extension, used
   to refer metasyntactically to any bogus thing, as in ``I'd like to
   go to lunch with you but I've got to go to the weekly staff

BOGON FILTER (bo'gon fil'tr) n.  Any device, software or hardware,
   which limits or suppresses the flow and/or emission of bogons.
   Example: ``Engineering hacked a bogon filter between the Cray and
   the VAXen and now we're getting fewer dropped packets.''

BOGOSITY (boh-gos-@-tee) n. 1. The degree to which something is BOGUS
   (q.v.).  At CMU, bogosity is measured with a BOGOMETER; typical
   use: in a seminar, when a speaker says something bogus, a listener
   might raise his hand and say, ``My bogometer just triggered.''  The
   agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the microLenat (uL). 2. The
   potential field generated by a bogon flux; see QUANTUM

BOGUS [WPI, Yale, Stanford] adj. 1. Non-functional.  ``Your patches
   are bogus.''  2. Useless.  ``OPCON is a bogus program.''  3.
   False.  ``Your arguments are bogus.''  4. Incorrect.  ``That
   algorithm is bogus.''  5. Silly.  ``Stop writing those bogus
   sagas.''  (This word seems to have some, but not all, of the
   connotations of RANDOM.)  [Etymological note from Lehman/Reid at
   CMU: ``Bogus'' was originally used (in this sense) at Princeton, in
   the late 60s.  It was used not particularly in the CS department,
   but all over campus.  It came to Yale, where one of us (Lehman) was
   an undergraduate, and (we assume) elsewhere through the efforts of
   Princeton alumni who brought the word with them from their alma
   mater.  In the Yale case, the alumnus is Michael Shamos, who was a
   graduate student at Yale and is now a faculty member here.  A
   glossary of bogus words was compiled at Yale when the word was
   first popularized (e.g., autobogophobia: the fear of becoming

BOHR BUG (bor buhg) [from quantum physics] n. A repeatable BUG; one
   which manifests reliably under a possibly unknown but well-defined
   set of conditions. Antonym of HEISENBUG.

BOINK (boynk) [USENET] 1. To have sex with; compare BOUNCE, sense #3.
   2. After the original Peter Korn ``Boinkcon'' USENET parties, used
   for almost any net social gathering, e.g.  Miniboink, a small boink
   held by Nancy Gillett in 1988; Minniboink, a Boinkcon in Minnesota
   in 1989; Humpdayboinks, Wednesday get-togethers held in the San
   Francisco Bay Area.

BONDAGE-AND-DISCIPLINE LANGUAGE A language such as Pascal, APL, or
   Prolog that, though ostensibly general-purpose, is designed so as
   to enforce an author's theory of ``right programming'' even though
   said theory is demonstrably inadequate for systems or even vanilla
   general-purpose programming.  See LANGUAGES OF CHOICE.

BOOT [from ``by one's bootstraps''] v.,n. To load and initialize the
   operating system on a machine. This usage is no longer slang
   (having become jargon in the strict sense), but it is sometimes
   used of human thought processes, as in the following exchange:
   ``You've lost me.'' ``O.K., reboot. Here's the theory...''. Also
   found in the variants COLD BOOT (from power-off condition) and WARM
   BOOT (with the CPU and all devices already powered up, as after a
   hardware reset or software crash).

BOTTLENECKED adj. 1. Used by hackers specifically to describe hardware
   under which performance is usually limited by contention for one
   particular resource (such as disk, memory or processor CLOCKS); see
   BALANCED. 2. Less often, applied to the software analogue of sense
   #1, a slow code section or algorithm through which all computation
   must pass (see also HOT SPOT).

BOUNCE v. 1. [UNIX] An electronic mail message which is undeliverable
   and returns an error notification to the sender is said to
   `bounce'. See also BOUNCE MESSAGE. 2. [Stanford] To play
   volleyball. ``Bounce, bounce! Stop wasting time on the computer and
   get out to the court!'' 3. To engage in sexual intercourse; prob.
   fr.  the expression ``bouncing the mattress'', but influenced by
   Piglet's psychosexually-loaded ``Bounce on me too, Tigger!'' from
   the Winnie the Pooh books.

BOUNCE MESSAGE [UNIX] n. Notification message returned to sender by a
   site unable to relay EMAIL to the intended INTERNET ADDRESS
   recipient or the next link in a BANG PATH (see BOUNCE).  Reasons
   might include a nonexistent or misspelled username or a down relay
   site.  Bounce messages can themselves fail, with occasionally ugly

BOXEN (bok'sn) pl n. [back-formation from VAXEN] Fanciful plural of
   `box' often encountered in the phrase `UNIX boxen', used to
   describe commodity UNIX hardware. The implication is that any two
   UNIX boxen are interchangeable.

BRAIN-DAMAGED [generalization of ``Honeywell Brain Damage'' (HBD), a
   theoretical disease invented to explain certain utter cretinisms in
   MULTICS] adj. Obviously wrong; CRETINOUS; DEMENTED.  There is an
   implication that the person responsible must have suffered brain
   damage, because he should have known better.  Calling something
   brain-damaged is really bad; it also implies it is unusable.

BRANCH TO FISHKILL [IBM, from the location of one of their facilities]
   n. Any unexpected jump in a program that produces catastrophic or
   just plain weird results. See HYPERSPACE.

BREAK v. 1. To cause to be broken (in any sense).  ``Your latest patch
   to the system broke the TELNET server.''  2. (of a program) To stop
   temporarily, so that it may be examined for debugging purposes.
   The place where it stops is a BREAKPOINT.

BREAKAGE [IBM] n. The extra people that must be added to an
   organization because its master plan has changed; used esp. of
   software and hardware development teams.

BRITTLE adj. Said of software that's functional but easily broken by
   changes in operating environment or configuration.  Often describes
   the results of a research effort that were never intended to be
   robust, but can be applied to commercially developed software.

BROADCAST STORM n. An incorrect packet broadcast on a network that
   causes most hosts to respond all at once, typically with wrong
   answers that start the process over again.  Also called NETWORK

BROKEN adj. 1. Not working properly (of programs).  2.  Behaving
   strangely; especially (of people), exhibiting extreme depression.

BROKET (broh'k@t, broh'ket) [by analogy with ``bracket": a ``broken
   bracket"] (primarily Stanford) n. Either of the characters ``<''
   and ``>''.  (At MIT, and apparently in THE REAL WORLD (q.v.) as
   well, these are usually called ANGLE BRACKETS.)

BRUTE FORCE AND IGNORANCE n. A popular design technique at many
   software houses. Dogmatic adherence to design methodologies tends
   to encourage it. Characteristic of early LARVAL STAGE programming;
   unfortunately, many never outgrow it.  Often abbreviated BFI, as
   in: ``Gak, they used a bubble sort!  That's strictly from BFI.''
   Compare BOGOSITY.

BSD (bee-ess-dee) n. [acronym for Berkeley System Distribution] a
   family of UNIX versions for the DEC VAX developed by Bill Joy and
   others at UC Berkeley starting around 1980, incorporating TCP/IP
   networking enhancements and many other features. The BSD versions
   (4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) and commercial versions derived from them
   (SunOS and Mt. Xinu) held the technical lead in the UNIX world
   until AT&T's successful standardization efforts after about 1986,
   and are still widely popular. See UNIX, USG UNIX.

BUCKY BITS (buh'kee bits) [primarily Stanford] n. The bits produced by
   the CTRL and META shift keys on a Stanford (or Knight) keyboard. It
   is rumored that these were in fact named for Buckminster Fuller
   during a period when he was consulting at Stanford. Unfortunately,
   legend also has it that ``Bucky'' was Niklaus Wirth's nickname when
   *he* was consulting at Stanford and that he first suggested the
   idea of the meta key, so its bit was named after him. DOUBLE BUCKY:
   adj. Using both the CTRL and META keys.  ``The command to burn all
   LEDs is double bucky F.'' See also META BIT, COKEBOTTLE.

BUFFER OVERFLOW n. What typically happens when an OS or application is
   fed data faster than it can buffer and process it. Used
   metaphorically of human mental processes. ``Sorry, I got four phone
   calls in three minutes last night and lost your message to a buffer

BUG [from telephone terminology, ``bugs in a telephone cable'', blamed
   for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
   program, esp. one which causes it to malfunction. See FEATURE.

BULLETPROOF adj. Used of an algorithm or implementation considered
   extremely robust; lossage-resistant; capable of correctly
   recovering from any imaginable exception condition. This is a rare
   and valued quality.

BUM 1. v. To make highly efficient, either in time or space, often at
   the expense of clarity.  ``I managed to bum three more
   instructions.''  2. n. A small change to an algorithm to make it
   more efficient.  Usage: somewhat rare. See TUNE.

BUMP v. Synonym for increment.  Has the same meaning as C's ++
   operator. Used esp. of counter variables, pointers (see POINTER
   ARITHMETIC) and index dummies in for, while, and do-until loops.

BURBLE v. Like FLAME, but connotes that the source is truly clueless
   and ineffectual (mere flamers can be competent). A term of deep

BUSY-WAIT v. To wait on an event by SPINning through a tight or
   timed-delay loop that polls for the event on each pass, as opposed
   to setting up an interrupt handler and continuing execution on
   another part of the task. A wasteful technique, best avoided on
   time-sharing systems where a busy-waiting program may hog the

BUZZ v. 1. To run in a very tight loop, perhaps without guarantee of
   getting out. See SPIN. 2. [ETA Systems] To test a wire or PCB trace
   for continuity by applying an AC signal as opposed to applying a DC
   signal.  Some wire faults will pass DC tests but fail a BUZZ test.

BWQ [bee duhb'l-yoo kyoo) [IBM] n. Buzz Word Quotient. Usually roughly
   proportional to BOGOSITY. See TLA.

BYTESEXUAL (biet-seks'u-@l) adj. Said of hardware, denotes willingness
   to compute or pass data in either BIG ENDIAN or LITTLE ENDIAN
   format (depending, presumably, on a mode bit somewhere).

			= C =

C n. 1. The third letter of the Latin alphabet. 2. The name of a
   programming language designed by Dennis Ritchie during the early
   1970s and first used to implement UNIX (q.v.). So called because
   many features derived from an earlier interpreter named 'B' in
   commemoration of *its* parent, BCPL; before Bjarne Stroustrup
   settled the question by designing C++, there was a humorous debate
   over whether C's successor should be named `D' or 'P'.  C became
   immensely popular outside Bell Labs after about 1980 and is now the
   dominant language in systems and microcomputer applications
   programming. See LANGUAGES OF CHOICE.

CAN v. To abort a job on a time-sharing system. Used esp. when the
   person doing the deed is an operator, as in CANNED FROM THE
   CONSOLE. Frequently used in an imperative sense, as in ``Can that
   print job, the LPT just popped a sprocket!''. Synonymous with GUN.

CANONICAL adj. The usual or standard state or manner of something.
   This usage is actually not confined to hackers, and may be found
   throughout academia. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg, new at the MIT
   AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the use of jargon.  Over his
   loud objections, we made a point of using jargon as much as
   possible in his presence, and eventually it began to sink in.
   Finally, in one conversation, he used the word ``canonical'' in
   jargon-like fashion without thinking.  Steele: ``Aha!  We've
   finally got you talking jargon too!''  Stallman: ``What did he
   say?''  Steele: ``He just used `canonical' in the canonical way.''

CASTERS UP MODE (cas'trz uhp mohd) [IBM] n. Yet another synonym for
   `broken' or `down'.

CAT [from UNIX cat(1)] v. To spew an entire (notionally large) file to
   the screen or some other output sink without pause; by extension,
   to dump large amounts of data at an unprepared target or with no
   intention of browsing it carefully. Usage: considered silly. Rare
   outside UNIX sites. See also DD, BLT.

CATATONIA n. A condition of suspended animation in which the system is
   in a wedged (CATATONIC) state.

CDR (ku'dr) [from LISP] v. With ``down'', to trace down a list of
   elements.  ``Shall we cdr down the agenda?''  Usage: silly.

CELL-REPAIR MACHINES n. An often-discussed probable consequence of
   NANOTECHNOLOGY; NANOBOTS specifically programmed to repair tissue
   at the cellular level. Possible uses include reversing freezing
   damage from CRYONICS procedures and correction of mutagen-damaged
   DNA (including eradication of retrovirii and oncogenes).

CHAD (chad) n. 1. The perforated edge strips on printer paper, after
   they have been separated from the printed portion. Also called
   SELVAGE and PERF. 2. obs. the confetti-like paper bits punched out
   of cards or paper tape; this was also called `chaff'.

CHAIN [orig. from BASIC's CHAIN statement] v. When used of programming
   languages, refers to a statement that allows a parent executable to
   hand off execution to a child without going through the OS command
   interpreter. The state of the parent program is lost and there is
   no returning to it. Though this facility used to be common on
   memory-limited micros and is still widely supported for backward
   compatibility, the jargon usage is semi-obsolescent; in particular
   most UNIX programmers will think of this as an EXEC.  Oppose the
   more modern SUBSHELL.

CHAR (keir; [rarely] char or kar) n. Shorthand for `character'. Esp.
   used by C programmers, as `char' is C's typename for character

CHASE POINTERS v. To go through multiple levels of indirection, as in
   traversing a linked list or graph structure.  Used esp. by
   programmers in C, where explicit pointers are a very common data
   type. This is almost jargion in the strict sense, but remains slang
   when used of human networks. ``I'm chasing pointers.  Bob said you
   could tell me who to talk to about...''

CHEMIST [Cambridge University] n. Someone who wastes CPU time on
   number-crunching when you'd far rather the CPU was doing something
   more productive, such as working out anagrams of your name or
   printing Snoopy calendars or running LIFE patterns. May or may not
   refer to someone who actually studies chemistry.

CHERNOBYL PACKET (cher-no'b@l pa'k@t) n. An IP Ethergram with both
   source and destination Ether and IP address set as the respective
   broadcast address. So called because it induces NETWORK MELTDOWN.

CHINESE RAVS (chie'neez ravs) [MIT] n. Pot-stickers. Kuo-teh. Gyoza.
   Oriental dumplings, especially when pan-fried rather than steamed.
   A favorite hacker appetizer. See ORIENTAL FOOD, STIR-FRIED RANDOM.

CHOKE vi.  To reject input, often ungracefully.  ``I tried building X,
   but cpp choked on all those #define's.'' See BARF, GAG.

CHOMP v. To lose; to chew on something of which more was bitten off
   than one can.  Probably related to gnashing of teeth.  See
   BAGBITER.  A hand gesture commonly accompanies this, consisting of
   the four fingers held together as if in a mitten or hand puppet,
   and the fingers and thumb open and close rapidly to illustrate a
   biting action.  The gesture alone means CHOMP CHOMP (see Verb

CHRISTMAS TREE PACKET n. A packet with every single option set for
   whatever protocol is in use.

CHROME [from automotive slang via wargaming] n. Showy features added
   to attract users, but which contribute little or nothing to the
   power of a system. ``The 3D icons in Motif are just chrome!"
   Distinguished from BELLS AND WHISTLES by the fact that the latter
   are usually added to gratify developers' own desires for

CHURCH OF THE SUB-GENIUS A mutant offshoot of DISCORDIANISM launched
   in 1981 as a spoof of fundamentalist Christianity by the ``Rev.''
   Ivan Stang, a brilliant satirist with a gift for promotion. Popular
   among hackers as a rich source of bizarre imagery and references
   such as: ``Bob'' the divine drilling-equipment salesman, the
   Benevolent Space Xists and the Stark Fist of Removal. Much
   Sub-Genius theory is concerned with the acquisition of the mystical
   substance or quality of ``slack''.

CLASSIC C (klas'ik see) [a play on `Classic Coke'] n.  The C
   programming language as defined in the first edition of the book
   ``The C Programming Language'' by ``Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis
   M. Ritchie'' with some small additions.  It is also known as ``K &
   R C.''  The name came into use during the standardisation process
   for C by the ANSI X3J11 committee. Also ``C CLASSIC''. This is
   sometimes generalized to ``X Classic'' where X = Star Trek
   (referring to the original TV series), or X = PC (referring to
   IBM's ISA-bus machines as opposed to the PS/2 series); this
   generalization is especially used of product series in which the
   newer versions are considered serious losers relative to the older

CLOCKS n. Processor logic cycles, so called because each generally
   corresponds to one clock pulse in the processor's timing.  The
   relative execution times of instructions on a machine are usually
   discussed in `clocks' rather than absolute fractions of a second.

CLONE n. 1. An exact duplicate, as in ``our product is a clone of
   their product.''  2. A shoddy, spurious copy, as in ``their product
   is a clone of our product.'' 3. A PC-BUS/ISA or EISA-compatible
   80x86 based microcomputer (in-context shorthand for ``PC clone").
   3. In the construction UNIX CLONE: An OS designed to deliver a
   UNIX-lookalike environment sans UNIX license fees, or with
   additional ``mission-critical'' features such as support for
   real-time programming.

CLOSE n. Abbreviation for ``close (or right) parenthesis'', used when
   necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity.  See OPEN.

CLUSTERGEEKING (kluh'ster-gee`king) [CMU] n. An activity defined by
   spending more time at a computer cluster doing CS homework than
   most people spend breathing.

COBOL FINGERS (koh'bol fing'grs) n. Reported from Sweden, a
   (hypothetical) disease one might get from programming in COBOL. The
   language requires extremely voluminous code. Programming too much
   in COBOL causes the fingers to wear down (by endless typing), until
   short stubs remain. This malformity is called COBOL FINGERS. ``I
   refuse to type in all that source code again, it will give me cobol

CODE GRINDER n. 1. A SUIT-wearing minion of the sort hired in legion
   strength by banks and insurance companies to implement payroll
   packages in RPG and other such unspeakable horrors. This is about
   as far from hackerdom as you can get and still touch a computer.
   Connotes pity. See REAL WORLD. 2. Used of or to a hacker, a really
   serious slur on the person's creative ability; connotes a design
   style characterized by primitive technique, rule-boundedness, and
   utter lack of imagination.

CODE POLICE [by analogy with ``thought police"] n. A mythical team of
   Gestapo-like storm troopers that might burst into one's office and
   arrest one for violating style rules. May be used either
   ``seriously'' (to underline a claim that a particular style
   violation is dangerous) or (more often) ironically (to suggest that
   the practice under discussion is condemned mainly by anal-retentive

CODEWALKER n. A program component that traverses other programs for a
   living. Compilers have codewalkers in their front ends; so do
   cross-reference generators and some database front-ends. As in
   ``This language extension would require a codewalker to

COKEBOTTLE (kohk'bot-l) n. Any very unusual character.  MIT people
   used to complain about the ``control-meta-cokebottle'' commands at
   SAIL, and SAIL people complained right back about the
   ``altmode-altmode-cokebottle'' commands at MIT. Since the demise of
   the SPACE-CADET KEYBOARD this is no longer a serious usage, but may
   be invoked humorously to describe an (unspecified) weird or
   non-intuitive keystroke command.

COME FROM n. A semi-mythical language construct dual to the `go to';
   COME FROM <label> would cause the referenced label to act as a sort
   of trapdoor, so that if the program ever reached it control would
   quietly fall through to the statement following the COME FROM. COME
   FROM was first proposed in a Datamation article in 1973 that
   parodied the then-raging `structured programming' wars (see
   CONSIDERED HARMFUL). It was actually implemented for the first time
   seventeen years later, in C-INTERCAL (see INTERCAL,
   RETROCOMPUTING); knowledgeable observers are still reeling from

COMPRESS [UNIX] v. When used without a qualifier, generally refers to
   CRUNCHing of a file using a particular C implementation of
   Lempel-Ziv compression by James A. Woods et al and widely
   circulated via USENET. Use of CRUNCH (q.v.) itself in this sense is
   rare among UNIX hackers.

COMPUTER GEEK n.  One who eats [computer] bugs for a living. One who
   fulfills all of the dreariest negative stereotypes about hackers:
   an asocial, malodorous, pasty-faced monomaniac with all the
   personality of a cheese grater. Cannot be used by outsiders without
   implied insult to all hackers; compare black-on-black usage of
   ``nigger''. A computer geek may be either a fundamentally clueless
   individual or a true-hacker in LARVAL STAGE.  Also called TURBO

COMPUTRON (kom-pyoo-tron) n. A notional unit of computing power
   combining instruction speed and storage capacity, dimensioned
   roughly in instructions-per-sec times megabytes-of-main-store times
   megabytes-of-mass-storage.  ``That machine can't run GNU Emacs, it
   doesn't have enough computrons!'' This usage is usually found in
   metaphors that treat computing power as a fungible commodity good
   like a crop yield or diesel horsepower. See BITTY BOX, GET A REAL

CONNECTOR CONSPIRACY [probably came into prominence with the
   appearance of the KL-10, none of whose connectors match anything
   else] n. The tendency of manufacturers (or, by extension,
   programmers or purveyors of anything) to come up with new products
   which don't fit together with the old stuff, thereby making you buy
   either all new stuff or expensive interface devices.

CONS (kons) [from LISP] 1. v. To add a new element to a list.  2.
   CONS UP: v. To synthesize from smaller pieces: ``to cons up an

CONSIDERED HARMFUL adj. Edsger Dijkstra's infamous March 1968 CACM
   note, _Goto_Statement_Considered_Harmful_, fired the first salvo in
   the ``structured programming'' wars. In the years since then a
   number of both serious papers and parodies have borne titles of the
   form ``X considered Y'' in reference to it. The ``structured
   programming'' wars eventually blew over with the realization that
   both sides were wrong, but use of such titles has remained as a
   persistent minor in-joke.

CONTENT-FREE adj. Ironic analogy with ``bug-free'', used of a message
   which adds nothing to the recipient's knowledge.  Though this
   adjective is sometimes applied to FLAMAGE, it more usually connotes
   derision for comunication styles which exalt form over substance,
   or are centered on concerns irrelevant to the subject ostensibly at
   hand.  ``Content-free? Uh...that's anything printed on glossy

COOKIE MONSTER n. Any of a family of early (1970s) hacks reported on
   TOPS-10, ITS and elsewhere that would lock up either the victim's
   terminal (on a time-sharing machine) or the operator's console (on
   a batch mainframe), repeatedly demanding ``I WANT A COOKIE''. The
   required responses ranged in complexity from ``COOKIE'' through
   ``HAVE A COOKIE'' and upward. See also WABBIT.

COPYLEFT (kop'ee-left) n. 1. The copyright notice carried by GNU EMACS
   and other Free Software Foundation software granting re-use and
   reproduction rights to all comers. 2. By extension, any copyright
   notice intended to achieve similar aims.

CORE n. Main storage or DRAM. Dates from the days of ferrite-core
   memory; now archaic, but still used in the UNIX community and by
   old-time hackers or those who would sound like same.

CORE DUMP n. [from UNIX] 1. Catastrophic program failure due to
   internal error. 2. By extension, used for humans passing out,
   vomiting, or registering extreme shock. ``He dumped core. All over
   the floor. What a mess.'' ``He heard about ... and dumped core"


CORE WARS n. A game between ``assembler'' programs in a simulated
   machine, where the objective is to kill your opponent's program by
   overwriting it. This was popularized by A.K. Dewdney's column in
   _Scientific_American_. It is rumored that the game is a civilized
   version of an amusement common on pre-MMU multitasking machines.

CORGE (korj) n. Yet another meta-syntactic variable, invented by Mike
   Gallaher and propagated by the Gosmacs documentation. See GRAULT.

CP/M (see-pee-em) [Control Program for Microcomputers] An early
   microcomputer OS written by hacker Gary Kildall for 8080 and Z-80
   based machines, very popular in the late 1970s until virtually
   wiped out by MS-DOS after the release of the IBM PC in 1981 (legend
   has it that Kildall's company blew their chance to write the PC's
   OS because Kildall decided to spend the day IBM's reps wanted to
   meet with him enjoying the perfect flying weather in his private
   plane).  Many of its features and conventions strongly resemble
   those of early DEC operating systems such as OS9, RSTS and RSX-11.

CRACKER n. One who breaks security on a system. Coined c.  1985 by
   hackers in defense against journalistic misuse of HACKER, (q.v.,
   definition #6).

CRANK [from automotive slang] v. Verb used to describe the performance
   of a machine, especially sustained performance. ``This box cranks
   about 6 MegaFLOPS, with a burst mode of twice that on vectorized

CRASH 1. n. A sudden, usually drastic failure.  Most often said of the
   system (q.v., definition #1), sometimes of magnetic disk drives.
   ``Three lusers lost their files in last night's disk crash.''  A
   disk crash which entails the read/write heads dropping onto the
   surface of the disks and scraping off the oxide may also be
   referred to as a ``head crash''.  2. v. To fail suddenly.  ``Has
   the system just crashed?''  Also used transitively to indicate the
   cause of the crash (usually a person or a program, or both).
   ``Those idiots playing SPACEWAR crashed the system.''  3. Sometimes
   said of people hitting the sack after a long HACKING RUN, see GRONK

CRASH AND BURN v.,n. A spectacular crash, in the mode of the
   conclusion of the car chase scene from Steve McQueen's ``Bullitt''.
   Sun-3 monitors losing the flyback transformer and lightning strikes
   on VAX-11/780 backplanes are notable crash and burn generators.

CRAWLING HORROR n. Ancient crufty hardware or software that forces
   beyond the control of the hackers at a site refuse to let die. Like
   DUSTY DECK or GONKULATOR, but connotes that the thing described is
   not just an irritation but an active menace to health and sanity.
   ``Mostly we code new stuff in C, but they pay us to maintain one
   big Fortran II application from nineteen-sixty-X that's a real
   crawling horror...''. Compare WOMBAT.

CRAY (kray) n. 1. One of the line of supercomputers designed by Cray
   Research. 2. Any supercomputer at all.

CRAYON n. Someone who works on Cray supercomputers.  More specifically
   implies a programmer, probably of the CDC ilk, probably male, and
   almost certainly wearing a tie (irrespective of gender).  Unicos
   systems types who have a Unix background tend not to be described
   as crayons.

CREEPING FEATURITIS (kree'ping fee-ch@r-ie't@s) n. Describes a
   systematic tendency to load more CHROME onto systems at the expense
   of whatever ELEGANCE they may have posessed when originally
   designed. See FEEPING CREATURITIS.  ``You know, the main problem
   with BSD UNIX has always been creeping featuritis''. At MIT, this
   tends to be called CREEPING FEATUR*ISM* (and likewise, FEEPING
   CREATURISM). (After all, -ism means ``condition'' whereas -itis
   usually means ``inflammation of''...)

CRETIN 1. n. Congenital LOSER (q.v.).  2. CRETINOUS: adj.  See
   BLETCHEROUS and BAGBITING.  Usage: somewhat ad hominem.

CRIPPLEWARE n. SHAREWARE which has some important functionality
   deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a
   working version. See also GUILTWARE.

CRLF (ker'lif, sometimes krul'lif) n. A carriage return (CR) followed
   by a line feed (LF).  See TERPRI.

CROCK [from mainstream ``crock of shit"] n. 1. An awkward feature or
   programming technique that ought to be made cleaner.  Example:
   Using small integers to represent error codes without the program
   interpreting them to the user (as in, for example, UNIX make(1)) is
   a crock.  2. Also, a technique that works acceptably but which is
   quite prone to failure if disturbed in the least, for example
   depending on the machine opcodes having particular bit patterns so
   that you can use instructions as data words too; a tightly woven,
   almost completely unmodifiable structure.

CROSS-POST [USENET] To post an article to several newsgroups or

CRUDWARE n. Pejorative term for the hundreds of megabytes of
   low-quality FREEWARE circulated by user's groups and BBS systems in
   the micro-hobbyist world. ``Yet *another* set of disk catalog
   utilities for MS-DOS?  What crudware!"

CRUFTY (kruhf'tee) [from ``cruddy"] adj. 1. Poorly built, possibly
   overly complex.  ``This is standard old crufty DEC software''.
   Hence CRUFT, n. shoddy construction.  2. Unpleasant, especially to
   the touch, often with encrusted junk.  Like spilled coffee smeared
   with peanut butter and catsup.  Hence CRUFT, n. disgusting mess.
   3.  Generally unpleasant.  CRUFTY or CRUFTIE n. A small crufty
   object (see FROB); often one which doesn't fit well into the scheme
   of things.  ``A LISP property list is a good place to store
   crufties (or, random cruft).''  [Note: Does CRUFT have anything to
   do with the Cruft Lab at Harvard?  I don't know, though I was a
   Harvard student. - GLS]

CRUFT TOGETHER, CRUFT UP (kruhft too-ge'thr, kruhft uhp) v. To throw
   together something ugly but temporarily workable. Like v. KLUGE,
   but more pejorative. See CRUFTY.

CRUMB n. Two binary digits; a quad. Larger that a bit, smaller than a

CRUNCH v. 1. To process, usually in a time-consuming or complicated
   way.  Connotes an essentially trivial operation which is
   nonetheless painful to perform.  The pain may be due to the
   triviality being imbedded in a loop from 1 to 1000000000.
   ``FORTRAN programs do mostly number crunching.''  2. To reduce the
   size of a file by a complicated scheme that produces bit
   configurations completely unrelated to the original data, such as
   by a Huffman code.  (The file ends up looking like a paper document
   would if somebody crunched the paper into a wad.)  Since such
   compression usually takes more computations than simpler methods
   such as counting repeated characters (such as spaces) the term is
   doubly appropriate.  (This meaning is usually used in the
   construction ``file crunch(ing)'' to distinguish it from ``number
   crunch(ing)''.)  See COMPRESS.  3. n. The character ``#''.  Usage:
   used at Xerox and CMU, among other places. See ASCII.

CRUNCHA CRUNCHA CRUNCHA (kruhn'chah kruhn'chah kruhn'chah) interj. An
   encouragement sometimes muttered to a machine bogged down in
   serious GROVELLING. Also describes a notional sound made by
   grovelling hardware. See WUGGA WUGGA.

CRYONICS n. The practice of freezing oneself in hopes of being revived
   in the future by CELL-REPAIR MACHINES. A possible route to
   technological immortality already taken by 1990 by more than a
   handful of persons with terminal illnesses.
CTSS (see-tee-ess-ess) n. Compatible Time-Sharing System. An early
   (1963) experiment in the design of interactive time-sharing
   operating systems. Cited here because it was ancestral to MULTICS,
   UNIX, and ITS (q.v.).

CUBING [parallel with ``tubing"] v. 1. Hacking on an IPSC (Intel
   Personal SuperComputer) hypercube.  ``Louella's gone cubing
   AGAIN!!''  2. An indescribable form of self-torture (q.v. sense

CUSPY (kuhs'pee) [from the DEC acronym CUSP, for Commonly Used System
   Program, i.e., a utility program used by many people] [WPI] adj. 1.
   (of a program) Well-written.  2. Functionally excellent.  A program
   which performs well and interfaces well to users is cuspy.  See

CYBERPUNK (sie'ber-puhnk) [orig. by SF critic Gardner Dozois] n.,adj.
   A subgenre of SF launched in 1982 by William Gibson's epoch-making
   novel _Neuromancer_. Gibson's near-total ignorance of computers and
   the present-day hacker culture enabled him to speculate about the
   role of computers and hackers in futures in ways hackers have since
   found both irritatingly naive and tremendously stimulating.
   Gibson's work was widely imitated, in particular by the short-lived
   but innovative ``Max Headroom'' TV series. See CYBERSPACE, ICE, GO

CYBERSPACE (sie'ber-spays) n. Notional ``information-space'' loaded
   with visual cues and navigable with brain-computer interfaces
   called ``cyberspace decks''; a characteristic prop of CYBERPUNK SF.
   At time of writing (1990) serious efforts to construct VIRTUAL
   REALITY interfaces modelled explicitly on CYBERSPACE are already
   under way, using more conventional devices such as glove sensors
   and binocular TV headsets. Few hackers are prepared to outright
   deny the possibility of a cyberspace someday evolving out of THE

			= D =

DAEMON (day'mun, dee'mun) [archaic form of ``demon'', which has
   slightly different connotations (q.v.)] n. A program which is not
   invoked explicitly, but which lays dormant waiting for some
   condition(s) to occur.  The idea is that the perpetrator of the
   condition need not be aware that a daemon is lurking (though often
   a program will commit an action only because it knows that it will
   implicitly invoke a daemon).  For example, writing a file on the
   lpt spooler's directory will invoke the spooling daemon, which
   prints the file.  The advantage is that programs which want (in
   this example) files printed need not compete for access to the lpt.
   They simply enter their implicit requests and let the daemon decide
   what to do with them.  Daemons are usually spawned automatically by
   the system, and may either live forever or be regenerated at
   intervals.  Usage: DAEMON and DEMON (q.v.) are often used
   interchangeably, but seem to have distinct connotations.  DAEMON
   was introduced to computing by CTSS people (who pronounced it
   dee'mon) and used it to refer to what is now called a DRAGON or
   PHANTOM (q.v.).  The meaning and pronunciation have drifted, and we
   think this glossary reflects current usage.

DAY MODE n. See PHASE (of people).

DD (dee-dee) [from archaic UNIX dd(1)] v. Equivalent to CAT or BLT.
   Very rare outside UNIX sites and now nearly obsolescent even there,
   as dd(1) has been DEPRECATED for a long time. Replaced by BLT or
   simple English `copy'.

DEADLOCK n. A situation wherein two or more processes are unable to
   proceed because each is waiting for another to do something.  A
   common example is a program communicating to a PTY or STY, which
   may find itself waiting for output from the PTY/STY before sending
   anything more to it, while the PTY/STY is similarly waiting for
   more input from the controlling program before outputting anything.
   (This particular flavor of deadlock is called ``starvation''.
   Another common flavor is ``constipation'', where each process is
   trying to send stuff to the other, but all buffers are full because
   nobody is reading anything.)  See DEADLY EMBRACE, RACE CONDITION.

DEADLY EMBRACE n. Same as DEADLOCK (q.v.), though usually used only
   when exactly two processes are involved.  DEADLY EMBRACE is the
   more popular term in Europe; DEADLOCK in the United States.

DEATH STAR [from the movie _Star_Wars_] The AT&T corporate logo, which
   appears on computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny resemblence
   to the ``Death Star'' in the movie. This usage is particularly
   common among partisans of BSD UNIX, who tend to regard the AT&T
   versions as inferior and AT&T as a bad guy.

DEFENESTRATION [from the traditional Czechoslovak method of
   assassinating prime ministers, via ESR and SF fandom] n. Proper
   karmic retribution for an incorrigible punster. ``Oh, ghod, that
   was *awful*!'' ``Quick! Defenestrate him!''  See also H INFIX.

DEFINED AS adj. Currently in the role of, usually in an
   off-the-organization-chart sense.  ``Pete is currently defined as
   bug prioritizer''.  From the C language MACRO feature.

DEEP SPACE adj. 1. Describes the ``location'' of any program which has
   gone OFF THE TROLLEY. Esp. used of programs which just sit there
   silently grinding long after either failure or some output is
   expected. 2. The metaphorical ``location'' of a human so dazed
   and/or confused or caught up in some esoteric form of BOGOSITY that
   he/she no longer responds coherently to normal communication.
   Compare PAGE OUT.

DEMENTED adj. Yet another term of disgust used to describe a program.
   The connotation in this case is that the program works as designed,
   but the design is bad.  For example, a program that generates large
   numbers of meaningless error messages implying it is on the point
   of imminent collapse.

DEMIGOD n. Hacker with years of experience, a national reputation, and
   a major role in the development of at least one design, tool or
   game used by or known to more than 50% of the hacker community. To
   qualify as a genuine demigod, the person must recognizably identify
   with the hacker community and have helped shape it. Major demigods
   include Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (co-inventors of UNIX and
   C) and Richard M. Stallman (inventor of EMACS). In their hearts of
   hearts most hackers dream of someday becoming demigods themselves,
   and more than one major software project has been driven to
   completion by the author's veiled hopes of apotheosis. See also

DEMON n. 1. [MIT] A portion of a program which is not invoked
   explicitly, but which lays dormant waiting for some condition(s) to
   occur.  See DAEMON.  The distinction is that demons are usually
   processes within a program, while daemons are usually programs
   running on an operating system.  Demons are particularly common in
   AI programs.  For example, a knowledge manipulation program might
   implement inference rules as demons.  Whenever a new piece of
   knowledge was added, various demons would activate (which demons
   depends on the particular piece of data) and would create
   additional pieces of knowledge by applying their respective
   inference rules to the original piece.  These new pieces could in
   turn activate more demons as the inferences filtered down through
   chains of logic.  Meanwhile the main program could continue with
   whatever its primary task was. 2. [outside MIT] Often used
   equivalently to DAEMON, especially in the UNIX world where the
   latter spelling and pronunciation is considered mildly archaic.

DEPRECATED n. Said of a program or feature that is considered
   obsolescent and in the process of being phased out, usually in
   favor of a specified replacement. Deprecated features can,
   unfortunately, linger on for many years.

DE-REZZ (dee rez) [from the movie TRON] v. To disappear or dissolve;
   the image that goes with it is of an object breaking up into raster
   lines and static and then dissolving. Occasionally used of a person
   who seems to have suddenly ``fuzzed out'' mentally rather than
   physically. Usage: extremely silly, also rare. This verb was
   actually invented as *fictional* hacker slang, and adopted in a
   spirit of irony by real hackers years after the fact.

DEVO (dee'vo) [orig. in-house slang at Symbolics] n.  A person in a
   development group.  See also DOCO and MANGO.

DICKLESS WORKSTATION n. Extremely pejorative hackerism for ``diskless
   workstation'', a class of botches including the Sun 3/50 and other
   machines designed exclusively to network with an expensive central
   disk server. These combine all the disadvantages of time-sharing
   with all the disadvantages of distributed personal computers.

DIDDLE v. To work with in a not particularly serious manner.  ``I
   diddled a copy of ADVENT so it didn't double-space all the time.''
   ``Let's diddle this piece of code and see if the problem goes
   away.''  See TWEAK and TWIDDLE.

DIFFS n. 1. Differences, especially difference in source code or
   documents. Includes additions. ``Send me your diffs for the jargon
   file!'' 2. (often in the singular DIFF) the output from the diff(1)
   utility, esp. when used as specification input to the patch(1)
   utility (which can actually perform the mods). This is a common
   method of distributing patches and source updates in the UNIX/C

DIKE [from ``diagonal cutters''] v. To remove a module or disable it.
   ``When in doubt, dike it out.''

DING (ding) n.,v. Synonym for FEEP (q.v.). Usage: rare among hackers,
   but commoner in THE REAL WORLD.

DINOSAUR n. Any hardware requiring raised flooring and special power.
   Used especially of old minis and mainframes when contrasted with
   newer microprocessor-based machines. In a famous quote from the '88
   UNIX EXPO, Bill Joy compared the mainframe in the massive IBM
   display with a grazing dinosaur, ``with a truck outside pumping its
   bodily fluids through it''. IBM was not amused.  Compare BIG IRON.

DINOSAUR PEN n. A traditional mainframe computer room complete with
   raised flooring, special power, its own ultra-heavy-duty air
   conditioning, and a side order of Halon fire extinguishers. See

DISCORDIANISM (dis-kor'di-uhn-ism) n. The veneration of ERIS, aka
   Discordia; widely popular among hackers.  Popularized by Robert
   Anton Wilson's _Illuminatus!_ trilogy as a sort of self-subverting
   dada-Zen for Westerners -- it should on no account be taken
   seriously but is far more serious than most jokes. Usually
   connected with an elaborate conspiracy theory/joke involving
   millenia-long warfare between the anarcho-surrealist partisans of
   Eris and a malevolent, authoritarian secret society called the
   Illuminati. See Appendix C and HA HA ONLY SERIOUS.

DISPLAY HACK n. A program with the same approximate purpose as a
   kaleidoscope: to make pretty pictures. Famous display hacks include
   worms(6) on miscellaneous UNIXes, and the X kaleid program.

DOCO (do'ko) [orig. in-house slang at Symbolics] n.  A documentation
   writer.  See also DEVO and MANGO.

DO PROTOCOL [from network protocol programming] v.  To perform an
   interaction with somebody or something that follows a clearly
   defined procedure.  For example, ``Let's do protocol with the
   check'' at a restaurant means to ask the waitress for the check,
   calculate the tip and everybody's share, generate change as
   necessary, and pay the bill.

DOGWASH [From a quip in the ``urgency'' field of a very optional
   software change request, about 1982.  It was something like,
   ``Urgency: Wash your dog first.''] v.,n. A project of minimal
   priority, undertaken as an escape from more serious work.  Also, to
   engage in such a project. Many games and much FREEWARE gets written
   this way.

DON'T DO THAT, THEN interj. Stock response to a user complaint.
   ``When I type control-S, the whole system comes to a halt for
   thirty seconds.''  ``Don't do that, then.'' Compare RTFM.

DONGLE (don-gl) n. 1. A security device for commercial microcomputer
   programs consisting of a serialized EPROM and some drivers in an
   RS-232 connector shell. Programs that use a dongle query the port
   at startup and programmed intervals thereafter, and terminate if it
   does not respond with the dongle's programmed validation code.
   Thus, users could make as many copies of the program as they want
   but must pay for each dongle. The idea was clever but initially a
   failure, as users disliked tying up a serial port this way.  Most
   dongles on the market today (1990) will pass through the port, and
   monitor for ``magic codes'' (and combinations of status lines) with
   minimal if any interference with devices further down the line
   (this innovation was necessary to allow daisy chained dongles for
   multiple pieces of software). The devices are still not widely
   used, as the industry has trended away from copy-protection schemes
   in general. 2. By extension, any physical electronic key or
   transferable ID required for a program to function. See

DONGLE-DISK (don'g@l disk) n. See DONGLE; a DONGLE-DISK is a floppy
   disk with some coding which allows an application to identify it
   uniquely. It can therefore be used as a DONGLE. Also called a ``key

DOORSTOP n. Used to describe equipment that is non-functional and
   halfway expected to remain so, especially obsolescent equipment
   kept around for political reasons or ostensibly as a backup.
   ``When we get another Wyse-50 in here that ADM3 will turn into a
   doorstop.'' Compare BOAT ANCHOR.

DOT FILE [UNIX] n. A file that is not visible to normal
   directory-browsing tools (on UNIX, files named beginning with a dot
   are invisible).

DOWN 1. adj. Not working.  ``The up escalator is down.''  2.  TAKE
   DOWN, BRING DOWN: v. To deactivate, usually for repair work.  See

DOWNLOAD v. To transfer data or (esp.) code from a larger `host'
   system (esp. a mainframe) over a digital comm link to a smaller
   `client' system, esp. a microcomputer or specialized peripheral
   device. Oppose UPLOAD.

DRAGON n. [MIT] A program similar to a ``daemon'' (q.v.), except that
   it is not invoked at all, but is instead used by the system to
   perform various secondary tasks.  A typical example would be an
   accounting program, which keeps track of who is logged in,
   accumulates load-average statistics, etc.  Under ITS, many
   terminals displayed a list of people logged in, where they are,
   what they're running, etc. along with some random picture (such as
   a unicorn, Snoopy, or the Enterprise) which is generated by the
   ``NAME DRAGON''.  See PHANTOM.  Usage: rare outside MIT -- under
   UNIX and most other OSs this would be called a `background DEMON'
   or `DAEMON' (q.v).

DRAGON BOOK, THE n. Aho, Sethi and Ullman's classic compilers text
   _Principles_Of_Compiler_Design_, so called because of the cover
   design depicting a knight slaying a dragon labelled ``compiler

DRAIN [IBM] v. Syn. for FLUSH (sense 4).

DRECNET (drek'net) [fr. Yiddish `dreck'] n. Deliberate distortion of
   DECNET, a networking protocol used in the VMS community. So-called
   because DEC helped write the Ethernet specification, and then
   (either stupidly or as a malignant customer-control tactic)
   violated that spec in the design of DRECNET (among other things,
   they implemented the wrong HEARTBEAT speed).

DROOL-PROOF PAPER n. Documentation which has been obsessively dumbed
   down, to the point where only a CRETIN could bear to read it, is
   said to have succumbed to the ``drool-proof paper syndrome'' or to
   have been ``written on drool-proof paper''.

DROP ON THE FLOOR vt. To discard silently.  Example: ``The gateway ran
   out of memory, so it just started dropping packets on the floor.''
   Also frequently used of faulty mail and netnews relay sites that
   lose messages.

DRUGGED adj., also ON DRUGS. Conspicuously stupid, heading towards
   BRAIN DAMAGE. Often accompanied by a pantomime of toking a joint.

DRUNK MOUSE SYNDROME n.  A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing
   device of some workstations.  The typical symptom is for the mouse
   cursor on the screen to move to random directions and not in sync
   with the moving of the actual mouse.  Can usually be corrected by
   unplugging the mouse and plugging it back again.

DUSTY DECKS [a holdover from card-punch days] n. Old software
   (especially applications) with which one is obliged to remain
   compatible. Used esp. when referring to old scientific and
   number-crunching software, much of which was written in FORTRAN and
   very poorly documented but would be too expensive to replace.  See

DWIM (dwim) [Do What I Mean] 1. adj. Able to guess, sometimes even
   correctly, what result was intended when provided with bogus input.
   Often suggested in jest as a desired feature for a complex program.
   A related term, more often seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do The Right
   Thing).  2. n. The INTERLISP function that attempts to accomplish
   this feat by correcting many of the more common errors.  See HAIRY.

			= E =

EASTER EGG n. 1. A message hidden in the object code of a program as a
   joke, intended to be found by persons disassembling or browsing the
   code. 2. A message, graphic, or sound-effect emitted by a program
   (or, on a PC, the BIOS ROM) in response to some undocumented set of
   commands or keystrokes, intended as a joke or to display program
   credits. One well-known early easter egg found in a couple of OSs
   and TECO caused them to respond to the command `make love' with
   `not war?'. Many personal computers (other than the IBM PC) have
   much more elaborate eggs hidden in ROM, including lists of the
   developers' names, political exhortations, snatches of music, and
   (in one case) graphics images of the entire development team.

EASTER EGGING [IBM] n. The act of replacing unrelated parts more or
   less at random in hopes that a malfunction will go away. Hackers
   consider this the normal operating mode of FIELD CIRCUS techs and
   do not love them for it.

EARTHQUAKE [IBM] n. The ultimate REAL WORLD shock test for computer
   hardware. Hacker sources at IBM deny the rumor that the Bay Area
   quake of 1989 was initiated by the company to test QA at its
   California plants.

EIGHTY-COLUMN MIND [IBM] n. The sort said to be employed by persons
   for whom the transition from card to tape was traumatic (nobody has
   dared tell them about disks yet). It is said that these people will
   be buried `9-EDGE-FORWARD-FACE-DOWN'. [These people are thought by
   most hackers to dominate IBM's customer base, and its thinking --

ELEGANT [from mathematical usage] adj. Combining simplicity, power,
   and a certain ineffable grace of design. Higher praise than
   `clever', `winning' or even CUSPY.

ELEPHANTINE adj. Used of programs or systems which are both
   conspicuous HOGs (due perhaps to poor design founded on BRUTE FORCE
   AND IGNORANCE) and exceedingly HAIRY in source form. An elephantine
   program may be functional and even friendly, but (like the old joke
   about being in bed with an elephant) it's tough to have around all
   the same, esp. a bitch to maintain. In extreme cases, hackers have
   been known to make trumpeting sounds or perform expressive
   zoomorphic mime at the mention of the offending program.  Usage:
   semi-humorous. Compare ``has the elephant nature'' and the somewhat
   more pejorative MONSTROSITY. See also SECOND-SYSTEM SYNDROME.

EMACS (ee'maks) [from Editing MACroS] n. The ne plus ultra of hacker
   editors, a program editor with an entire LISP interpreter inside
   it.  Originally written by Richard Stallman in TECO at the MIT-AI
   lab, but the most widely used versions now run under UNIX.  It
   includes facilities to run compilation subprocesses and send and
   receive mail; many hackers spend up to 80% of their tube time
   inside it.

EMAIL (ee-mayl) v.,n. Electronic mail. Contrast SNAIL-MAIL.

EMOTICON (ee-moh'ti-cahn) n. An ASCII glyph used to indicate an
   emotional state in email or news. Hundreds have been proposed, but
   only a few are in common use. These include:

   :-)   Smiley face (indicates laughter)
   :-(   Frowney face (indicates sadness, anger or upset)
   ;-)   Half-smiley (ha ha only serious), aka winkey face.
   :-/   Wry face

   Of these, the first two are by far the most frequently encountered.
   Hyphenless forms of them are common on CompuServe, GEnie and BIX;
   see also BIXIE.  On USENET, ``smiley'' is often used as a generic
   (synonym for emoticon) as well as specifically for the happy-face

EMPIRE n. Any of a family of military simulations derived from a game
   written by Peter Langston many years ago. There are 5 or 6
   multi-player variants of varying degrees of sophistication, and one
   single-player version implemented for both UNIX and VMS which is
   even available as MS-DOS freeware. All are notoriously addictive.

EOF (ee-oh-ef) [UNIX/C] n. End Of File. 1. Refers esp. to whatever
   pseudo-character value is returned by C's sequential input
   functions (and their equivalents in other environments) when the
   logical end of file has been reached (this was 0 under V6 UNIX, is
   -1 under V7 and all subsequent versions and all non-UNIX C library
   implementations). 2. Used by extension in non-computer contexts
   when a human is doing something that can be modelled as a
   sequential read and can't go further. ``Yeah, I looked for a list
   of 360 mnemonics to post as a joke, but I hit EOF pretty fast, all
   the library had was a JCL manual.''

EPOCH, THE [UNIX] n. Syn. for ERA.

EPSILON [from standard mathematical notation for a small quantity] 1.
   n. A small quantity of anything.  ``The cost is epsilon.''  2. adj.
   Very small, negligible; less than marginal.  ``We can get this
   feature for epsilon cost.''  3. WITHIN EPSILON OF: Close enough to
   be indistinguishable for all practical purposes.

ERA, THE [from UNIX] n. The time and date corresponding to zero in an
   operating system's clock and timestamp values. Under most UNIX
   versions, midnight of January 1st 1970. System time is measured in
   TICKS past the era. Syn. with EPOCH. See TICKS, WALL TIME.

ERIC CONSPIRACY n. Notional group of mustachioed hackers named Eric
   first pinpointed as a sinister conspiracy by an infamous
   talk.bizarre posting c. 1986; this was doubtless influenced by the
   numerous `Eric' jokes in the Monty Python oeuvre. There do indeed
   seem to be considerably more mustachioed hacker-Erics than the
   frequency of these three traits can account for unless they are
   correlated in some arcane way. Well known examples include your
   editor [ESR], Eric Allman of BSD fame, and Erik Fair (coauthor of
   NNTP); your editor has heard from about fourteen others by email.

ERIS (e'r@s) pn. The Greco-Roman goddess of Chaos, Discord, Confusion
   and Things You Know Not Of; aka Discordia. Not a very friendly
   deity in the Classical original, she was re-invented as a more
   benign personification of creative anarchy starting in 1959 by the
   adherents of DISCORDIANISM and has since been a semi-serious
   subject of veneration in several `fringe' cultures including

ESSENTIALS n. Things necessary to maintain a productive and secure
   hacking environment. ``A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, a
   20-megahertz 80386 box with 8 meg of core and a 300-megabyte disk
   supporting full UNIX with source and X windows and EMACS and UUCP
   to a friendly Internet site, and thou.''

EVIL adj. As used by hackers, implies that some system, program,
   person or institution is sufficiently mal-designed as to be not
   worth the bother of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the
   incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or design
   criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This is more an
   esthetic and engineering judgement than a moral one in the
   mainstream sense. ``We thought about adding an SNA interface but
   decided it was too evil to deal with.'' ``TECO is neat, but it can
   be pretty evil if you're prone to typos.''

EXCL (eks'kl) n. Abbreviation for ``exclamation point''.  See BANG,

EXE (ex'ee) An executable binary file. Some operating systems use the
   extension .EXE to mark such files. This usage is also found among
   UNIX programmers even though UNIX executables don't have any
   required extension.

EXEC (eg'zek) [shortened from ``executive'' or ``execute''] v.,n. 1.
   [UNIX] Synonym for CHAIN, derives from the exec(2) call. 2. (obs)
   The command interpreter for an OS (see SHELL); term esp. used on
   mainframes, and prob. derived from UNIVAC's archaic EXEC 2 and EXEC
   8 operating systems.

			= F =

FALL OVER [IBM] v. Yet another synonym for CRASH or LOSE.  `Fall over
   hard' equates to CRASH AND BURN.

FANDANGO ON CORE [UNIX/C hackers, from the Mexican dance] n. In C, a
   wild pointer that runs out of bounds causing a CORE DUMP, or
   corrupts the malloc(3) ARENA in such a way as to cause mysterious
   failures later on, is sometimes said to have `done a fandango on
   core'. On low-end personal machines without an MMU this can corrupt
   the OS itself, causing massive lossage. Other third-world dances
   such as the rhumba, cha-cha or watusi may be substituted. See

FASCISTIC adj. Said of a computer system with excessive or annoying
   security barriers, usage limits or access policies. The implication
   is that said policies are preventing hackers from getting
   interesting work done.

FAULTY adj. Same denotation as ``bagbiting'', ``bletcherous'',
   ``losing'', q.v., but the connotation is much milder.

FD LEAK (ef dee leek) n. A kind of programming bug analogous to a CORE
   LEAK, in which a program fails to close file descriptors (``fd''s)
   after file operations are completed, and thus eventually runs out.
   See LEAK.

FEAR AND LOATHING [from Hunter Thompson] n. State inspired by the
   prospect of dealing with certain REAL WORLD systems and standards
   which are totally BRAIN DAMAGED but ubiquitous -- Intel 8086s, or
   COBOL, or any IBM machine except the Rios (aka the RS/6000). ``Ack.
   They want PCs to be able to talk to the AI machine. Fear and
   loathing time!'' See also IBM.

FEATURE n. 1. A surprising property of a program.  Occasionally
   documented.  To call a property a feature sometimes means the
   author of the program did not consider the particular case, and the
   program makes an unexpected, although not strictly speaking an
   incorrect response.  See BUG.  ``That's not a bug, that's a
   feature!''  A bug can be changed to a feature by documenting it.
   2. A well-known and beloved property; a facility.  Sometimes
   features are planned, but are called crocks by others.

FEATURECTOMY (fee`ch@r-ek'to-mee) n. The act of removing a feature
   from a program.  Featurectomies generally come in two varieties,
   the RIGHTEOUS and the RELUCTANT. Righteous featurectomies are
   performed because the remover believes the program would be more
   elegant without the feature, or there is already an equivalent and
   ``better'' way to achieve the same end.  (This is not quite the
   same thing as removing a MISFEATURE.)  Reluctant featurectomies are
   performed to satisfy some external constraint such as code size or
   execution speed.

FEEP (feep) 1. n. The soft bell of a display terminal (except for a
   VT-52!); a beep.  2. v. To cause the display to make a feep sound.
   TTY's do not have feeps.  Alternate forms: BEEP, BLEEP, or just
   about anything suitably onomatopoeic.  The term BREEDLE was
   sometimes heard at SAIL, where the terminal bleepers are not
   particularly ``soft'' (they sound more like the musical equivalent
   of sticking out one's tongue).  The ``feeper'' on a VT-52 has been
   compared to the sound of a '52 Chevy stripping its gears. See also

FEEPING CREATURITIS (fee'ping kree`ch@r-ie'tis) n. Deliberate
   spoonerization of CREEPING FEATURITIS, meant to imply that the
   system or program in question has become a misshapen creature of

FENCEPOST ERROR n. 1. The discrete equivalent of a boundary condition.
   Often exhibited in programs by iterative loops.  From the following
   problem: ``If you build a fence 100 feet long with posts ten feet
   apart, how many posts do you need?''  (Either 9 or 11 is a better
   answer than the obvious 10.)  2.  Occasionally, an error induced by
   unexpectedly regular spacing of inputs, which can (for instance)
   screw up your hash table. See also OFF-BY-ONE ERROR.

FIELD CIRCUS n.  The field service organization of any hardware
   manufacturer, but especially DEC.  There is an entire genre of
   jokes about DEC field circus engineers:

	Q: How can you recognize a DEC field circus engineer with a flat
	A: He's swapping tires to see which one is flat.

	Q: How can you recognize a DEC field circus engineer who is out
	    of gas?
	A: He's swapping tires to see which one is flat.

FILK (filk) [from SF fandom, where a typo for ``folk'' was adopted as
   a new word] n.,v. A ``filk'' is a popular or folk song with lyrics
   revised or completely new lyrics, intended for humorous effect when
   read and/or to be sung late at night at SF conventions. There is a
   flourishing subgenre of these called ``computer filks'', written by
   hackers and often containing technical humor of quite sophisticated

FILM AT 11 [MIT, in parody of TV newscasters], interj.  Used in
   conversation to announce ordinary events, with a sarcastic
   implication that these events are earth-shattering. This is hard to
   describe.  Examples: ``ITS crashes; film at 11.'' ``Bug found in
   scheduler; film at 11.''

FILTER [orig. UNIX, now also in MS-DOS] n. A program which processes
   an input text stream into an output text stream in some
   well-defined way, and does no I/O to anywhere else except possibly
   on error conditions; one designed to be used as a stage in a
   PIPELINE (q.v.).

FINE [WPI] adj. Good, but not good enough to be CUSPY.  [The word FINE
   is used elsewhere, of course, but without the implicit comparison
   to the higher level implied by CUSPY.]

FINGER [BSD UNIX] 1. n. A program that displays a particular user or
   all users logged on the system or a remote system.  Typically shows
   full name, last login time, idle time, terminal line and terminal
   location. May also display a ``plan file'' left by the user. 2. v.
   To apply finger to a username. 3. v. By extension, to check a
   human's current state by any means.  ``Foodp?''  ``T!''  ``OK,
   finger Lisa and see if she's idle''.

FIREBOTTLE n. A large, primitive, power-hungry active electrical
   device, similar to an FET constructed out of glass, metal, and
   vacuum.  Characterized by high cost, low density, low reliability,
   high-temperature operation, and high power dissipation.  Sometimes
   mistakenly called a ``tube'' in the U.S. or a ``valve'' in England.

FIREWALL MACHINE n. A dedicated gateway machine with special security
   precautions on it, used to service outside network/mail/news
   connections and/or accept remote logins for (read only)
   shared-file-system access via FTP. The idea is to protect a cluster
   of more loosely administered machines `hidden' behind it from
   crackers. The typical `firewall' is an inexpensive micro-based UNIX
   box kept clean of critical data, with a bunch of modems and public
   network ports on it but just one carefully watched connection back
   to the rest of the cluster. The special precautions may include
   threat monitoring, callback, and even a complete IRON BOX keyable
   to particular incoming IDs or activity patterns. Syn.  FLYTRAP,

FIRMWARE n. Software installed into a computer-based piece of
   equipment on ROM. So-called because it's harder to change than
   software but easier than hardware.

FLAG DAY [from a bit of Multics history involving a change in the
   ASCII character set originally scheduled for June 14, 1966] n. A
   software change which is neither forward nor backward compatible,
   and which is costly to make and costly to revert.  ``Can we install
   that without causing a flag day for all users?''

FLAKEY adj. Subject to frequent lossages.  See LOSSAGE.

FLAMAGE (flay'm@j) n. High-noise, low-signal postings to USENET or
   other electronic fora. Often in the phrase ``the usual flamage''.

FLAME 1. v. To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively
   uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude.  2.
   To post an email message intended to insult and provoke.  FLAME ON:
   v. To continue to flame.  See RAVE, BURBLE.  The punning reference
   to Marvel comics' Human Torch has been lost as recent usage
   completes the circle: ``Flame on'' now usually means ``beginning of

FLAME WAR n. Acrimonious dispute, especially when conducted on a
   public electronic forum such as USENET.

FLAMER v. One who habitually flames others. Said of obnoxious USENET

FLAP v. To unload a DECtape (so it goes flap, flap, flap...).  Old
   hackers at MIT tell of the days when the disk was device 0 and
   microtapes were 1, 2,... and attempting to flap device 0 would
   instead start a motor banging inside a cabinet near the disk!

FLAVOR n. 1. Variety, type, kind.  ``DDT commands come in two
   flavors.''  2. The attribute of causing something to be FLAVORFUL.
   ``This convention yields additional flavor by allowing one to...''

FLAVORFUL adj. Aesthetically pleasing.  See RANDOM and LOSING for
   antonyms.  See also the entries for TASTE and ELEGANT.

FLIPPY (flip'ee) n. A single-side floppy disk altered for double-sided
   use by addition of a second write-notch, so called because it must
   be flipped over for the second side to be accessible. No longer

FLUSH v. 1. To delete something, usually superfluous.  ``All that
   nonsense has been flushed.''  Standard ITS terminology for aborting
   an output operation.  2. To leave at the end of a day's work (as
   opposed to leaving for a meal).  ``I'm going to flush now.''
   ``Time to flush.''  3. To exclude someone from an activity.  4.
   [UNIX/C] To force buffered I/O to disk, as with an fflush(3) call.
   UNIX hackers find the ITS usage confusing and vice versa.


FOO (foo) 1. [from Yiddish ``feh'' or the Anglo-Saxon ``fooey!'']
   interj.  Term of disgust.  2. [from FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All
   Recognition), from WWII, often seen as FOOBAR] Name used for
   temporary programs, or samples of three-letter names.  Other
   similar words are BAR, BAZ (Stanford corruption of BAR), and rarely
   RAG.  These have been used in Pogo as well.  3. Used very generally
   as a sample name for absolutely anything.  The old `Smokey Stover'
   comic strips often included the word FOO, in particular on license
   plates of cars.  4. First on the standard list of metasyntactic
   variables used in syntax examples. See also: BAR, BAZ, QUX, QUUX,
   See MOBY.  [It is possible that hacker usage of FOO actually
   springs from the title ``FOO, Lampoons and Parody'' of a comic book
   first issued in September 1958; the byline read ``C. Crumb'' but my
   source believes this was a sort-of pseudonym for noted weird-comix
   artist Robert Crumb.  The title FOO was featured in large letters
   on the front cover -- ESR]

FOOL n. As used by hackers, specifically describes a person who
   habitually reasons from obviously or demonstrably incorrect
   premises and cannot be persuaded to do otherwise by evidence; it is
   not generally used in its other senses, i.e. to describe a person
   with a native incapacity to reason correctly, or a clown.  Indeed,
   in hackish experience many fools are capable of reasoning all too
   effectively in executing their errors. See also CRETIN, LOSER.

FOOTPRINT n. 1. The floor or desk area taken up by a piece of
   hardware. 2. [IBM] The audit trail (if any) left by a crashed
   program (often in plural, `footprints').

FOREGROUND [UNIX] adj.v. On a time-sharing system, a task executing in
   foreground is one running at normal priority and able to accept
   input from and return output to the user; oppose BACKGROUND. There
   may be only one forground task per terminal (or terminal window).
   By extension, ``to foreground'' a task is to bring it to the top of
   one's PDL or STACK for immediate processing, and in this sense
   hackers often use it for non-computer tasks.

FORTUNE COOKIE [UNIX] n. A random quote, item of trivia, joke or maxim
   printed to the user's tty at login time or (more rarely) at logout
   time. Items from this jargon file have often been used as fortune

FOSSIL n. 1. In software, a misfeature that becomes understandable
   only in historical context, as a remnant of times past retained so
   as not to break compatibility. Example: the retention of octal as
   default base for string escapes in C in spite of the better match
   of hexadecimal to modern byte-addressible architectures. See DUSTY
   DECKS. 2. More restrictively, a feature with past but no present
   utility. Example: the force-all-caps (IUCLC/OLCUC) bits in the UNIX
   tty driver, designed for use with monocase terminals.

FRED n. The personal name most frequently used as a metasyntactic
   variable (see FOO). Allegedly popular because it's easy to type on
   a standard QWERTY keyboard.

FREEWARE n. Free software, often written by enthusiasts and usually
   distributed by electronic mail, local bulletin boards, USENET, or
   other electronic media. See SHAREWARE.

FRIED adj. 1. Non-working due to hardware failure; burnt out.
   Especially used of hardware brought doen by a power glitch, short,
   or other electrical event.  2. Of people, exhausted.  Said
   particularly of those who continue to work in such a state.  Often
   used as an explanation or excuse.  ``Yeah, I know that fix
   destroyed the file system, but I was fried when I put it in.''

FROB (frob) 1. n. [MIT] The official Tech Model Railroad Club
   definition is ``FROB = protruding arm or trunnion'', and by
   metaphoric extension any somewhat small thing.  See FROBNITZ.  2.
   v. Abbreviated form of FROBNICATE.

FROBNICATE (frob'ni-kayt) v. To manipulate or adjust, to tweak.
   Derived from FROBNITZ (q.v.).  Usually abbreviated to FROB.  Thus
   one has the saying ``to frob a frob''.  See TWEAK and TWIDDLE.
   Usage: FROB, TWIDDLE, and TWEAK sometimes connote points along a
   continuum.  FROB connotes aimless manipulation; TWIDDLE connotes
   gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting;
   TWEAK connotes fine-tuning.  If someone is turning a knob on an
   oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it he is probably
   tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen he
   is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning
   a knob is fun, he's frobbing it.

FROBNITZ (frob'nits), pl. FROBNITZEM (frob'nitsm) n. An unspecified
   physical object, a widget.  Also refers to electronic black boxes.
   This rare form is usually abbreviated to FROTZ, or more commonly to
   FROB.  Also used are FROBNULE and FROBULE.  Starting perhaps in
   1979, FROBOZZ (fruh-bahz') has also become very popular.  These can
   also be applied to nonphysical objects, such as data structures.

FROG alt. PHROG 1. interj. Term of disgust (we seem to have a lot of
   them).  2. Used as a name for just about anything.  See FOO.  3. n.
   Of things, a crock.  Of people, somewhere inbetween a turkey and a
   toad.  4. FROGGY: adj. Similar to BAGBITING (q.v.), but milder.
   ``This froggy program is taking forever to run!''

FRONT END n. 1. A subsidiary computer that doesn't do much. 2. What
   you're talking to when you have a conversation with someone who is
   making replies without paying attention. ``Look at the dancing
   elephants!''  ``Uh-huh'' ``Do you know what I just said?''
   ``Sorry, you were talking to the front end''.

FROTZ (frotz) 1. n. See FROBNITZ.  2. MUMBLE FROTZ: An interjection of
   very mild disgust.

FROTZED (frotzt) DOWN due to hardware problems.

FRY v. 1. To fail.  Said especially of smoke-producing hardware
   failures.  2. More generally, to become non-working.  Usage: never
   said of software, only of hardware and humans.  See FRIED, MAGIC

FTP (ef-tee-pee, NOT ``fittip'') 1. n. The File Transfer Protocol for
   transmitting files between systems on the Internet.  2.  v. To
   transfer a file using the File Transfer Protocol. 3. Sometimes used
   as a generic even for file transfers not using FTP. ``Lemme get
   this copy of Wuthering Heights FTP'd from uunet.''

FUCK ME HARDER excl. Sometimes uttered in response to egregious
   misbehavior, esp. in software, and esp. of those which seem
   unfairly persistent (as though designed in by the imp of the
   perverse). Often theatrically elaborated: ``Aiighhh! Fuck me with a
   piledriver and sixteen feet of curare-tipped wrought-iron fence and
   no lubricants!''

FUD WARS (fud worz) n. [from `Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt'] Political
   posturing engaged in by hardware and software vendors ostensibly
   committed to standardization but actually willing to fragment the
   market to protect their own share. The OSF vs. UNIX International
   conflict, for example.

FUDGE 1. v. To perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way,
   particularly with respect to the writing of a program.  ``I didn't
   feel like going through that pain and suffering, so I fudged it.''
   2. n. The resulting code.

FUDGE FACTOR n. A value or parameter that is varied in an ad hoc way
   to produce the desired result.  The terms ``tolerance'' and
   ``slop'' are also used, though these usually indicate a one-sided
   leeway, such as a buffer which is made larger than necessary
   because one isn't sure exactly how large it needs to be, and it is
   better to waste a little space than to lose completely for not
   having enough.  A fudge factor, on the other hand, can often be
   tweaked in more than one direction.  An example might be the
   coefficients of an equation, where the coefficients are varied in
   an attempt to make the equation fit certain criteria.

FUEL UP v. To eat or drink hurriedly in order to get back to hacking.
   ``Food-p?'' ``Yeah, let's fuel up.'' ``Time for a GREAT-WALL!''.
   See also ORIENTAL FOOD.

FUGGLY (fuhg'lee) adj. Emphatic form of FUNKY; funky + ugly. Unusually
   for hacker slang, this may actually derive from black street-jive.
   To say it properly, the first syllable should be growled rather
   than spoken. Usage: humorous. ``Man, the ASCII-to-EBCDIC code in
   that printer driver is *fuggly*.'' See also WONKY.

FUNKY adj. Said of something which functions, but in a slightly
   strange, klugey way.  It does the job and would be difficult to
   change, so its obvious non-optimality is left alone.  Often used to
   describe interfaces. The more bugs something has that nobody has
   bothered to fix because workarounds are easier, the funkier it is.
   TECO and UUCP are funky.  The Intel i860's exception handling is
   extraordinarily funky.  Most standards acquire funkiness as they
   age.  ``The new mailer is installed, but is still somewhat funky;
   if it bounces your mail for no reason, try resubmitting it.''
   ``This UART is pretty funky.  The data ready line is active-high in
   interrupt mode, and active-low in DMA mode.'' See FUGGLY.

FUZZ n. In floating-point arithmetic, the maximum difference allowed
   between two quantities for them to compare equal. Has to be set
   properly relative to the FPU's precision limits.

FUZZBALL [TCP/IP hackers] n. A DEC LSI-11 running a particular suite
   of homebrewed software by Dave Mills and assorted co-conspirators,
   used in the early 80's for Internet protocol testbedding and
   experimentation. These were used as NSFnet backbone sites in its
   early 56KB-line days; a few of these are still active on the
   Internet as of early 1990, doing odd jobs such as network time

			= G =

GABRIEL (gay'bree-@l) [for Dick Gabriel, SAIL volleyball fanatic] n.
   An unnecessary (in the opinion of the opponent) stalling tactic,
   e.g., tying one's shoelaces or hair repeatedly, asking the time,
   etc.  Also used to refer to the perpetrator of such tactics.  Also,
   ``pulling a Gabriel'', ``Gabriel mode''.

GAG vi. Equivalent to CHOKE, but connotes more disgust. ``Hey, this is
   Fortran code.  No wonder the C compiler gagged.'' See also BARF.


GARPLY (gar'plee) n. [Stanford] Another meta-word popular among SAIL

GAS [as in ``gas chamber''] interj. 1. A term of disgust and hatred,
   implying that gas should be dispensed in generous quantities,
   thereby exterminating the source of irritation.  ``Some loser just
   reloaded the system for no reason!  Gas!''  2. A term suggesting
   that someone or something ought to be flushed out of mercy.  ``The
   system's wedging every few minutes.  Gas!''  3. v.  FLUSH (q.v.).
   ``You should gas that old crufty software.''  4.  GASEOUS adj.
   Deserving of being gassed.  Usage: primarily used by Geoff
   Goodfellow at SRI, but spreading; became particularly popular after
   the Moscone/Milk murders in San Francisco, when it was learned that
   Dan White (who supported Proposition 7) would get the gas chamber
   under 7 if convicted.

GC (jee-see) [from LISP terminology] 1. v. To clean up and throw away
   useless things.  ``I think I'll GC the top of my desk today.''  2.
   v.  To recycle, reclaim, or put to another use.  3. n. An
   instantiation of the GC process.

GEDANKEN (g@-dahn'kn) [from Einstein's term ``gedanken-experimenten'',
   such as the standard proof that E=mc^2] adj. An AI project which is
   written up in grand detail without ever being implemented to any
   great extent.  Usually perpetrated by people who aren't very good
   hackers or find programming distasteful or are just in a hurry.  A
   gedanken thesis is usually marked by an obvious lack of intuition
   about what is programmable and what is not and about what does and
   does not constitute a clear specification of a program-related
   concept such as an algorithm.

GEEK OUT v. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a
   non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer
   equipment.  Especially used when you need to do something highly
   technical and don't have time to explain: ``Pardon me while I geek
   out for a moment.''

GENDER MENDER n. (also GENDER BENDER) A cable connector shell with
   either two male or two female connectors on it, used for mating
   like-sexed cables. Used esp. for RS-232C parts in either the
   original D-25 or the IBM PC's bogus D-9 format.

GENERATE v. To produce something according to an algorithm or program
   or set of rules, or as a (possibly unintended) side effect of the
   execution of an algorithm or program. The opposite of PARSE. This
   term retains its mechanistic connotations (though often humorously)
   when used of human behavior.

GET A REAL COMPUTER imp. Typical hacker response to news that somebody
   is having trouble getting work done on a system that is a)
   single-tasking, b) has no Winchester, or c) has less than 4
   megabytes of DRAM. This is as of 1990; note that the threshold for
   `real computer' rises with time, and it may well be (for example)
   that machines with character-only displays will be considered
   `unreal' in a few years. See BITTY BOX and TOY.

GFR (jee eff ar) v. [acronym, ITS] From ``Grim File Reaper'', an ITS
   utility. To remove a file or files according to some
   program-automated or semi-automatic manual procedure, especially
   one designed to reclaim mass storage space or reduce namespace
   clutter. Often generalized to pieces of data below file level.  ``I
   used to have his phone number but I guess I GFRed it.'' See also

GIGO (gie'goh) [acronym] garbage in, garbage out.  Usually said in
   response to lusers who complain that a program didn't complain
   about faulty data. Also commonly used to describe failures in human
   decision making due to faulty, incomplete or imprecise data.

GLARK (glark) v. To figure something out from context, taken from an
   old Scientific American ``Mathematical Games'' column, where the
   phrase ``glark the meaning from context'' was used as an
   example...of glarking something from context. ``The System III
   manuals are pretty poor, but you can generally glark the meaning
   from context''.

GLASS [IBM] n. Synonym for SILICON.

GLASS TTY (glas tee-tee-wie, glas ti-tee) n. A terminal which has a
   display screen but which, because of hardware or software
   limitations, behaves like a teletype or other printing terminal.
   An example is the ADM-3 (without cursor control).  A glass tty
   can't do neat DISPLAY HACKs, and you can't save the output either.
   See TUBE, TTY.

GLITCH (glich) [from the Yiddish ``glitshen'', to slide] 1. n. A
   sudden interruption in electric service, sanity, or program
   function.  Sometimes recoverable.  2. v. To commit a glitch.  See
   GRITCH.  3.  v. [Stanford] To scroll a display screen several lines
   at a time.  4. (obs.) Same as MAGIC COOKIE, sense #2.

GLOB [UNIX, from ``glob'', the name of a subprogram that translated
   wildcards in archaic Bourne Shell versions] n.,v.  The UNIX
   conventions for filename wildcarding have become sufficiently
   pervasive that many hackers use some of them in written English,
   especially in email or news on technical topics.  Those commonly
   encountered include:

	*	wildcard for any string (see UN*X, U*IX).
	?	wildcard for any character (generally only read this
		way in the middle of a word.
	[]	set-of-characters braces.

   Some examples: ``He said his name was [KC]arl'' (expresses
   ambiguity).  ``That got posted to talk.politics.*'' (all the
   talk.politics subgroups on USENET). Other examples are given under
   the entry for `X'. GLOB as a noun refers to the act of expanding a
   string using these conventions. It is also used as a verb.

GLORK (glork) 1. interj. Term of mild surprise, usually tinged with
   outrage, as when one attempts to save the results of two hours of
   editing and finds that the system has just crashed.  2. Used as a
   name for just about anything.  See FOO.  3. v. Similar to GLITCH
   (q.v.), but usually used reflexively.  ``My program just glorked

GNARLY adj. Both OBSCURE and HAIRY in the sense of complex.  ``Yeech
   -- the tuned assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!''
   From a similar but less specific usage in surfer slang.

GNU (gnoo, NOT ``noo'') 1. [acronym for ``GNU's Not UNIX!''] A
   UNIX-workalike development effort of the Free Software Foundation
   headed by Richard Stallman (aka RMS). GNU EMACS and the GNU C
   compiler, two tools designed for this project, have become very
   popular in hackerdom.  See EMACS, COPYLEFT.  2. Noted UNIX hacker
   John Gilmore (, ironically enough one of the
   best-known and most vocal opponents of the ``information should not
   be property'' philosophy behind GNU. See RMS.

GNUMACS (gnoo'maks) [contraction of ``Gnu Emacs''] Often-heard
   abbreviated name for the GNU project's flagship tool, EMACS.  Used
   esp. in contrast with GOSMACS.

GO FLATLINE [from cyberpunk SF, refers to flattening of EEG traces
   upon brain-death] v., also adjectival FLATLINED. 1. To die,
   terminate, or fail, esp. irreversibly. In hacker parlance this is
   used of machines only, human death being considered somewhat too
   serious a matter to employ jargon-jokes about. 2. To go completely
   quiescent; said of machines undergoing controlled shutdown. ``You
   can suffer file damage if you shut down UNIX but power off before
   the system has gone flatline.'' 3. A particular failure mode of
   video tubes in which vertical scan is lost, so all one sees is a
   bright horizontal line bisecting the screen.

GOBBLE v. To consume or to obtain.  GOBBLE UP tends to imply
   ``consume'', while GOBBLE DOWN tends to imply ``obtain''.  ``The
   output spy gobbles characters out of a TTY output buffer.''  ``I
   guess I'll gobble down a copy of the documentation tomorrow.''  See

GONK (gonk) v.,n. To prevaricate or to embellish the truth beyond any
   reasonable recognition.  In German the term is (fictively)
   ``GONKEN'', in spanish the verb becomes ``GONKAR.''  ``You're
   gonking me. That story you just told me is a bunch of gonk.'' In
   German, ``Du Gonkst mir.''  (You're pulling my leg.) See also

GONKULATOR (gon'kyoo-lay-tr) [from the old ``Hogan's Heroes'' TV
   series] n. A pretentious piece of equipment that actually serves no
   useful purpose.  Usually used to describe one's least favorite
   piece of computer hardware. See GONK.

GONZO (gon'zo) [from Hunter S. Thompson] adj. Overwhelming; very
   large, esp.  used of collections of source code, source files or
   individual functions.  Has some of the connotations of MOBY and
   HAIRY, q.v.

GOOD THING adj. Always capitalized. 1. Self-evidently wonderful to
   anyone in a position to notice: ``The Trailblazer's 19.2Kbaud PEP
   mode with on-the-fly Lempel-Ziv compression is a Good Thing for
   sites relaying netnews.'' 2. Something which can't possibly have
   any ill side effects and may save considerable grief later:
   ``Removing the self-modifying code from that shared library would
   be a Good Thing.'' 3. When said of software tools or libraries, as
   in ``YACC is a Good Thing'', specifically connotes that the thing
   has drastically reduced a programmer's work load.  Oppose BAD

GORP (gorp) [CMU, perhaps from a brand of dried hiker's food?]
   Another metasyntactic variable, like FOO and BAR.

GOSMACS (goz'maks) [contraction of ``Gosling Emacs''] n. The first
   EMACS-in-C implementation, predating but now largely eclipsed by
   GNUMACS (q.v.). Originally freeware; a commercial version is now
   modestly popular as ``UniPress Emacs''.

GORILLA ARM n. The side-effect that destroyed touch-screens as a
   mainstream input technology despite a promising start in the early
   eighties. It seems the designers of all those SPIFFY touch-menu
   systems failed to notice that humans aren't designed to hold their
   arms in front of their faces making small motions. After more than
   a very few selects the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and
   oversized, hence ``gorilla arm''. This is now considered a classic
   Horrible Example and cautionary tale to human-factors designers;
   ``remember the gorilla arm'' is shorthand for ``how's this gonna
   fly in *real* use?''

GREAT RENAMING n. The FLAG DAY on which all of the groups on the
   USENET had their names changed from the net.* format to the current
   7 hierarchies scheme.

GREAT-WALL [from SF fandom] v.,n. a mass expedition to an oriental

GREEN BOOK n. 1. The X/Open Compatibility Guide. Defines an
   international standard UNIX environment that is a proper superset
   of POSIX/SVID; also includes descriptions of a standard utility
   toolkit, systems administrations features, and the like.  This
   grimoire is taken with particular seriousness in Europe. See PURPLE
   BOOK. 2. One of the three standard PostScript references (see also
   RED BOOK, BLUE BOOK). 3. The P1003.1 POSIX Utilities standard has
   been dubbed THE UGLY GREEN BOOK.

GREEN LIGHTNING [IBM] n. Apparently random flashing streaks on the
   face of 3278-9 terminals while a programmable symbol set is being
   loaded. This hardware bug was left deliberately unfixed, as some
   bright spark suggested that this would let the user know that
   `something is happening'. It certainly does. 2.  [generalization of
   #1 proposed by ESR] Any bug perverted into an alleged feature by
   adroit rationalization or marketing. E.g.  ``Motorola calls the
   CISC cruft in the 8800 architecture `compatibility logic', but I
   call it green lightning''.

GRAULT (grawlt) n. Yet another meta-syntactic variable, invented by
   Mike Gallaher and propagated by the GOSMACS documentation. See

GRAY GOO n. A hypothetical substance composed of billions of
   sub-micron-sized Von Neumann machines (self-replicating robots)
   programmed to make copies of themselves out of whatever is
   available. The image that goes with the term is one of the entire
   biosphere of Earth being eventually converted to robot goo. This is
   the most naive and easiest to refute of the NANOTECHNOLOGY (q.v.)
   disaster scenarios.

GREP (grep) [from the UNIX grep tool] v. To rapidly scan a file or
   file set looking for a particular string or pattern. By extension,
   to look for something by pattern. ``Grep the bulletin board for the
   system backup schedule, would you?''

GRIND v. 1. [MIT and Berkeley] To format code, especially LISP code,
   by indenting lines so that it looks pretty.  Hence, PRETTY PRINT,
   the generic term for such operations.  2. [UNIX] To generate the
   formatted version of a document from the nroff, troff, TEX or
   Scribe source. 3. To run seemingly interminably, performing some
   tedious and inherently useless task. Similar to CRUNCH, GROVEL.

GRIND CRANK n. A mythical accessory to a terminal.  A crank on the
   side of a monitor, which when operated makes a zizzing noise and
   causes the computer to run faster.  Usually one does not refer to a
   grind crank out loud, but merely makes the appropriate gesture and

GRITCH (grich) 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a GLITCH (q.v.)).
   2. v. To complain.  Often verb-doubled: ``Gritch gritch''.  3.

GROK (grok) [from the novel ``Stranger in a Strange Land'', by Robert
   Heinlein, where it is a Martian verb meaning literally ``to drink''
   and metaphorically ``to be one with''] v. To understand, usually in
   a global sense. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge.
   Contrast ZEN, similar supernal understanding as a single brief

GRONK (gronk) [popularized by the cartoon strip ``B.C.'' by Johnny
   Hart, but the word apparently predates that] v. 1. To clear the
   state of a wedged device and restart it.  More severe than ``to
   frob'' (q.v.).  2. To break.  ``The teletype scanner was gronked,
   so we took the system down.''  3. GRONKED: adj. Of people, the
   condition of feeling very tired or sick.  4. GRONK OUT: v. To cease
   functioning.  Of people, to go home and go to sleep.  ``I guess
   I'll gronk out now; see you all tomorrow.''

GROVEL v. To work interminably and without apparent progress.  Often
   used with ``over''.  ``The compiler grovelled over my code.''
   Compare GRIND and CRUNCH.  Emphatic form: GROVEL OBSCENELY.

GRUNGY (gruhn'jee) adj. Incredibly dirty or grubby.  Anything which
   has been washed within the last year is not really grungy.  Also
   used metaphorically; hence some programs (especially crocks) can be
   described as grungy. Now (1990) also common in mainstream slang.

GUBBISH (guh'bish) [a portmanteau of ``garbage'' and ``rubbish''?] n.
   Garbage; crap; nonsense.  ``What is all this gubbish?''

GUILTWARE n. FREEWARE decorated with a message telling one how long
   and hard the author worked on this program and intimating that one
   is a no-good shit if one does not immediately send the poor
   suffering martyr gobs of money.

GUMBY (guhm'bee) [from a class of Monty Python characters] n. An act
   of minor but conspicuous stupidity, often in GUMBY MANEUVER or PULL

GUN [from the GUN command on ITS] v. To forcibly terminate a program
   or job (computer, not career).  ``Some idiot left a background
   process running soaking up half the cycles, so I gunned it.''
   Compare CAN.

GURFLE (ger'fl) interj. An expression of shocked disbelief. ``He said
   we have to recode this thing in FORTRAN by next week. Gurfle!''

GURU n. 1. A UNIX expert. Implies not only WIZARD skill but a history
   of being a knowledge resource for others. Less often, used (with a
   qualifier) for other experts on other systems, as in ``VMS guru''.
   2. Amiga equivalent of ``panic'' in UNIX. When the system crashes a
   cryptic message ``GURU MEDITATION #XXXXXXXX.YYYYYYYY'' appears,
   indicating what the problem was. An Amiga guru can figure things
   out from the numbers. Generally a GURU event must be followed by a

			= H =

H INFIX [from SF fandom] A method of ``marking'' common words in the
   linguist's sense, i.e. calling attention to the fact that they are
   being used in a nonstandard, ironic or humorous way.  Orig. in the
   fannish catchphrase ``Bheer is the One True Ghod'' from decades
   ago.  H-infix marking of ``Ghod'' and other words spread into the
   Sixties counterculture via underground comix, and into early
   hackerdom either from the counterculture or SF fandom (all three
   overlapped heavily at the time). More recently, the h infix has
   become an expected feature of benchmark names, i.e.  Whetstone,
   Dhrystone, Rhealstone, etc; this is prob. patterning on the
   original Whetstone name but influenced by the
   fannish/counterculture H infix.

HA HA ONLY SERIOUS [from SF fandom] A phrase that aptly captures the
   flavor of much hacker discourse (sometimes seen abbreviated as
   HHOS). Applied especially to parodies, absurdities and ironic jokes
   that are both intended and perceived to contain a possibly
   disquieting amount of truth, or truths which are constructed on
   in-joke and self-parody. The jargon file contains many examples of
   ha-ha-only-serious in both form and content. Indeed, the entirety
   of hacker culture is often perceived as ha-ha-only-serious by
   hackers themselves; to take it either too lightly or too seriously
   marks a person as an outsider or one in LARVAL STAGE. For further
   enlightenment on this subject, consult any Zen master. See also

HACK n. 1. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but
   not well.  2. The result of that job.  3. NEAT HACK: A clever
   technique.  Also, a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is
   correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value.
   Example: the Caltech Rose Bowl card display switch circa 1961.  4.
   REAL HACK: A crock (occasionally affectionate).  v. 5. With
   ``together'', to throw something together so it will work.  6. To
   bear emotionally or physically.  ``I can't hack this heat!'' 7.  To
   work on something (typically a program).  In specific sense: ``What
   are you doing?''  ``I'm hacking TECO.''  In general sense: ``What
   do you do around here?''  ``I hack TECO.''  (The former is
   time-immediate, the latter time-extended.)  More generally, ``I
   hack x'' is roughly equivalent to ``x is my bag''.  ``I hack
   solid-state physics.''  8. To pull a prank on.  See definition 3
   and HACKER (def #6).  9. v.i. To waste time (as opposed to TOOL).
   ``Watcha up to?''  ``Oh, just hacking.''  10. HACK UP (ON): To
   hack, but generally implies that the result is meanings 1-2.  11.
   HACK VALUE: Term used as the reason or motivation for expending
   effort toward a seemingly useless goal, the point being that the
   accomplished goal is a hack.  For example, MacLISP has features for
   reading and printing roman numerals, which was installed purely for
   hack value. 12. [UNIX] A dungeon game similar to ROGUE (q.v.) but
   more elaborate, distributed in C source over USENET and very
   popular at UNIX sites and on PC-class machines. Recent versions are
   called `nethack'.  HAPPY HACKING: A farewell.  HOW'S HACKING?: A
   friendly greeting among hackers.  HACK HACK: A somewhat pointless
   but friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell.

HACKER [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n. 1. A
   person who enjoys learning the details of programming systems and
   how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users who
   prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.  2. One who programs
   enthusiastically, or who enjoys programming rather than just
   theorizing about programming.  3. A person capable of appreciating
   HACK VALUE (q.v.).  4. A person who is good at programming quickly.
   Not everything a hacker produces is a hack.  5. An expert at a
   particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on
   it; example: ``A UNIX hacker''.  (Definitions 1 to 5 are
   correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)  6.  (deprecated)
   A malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries to discover
   information by poking around.  Hence ``password hacker'', ``network
   hacker''. See CRACKER.

HACK MODE n. 1. What one is in when hacking, of course. 2.  More
   specifically, a Zen-like state of total focus on The Problem which
   may be achieved when one is hacking. Ability to enter such
   concentration at will correlates strongly with wizardliness; it is
   one of the most important skills learned during LARVAL STAGE.
   Sometimes amplified as DEEP HACK MODE. Being yanked out of hack
   mode (see PRIORITY INTERRUPT) may be experienced as an almost
   physical shock, and the sensation of being in it is more than a
   little habituating. The intensity of this experience is probably by
   itself sufficient explanation for the existence of hackers, and
   explains why many resist being promoted out of positions where they
   can do code.

HACKING RUN [analogy with `bombing run' or `speed run'] n. A hack
   session extended long outside `normal' working times, especially
   one longer than 12 hours. May cause you to CHANGE PHASE THE HARD
   WAY (see PHASE).

HACKISH (hak'ish) adj. (also HACKISHNESS n.) 1. Being or involving a
   hack. 2. Of or pertaining to hackers or the hacker subculture.  See
   also TRUE-HACKER.

HAIR n. The complications which make something hairy.  ``Decoding TECO
   commands requires a certain amount of hair.''  Often seen in the
   phrase INFINITE HAIR, which connotes extreme complexity. Also in
   HAIRIFEROUS (tending to promote hair growth): ``GNU elisp
   encourages lusers to write complex editing modes.''  ``Yeah, it's
   pretty hairiferous all right.''

HAIRY adj. 1. Overly complicated.  ``DWIM is incredibly hairy.''  2.
   Incomprehensible.  ``DWIM is incredibly hairy.''  3.  Of people,
   high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert, and/or incomprehensible.
   Hard to explain except in context: ``He knows this hairy lawyer who
   says there's nothing to worry about.''

HAKMEM (hak'mem) n. MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972).  A legendary
   collection of neat mathematical and programming hacks contributed
   by many people at MIT and elsewhere.

HAND-HACKING n. The practice of translating HOT SPOTS from an HLL into
   custom hand-optimized assembler, as opposed to trying to coerce the
   compiler into generating better code. Both the term and the
   practice are becoming uncommon. See TUNE, BUM. 2. More generally,
   manual construction or patching of data sets that would normally be
   ground out by a translation utility and interpreted by another
   program, and aren't really designed to be read or modified by

HANDWAVE 1. v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener;
   to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty
   logic.  2. n. The act of handwaving.  ``Boy, what a handwave!''
   The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands
   up, palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting
   at the elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the
   handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms still while rotating
   the hands at the wrist to make them flutter.  In context, the
   gestures alone can suffice as a remark.

HANLON'S RAZOR n. A ``murphyism'' parallel to Occam's Razor that reads
   ``Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained
   by stupidity''. Quoted here because it seems to be a particular
   favorite of hackers, often showing up in FORTUNE COOKIE files and
   the login banners of BBS systems and commercial networks.  This
   probably reflects the hacker's daily experience of environments
   created by the well-intentioned but shortsighted.

HARDWARILY (hard-weir'i-lee) adv. In a way pertaining to hardware.
   ``The system is hardwarily unreliable.''  The adjective
   ``hardwary'' is NOT used.  See SOFTWARILY.

HAS THE X NATURE [seems to derive from Zen Buddhist koans of the form
   ``Does an X have the Buddha-nature?'']  adj. Common hacker
   construction for `is an X', used for humorous emphasis. Ex:
   ``Anyone who can't even use a program with on-screen help embedded
   in it truly has the LOSER nature!''

HASH COLLISION [from the technical usage] n. When used of people,
   signifies a confusion in associative memory or imagination,
   especially a persistent one (see THINKO). True story: one of us
   (ESR) was once on the phone with a friend about to move out to
   Berkeley. When asked what he expected Berkeley to be like, the
   friend replied ``Well, I have this mental picture of naked women
   throwing Molotov cocktails, but I think that's just a collision in
   my hash tables.''

HCF (aych-see-eff) n. Mnemonic for ``Halt and Catch Fire'', any of
   several undocumented and semi-mythical machine instructions with
   destructive side-effects, supposedly included for test purposes on
   several well-known architectures going as far back as the IBM 360.
   The MC68000 microprocessor was the first for which the HCF opcode
   became widely known. The 68000 HCF causes the processor to toggle a
   subset of the bus lines as rapidly as it can; in some
   configurations this can actually cause lines to burn up.

HEARTBEAT n. 1. The master clock signal propagated across an Ethernet;
   by extension, the time-baseline synchronization signal at the
   physical level of any network. 2. The `natural' oscillation
   frequency of a computer's clock crystal, before frequency division
   down to the machine's CLOCK RATE.

HEISENBUG (hie'sen-buhg) [from quantum physics] n. A bug which
   disappears or alters its behavior when one attempts to probe or
   isolate it. Antonym of BOHR BUG (q.v.). In C, 9 out of 10
   heisenbugs result from either FANDANGO ON CORE phenomena (esp.
   lossage related to corruption of the malloc ARENA) or errors which

HELLO SAILOR! interj. Occasional West Coast equivalent of `Hello,
   world!'. See HELLO WORLD.


HELLO WORLD! interj. 1. The canonical minimal test message in the
   C/UNIX universe. In folklore, the first program a C coder is
   supposed to write in a new environment is one that just prints
   ``Hello, world!'' to his standard output. Environments that
   generate an unreasonably large executable for this trivial test or
   which require a HAIRY compiler-linker invocation to generate it are
   considered to LOSE. 2. Greeting uttered by a hacker making an
   entrance or requesting information from anyone present. ``Hello,
   world! Is the VAX back up yet?''

HIGH BIT n. 1. See META BIT. Also meaning most significant part of
   something other than a data byte, e.g. ``Spare me the whole saga,
   just give me the high bit.''

HIRSUTE adj. Occasionally used humorously as a synonym for HAIRY.

HLL (aych-el-el) n. [High-Level Language (as opposed to assembler)]
   Found primarily in email and news rather than speech. Rarely, the
   variants `VHLL' and `MLL' are found. VHLL = `Very-High-Level
   Language' and is used to describe a BONDAGE-AND-DISCIPLINE LANGUAGE
   that the speaker happens to like; Prolog and Backus's FP are often
   called VHLLs. `MLL' = `Medium-Level Language' and is sometimes used
   half-jokingly to describe C, alluding to its `structured-assembler'
   image. See also LANGUAGES OF CHOICE.

HOG n.,v. Favored term to describe programs which seem to eat far more
   than their share of a system's resources, esp. those which
   noticeably degrade general timesharing response. *Not* used of
   programs which are simply extremely large or complex or which are
   merely painfully slow themselves (see PIG, RUN LIKE A). More often
   than not encountered in qualified forms, e.g. MEMORY HOG, CORE HOG,

HOOK n. An extraneous piece of software or hardware included in order
   to simplify later additions or debug options.  For instance, a
   program might execute a location that is normally a JFCL, but by
   changing the JFCL to a PUSHJ one can insert a debugging routine at
   that point.

HOME BOX n. A hacker's personal machine, especially one he owns.
   ``Yeah?  Well, *my* home box runs a full 4.2BSD, so there!''

HOSE 1. v. To make non-functional or greatly degraded in performance,
   as in ``That big ray-tracing program really hoses the system.'' See
   HOSED. 2. n. A narrow channel through which data flows under
   pressure.  Generally denotes data paths in a system that represent
   performance bottlenecks.  3.  Cabling, especially thick Ethernet
   cable.  Sometimes ``bit hose''.

HOSED adj. Same as DOWN. Used primarily by UNIX hackers.  Humorous:
   also implies a condition thought to be relatively easy to reverse.
   Probably a back-formation from the Canadian slang `hoser'
   popularized by the Bob and Doug skits on SCTV. See HOSE.

HOT SPOTS [primarily C/UNIX programmers, but spreading] n.  In most
   programs, less than 10% of the code eats 90% of the execution time;
   if one were to graph instruction visits versus code addresses, one
   would typically see a few huge spikes amidst a lot of low-level
   noise. Such spikes are called hot spots and are good candidates for
   HAND-HACKING. The term is especially used of tight loops and
   recursions in the code's central algorithm, as opposed to (say)
   initial set-up costs or large but infrequent I/O operations.  See

HOUSE WIZARD [prob. from ad-agency lingo, cf. `house freak'] n. A lone
   hacker occupying a technical-specialist, R&D or systems position at
   a commercial shop. A really effective house wizard can have
   influence out of all proportion to his/her ostensible rank and
   still not have to wear a suit. Used esp. of UNIX experts. The term
   HOUSE GURU is equivalent.

HP-SUX (aych pee suhx) n. Unflattering hackerism for HP-UX,
   Hewlett-Packard's UNIX port. Features some truly unique bogosities
   in the filesystem internals and elsewhere that occasionally create
   portability problems. See also TELERAT, SUN-STOOLS, TERMINAK.

HUMONGOUS (hyoo-mohng'gus) alt. HUMUNGOUS (hyoo-muhng'gus) See HUNGUS.

HUMOR, HACKER n. A distinctive style of shared intellectual humor
   found among hackers, having the following marked characteristics:

   1) Fascination with form-vs.-content jokes, paradoxes, and humor
   having to do with confusion of metalevels (see META). One way to
   make a hacker laugh: hold an index card in front of him/her with
   ``THIS IS GREEN'' written on it in bold red ink, or vice-versa
   (note, however, that this is only funny the first time).

   2) Elaborate deadpan parodies of large intellectual constructs such
   as standards documents, language descriptions (see INTERCAL) and
   even entire scientific theories (see QUANTUM BOGODYNAMICS,

   3) Jokes which involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre,
   ludicrous or just grossly counter-intuitive premises.

   4) Fascination with puns and wordplay.

   5) A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive
   currents of intelligence in it, for example: old Warner Brothers
   and Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, Charlie Chaplin movies, the B-52s,
   and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Humor which combines this trait
   with elements of high camp and slapstick is especially favored.

   6) References to the symbol-object antinomies and associated ideas
   in Zen Buddhism and (less often) Taoism. See HAS THE X NATURE,

   See also FILK, COMPUTER; RETROCOMPUTING; and Appendix C. If you
   have an itchy feeling that all six of these traits are really
   aspects of one thing that is incredibly difficult to talk about
   exactly, you are a) correct and b) responding like a hacker. These
   traits are also recognizable (though in a less marked form)

HUNG [from ``hung up''] adj. Equivalent to WEDGED, q.v. but more
   common at UNIX/C sites. Not used of people.

HUNGUS (hung'ghis) [perhaps related to current slang ``humongous'';
   which one came first (if either) is unclear] adj. Large, unwieldy,
   usually unmanageable.  ``TCP is a hungus piece of code.''  ``This
   is a hungus set of modifications.''

HYPERSPACE (hie'per-spays) n. A memory location within a virtual
   memory machine that is many, many megabytes (or gigabytes) away
   from where the program counter should be pointing. ``Another core
   dump...looks like the program jumped off to hyperspace somehow.''

			= I =

IBM (ie bee em) Inferior But Marketable; It's Better Manually;
   Insidious Black Magic; Incontinent Bowel Movement; and a
   near-INFINITE number of many even less complimentary expansions,
   including ``International Business Machines''. See TLA. These
   abbreviations illustrate the considerable antipathy most hackers
   have long felt for the ``industry leader'' (see FEAR AND LOATHING).
   What galls hackers about most IBM machines above the PC level isn't
   so much that they're underpowered and overpriced (though that
   counts against them) but that the designs are incredibly archaic,
   crufty and ELEPHANTINE and you can't *fix* them -- source is locked
   up tight and programming tools are expensive, hard to find, and a
   bitch to use once you've found them. With the release of the
   UNIX-based RIOS family this may have begun to change -- but then,
   we thought that when the PC-RT came out, too.  In the spirit of
   universal peace and brotherhood the jargon list now includes a
   number of entries marked `IBM'; these derive from a rampantly
   unofficial jargon list circulated among IBM's own beleaguered
   hacker underground.

ICE [from William Gibson's cyberpunk SF: notionally, ``Intrusion
   Countermeasure Electronics''] Security software. Also, ICEBREAKER:
   a program designed for cracking security on a system. Neither term
   is in serious use yet as of 1990, but many hackers find the
   metaphor attractive and they may be in the near future.

ILL BEHAVED adj. Software which bypasses the defined OS interfaces to
   do things (like screen, keyboard and disk I/O) itself, often in a
   way that depends on the hardware of the machine it is running on or
   which is nonportable or incompatible with other pieces of software.
   In the IBM PC/MS-DOS world, where this term originated, there is a
   folk theorem to the effect that (due to gross inadequacies and
   performance penalties in the OS interface) all interesting
   applications are ill-behaved. Oppose WELL-BEHAVED. See MESS-DOS.

IMHO [from SF fandom via USENET] Written acronym for In My Humble
   Opinion.  Example: ``IMHO, mixed-case C names should be avoided, as
   mistyping something in the wrong case can cause hard-to-detect
   errors -- and they look too Pascalish anyhow.''

INCANTATION n. Any particularly arbitrary or obscure command that must
   be muttered at a system to attain a desired result. Not used of
   passwords or other explicit security features.  Especially used of
   tricks that are so poorly documented they must be learned from a
   WIZARD. E.g. ``This compiler normally locates initialized data in
   the data segment, but if you mutter the right incantation they will
   be forced into text space''. See MUTTER.

INFINITE adj. Consisting of a large number of objects; extreme.  Used
   very loosely as in: ``This program produces infinite garbage.''

INFANT MORTALITY n. It is common lore among hackers that the chances
   of sudden hardware failure drop off exponentially with a machine's
   time since power-up (that is until the relatively distant time at
   which mechanical wear in I/O devices and thermal-cycling stress in
   components has accumulated enough for the machine to start going
   senile). Up to half of all chip-and-wire failures happen within a
   new system's first few weeks; such failures are often referred to
   as ``infant mortality'' problems.

INTERCAL (in'tr-kal) [said by the authors to stand for ``Compiler
   Language With No Pronounceable Acronym''] n. The language has been
   recently re-implemented as C-INTERCAL and is consequently enjoying
   an unprecedented level of unpopularity.

INTERNET ADDRESS n. An `absolute' network address of the form
   foo@bar.baz, where foo is a user name, bar is a site name, and baz
   is a `domain' name, possibly including periods itself. Contrasts
   with BANG PATH, q.v.; see also NETWORK. All Internet machines and
   most UUCP sites can now resolve these addresses, thanks to a large
   amount of behind-the-scenes magic and PD software written since
   1980 or so. See also BANG PATH.

INTERRUPTS LOCKED OUT When someone is ignoring you. In a restaurant,
   after several fruitless attempts to get the waitress's attention, a
   hacker might well observe that ``She must have interrupts locked
   out.'' Variations of this abound; ``to have one's interrupt mask
   bit set'' is also heard.

IRON n. Hardware, especially older/larger hardware of mainframe class
   with big metal cabinets relatively low-density electronics (but
   also used of modern supercomputers). Often in the phrase BIG IRON.
   Oppose SILICON. See also DINOSAUR.

IRON BOX [UNIX/Internet] n. A special environment set up to trap a
   CRACKER logging in over remote or network connections long enough
   so he can be traced. May include a specially-gimmicked SHELL
   restricting the hacker's movements in unobvious ways, and `bait'
   files designed to keep him interested and logged on. See also BACK

IRONMONGER [IBM] n. A hardware specialist. Derogatory.  Compare

ITS (ie-tee-ess) n. Incompatible Time-Sharing System, an influential
   but highly idiosyncratic operating system written for PDP-10s at
   MIT and long used at the MIT AI lab; much AI-hacker slang derives
   from ITS folklore. After about 1982 most actual work was shifted to
   newer machines, with the remaining ITS boxes run essentially as a
   hobby and service to the hacker community.  The shutdown of the
   lab's last ITS machine in May 1990 marked the end of an era and
   sent old-time hackers into mourning nationwide. See Appendix B.

IWBNI [acronym] It Would Be Nice If.  No pronunciation, as this is
   never spoken, only written. Compare WIBNI.

IYFEG [USENET] Abbreviation for ``Insert Your Favourite Ethnic
   Group''.  Used as a meta-name when telling racist jokes in email to
   avoid offending anyone.

			= J =

JAGGIES (jag'eez) n. The `stairstep' effect observable when an edge
   (esp. a linear edge of slope far from 45 degrees) is rendered on a
   pixel device (as opposed to a vector display).

JIFFY n. 1. Interval of CPU time, commonly 1/60 second or 1
   millisecond (see TICK).  2. Indeterminate time from a few seconds
   to forever. ``I'll do it in a jiffy'' means certainly not now and
   possibly never.

JOCK n. 1. Programmer who is characterized by large and somewhat brute
   force programs. 2. When modified by another noun, describes a
   specialist in some particular computing area. The compounds
   `compiler jock' and `systems jock' seem to be the best established
   examples of this.

JOE CODE (joh kohd) [said to commemmorate a notoriously bad coder
   named Joe at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory] n. Badly written,
   possibly buggy source code.  ``Perl may be a handy program, but if
   you look at the source, it's complete joe code.'' Correspondents
   wishing to remain anonymous have fingered a particular Joe and
   observed that usage has drifted slightly; they described his code
   as ``overly TENSE and unmaintainable''.
J. RANDOM HACKER (jay rand'm hak'r) n. A mythical figure like the
   Unknown Soldier; the archetypal hacker nerd. See RANDOM.

			= K =

KAHUNA (k@-hoo'nuh) [IBM, from the Hawaiian title for a shaman] n.
   Synonym for WIZARD, GURU (q.v.).

KEN (ken) n. A flaming user.  This noun was in use by the Software
   Support group at Symbolics because the two greatest flamers in the
   user community were both named Ken.

KILL FILE [USENET] n. Some USENET readers allow users to set filter
   patterns against which news messages are compared, then ignored
   (not presented by the reader) if the match succeeds. The file in
   which these patterns are stored is called the user's kill file.
   Thus to ``add a person (or subject) to one's kill file'' is to
   arrange for that person to be ignored by your newsreader in future.
   By extension, it may be used for a decision to ignore the person or
   subject in other media.

KILLER MICRO [popularized by Eugene Brooks] n. A microprocessor-based
   machine that infringes on mini, mainframe or supercomputer
   performance turf. Often heard in ``No one will survive the attack
   of the killer micros!'', the battle cry of the downsizers. Used
   esp. of RISC architectures.

KILLER POKE n. A recipe for inducing hardware damage on a machine via
   insertion of invalid values in a memory-mapped control register;
   used esp. of various fairly well-known tricks on MMU-less BITTY
   BOXES like the IBM PC and Commodore PET that can overload and trash
   analog electronics in the monitor. See also HCF.

KLUGE (kloodj) alt. KLUDGE (kluhdj) [from the German ``klug'', clever]
   (`kloodj' is the original pronunciation, more common in the US;
   `kluhdge' is reported more common in England).  n. 1. A Rube
   Goldberg device in hardware or software.  2. A clever programming
   trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an efficient, if
   not clear, manner.  Often used to repair bugs.  Often verges on
   being a crock.  3. Something that works for the wrong reason.  4.
   v. To insert a kluge into a program.  ``I've kluged this routine to
   get around that weird bug, but there's probably a better way.''
   Also KLUGE UP.  5. KLUGE AROUND: To avoid by inserting a kluge.  6.
   [WPI] A feature which is implemented in a RUDE manner.

KNIGHTS OF THE LAMBDA CALCULUS n. A semi-mythical organization of
   wizardly LISP and Scheme hackers. There is no enrollment list and
   the criteria for induction are unclear, but one well-known LISPer
   has been known to give out buttons and, in general, the *members*
   know who they are...

			= L =

LACE CARD n. obs. A Hollerith card with all holes punched (also called
   a WHOOPEE CARD). Some cardpunches actually jammed on the amount of
   CHAD generated by one of these.

LANGUAGE LAWYER n. A person, usually an experienced or senior software
   engineer, who is intimately familiar with many or most of the
   numerous syntactic and semantic restrictions (both useful and
   esoteric) applicable to one or more computer programming languages.

LANGUAGES OF CHOICE n. C or LISP. Essentially all hackers know one of
   these and most good ones are fluent in both. Smalltalk and Prolog
   are popular in small but influential communities. Assembler used to
   be a language of choice, but is generally no longer considered
   interesting or appropriate for anything but compiler code
   generation and a few time-critical uses in systems programs.

LARVAL STAGE n. Describes a period of monomaniacal concentration on
   coding apparently passed through by all fledgling hackers. Common
   symptoms include: the perpetration of more than one 36-hour HACKING
   RUN in a given week, neglect of all other activities including
   usual basics like food and sex, and a chronic case of advanced
   bleary-eye. Can last from six months to two years, with the
   apparent median being around eighteen months. A few so afflicted
   never resume a more `normal' life, but the ordeal seems to be
   necessary to produce really wizardly (as opposed to merely
   competent) programmers. A less protracted and intense version of
   larval stage (typically lasting about a month) may recur when
   learning a new OS or programming language.

LASE (layz) vt. To print a given document via a laser printer. ``OK,
   let's lase that sucker and see if all those graphics-macro calls
   did the right things.'' Compare DIABLO in Appendix B.

LEAK n. With qualifier, one of a class of resource-management bugs
   that occur when resources are not freed properly after operations
   on them are finished, leading to eventual exhaustion as new
   allocation requests come in. MEMORY LEAK and FD LEAK have their own
   entries; one might also refer, say, to a ``window handle leak'' in
   a window system.

LERP (lerp) v.,n. Quasi-acronym for Linear Interpolation, used as a
   verb or noun for the operation. Ex. Bresenham's algorithm lerps
   incrementally between the two endpoints of the line.

LEXER (lek'sr) n. Common hacker shorthand for ``lexical analyzer'', the
   input-tokenizing stage in the parser for a language. ``Some C lexers
   get confused by the old-style compound ops like =-''.

LIFE n. 1. A cellular-automata game invented by John Horton Conway,
   and first introduced publicly by Martin Gardner (Scientific
   American, October 1970). Many hackers pass through a stage of
   fascination with it. 2. The opposite of USENET. As in ``Get a

   process.  First popularized by a famous quote about the difficulty
   of getting work done under one of IBM's mainframe OSs. ``Well, you
   *could* write a C compiler in COBOL, but it would be like kicking
   dead whales down the beach.''

LINE EATER, THE [USENET] n. A bug in some now-obsolete versions of the
   netnews software used to cause the first lines of articles to be
   discarded under some circumstances.  This bug was quickly
   personified as a mythical creature called ``the line eater'', and
   postings often included a dummy line of ``line eater food''. The
   practice of ``sacrificing to the line eater'' continued for some
   time after the bug had been nailed to the wall, and is still
   humorously referred to. The bug itself is still (in mid-1990)
   occasionally reported to be lurking in some mail-to-netnews

LINE STARVE [MIT] Inverse of `line feed'; a character or character
   sequence which causes a printer to back up one line depth.

LINK FARM [UNIX] n. A directory tree that contains many links to files
   in another, master directory tree of files.  Link farms save space
   when maintaining several nearly identical copies of the same source
   tree, e.g. when the only difference is architecture-dependent
   object files.  Example use: `Let's freeze the source and then
   rebuild the FROBOZZ-3 and FROBOZZ-4 link farms.' Link farms may
   also be used to get around restrictions on the number of -I
   arguments on older C preprocessors.

LINT [from UNIX's lint(1)] v. To examine a program closely for style,
   language usage, and portability problems, esp. if in C, esp.  if
   via use of automated analysis tools, most esp. if the UNIX utility
   lint(1) is used. This term used to be restricted to use of lint(1)
   itself but (judging by references on the USENET) has become a
   shorthand for `desk-check' at some non-UNIX shops, even in some
   languages other than C.

LION FOOD [IBM] n. Middle management or HQ staff (by extension,
   administrative drones in general). From an old joke about two lions
   who, escaping from the zoo, split up to increase their chances but
   agreed to meet after two months. When they do meet, one is skinny
   and the other overweight. The thin one says ``How did you manage? I
   ate a human just once and they turned out a small army to chase me
   -- guns, nets, it was terrible. Since then I've been reduced to
   eating mice, insects, even grass.'' The fat one replies ``Well, *I*
   hid near an IBM office and ate a manager a day. And nobody even

LISP n. The name of AI's mother tongue, a language based on the ideas
   of 1) variable-length lists and trees as fundamental data types,
   and 2) the interpretation of code as data and vice-versa.  Invented
   by John McCarthy at Stanford in the late 1950s, it is actually
   older than any other HLL still in use except FORTRAN. Accordingly,
   it has undergone considerable adaptive radiation over the years;
   modern variants (of which Scheme is perhaps the most successful)
   are quite different in detail from the original LISP 1.5 at
   Stanford. The hands-down favorite of hackers until the early 1980s,
   LISP now shares the throne with C (q.v.). See LANGUAGES OF CHOICE.

LITTLE-ENDIAN adj. Describes a computer architecture in which, within
   a given 16- or 32-bit word, lower byte addresses have lower
   significance (the word is stored `little-end-first').  The PDP-11
   and VAX families of computers and Intel microprocessors and a lot
   of communications and networking hardware are little-endian. See

LIVELOCK n.  A situation in which some critical stage of a task is
   unable to finish because its clients perpetually create more work
   for it to do after they've been serviced but before it can clear.
   Differs from DEADLOCK in that the process is not blocked or waiting
   for anything, but has a virtually infinite amount of work to do and
   accomplishes nothing.

LIVEWARE n. Synonym for WETWARE (q.v.) Less common.

LOGIC BOMB n. Code surreptitiously inserted in an application or OS
   which causes it to perform some destructive or
   security-compromising activity whenever specified conditions are
   met.  Compare BACK DOOR.

LOGICAL [from the technical term ``logical device'', wherein a
   physical device is referred to by an arbitrary name] adj.
   Understood to have a meaning not necessarily corresponding to
   reality.  E.g., if a person who has long held a certain post (e.g.,
   Les Earnest at SAIL) left and was replaced, the replacement would
   for a while be known as the ``logical Les Earnest''.  The word
   VIRTUAL is also used.  At SAIL, ``logical'' compass directions
   denoted a coordinate system in which ``logical north'' is toward
   San Francisco, ``logical west'' is toward the ocean, etc., even
   though logical north varies between physical (true) north near San
   Franscisco and physical west near San Jose.  (The best rule of
   thumb here is that El Camino Real by definition always runs logical
   north-and-south.) The concept is perpetuated by bay area highways
   which are almost, but not quite, consistently labelled with logical
   rather than physical directions.

LORD HIGH FIXER [primarily British] n. The person in an organisation
   who knows the most about some aspect of a system. See WIZARD.

LOSE [from MIT jargon] v. 1. To fail.  A program loses when it
   encounters an exceptional condition.  2. To be exceptionally
   unaesthetic.  3. Of people, to be obnoxious or unusually stupid (as
   opposed to ignorant).  4. DESERVE TO LOSE: v. Said of someone who
   willfully does the wrong thing; humorously, if one uses a feature
   known to be marginal.  What is meant is that one deserves the
   consequences of one's losing actions.  ``Boy, anyone who tries to
   use MULTICS deserves to lose!'' See also SCREW, CHOMP, BAGBITER.
   LOSE LOSE -- a reply or comment on a situation. 5. LOSE as a noun
   refers to something which is losing, especially in the phrases
   ``That's a lose!'' or ``What a lose!''.

LOSER n. An unexpectedly bad situation, program, programmer, or
   person.  Especially ``real loser''.

LOSS n. Something which loses.  WHAT A (MOBY) LOSS!: interjection.

LOSSAGE (los'@j) n. The result of a bug or malfunction.

LPT (lip'it) [ITS] n. Line printer, of course. Rare under UNIX,
   commoner in hackers with MS-DOS or CP/M background (the printer
   device is called LPT: on those systems, which like ITS were
   strongly influenced by early DEC conventions).

LURKER n. One of the `silent majority' in a USENET or BBS newsgroup;
   one who posts occasionally or not at all but is known to read the
   group regularly. Often in `THE LURKERS', the hypothetical audience
   for the group's FLAMING regulars.

LUNATIC FRINGE [IBM] n. Customers who can be relied upon to accept
   release 1 versions of software.

LUSER (loo'zr)  See USER.

			= M =

MACDINK (mak'dink) [from the Apple Macintosh, which is said to
   encourage such behavior] v.  To make many incremental and
   unnecessary cosmetic changes to a program or file.  Frequently the
   subject of the macdinking would be better off without them.  Ex:
   ``When I left at 11pm last night, he was still macdinking the
   slides for his presentation.''

MACINTRASH (mak'in-trash) The Apple Macintosh, by someone who doesn't
   appreciate being kept away from the _real_computer_ by the

MACRO (mak'ro) n. A name (possibly followed by a formal ARG list)
   which is equated to a text expression to which it is to be expanded
   (possibly with substitution of actual arguments) by a language
   translator. This definition can be found in any technical
   dictionary; what those won't tell you is how the hackish
   connotations of the term have changed over time. The term `macro'
   originated in early assemblers, which encouraged use of macros as a
   structuring and information-hiding device. During the early 70s
   macro assemblers became ubiquitous and sometimes quite as powerful
   and expensive as HLLs, only to fall from favor as improving
   compiler technology marginalized assembler programming (see
   LANGUAGES OF CHOICE). Nowadays the term is most often used in
   connection with the C preprocessor, LISP, or one of several
   special-purpose languages built around a macro-expansion facility
   (such as TEX or UNIX's nroff, troff and pic suite). Indeed, the
   meaning has drifted enough that the collective `macros' is now
   sometimes used for code in any special-purpose application-control
   language, whether or not the language is actually translated by
   text expansion.

MACROLOGY (mak-ro'l@-jee) n. Set of usually complex or crufty macros,
   e.g. as part of a large system written in LISP, TECO or (less
   commonly) assembler.  Sometimes studying the macrology of a system
   is not unlike archaeology, hence the sound-alike construction.
   Prob. influenced by THEOLOGY (q.v.).

MACROTAPE (ma'kro-tayp) n. An industry standard reel of tape, as
   opposed to a MICROTAPE.

MAGIC adj. 1. As yet unexplained, or too complicated to explain
   (compare Clarke's Second Law: ``Any sufficiently advanced
   technology is indistinguishable from magic'').  ``TTY echoing is
   controlled by a large number of magic bits.''  ``This routine
   magically computes the parity of an eight-bit byte in three
   instructions.''  2. [Stanford] A feature not generally publicized
   which allows something otherwise impossible, or a feature formerly
   in that category but now unveiled. Example: The keyboard commands
   which override the screen-hiding features.

MAGIC COOKIE [UNIX] n. 1. Something passed between routines or
   programs that enables the receiver to perform some OBSCURE
   operationl; a capability ticket.  Especially used of small data
   objects which contain data encoded in a strange or intrinsically
   machine-dependent way. For example, on non-UNIX OSs with a
   non-byte-stream model of files, the result of ftell(3) may be a
   `magic cookie' rather than a byte offset; it can be passed to
   fseek(3) but not operated on in any meaningful way.  2. A blank
   left on the screen when your terminal changes modes. Some older
   terminals would print a blank when you entered and exited special
   modes, such as underline or flash. This was also called a GLITCH.

MAGIC NUMBER [UNIX/C] n. 1. Special data located at the beginning of a
   binary data file to indicate its type to a utility. Under UNIX the
   system and various applications programs (especially the linker)
   distinguish between types of executable by looking for a magic
   number. 2. In source code, some non-obvious constant whose value is
   significant to the operation of a program and is inserted
   inconspicuously in line, rather than expanded in by a symbol set by
   a commented #define. Magic numbers in this sense are bad style.

MAGIC SMOKE n. A notional substance trapped inside IC packages that
   enables them to function. Its existence is demonstrated by what
   happens when a chip burns up -- the magic smoke gets let out, so it
   doesn't work any more. See SMOKE TEST.

MANGLE v. Used similarly to MUNG or SCRIBBLE, but more violent in its
   connotations; something that is mangled has been irreversibly and
   totally trashed.

MANGO [orig. in-house slang at Symbolics] n.  A manager.  See also
   DEVO and DOCO.

MARGINAL adj. 1. Extremely small.  ``A marginal increase in core can
   decrease GC time drastically.''  2. Of extremely small merit.
   ``This proposed new feature seems rather marginal to me.''  3. Of
   extremely small probability of winning.  ``The power supply was
   rather marginal anyway; no wonder it crapped out.''  4.
   MARGINALLY: adv.  Slightly.  ``The ravs here are only marginally
   better than at Small Eating Place.''

   Member of a company's marketing department, esp.  one who promises
   users that the next version of a product will have features which
   are unplanned, extremely difficult to implement, and/or violate the
   laws of physics. Derogatory. Used by techies.

MARTIAN n. A packet sent on a TCP/IP network with a source address of
   the test loopback interface (  As in ``The domain server
   is getting lots of packets from Mars.  Does that gateway have a
   Martian filter?''

MASSAGE v. Vague term used to describe `smooth' transformations of a
   data set into a more useful form, esp.  transformations which do
   not lose information. Connotes less pain and more ELEGANCE than
   MUNCH or CRUNCH (q.v.). ``He wrote a program that massages X bitmap
   files into GIF format.'' Compare SLURP.

MEATWARE n. Synonym for WETWARE (q.v.). Less common.

MEGAPENNY (meg'a-pen'ee) n. $10,000 (1 cent * 10e6). Used
   semi-humorously as a unit in comparing computer cost/performance

MEGO (mego, meego) [My Eyes Glaze Over, often Mine Eyes Glazeth Over,
   attributed to the futurologist Herman Kahn] Also MEGO FACTOR.  1.
   Handwaving intended to confuse the listener and hopefully induce
   agreement because the listener does not want to admit to not
   understanding what is going on.  MEGO is usually directed at senior
   management by engineers and contains a high proportion of TLAs
   (q.v.). 2. excl. An appropriate response to MEGO tactics.


MEME (meem) [coined on analogy with `gene' by Richard Dawkins] n. An
   idea considered as a REPLICATOR. Used esp. in the prase `meme
   complex' denoting a group of mutually supporting memes which form
   an organized belief system, such as a religion.  This dictionary is
   a vector of the ``hacker subculture'' meme complex; each entry
   might be considered a meme.  However, ``meme'' is often misused to
   mean ``meme complex''. Use of the term connotes acceptance of the
   idea that in humans (and presumably other tool-and language-using
   sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has
   superseded biological evolution by selection of hereditary traits.

MEMETICS (mee-me-tiks) [from MEME] The study of memes. As of 1990,
   this is still an extremely informal and speculative endeavor,
   though the first steps towards at least statistical rigor have been
   made by H. Keith Henson and others. Memetics is a popular topic
   among hackers, who like to see themselves as the architects of the
   new information ecologies in which memes live and replicate.

MEME PLAGUE n. The spread of a successful but pernicious MEME, esp.
   one which `parasitizes' the victims into giving their all to
   propagate it.  Astrology, BASIC, and the other guy's religion are
   often considered to be examples. This usage is given point by the
   historical fact that `joiner' ideologies like Naziism or various
   forms of millenarian Christianity have exhibited plague-like cycles
   of exponential growth followed by collapse to small `reservoir'

MEMORY LEAK [C/UNIX programmers] n. An error in a program's
   dynamic-store allocation logic that causes it to fail to reclaim
   discarded memory, leading to attempted hogging of main store and
   eventual collapse due to memory exhaustion. Also (esp. at CMU)

MENUITIS (men`yoo-i'tis) n. Notional disease suffered by software with
   an obsessively simple-minded menu interface and no escape.  Hackers
   find this intensely irritating and much prefer the flexibility of
   command-line or language-style interfaces, especially those
   customizable via macros or a special-purpose language in which one
   can encode useful hacks. See USER-OBSEQUIOUS, DROOL-PROOF PAPER,

MESS-DOS (mes-dos) [UNIX hackers] n. Derisory term for MS-DOS. Often
   followed by the ritual expurgation ``Just Say No!''. See MS-DOS.
   Most hackers (even many MS-DOS hackers) loathe MS-DOS for its
   single-tasking nature, its limits on application size, its nasty
   primitive interface, and its ties to IBMness (see FEAR AND
   LOATHING). Also ``mess-loss'', ``messy-dos'', ``mess-dog'' and
   various combinations thereof.

META (mayt'@) [from analytic philosophy] adj. One level of description
   up.  Thus, a meta-syntactic variable is a variable in notation used
   to describe syntax and meta-language is language used to describe
   language. This is difficult to explain out of context, but much
   hacker humor turns on deliberate confusion between meta-levels.

META BIT (mayt'@) n. Bit 8 of an 8-bit character, on in values
   128-255. Also called HIGH BIT or ALT BIT. Some terminals and
   consoles (especially those designed for LISP traditions) have a
   META-shift key. Others (including, mirabile dictu, keyboards on IBM
   PC-class machines) have an ALT key. See also BUCKY BITS.

MICROFLOPPIES n. 3-1/2 inch floppies, as opposed to 5-1/4 VANILLA or
   mini-floppies and the now-obsolescent 8-inch variety. This term may
   be headed for obsolescence as 5-1/4 inchers pass out of use, only
   to be revived if anybody floats a sub-3-inch floppy standard.

MICROTAPE n. Occasionally used to mean a DECtape, as opposed to a

   orders like 3-4-1-2 occasionally found in the packed-decimal
   formats from minicomputer manufacturers who shall remain nameless.

MILLILAMPSON (mil'i-lamp-sn) n.  How fast people can talk.  Most
   people run about 200 millilampsons.  Butler Lampson (a CS theorist
   highly regarded among hackers) goes at 1000.  A few people speak

MIPS (mips) [acronym] Formally, ``Millions of Instructions Per
   Second''; often rendered by hackers as ``Meaningless Indication of
   Processor Speed''. This joke expresses a nearly universal attitude
   about the value of BENCHMARK (q.v.) claims, said attitude being one
   of the great cultural divides between hackers and MARKETROIDS.

MISFEATURE (mis-fee'chr) n. A feature which eventually screws someone,
   possibly because it is not adequate for a new situation which has
   evolved.  It is not the same as a bug because fixing it involves a
   gross philosophical change to the structure of the system involved.
   Often a former feature becomes a misfeature because a tradeoff was
   made whose parameters subsequently changed (possibly only in the
   judgment of the implementors).  ``Well, yeah, it's kind of a
   misfeature that file names are limited to six characters, but we're
   stuck with it for now.''

MOBY [seems to have been in use among model railroad fans years ago.
   Derived from Melville's ``Moby Dick'' (some say from ``Moby
   Pickle'').]  1. adj. Large, immense, or complex.  ``A moby frob.''
   2.  n. The maximum address space of a machine (see Appendix B).  3.
   A title of address (never of third-person reference), usually used
   to show admiration, respect, and/or friendliness to a competent
   hacker.  ``So, moby Knight, how's the CONS machine doing?''  4.
   adj. In backgammon, doubles on the dice, as in ``moby sixes'',
   ``moby ones'', etc.  MOBY FOO, MOBY WIN, MOBY LOSS: standard
   emphatic forms.  FOBY MOO: a spoonerism due to Greenblatt.  The
   MOBY constructions are now relatively rare outside MIT.

MODE n. A general state, usually used with an adjective describing the
   state.  ``No time to hack; I'm in thesis mode.''  Usage: in its
   jargon sense, MODE is most often said of people, though it is
   sometimes applied to programs and inanimate objects.  ``If you're
   on a TTY, E will switch to non-display mode.''  In particular, see

MODULO (mod'yuh-low) prep. Except for.  From mathematical terminology:
   one can consider saying that 4=22 ``except for the 9's'' (4=22 mod
   9).  ``Well, LISP seems to work okay now, modulo that GC bug.''

MONKEY UP v. To hack together hardware for a particular task,
   especially a one-shot job. Connotes an extremely CRUFTY and
   consciously temporary solution.

MONSTROSITY 1. n. A ridiculously ELEPHANTINE program or system, esp.
   one which is buggy or only marginally functional.  2.  The quality
   of being monstrous (see `Peculiar nouns' in the discussion of

MOORE'S LAW (morz law) [folklore] The observation that the logic
   density of silicon integrated circuits has closely followed the
   curve (bits per inch ** 2) = 2 ** (n - 1962); that is, the amount
   of information storable in one square inch of silicon has roughly
   doubled yearly every year since the technology was invented.

MOTAS (moh-tahs) [USENET, Member Of The Appropriate Sex] n. A
   potential or (less often) actual sex partner. See MOTOS, MOTSS,

MOTOS (moh-tohs) [USENET, Member Of The Other Sex] n. A potential or
   (less often) actual sex partner. See MOTAS, MOTSS, S.O. Less common
   than MOTSS or MOTAS, which has largely displaced it.

MOTSS (mots) [USENET, Member Of The Same Sex] n. Esp. one considered
   as a possible sexual partner, e.g. by a gay or lesbian.  The
   gay-issues board on USENET is called soc.motss. See MOTOS and
   MOTAS, which derive from it. Also see S.O.

MOUNT v. 1. To attach a removable storage volume to a machine.  In
   elder days and on mainframes this verb was used almost exclusively
   of tapes; nowadays (especially under UNIX) it is more likely to
   refer to a disk volume. 2. By extension, to attach any removable
   device such as a sensor, robot arm, or MEATWARE subsystem (see
   Appendix A).

MOUSE AROUND v. To explore public portions of a large system, esp. a
   network such as Internet via FTP or TELNET, looking for interesting
   stuff to SNARF.

MOUSO (mow'so) n. [by analogy with `typo'] An error in mouse usage
   resulting in an inappropriate selection or graphic garbage on the

MS-DOS (em-es-das) n. A clone of CP/M (q.v.) for the 8088 crufted
   together in six weeks by hacker Tim Patterson, who is said to have
   regretted it ever since.  Now the highest-unit-volume OS in
   history. See MESS-DOS.

MULTICS (muhl'tiks) n. [from Multi-Tasking Computer System] An early
   (late 1960s) timesharing operating system co-designed by a
   consortium including Honeywell and Bell Laboratories. All the
   members but Honeywell eventually pulled out after determining that
   SECOND-SYSTEM SYNDROME had bloated Multics to the point of
   practical unusability (though Honeywell did later comercialize it,
   it was never very successful).  One of the developers left in the
   lurch by the project's breakup was Ken Thompson, a circumstance
   which led directly to the birth of UNIX (q.v.). For this and other
   reasons aspects of the Multics design remain a topic of occasional
   debate among hackers. See also BRAIN DAMAGE.

MUMBLAGE (mum'bl@j) n. The topic of one's mumbling (see MUMBLE).
   ``All that mumblage'' is used like ``all that stuff'' when it is
   not quite clear what it is or how it works, or like ``all that
   crap'' when ``mumble'' is being used as an implicit replacement for

MUMBLE interj. 1. Said when the correct response is either too
   complicated to enunciate or the speaker has not thought it out.
   Often prefaces a longer answer, or indicates a general reluctance
   to get into a big long discussion.  ``Well, mumble.''  2. Sometimes
   used as an expression of disagreement.  ``I think we should buy
   it.''  ``Mumble!''  Common variant: MUMBLE FROTZ.

MUNCH [often confused with ``mung'', q.v.] v. To transform information
   in a serial fashion, often requiring large amounts of computation.
   To trace down a data structure.  Related to CRUNCH (q.v.), but
   connotes less pain.

MUNCHING SQUARES n. A DISPLAY HACK dating back to the PDP-1, which
   employs a trivial computation (involving XOR'ing of x-y display
   coordinates -- see HAKMEM items 146-148) to produce an impressive
   display of moving, growing, and shrinking squares.  The hack
   usually has a parameter (usually taken from toggle switches) which
   when well-chosen can produce amazing effects.  Some of these,
   (re)discovered recently on the LISP machine, have been christened

MUNCHKIN (muhnch'kin) n. A teenage-or-younger micro enthusiast bashing
   BASIC or something else equally constricted. A term of mild
   derision -- munchkins are annoying but some grow up to be hackers
   after passing through a LARVAL STAGE. The term URCHIN is also used.
   See also BITTY BOX.

MUNDANE [from SF fandom] n.  1.  A person who is not in science
   fiction fandom. 2.  A person who is not in the computer industry.
   In this sense, most often an adjectival modifier as in ``in my
   mundane life...''

MUNG alt. MUNGE (muhnj) [recursive acronym for Mung Until No Good] v.
   1.  To make changes to a file, often large-scale, usually
   irrevocable.  Occasionally accidental.  See BLT.  2. To destroy,
   usually accidentally, occasionally maliciously.  The system only
   mungs things maliciously. See SCRIBBLE, MANGLE, TRASH. Reports from
   USENET suggest that the pronunciation `munj' is now usual in
   speech, but the spelling `mung' is still common in program

MUSIC n. A common extracurricular interest of hackers (compare
   widely believed among hackers that there is a substantial
   correlation between whatever mysterious traits underlie hacking
   ability (on the one hand) and musical talent and sensitivity (on
   the other). It is certainly the case that hackers, as a rule, like
   music and often develop musical appreciation in unusual and
   interesting directions.  Folk music is very big in hacker circles;
   so is the sort of elaborate instrumental jazz/rock that used to be
   called `progressive' and isn't recorded much any more. Also, the
   hacker's musical range tends to be wide; many can listen with equal
   appreciation to (say) Talking Heads, Yes, Spirogyra, Scott Joplin,
   King Sunny Ade, The Pretenders, or one of Bach's Brandenburg
   Concerti. It is also apparently true that hackerdom includes a much
   higher concentration of talented amateur musicians than one would
   expect from a similar-sized control group of MUNDANES.

MUTTER v. To quietly enter a command not meant for the ears of
   ordinary mortals. Frequently in ``mutter an INCANTATION''.

			= N =

N (en) adj. 1. Some large and indeterminate number of objects; ``There
   were N bugs in that crock!''; also used in its original sense of a
   variable name.  2. An arbitrarily large (and perhaps infinite)
   number.  3. A variable whose value is specified by the current
   context.  ``We'd like to order N wonton soups and a family dinner
   for N-1.''  4. NTH: adj. The ordinal counterpart of N. ``Now for
   the Nth and last time...''  In the specific context ``Nth-year grad
   student'', N is generally assumed to be at least 4, and is usually
   5 or more.  See also RANDOM NUMBERS, TWO-TO-THE-N.

NAILED TO THE WALL [like a trophy] adj. Said of a bug finally
   eliminated after protracted and even heroic effort.

NANOACRE (nan'o-ay-kr) n. An area of space, or real-estate on a VLSI
   chip.  The term derives its amusement value from the fact that VLSI
   nanoacres have costs in the same range as real acres once one
   figures in design and fabrication-setup costs.

NANOBOT (nan'oh-bot) n. A robot of microscopic proportions, presumably
   built by means of NANOTECHNOLOGY (q.v.).  As yet, only used
   informally (and speculatively!). Also sometimes called a

NANOCOMPUTER (nan'oh-k:m-pyoo-tr) a computer whose switching elements
   are molecular in size.  Designs for mechanical nanocomputers which
   use single-molecule sliding rods for their logic have been
   proposed.  The controller for a NANOBOT would be a nanocomputer.

NANOTECHNOLOGY (nan'-oh-tek-naw`l:-ji) n. A hypothetical fabrication
   technology in which objects are designed and built with the
   individual specification and placement of each separate atom. The
   first unequivocal nano-fabrication experiments are taking place now
   (1990), for example with the deposition of individual Xenon atoms
   on a nickel substrate to spell the logo of a certain very large
   computer company by two of its physicists. Nanotechnology has been
   a hot topic in the hacker subculture ever since the term was coined
   by K. Eric Drexler in his book ``Engines of Creation'', where he
   predicted that nanotechnology could give rise to replicating
   ASSEMBLERs, permitting an exponential growth of productivity and
   personal wealth.

NASTYGRAM n. 1. A protocol packet or item of email (the latter is also
   called a `letterbomb') that takes advantage of misfeatures or
   security holes on the target system to do untoward things. 2.
   Disapproving mail, esp. from a net.god, pursuant to a violation of

NEOPHILIA (nee-oh-fil'-ee-uh) n. The trait of being excited and
   pleased by novelty. Common trait of most hackers, SF fans, and
   members of several other connected ``leading-edge'' subcultures
   including the pro-technology ``Whole-Earth'' wing of the ecology
   movement, space activists, theater people, the membership of MENSA,
   and the Discordian/neo-pagan underground. All these groups overlap
   heavily and (where evidence is available) seem to share
   characteristic hacker tropisms for SF, MUSIC and ORIENTAL FOOD.

NET POLICE n.  Those USENET readers who feel it is their
   responsibility to pounce on and FLAME any posting which they regard
   as offensive, or in violation of their understanding of NETIQUETTE.
   Generally used sarcastically or pejoratively. Also spelled
   `net.police'. See also CODE POLICE.

NETHACK (net'hak) n. See HACK, sense #12.

NETIQUETTE (net'ee-ket, net'i-ket) n. Conventions of politeness
   recognized on USENET, such as: avoidance of cross-posting to
   inappropriate groups, or refraining from commercial pluggery on the

NEEP-NEEP (neep neep) [onomatopoic, from New York SF fandom] n. One
   who is fascinated by computers. More general than HACKER, as it
   need not imply more skill than is required to boot games on a PC.
   The gerund NEEP-NEEPING applies specifically to the long
   conversations about computers that tend to develop in the corners
   at most SF-convention parties. Fandom has a related proverb to the
   effect that ``Hacking is a conversational black hole!'' [which, by
   coincidence, has been attributed to my SO -- ESR]

NET. (net dot) [USENET] Prefix used to describe people and events
   related to USENET.  From the pre-GREAT-RENAMING newsgroup names,
   e.g.  Includes net.god(s) (q.v.), net.goddesses
   (various charismatic women with circles of on-line admirers),
   net.lurkers, (see LURKER), net.parties (a synonym for BOINK sense
   #2 (q.v.)) and many similar constructs.

NET.GOD (net god) n. Used to refer to anyone who satisfies some
   combination of the following conditions: has been visible on USENET
   for more than five years, ran one of the original backbone sites,
   moderated an important newsgroup, wrote news software, or knows
   Gene, Mark, Rick, Henry, Chuq, and Greg personally. See DEMIGOD.

NETWORK ADDRESS n. As used by hackers, means an address on THE NETWORK
   (almost always a BANG PATH or INTERNET ADDRESS). An essential to be
   taken seriously by hackers; in particular, persons or organizations
   claiming to understand, work with, sell to, or recruit from among
   hackers that *don't* display net addresses are quietly presumed to
   be clueless poseurs and mentally FLUSHED (sense #3). Hackers often
   put their net addresses on their business cards and wear them
   prominently in contexts where they expect to meet other hackers
   face-to-face (see also SCIENCE-FICTION FANDOM) This is mostly
   functional, but is also a connotative signal that one identifies
   with hackerdom (like lodge pins among Masons or tie-died T-shirts
   among Grateful Dead fans).  Net addresses are often used in email
   text as a more concise substitute for personal names; indeed,
   hackers may come to know each other quite well by network names
   without ever learning each others' `legal' monikers.

NETWORK, THE n. 1. The union of all the major academic and
   noncommercial/hacker-oriented networks such as Internet, the old
   ARPANET, NSFNet, BITNET and the virtual UUCP and USENET
   ``networks'', plus the corporate in-house networks that gate to
   them.  A site is generally considered `on the network' if it can be
   reached through some combination of Internet-style (@-sign) and
   UUCP (bang-path) addresses. See BANG PATH, INTERNET ADDRESS,
   NETWORK ADDRESS. 2. A fictional conspiracy of libertarian
   hacker-subversives and anti-authoritarian monkeywrenchers described
   in Robert Anton Wilson's novel _Schrodinger's_Cat_, to which many
   hackers have subsequently decided they belong (this is an example

NEWGRP WARS (n[y]oo'grp wohrz) [USENET] n. Salvos of dueling `newgrp'
   and `rmgroup' messages sometimes exchanged by persons on opposite
   sides of a dispute over whether a NEWSGROUP should be created
   netwide. These usually settle out within a week or two as it
   becomes clear whether the group has a natural constituency
   (usually, it doesn't). At times, especially in the completely
   anarchic `alt' hierarchy, the names of newsgroups themselves become
   a form of comment or humor; cf. the spinoff of
   alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork from in early 1990,
   or any number of specialized abuse groups named after particularly
   notorious flamers.

NEWSFROUP (n[y]oos'froop) [USENET] n. Silly written-only synonym for
   NEWSGROUP, originated as a typo but now in regular use on USENET'S
   talk.bizarre and other not-real-tightly-wrapped groups.

NEWSGROUP [USENET] n. One of USENET's large collection of topic
   groups. Among the best-known are comp.lang.c (the C-language
   forum), comp.unix.wizards (for UNIX wizards), rec.arts.sf-lovers
   (for science-fiction fans) and talk.politics.misc (miscellaneous
   political discussions and flamage).

NIGHT MODE n. See PHASE (of people).

NIL [from LISP terminology for ``false''] No.  Usage: used in reply to
   a question, particularly one asked using the ``-P'' convention.
   See T.

NON-OPTIMAL SOLUTION n. An astoundingly stupid way to do something.
   This term is generally used in deadpan sarcasm, as its impact is
   greatest when the person speaking looks completely serious.
   Compare STUNNING. See also BAD THING.

NONTRIVIAL adj. Requiring real thought or significant computing power.
   Often used as an understated way of saying that a problem is quite

NO-OP (noh-op) alt. NOP (nop) [no operation] n. 1. A machine
   instruction that does nothing (sometimes used in assembler-level
   programming as filler for data areas). 2. A person who contributes
   nothing to a project, or has nothing going on upstairs, or both. As
   in ``he's a no-op.''. 3. Any operation or sequence of operations
   with no effect, such as circling the block without finding a
   parking space, or putting money into a vending machine and having
   it fall immediately into the coin-return box, or asking someone for
   help and being told to go away.  ``Oh well, that was a no-op.''

NP- (en pee) pref.  Extremely.  Used to modify adjectives describing a
   level or quality of difficulty.  ``Getting this algorithm to
   perform correctly in every case is NP-annoying.''  This is
   generalized from the computer science terms ``NP-hard'' and
   ``NP-easy''.  NP is the set of Nondeterministic-Polynomial
   algorithms, those which can be completed by a nondeterministic
   finite state machine in an amount of time that is a polynomial
   function of the size of the input.

NUKE v. 1. To intentionally delete the entire contents of a given
   directory or storage volume. ``On UNIX, rm -r /usr will nuke
   everything in the usr filesystem.'' Never used for accidental
   deletion. Oppose BLOW AWAY. 2. Syn. for DYKE, applied to smaller
   things such as features or code sections. 3. Used of processes as
   well as files; frequently an alias for ``kill -9'' on UNIX.

NUXI PROBLEM, THE (nuk'see pro'blm, dh@) n. This refers to the problem
   of transferring data between machines with differing byte-order.
   The string ``UNIX'' might look like ``NUXI'' on a machine with a
   different ``byte sex'' (i.e. when transferring data from a
   little-endian to a big endian or vice-versa). See also, BIG-ENDIAN,

			= O =

OB (ob) pref. Obligatory.  A piece of NETIQUETTE that acknowledges the
   author has been straying from the group's charter.  For example, if
   a posting in has nothing particularly to do with sex, the
   author may append ``ObSex'' (or ``Obsex'') and tell a dirty joke.

OBSCURE adj. Used in an exaggeration of its normal meaning, to imply a
   total lack of comprehensibility.  ``The reason for that last crash
   is obscure.''  ``FIND's command syntax is obscure.''  MODERATELY
   OBSCURE implies that it could be figured out but probably isn't
   worth the trouble. OBSCURE IN THE EXTREME is a preferred emphatic

OBFUSCATED C CONTEST n. Annual contest run since 1984 over THE NETWORK
   by Landon Curt Noll & friends. The overall winner is he who
   produces the most unreadable, creative and bizarre working C
   program; various other prizes are awarded at the judges' whim.
   Given C's terse syntax and macro-preprocessor facilities, this
   gives contestants a lot of maneuvering room. The winning programs
   often manage to be simultaneously a) funny, b) breathtaking works
   of art, and c) Horrible Examples of how *not* to code in C.

OCTAL FORTY (ok'tl for'tee) n. Hackish way of saying ``I'm drawing a
   blank'' (octal 40 is the ASCII space charater). See WALL.

OFF-BY-ONE ERROR n. Exceedingly common error induced in many ways,
   usually by starting at 0 when you should have started at 1 or vice
   versa. Also applied to giving an object to the person next to the
   one who should have gotten it. Often confused with FENCEPOST ERROR,
   which is properly a particular subtype of it.

OFF THE TROLLEY adj.  Describes the behavior of a program which
   malfunctions but doesn't actually CRASH or get halted by the
   operating system. See GLITCH, BUG, DEEP SPACE.

OFFLINE adv.  Not now or not here.  Example: ``Let's take this
   discussion offline.''

ONE BELL SYSTEM (IT WORKS) This was the output from the old Unix V6
   ``1'' command.  The ``1'' command also contained a random number
   generator which gave it a one in ten chance of recursively
   executing itself.

ONE-LINER WARS n. Popular game among hackers who code in the language
   APL. The objective is to see who can code the most interesting
   and/or useful routine in one line of operators chosen from APL's
   exceedingly HAIRY primitive set. [This is not *quite* as silly as
   it sounds; I myself have coded one-line LIFE programs and once
   uttered a one-liner that performed lexical analysis of its input
   string followed by a dictionary lookup for good measure -- ESR]

OOBLICK (oo'blik) [allegedly from one of the Dr. Seuss books] n. A
   bizarre semi-liquid sludge made from cornstarch and water. Enjoyed
   among hackers who make batches for playtime at parties for its
   amusing and extremely non-Newtonian behavior; it pours and
   splatters, but resists rapid motion like a solid and will even
   crack when hit by a hammer. Often found near lasers.

OPEN n. Abbreviation for ``open (or left) parenthesis'', used when
   necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity.  To read aloud the LISP form
   (DEFUN FOO (X) (PLUS X 1)) one might say: ``Open def-fun foo, open
   eks close, open, plus ekx one, close close.''  See CLOSE.

OPEN SWITCH [IBM] n. An unresolved issue.

OPERATING SYSTEM n. (Often abbreviated ``OS'') The foundation software
   of a machine, of course; that which schedules tasks, allocates
   storage, and presents a default interface to the user between
   applications. The facilities the operating system provides and its
   general design philosophy exert an extremely strong influence on
   programming style and the technical culture that grows up around a
   machine. Hacker folklore has been shaped primarily by the UNIX,
   operating systems (most importantly by ITS and UNIX). Each of these
   has its own entry, which see.

ORANGE BOOK, THE n. The U.S. Government's standards document (Trusted
   Computer System Evaluation Criteria, DOD standard 5200.28-STD,
   December, 1985) characterizing secure computing architectures,
   defining levels A1 (most secure) through C3 (least).  Stock UNIXes

ORIENTAL FOOD n. Hackers display an intense tropism towards Oriental
   cuisine, especially Chinese, and especially of the spicier
   varieties such as Szechuan and Hunan.  This phenomenon (which has
   also been observed in subcultures which overlap heavily with
   hackerdom, most notably science-fiction fandom) has never been
   satisfactorily explained, but is sufficiently intense that one can
   assume the target of a hackish dinner expedition to be the best
   local Chinese place and be right at least 3 times out of 4. See

ORTHOGONAL [from mathematics] adj. Mutually independent;
   well-separated; sometimes, irrelevant to. Used to describe sets of
   primitives or capabilities which, like a vector basis in geometry,
   span the entire `capability space' of the system and are in some
   sense non-overlapping or mutually independent. For example, in
   architectures such as the MC68000 where all or nearly all registers
   can be used interchangeably in any role with respect to any
   instruction, the register set is said to be orthogonal. Or, in
   logic, the set of operators `not' and `or' is orthogonal, but the
   set `and', `or' and `not' is not (because any one of these can be
   expressed in terms of the other two via De Morgan's Laws). Also
   used in comment on human discourse; ``This may be orthogonal to the
   discussion, but...''.

OS (oh ess) 1. [Operating System] n. Acronym heavily used in email,
   occasionally in speech. 2. obs. n. On ITS, an output spy.

OS/2 (oh ess too) n. The anointed successor to MS-DOS for Intel-286
   and (allegedly) 386-based micros; proof that IBM/Microsoft couldn't
   get it right the second time, either. Cited here because mentioning
   it is always good for a cheap laugh among hackers -- the design was
   so bad that three years after introduction you could still count
   the major APPs shipping for it on the fingers of two hands. See

OVERRUN SCREW [C programming] n. A variety of FANDANGO ON CORE
   produced by scribbling past the end of an array (C has no checks
   for this).  This is relatively benign and easy to spot if the array
   is static; if it is auto, the result may be to SMASH THE STACK. The
   term OVERRUN SCREW is used esp. of scribbles beyond the end of
   arrays allocated with malloc(3); this typically trashes the
   allocation header for the next block in the ARENA, producing
   massive lossage within malloc and (frequently) a core dump on the
   next operation to use stdio or malloc(3) itself. See also MEMORY

			= P =

PAGE IN [MIT] v. To become aware of one's surroundings again after
   having paged out (see PAGE OUT).  Usually confined to the sarcastic
   comment, ``So-and-so pages in. Film at 11.'' See FILM AT 11.

PAGE OUT [MIT] v. To become unaware of one's surroundings temporarily,
   due to daydreaming or preoccupation.  ``Can you repeat that?  I
   paged out for a minute.''  See PAGE IN.

PANIC [UNIX] v. An action taken by a process or the entire operating
   system when an unrecoverable error is discovered.  The action
   usually consists of: (1) displaying localized information on the
   controlling terminal, (2) saving, or preparing for saving, a memory
   image of the process or operating system, and (3) terminating the
   process or rebooting the system.

PARAM (p@-ram') n. Speeech-only shorthand for ``parameter''. Compare
   ARG, VAR. The plural `params' is often further compressed to

PARITY ERRORS pl.n. Those little lapses of attention or (in more
   severe cases) consciousness, usually brought on by having spent all
   night and most of the next day hacking.  ``I need to go home and
   crash; I'm starting to get a lot of parity errors.''

PARSE [from linguistic terminology] v. 1. To determine the syntactic
   structure of a sentence or other utterance (close to the standard
   English meaning).  Example: ``That was the one I saw you.''  ``I
   can't parse that.''  2. More generally, to understand or
   comprehend.  ``It's very simple; you just kretch the glims and then
   aos the zotz.''  ``I can't parse that.''  3. Of fish, to have to
   remove the bones yourself (usually at a Chinese restaurant).  ``I
   object to parsing fish'' means ``I don't want to get a whole fish,
   but a sliced one is okay.''  A ``parsed fish'' has been deboned.
   There is some controversy over whether ``unparsed'' should mean
   ``bony'', or also mean ``deboned''.

PATCH 1. n. A temporary addition to a piece of code, usually as a
   quick-and-dirty remedy to an existing bug or misfeature.  A patch
   may or may not work, and may or may not eventually be incorporated
   permanently into the program.  2. v. To insert a patch into a piece
   of code. 3. [in the UNIX world] n. a set of differences between two
   versions of source code, generated with diff(1) and intended to be
   mechanically applied using patch(1); often used as a way of
   distributing permanent C code upgrades and fixes over USENET.

PD (pee-dee) adj. Common abbreviation for ``public domain'', applied
   to software distributed over USENET and from Internet archive
   sites.  Much of this software is not in fact ``public domain'' in
   the legal sense but travels under various copyrights granting
   reproduction and use rights to anyone who can SNARF a copy. See

PDL (pid'l or pud'l) [acronym for Push Down List] n. 1. A LIFO queue
   (stack); more loosely, any priority queue; even more loosely, any
   queue.  A person's pdl is the set of things he has to do in the
   future.  One speaks of the next project to be attacked as having
   risen to the top of the pdl.  ``I'm afraid I've got real work to
   do, so this'll have to be pushed way down on my pdl.'' All these
   usages are also frequently found with STACK (q.v) itself as the
   subject noun.  See PUSH and POP.  2. Dave Lebling (PDL@DM).

PDP-10 [Programmable Digital Processor model 10] n. The machine that
   made timesharing real. Looms large in hacker folklore due to early
   adoption in the mid-70s by many university computing facilities and
   research labs including the MIT AI lab, Stanford and CMU. Some
   aspects of the instruction set (most notably the bit-field
   instructions) are still considered unsurpassed. The '10 was
   eventually eclipsed by the PDP-11 and VAX machines and dropped from
   DEC's line in the early '80s, and in 1990 to have cut one's teeth
   on one is considered something of a badge of honorable
   old-timerhood among hackers. See TOPS-10, ITS, Appendix B.

PERCENT-S (per-sent' es) [From ``%s'', the formatting sequence in C's
   printf() library function used to indicate that an arbitrary string
   may be inserted] n. An unspecified person or object.  ``I was just
   talking to some percent-s in administration.'' Compare RANDOM.

PERF (perf) n. See CHAD (sense #1).

PESSIMAL (pes'i-ml) [Latin-based antonym for ``optimal''] adj.
   Maximally bad.  ``This is a pessimal situation.''

PESSIMIZING COMPILER (pes'i-miez-ing kuhm-pie'lr) [antonym of
   `optimizing compiler'] n. A compiler that produces object code that
   is worse than the straightforward or obvious translation.

PHASE 1. n. The phase of one's waking-sleeping schedule with respect
   to the standard 24-hour cycle.  This is a useful concept among
   people who often work at night according to no fixed schedule.  It
   is not uncommon to change one's phase by as much as six hours/day
   on a regular basis.  ``What's your phase?''  ``I've been getting in
   about 8 PM lately, but I'm going to work around to the day schedule
   by Friday.''  A person who is roughly 12 hours out of phase is
   sometimes said to be in ``night mode''.  (The term ``day mode'' is
   also used, but less frequently.)  2. CHANGE PHASE THE HARD WAY: To
   stay awake for a very long time in order to get into a different
   phase.  3. CHANGE PHASE THE EASY WAY: To stay asleep etc.

PHASE OF THE MOON n. Used humorously as a random parameter on which
   something is said to depend.  Sometimes implies unreliability of
   whatever is dependent, or that reliability seems to be dependent on
   conditions nobody has been able to determine.  ``This feature
   depends on having the channel open in mumble mode, having the foo
   switch set, and on the phase of the moon.''

PIG, RUN LIKE A adj. To run very slowly on given hardware, said of
   software. Distinct from HOG, q.v.

PING (ping) [from TCP/IP terminology] n.,v. 1. Slang term for a small
   network message (ICMP ECHO) sent by a computer to check for the
   presence and aliveness of another.  Occasionally used as a phone
   greeting. See ACK. 2.  To verify the presence of.  3. To get the
   attention of.  From the Unix command by the same name (an acronym
   of ``Packet INternet Groper) that sends an ICMP ECHO packet to
   another host. This was probably contrived to match WWII-era
   ``ping'' (sonar ranging pulse).

PINK SHIRT BOOK ``The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC''.
   The original cover featured a picture of Peter Norton with a silly
   smirk on his face, wearing a pink shirt. Perhaps in recognition of
   this usage, the current edition has a different picture of Norton
   wearing a pink shirt.

PIPELINE [UNIX, orig. by Doug McIlroy; now also used under MS-DOS and
   elsewhere] n. A chain of FILTER programs connected
   ``head-to-tail'', so that the output of one becomes the input of
   the next.  Under UNIX, user utilities can often be implemented or
   at least prototyped by a suitable collection of pipelines and
   temp-file grinding encapsulated in a shell script; this is much
   less effort than writing C every time, and the capability is
   considered one of UNIX's major WINNING features.

PIZZA, ANSI STANDARD (pee'tz@, an'see stan'd@rd) [CMU] Pepperoni and
   mushroom pizza.  Coined allegedly because most pizzas ordered by
   CMU hackers during some period leading up to mid-1990 were of that
   flavor. [Myself, I have observed a high frequency of pepperoni,
   mushroom and sausage. -- ESR] See also ROTARY DEBUGGER.

PLAYPEN [IBM] n. A room where programmers work. Compare SALT MINES.

PLUGH (ploogh) [from the ADVENT game] v. See XYZZY.

PM (pee em) 1. [from ``preventive maintenence''] v. to bring down a
   machine for inspection or test purposes. 2. n. Abbrev. for
   ``Presentation Manager'', an ELEPHANTINE OS/2 GUI.

P.O.D. (pee-oh-dee) Acronym for `Piece Of Data' (as opposed to a code
   section). Usage: pedantic and rare.

POINTER ARITHMETIC [C programmers] n. The use of increment and
   decrement operations on address pointers to traverse arrays or
   structure fields. See also BUMP.

POLL v.,n. 1. The action of checking the status of an input line,
   sensor, or memory location to see if a particular external event
   has been registered. 2. To ask.  ``I'll poll everyone and see where
   they want to go for lunch.''

POLYGON PUSHER n. A chip designer who spends most of his/her time at
   the physical layout level (which requires drawing *lots* of
   multi-colored polygons).

POM (pee-oh-em) n. Phase of the moon (q.v.).  Usage: usually used in
   the phrase ``POM dependent'' which means FLAKEY (q.v.).

POP also POPJ (pop-jay) [based on the stack operation that removes the
   top of a stack, and the fact that procedure return addresses are
   saved on the stack] v. To return from a digression (the J-form
   derives from a PDP-10 assembler instruction).  By verb doubling,
   ``Popj, popj'' means roughly, ``Now let's see, where were we?''
   See RTI.

PRECEDENCE LOSSAGE (pre's@-dens los'j) [C programmers] n. Coding error
   in an expression due to unexpected grouping of arithmetic or
   logical operators by the compiler. Used esp. of certain common
   coding errors in C due to the nonintuitively low precedence levels
   of &, | and ^. Can always be avoided by suitable use of

PRETTY PRINT or PRETTYPRINT v. 1. To generate `pretty' human-readable
   output from a hairy internal representation; esp. used for the
   process of GRINDing (sense #2) LISP code. 2. To format in some
   particularly slick and nontrivial way.

PRIME TIME [from TV programming] n. Normal high-usage hours on a
   timesharing system, the `day shift'. Avoidance of prime time is a
   major reason for NIGHT MODE hacking.

PRIORITY INTERRUPT [from the hardware term] n. Describes any stimulus
   compelling enough to yank one right out of HACK MODE.  Classically
   used to describe being dragged away by an SO for immediate sex, but
   may also refer to more mundane interruptions such as a fire alarm
   going off in the near vicinity.

PROPELLER HEAD n. Used by hackers, this is syn. with COMPUTER GEEK.
   Non-hackers sometimes use it to describe all techies.


PROWLER [UNIX] n. A DEMON that is run periodically (typically once a
   week) to seek out and erase core files, truncate administrative
   logfiles, nuke lost+found directories, and otherwise clean up the
   cruft that tends to pile up in the corners of a file system. See
   also GFR.

PSEUDOPRIME n. A backgammon prime (six consecutive occupied points)
   with one point missing.

PUNT [from the punch line of an old joke: ``Drop back 15 yards and
   punt''] v. To give up, typically without any intention of retrying.

PURPLE BOOK, THE n. The System V Interface Definition.  The covers of
   the first editions were an amazingly nauseating shade of

PUSH [based on the stack operation that puts the current information
   on a stack, and the fact that procedure call addresses are saved on
   the stack] dialect: PUSHJ (push-jay), based on the PDP-10 procedure
   call instruction.  v. To enter upon a digression, to save the
   current discussion for later.

			= Q =

QUANTUM BOGODYNAMICS (kwahn'tm boh`goh-die-nam'iks) n. Theory
   promulgated by ESR which characterizes the universe in terms of
   bogon sources (such as politicians, used-car salesmen, TV
   evangelists, and SUITs in general), bogon sinks (such as taxpayers
   and computers), and bogosity potential fields.  Bogon absorption,
   of course, causes human beings to behave mindlessly and machines to
   fail (and may cause them to emit secondary bogons as well);
   however, the precise mechanics of the bogon-computron interaction
   are not yet understood and remain to be elucidated.  Quantum
   bogodynamics is most frequently invoked to explain the sharp
   increase in hardware and software failures in the presence of
   suits; the latter emit bogons which the former absorb. See BOGON,

QUES (kwess) 1. n. The question mark character (``?'').  2. interj.
   What?  Also QUES QUES?  See WALL.

QUX (kwuhx) The fourth of the standard metasyntactic variables, after
   BAZ and before the QUU*X series. See FOO, BAR, BAZ, QUUX.

QUUX (kwooks) [invented by Steele] Mythically, from the Latin
   semi-deponent verb QUUXO, QUUXARE, QUUXANDUM IRI; noun form
   variously QUUX (plural QUUCES, Anglicized to QUUXES) and QUUXU
   (genitive plural is QUUXUUM, four U's in seven letters).] 1.
   Originally, a meta-word like FOO and FOOBAR.  Invented by Guy
   Steele for precisely this purpose when he was young and naive and
   not yet interacting with the real computing community.  Many people
   invent such words; this one seems simply to have been lucky enough
   to have spread a little.  2. interj. See FOO; however, denotes very
   little disgust, and is uttered mostly for the sake of the sound of
   it.  3. n.  Refers to one of three people who went to Boston Latin
   School and eventually to MIT:
	THE GREAT QUUX:  Guy L. Steele Jr.
	THE LESSER QUUX:  David J. Littleboy
   (This taxonomy is said to be similarly applied to three Frankston
   brothers at MIT.)  QUUX, without qualification, usually refers to
   The Great Quux, who is somewhat infamous for light verse and for
   the ``Crunchly'' cartoons.  4. QUUXY: adj. Of or pertaining to a
   QUUX.  5. n. The Micro Quux (Sam Lewis).

			= R =

RANDOM adj. 1. Unpredictable (closest to mathematical definition);
   weird.  ``The system's been behaving pretty randomly.''  2.
   Assorted; undistinguished.  ``Who was at the conference?''  ``Just
   a bunch of random business types.''  3.  Frivolous; unproductive;
   undirected (pejorative).  ``He's just a random loser.''  4.
   Incoherent or inelegant; not well organized.  ``The program has a
   random set of misfeatures.''  ``That's a random name for that
   function.''  ``Well, all the names were chosen pretty randomly.''
   5.  Gratuitously wrong, i.e., poorly done and for no good apparent
   reason.  For example, a program that handles file name defaulting
   in a particularly useless way, or an assembler routine that could
   easily have been coded using only three ac's, but randomly uses
   seven for assorted non-overlapping purposes, so that no one else
   can invoke it without first saving four extra registers's.  6. In
   no particular order, though deterministic.  ``The I/O channels are
   in a pool, and when a file is opened one is chosen randomly.''  n.
   7. A random hacker; used particularly of high school students who
   soak up computer time and generally get in the way.  8. (occasional
   MIT usage) One who lives at Random Hall.  J. RANDOM is often
   prefixed to a noun to make a ``name'' out of it (by comparison to
   common names such as ``J. Fred Muggs'').  The most common uses are
   ``J. RANDOM HACKER, ``J. Random Loser'' and ``J.  Random Nerd''
   ("Should J. Random Loser be allowed to gun down other people?"),
   but it can be used just as an elaborate version of RANDOM in any
   sense.  See also SOME RANDOM X.

RANDOM NUMBERS n. When one wishes to specify a large but random number
   of things, and the context is inappropriate for `N' (q.v.), certain
   numbers are preferred by hacker tradition (that is, easily
   recognized as placeholders). These include

   17  Long described at MIT as ``the least random number'', see 23.
   23  Sacred number of Eris, Goddess of Discord (along with 17 & 5).
   42  The Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
   69  From the sexual act. This one was favored in MIT's ITS culture.
   666 The Number of the Beast.

   For further enlightenment, consult the _Principia_Discordia_,
   _The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_To_The_Galaxy_, any porn movie, and the
   Christian Bible's _Book_Of_Revelations_. See also DISCORDIANISM.

RANDOMNESS n. An unexplainable misfeature; gratuitous inelegance.
   Also, a HACK or CROCK which depends on a complex combination of
   coincidences (or rather, the combination upon which the crock
   depends).  ``This hack can output characters 40-57 by putting the
   character in the accumulator field of an XCT and then extracting 6
   bits -- the low two bits of the XCT opcode are the right thing.''
   ``What randomness!''

RAPE v. To (metaphorically) screw someone or something, violently.
   Usage: often used in describing file-system damage.  ``So-and-so
   was running a program that did absolute disk I/O and ended up
   raping the master directory.''

RARE [UNIX] adj. CBREAK mode (character-by-character with interrupts
   enabled). Distinguished from `raw' and `cooked', but unlike them
   this term is strictly a creature of folklore, not found in the
   manuals. Usage: rare.

RASTER BURN n. Eyestrain brought on by too many hours of looking at
   low-res, poorly tuned or glare-ridden monitors, esp.  graphics
   monitors. See TERMINAL ILLNESS.

RAVE [WPI] v. 1. To persist in discussing a specific subject.  2. To
   speak authoritatively on a subject about which one knows very
   little.  3. To complain to a person who is not in a position to
   correct the difficulty.  4. To purposely annoy another person
   verbally.  5. To evangelize.  See FLAME.  Also used to describe a
   less negative form of blather, such as friendly bullshitting.

RAVE ON! imp. Sarcastic invitation to continue a RAVE, often by
   someone who wishes the raver would get a clue but realizes this is

READ-ONLY USER n. Describes a LUSER who uses computers almost
   exclusively for reading USENET, bulletin boards and email, as
   opposed to writing code or purveying useful information. See TWINK.

REAL SOON NOW [orig. from SF's fanzine community. popularized by Jerry
   Pournelle's BYTE column] adj.  1. Supposed to be available (or
   fixed, or cheap, or whatever) real soon now according to somebody,
   but the speaker is quite skeptical.  2. When the gods/fates/other
   time commitments permit the speaker to get to it.  Often
   abbreviated RSN.

REAL TIME adv. Doing something while people are watching or waiting.
   ``I asked her how to find the calling procedure's program counter
   on the stack and she came up with an algorithm in real time.''

REAL USER n. 1. A commercial user.  One who is paying ``real'' money
   for his computer usage.  2. A non-hacker.  Someone using the system
   for an explicit purpose (research project, course, etc.).  See

REAL WORLD, THE n. 1. In programming, those institutions at which
   programming may be used in the same sentence as FORTRAN, COBOL,
   RPG, IBM, etc.  2. To programmers, the location of non-programmers
   and activities not related to programming.  3. A universe in which
   the standard dress is shirt and tie and in which a person's working
   hours are defined as 9 to 5.  4. The location of the status quo.
   5. Anywhere outside a university.  ``Poor fellow, he's left MIT and
   gone into the real world.''  Used pejoratively by those not in
   residence there.  In conversation, talking of someone who has
   entered the real world is not unlike talking about a deceased

RED BOOK n. Informal name for one of the three standard references on
   PostScript; the others are known as the GREEN BOOK and BLUE BOOK.

REGEXP (reg'exp) [UNIX] n. Common written and spoken abbreviation for
   `regular expression', one of the wildcard patterns used, e.g., by
   UNIX utilities such as grep(1), sed(1) and awk(1). These use
   conventions similar to but more elaborate than those described
   under GLOB.

REINCARNATION, CYCLE OF n. Term used to refer to a well-known effect
   whereby function in a computing system family is migrated out to
   special purpose peripheral hardware for speed, then the peripheral
   evolves towards more computing power as it does its job, then
   somebody notices that it's inefficient to support two asymmetrical
   processors in the architecture and folds the function back into the
   main CPU, at which point the cycle begins again.  Several
   iterations of this cycle have been observed in graphics processor
   design, and at least one or two in communications and
   floating-point processors. Also known as ``the Wheel of Life'',
   ``the Wheel of Samsara'', and other variations of the basic
   Hindu/Buddhist idea.

RELIGIOUS ISSUES n. Questions which seemingly cannot be raised without
   touching off a FLAME WAR, such as ``What is the best
   editor/language/operating system/architecture''. See also THEOLOGY.

RELIGIOUS WAR from USENET, but may predate it] n.  FLAME WARS over

REPLICATOR n. Any construct that acts to produce copies of itself;
   this could be a living organism, an idea (see MEME), a program (see
   WORM, WABBIT and VIRUS), or a robot.

RETROCOMPUTING (ret'-roh-k@m-pyoo'ting) n. Refers to emulations of
   way-behind-the state-of-the-art hardware or software, or
   implementations of never-was-state-of-the-art; esp. if such
   implementations are elaborate practical jokes and/or parodies of
   more `serious' designs. Perhaps the most widely distributed
   retrocomputing utility was the pnch(6) program on V7 and other
   early UNIX versions, which would accept up to 80 characters of text
   argument and display the corresponding pattern in Hollerith card
   code. Other well-known retrocomputing hacks have included the
   language INTERCAL, a jcl-emulating shell for UNIX, and the
   card-punch-emulating editor named 029.

RFC (ahr ef see) n. Request For Comment. One of a long-established
   series of numbered Internet standards widely followed by commercial
   and PD software in the Internet and UNIX communities. Perhaps the
   single most influential one has been RFC-822 (the Internet
   mail-format standard). The RFCs are unusual in that they are
   floated by technical experts acting on their own initiative and
   reviewed by the Internet at large, rather than formally promulgated
   through an institution such as ANSI.

RICE BOX [from ham radio slang] n. Any Asian-made commodity computer,
   esp. an 8086, 80286, 80386 or 80486-based machine built to IBM
   PC-compatible ISA or EISA-bus standards.

RIGHT THING, THE n. That which is ``obviously'' the correct or
   appropriate thing to use, do, say, etc.  Use of this term often
   implies that in fact reasonable people may disagree.  ``Never let
   your conscience keep you from doing the right thing!''  ``What's
   the right thing for LISP to do when it reads `(.)'?''  Antonym: THE
   WRONG THING (q.v.).

ROACH [Bell Labs] v. To destroy, esp. of a data structure.  Hardware
   gets TOASTed, software gets roached.

ROBUST adj. Said of a system which has demonstrated an ability to
   recover gracefully from the whole range of exception conditions in
   a given environment. One step below BULLETPROOF.  Compare SMART,
   oppose BRITTLE.

ROGUE [UNIX] n. Graphic Dungeons-And-Dragons-like game written under
   BSD UNIX and subsequently ported to other UNIX systems. The
   original BSD curses(3) screen-handling package was hacked together
   by Ken Arnold to support ROGUE, and has since become one of UNIX's
   most important and heavily used application libraries. See HACK.

ROOM-TEMPERATURE IQ [IBM] 80 or below.  Used in describing the
   expected intelligence range of the LUSER. As in ``Well, but how's
   this interface gonna play with the room-temperature IQ crowd?'' See

RTFM (ahr-tee-ef-em) [UNIX] Abbrev. for ``Read The Fucking Manual''.
   Used by GURUs to brush off questions they consider trivial or
   annoying. Compare DON'T DO THAT, THEN.

RTI (ahr-tee-ie) interj. The mnemonic for the `return from interrupt'
   instruction on Intel microprocessors. Equivalent to ``Now, where
   was I?'' or used to end a conversational digression. See POP, POPJ.

RUDE [WPI] adj. 1. (of a program) Badly written.  2.  Functionally
   poor, e.g. a program which is very difficult to use because of
   gratuitously poor (random?) design decisions.  See CUSPY.

			= S =

SACRED adj. Reserved for the exclusive use of something (a
   metaphorical extension of the standard meaning).  ``Accumulator 7
   is sacred to the UUO handler.''  Often means that anyone may look
   at the sacred object, but clobbering it will screw whatever it is
   sacred to.

SADISTICS (s@'dis'tiks) n. University slang for statistics and
   probability theory, often used by hackers.

SAGA [WPI] n. A cuspy but bogus raving story dealing with N random
   broken people.

SAIL n. Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab. An important
   site in the early development of LISP (with the MIT AI LAB, CMU and
   the UNIX community) one of the major founts of hacker culture
   traditions. The SAIL machines were shut down in late May 1990,
   scant weeks after the MIT AI lab's ITS cluster went down for the
   last time.

SALT MINES n. Dense quarters housing large numbers of programmers
   working long hours on grungy projects, with some hope of seeing the
   end of the tunnel in N years.  Noted for their absence of sunshine.
   Compare PLAYPEN.

SANDBENDER [IBM] n. A person involved with silicon lithography and the
   physical design of chips. Compare IRONMONGER, POLYGON PUSHER.

SCIENCE-FICTION FANDOM n. Another voluntary subculture having a very
   heavy overlap with hackerdom; most hackers read SF and/or fantasy
   fiction avidly, and many go to ``cons'' (SF conventions) or are
   involved in fandom-connected activities like the Society for
   Creative Anachronism. Some hacker slang originated in SF fandom;
   the jargon terms CYBERSPACE, GO FLATLINE, ICE, VIRUS, and WORM
   originated in SF itself.

SCRATCH [from ``scratchpad''] 1. adj. A device or recording medium
   attached to a machine for testing purposes; one which can be
   SCRIBBLED on without loss. Usually in the combining forms SCRATCH
   MONKEY. 2. [primarily IBM] v. To delete (as in a file).

SCRATCH MONKEY n. As in, ``Before testing or reconfiguring, always
   mount a''. A proverb used to advise caution when dealing with
   irreplacable data or devices. Used in memory of Mabel, the Swimming
   Wonder Monkey who expired when a computer vendor PM'd a machine
   which was regulating the gas mixture that the monkey was breathing
   at the time. See Appendix A.  See SCRATCH.

SCREW [MIT] n. A LOSE, usually in software. Especially used for
   user-visible misbehavior caused by a bug or misfeature.

SCREWAGE (scroo'@j) n. Like LOSSAGE (q.v.) but connotes that the
   failure is due to a designed-in misfeature rather than a simple
   inadequacy or mere bug.

SCROG (skrog) [Bell Labs] v. To damage, trash or corrupt a data
   structure.  ``The cblock got scrogged.''  Also reported as SKROG,
   and ascribed to ``The Wizard of Id'' comix. Equivalent to SCRIBBLE
   or MANGLE (q.v.)

SCROZZLE (skroh'zl) v. Used when a self-modifying code segment runs
   incorrectly and corrupts the running program, or vital data.  ``The
   damn compiler scrozzled itself again!''

SCRIBBLE n. To modify a data structure in a random and unintentionally
   destructive way. ``Bletch! Somebody's disk-compactor program went
   berserk and scribbled on the i-node table.'' ``It was working fine
   until one of the allocation routines scribbled on low core.''
   Synonymous with TRASH; compare MUNG, which conveys a bit more
   intention, and MANGLE, which is more violent and final.

SEARCH-AND-DESTROY MODE n. Hackerism for the search-and-replace
   facility in an editor, so called because an incautiously chosen
   match pattern can cause INFINITE damage.

SECOND-SYSTEM SYNDROME n. When designing the successor to a relatively
   small, elegant and successful system, there is a tendency to become
   grandiose in one's success and perpetrate an ELEPHANTINE
   feature-laden monstrosity. The term `second-system syndrome' was
   first used for this affliction in describing how the success of
   CTSS led to the debacle that was MULTICS.

SEGGIE (seg'ee) [UNIX] n. Reported from Britain as a shorthand for
   `segment violation', an attempted access to a protected memory area
   usually resulting in a CORE DUMP.


SELVAGE (selv'@j) n. See CHAD (sense #1).

SEMI (se'mee) 1. n. Abbreviation for ``semicolon'', when speaking.
   ``Commands to GRIND are prefixed by semi-semi-star'' means that the
   prefix is ``;;*'', not 1/4 of a star.  2. Prefix with words such as
   ``immediately'', as a qualifier.  ``When is the system coming up?''

SERVER n. A kind of DAEMON which performs a service for the requester,
   which often runs on a computer other than the one on which the
   server runs. A particularly common term on the Internet, which is
   rife with ``name servers'' ``domain servers'' ``news servers''
   ``finger servers'' and the like.

SEX [Sun User's Group & elsewhere] n. 1.  Software EXchange. A
   technique invented by the blue-green algae hundereds of millions of
   years ago to speed up their evolution, which had been terribly slow
   up until then. Today, SEX parties are popular among hackers and
   others. 2. The rather Freudian mnemonic often used for Sign Extend,
   a machine instruction found in many architectures.

SHAREWARE n. FREEWARE for which the author requests some payment,
   usually in the accompanying documentation files or in an
   announcement made by the software itself. Such payment may or may
   not buy additional support or functionality. See GUILTWARE,

SHELFWARE n. Software purchased on a whim (by an individual user) or
   in accordance with policy (by a corporation or government) but not
   actually required for any particular use.  Therefore, it often ends
   up on some shelf.

SHELL [from UNIX, now used elsewhere] n. 1. The command interpreter
   used to pass commands to an operating system.  2. More generally,
   any interface program which mediates access to a special resource
   or SERVER for convenience, efficiency or security reasons; for this
   meaning, the usage is usually A SHELL AROUND whatever.

SHELL OUT [UNIX] n. To spawn an interactive subshell from within a
   program such as a mailer or editor.  ``BANG FOO runs FOO in a
   SUBSHELL, while BANG alone shells out.''

SHIFT LEFT (or RIGHT) LOGICAL [from any of various machines'
   instruction sets] 1. v. To move oneself to the left (right).  To
   move out of the way.  2. imper. Get out of that (my) seat!  Usage:
   often used without the ``logical'', or as ``left shift'' instead of
   ``shift left''.  Sometimes heard as LSH (lish), from the PDP-10
   instruction set.

SHRIEK See EXCL.  Occasional CMU usage, also in common use among
   mathematicians, especially category theorists.

SIG (sig) or SIG BLOCK (sig blahk) [UNIX; often written ``.sig''
   there] n. Short for ``signature'', used specifically to refer to
   the electronic signature block which most UNIX mail- and
   news-posting software will allow you to automatically append to
   outgoing mail and news. The composition of one's sig can be quite
   an art form, including an ASCII logo or one's choice of witty
   sayings; but many consider large sigs a waste of bandwidth, and it
   has been observed that the size of one's sig block is usually
   inversely proportional to one's longevity and level of prestige on

SILICON n. Hardware, esp. ICs or microprocessor-based computer systems
   (compare IRON). Contrasted with software.

SILLY WALK [from Monty Python] v. A ridiculous procedure required to
   accomplish a task. Like GROVEL, but more RANDOM and humorous. ``I
   had to silly-walk through half the /usr directories to find the
   maps file.''

SILO n. The FIFO input-character buffer in an RS-232 line card. So
   called from DEC terminology used on DH and DZ line cards for the
   VAX and PDP-11.

SILVER BOOK, THE n. Jensen & Wirth's infamous ``Pascal User Manual and
   Report'', so called because of the silver cover of the
   widely-distributed Springer-Verlag second edition of 1978. See

ROTARY DEBUGGER [Commodore] n.  Essential equipment for those late
   night or early morning debugging sessions.  Mainly used as
   sustenance for the hacker.  Comes in many decorator colors such as
   Sausage, Pepperoni, and Garbage. See ANSI-STANDARD PIZZA.

SLEEP [from the UNIX sleep(3)] On a timesharing system, a process
   which relinquishes its claim on the scheduler until some given
   event occurs or a specified time delay elapses is said to `go to

SLOP n. 1. A one-sided fudge factor (q.v.).  Often introduced to avoid
   the possibility of a fencepost error (q.v.).  2. (used by compiler
   freaks) The ratio of code generated by a compiler to hand-compiled
   code, minus 1; i.e., the space (or maybe time) you lose because you
   didn't do it yourself.

SLOPSUCKER n. A lowest-priority task that must wait around until
   everything else has ``had its fill'' of machine resources.  Only
   when the machine would otherwise be idle is the task allowed to
   ``suck up the slop.'' Also called a HUNGRY PUPPY.  One common
   variety of slopsucker hunts for large prime numbers.  Compare

SLUGGY (sluh'gee) adj. Hackish variant of `sluggish'. Used only of
   people, esp.  someone just waking up after a long GRONK-OUT.

SLURP v. To read a large data file entirely into core before working
   on it.  ``This program slurps in a 1K-by-1K matrix and does an

SMART adj. Said of a program that does the RIGHT THING (q.v.)  in a
   wide variety of complicated circumstances.  There is a difference
   between calling a program smart and calling it intelligent; in
   particular, there do not exist any intelligent programs (yet).
   Compare ROBUST (smart programs can be BRITTLE).

SMASH THE STACK [C programming] n. On many C implementations it is
   possible to corrupt the execution stack by writing past the end of
   an array declared auto in a routine. Code that does this is said to
   `smash the stack', and can cause return from the routine to jump to
   a random text address. This can produce some of the most insidious
   data-dependent bugs known to mankind.  Variants include `trash the
   stack', `SCRIBBLE ON the stack', `MANGLE the stack'; `MUNG the
   stack' is not used as this is never done intentionally.  See


SMOKE TEST n. 1. A rudimentary form of testing applied to electronic
   equipment following repair or reconfiguration in which AC power is
   applied and during which the tester checks for sparks, smoke, or
   other dramatic signs of fundamental failure. 2. By extension, the
   first run of a piece of software after construction or a critical
   change. See MAGIC SMOKE.

SMOKING CLOVER n. A DISPLAY HACK originally due to Bill Gosper.  Many
   convergent lines are drawn on a color monitor in AOS mode (so that
   every pixel struck has its color incremented).  The color map is
   then rotated.  The lines all have one endpoint in the middle of the
   screen; the other endpoints are spaced one pixel apart around the
   perimeter of a large square.  This results in a striking,
   rainbow-hued, shimmering four-leaf clover.  Gosper joked about
   keeping it hidden from the FDA lest it be banned.

SMOP (smop) [Simple (or Small) Matter of Programming] n. A piece of
   code, not yet written, whose anticipated length is significantly
   greater than its complexity.  Usage: used to refer to a program
   that could obviously be written, but is not worth the trouble.

SNAIL-MAIL n. Paper mail, as opposed to electronic. See EMAIL.

SNARF (snarf) v. 1. To grab, esp. a large document or file for the
   purpose of using it either with or without the author's permission.
   See BLT.  Variant: SNARF (IT) DOWN.  (At MIT on ITS, DDT has a
   command called :SNARF which grabs a job from another (inferior)
   DDT.) 2. [in the UNIX community] to fetch a file or set of files
   across a network.  See also BLAST.

SNARF & BARF (snarf-n-barf) n. The act of grabbing a region of text
   using a WIMP (q.v.) environment (Window, Icon, Mouse, Pointer) and
   then ``stuffing'' the contents of that region into another region
   or into the same region, to avoid re-typing a command line.

SNEAKERNET n. Term used (generally with ironic intent) for transfer of
   electronic information by physically carrying tape, disks, or some
   other media from one machine to another.  ``Never underestimate the
   bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magtape, or a 747 filled
   with CD-ROMs.'' Also called ``Tennis-Net'', ``Armpit-Net''.

SNIFF v.,n. Synonym for POLL.

S.O. (ess-oh) n. Acronym for Significant Other, almost invariably
   written abbreviated and pronounced ``ess-oh'' by hackers. In fact
   the form without periods ``SO'' is most common. Used to refer to
   one's primary relationship, esp. a live-in to whom one is not
   married.  See MOTAS, MOTOS, MOTSS.

SOFTCOPY n. [back-formation from `hardcopy'] A machine readable form
   of corresponding hardcopy. See BITS.

SOFTWARE ROT n. Hypothetical disease the existence of which has been
   deduced from the observation that unused programs or features will
   stop working after sufficient time has passed, even if ``nothing
   has changed''.  Also known as BIT DECAY, BIT ROT.  Occasionally
   this turns out to be a real problem due to media failure.

SOFTWARILY (soft-weir'i-lee) adv. In a way pertaining to software.
   ``The system is softwarily unreliable.''  The adjective
   ``softwary'' is NOT used.  See HARDWARILY.

SOME RANDOM X adj. Used to indicate a member of class X, with the
   implication that the particular X is interchangeable with most
   other Xs in whatever context was being discussed. ``I think some
   random cracker tripped over the guest timeout last night.''

SORCEROR'S APPRENTICE MODE n. A bug in a protocol where, under some
   circumstances, the receipt of a message causes more than one
   message to be sent, each of which, when received, triggers the same
   bug. Used esp. of such behavior caused by BOUNCE MESSAGE loops in
   EMAIL software. Compare BROADCAST STORM.

SPACEWAR n. A space-combat simulation game first implemented on the
   PDP-1 at MIT in 1960-61. SPACEWAR aficionados formed the core of
   the early hacker culture at MIT. Ten years later a descendant of
   the game motivated Ken Thompson to invent UNIX (q.v.). Ten years
   after that, SPACEWAR was commercialized as one of the first video
   games; descendants are still feeping in video arcades everywhere.

SPAGHETTI CODE n. Describes code with a complex and tangled control
   structure, esp. one using many GOTOs, exceptions or other
   `unstructured' branching constructs. Pejorative.

SPAGHETTI INHERITANCE n. [Encountered among users of object-oriented
   languages that use inheritance, such as Smalltalk] A convoluted
   class-subclass graph, often resulting from carelessly deriving
   subclasses from other classes just for the sake of reusing their
   code.  Coined in a (successful) attempt to discourage such
   practice, through guilt by association with SPAGHETTI CODE.

SPIFFY (spi'fee) adj. 1. Said of programs having a pretty, clever or
   exceptionally well-designed interface. ``Have you seen the spiffy X
   version of EMPIRE yet?'' 2. Said sarcastically of programs which
   are perceived to have little more than a flashy interface going for
   them. Which meaning should be drawn depends delicately on tone of
   voice and context.

SPIN v. Equivalent to BUZZ (q.v.). More common among C and UNIX

SPLAT n. 1. Name used in many places (DEC, IBM, and others) for the
   ASCII star (``*'') character.  2. [MIT] Name used by some people
   for the ASCII pound-sign (``#'') character.  3. [Stanford] Name
   used by some people for the Stanford/ITS extended ASCII circle-x
   character.  (This character is also called ``circle-x'',
   ``blobby'', and ``frob'', among other names.)  4. [Stanford] Name
   for the semi-mythical extended ASCII circle-plus character.  5.
   Canonical name for an output routine that outputs whatever the the
   local interpretation of splat is.  Usage: nobody really agrees what
   character ``splat'' is, but the term is common.

SPOOGE (spooj) 1. n. Inexplicable or arcane code, or random and
   probably incorrect output from a computer program 2. v. To generate
   code or output as in definition 1.

SPOOL v. To send files to some device or program (a `spooler') that
   queues them up and does something useful with them later. The
   spooler usually understood is the `print spooler' controlling
   output of jobs to a printer, but the term has been used in
   connection with other peripherals (especially plotters and graphics

STACK n. See PDL. The STACK usage is probably more common outside

STACK PUKE n. Some micros are said to ``puke their guts onto the
   stack'' to save their internal state during exception processing.
   On a pipelined machine this can take a while (up to 92 bytes for a
   bus fault on the 68020, for example).

STALE POINTER BUG n. Synonym for ALIASING BUG used esp. aming
   microcomputer hackers.

STATE n. Condition, situation.  ``What's the state of NEWIO?''  ``It's
   winning away.''  ``What's your state?''  ``I'm about to gronk
   out.''  As a special case, ``What's the state of the world?''  (or,
   more silly, ``State-of-world-P?'') means ``What's new?'' or
   ``What's going on?''

STIR-FRIED RANDOM alt. STIR-FRIED MUMBLE (ster-fried mum'bl) n. Term
   used for frequent best dish of those hackers who can cook. Consists
   of random fresh veggies and meat wokked with random spices. Tasty

STOMP ON v.  To inadvertently overwrite something important, usually
   automatically.  Example: ``All the work I did this weekend got
   stomped on last night by the nightly-server script.'' Compare

STOPPAGE (sto'p@j) n. Extreme lossage (see LOSSAGE) resulting in
   something (usually vital) becoming completely unusable.

STUNNING adj. Mind-bogglingly stupid. Usually used in sarcasm. ``You
   want to code *what* in ADA? That's...a stunning idea!'' See also

SUBSHELL [UNIX, MS-DOS] n. An OS command interpreter (see SHELL)
   spawned from within a program, such that exit from the command
   interpreter returns one to the parent program in a state that
   allows it to continue execution. Oppose CHAIN.

SUIT n. 1. Ugly and uncomfortable `business clothing' often worn by
   non-hackers. Invariably worn with a `tie', a strangulation device
   which partially cuts off the blood supply to the brain. It is
   thought that this explains much about the behavior of suit-
   wearers. 2. A person who habitually wears suits, as distinct from a
   techie or hacker. See LOSER, BURBLE and BRAIN-DAMAGED.

SUNSPOTS n. Notional cause of an odd error. ``Why did the program
   suddenly turn the screen blue?'' ``Sunspots, I guess''.  Also cause
   of bitrot, from the genuine, honest-to-god fact that sunspots will
   increase cosmic radiation which can flip single bits in memory.
   Needless to say, although real sunspot errors happen, they are
   extremely rare. See PHASE OF THE MOON.

SUN-STOOLS n. Unflattering hackerism for SunTools, a pre-X windowing
   environment notorious in its day for size, slowness and

SUPERPROGRAMMER n. See WIZARD, HACKER, GURU.  Usage: rare.  (Becoming
   more common among IBM and Yourdon types.)

SUZIE COBOL (soo'zee koh'bol) 1. [IBM, prob. fr. Frank Zappa's
   ``little Suzy Creamcheese''] n. A coder straight out of training
   school who knows everything except the benefits of comments in
   plain English.  Also (fashionable among personkind wishing to avoid
   accusations of sexism) `Sammy Cobol' 2. [generalization proposed by
   ESR] Meta-name for any CODE GRINDER, analogous to J. RANDOM HACKER.

SWAB [From the PDP-11 ``byte swap'' instruction] 1. v. to solve the
   NUXI PROBLEM by swapping bytes in a file. 2. Also, the program in
   V7 UNIX used to perform this action. See also BIG-ENDIAN,

SWAPPED adj. From the use of secondary storage devices to implement
   virtual memory in computer systems.  Something which is SWAPPED IN
   is available for immediate use in main memory, and otherwise is
   SWAPPED OUT.  Often used metaphorically to refer to people's
   memories (``I read TECO ORDER every few months to keep the
   information swapped in.'') or to their own availability (``I'll
   swap you in as soon as I finish looking at this other problem.'').
   Compare PAGE IN, PAGE OUT.

SWIZZLE v. To convert external names or references within a data
   structure into direct pointers when the data structure is brought
   into main memory from external storage; also called POINTER
   SWIZZLING; the converse operation is sometimes termed UNSWIZZLING.

SYNC (sink) [from UNIX] n.,v. 1. To force all pending I/O to the disk.
   2. More generally, to force a number of competing processes or
   agents to a state that would be `safe' if the system were to crash;
   thus, to checkpoint. See FLUSH.

SYNTACTIC SUGAR n. Features added to a language or formalism to make
   it `sweeter' for humans, that do not affect the expressiveness of
   the formalism (compare CHROME). Used esp.  when there is an obvious
   and trivial translation of the `sugar' feature into other
   constructs already present in the notation.  Example: the \n, \t,
   \r, and \b escapes in C strings, which could be expressed as octal
   escapes. Coined by Peter Landin. ``Syntactic sugar causes cancer of
   the semicolon.'' - Alan Perlis.

SYS-FROG [the PLATO system] n. Playful hackish variant of ``sysprog''
   which is in turn short for ``systems-programmer''.

SYSTEM n. 1. The supervisor program on the computer.  2. Any
   large-scale program.  3. Any method or algorithm.  4. The way
   things are usually done.  Usage: a fairly ambiguous word.  ``You
   can't beat the system.''  SYSTEM HACKER: one who hacks the system
   (in sense 1 only; for sense 2 one mentions the particular program:
   e.g., LISP HACKER)

			= T =

T (tee) 1. [from LISP terminology for ``true''] Yes.  Usage: used in
   reply to a question, particularly one asked using the ``-P''
   convention).  See NIL.  2. See TIME T. 3. In transaction-processing
   circles, an abbreviation for the noun ``transaction''.

TALK MODE n. The state a terminal is in when linked to another via a
   bidirectional character pipe to support on-line dialogue between
   two or more users.  Talk mode has a special set of jargon words,
   used to save typing, which are not used orally:

	BCNU	Be seeing you.
	BTW	By the way...
	BYE?	Are you ready to unlink?  (This is the standard way to
		end a com mode conversation; the other person types
		BYE to confirm, or else continues the conversation.)
	CUL	See you later.
	FOO?	A greeting, also meaning R U THERE?  Often used in the
		case of unexpected links, meaning also ``Sorry if I
		butted in'' (linker) or ``What's up?'' (linkee).
	FYI	For your information...
	FYA	For your amusement...
	GA	Go ahead (used when two people have tried to type
		simultaneously; this cedes the right to type to
		the other).
	HELLOP	A greeting, also meaning R U THERE?  (An instance
		of the ``-P'' convention.)
	NIL	No (see the main entry for NIL).
	O	Over to you.
	OO	Over and out.
	OBTW	Oh, by the way...
	R U THERE?	Are you there?
	SEC	Wait a second (sometimes written SEC...).
	T	Yes (see the main entry for T).
	TNX	Thanks.
	TNX 1.0E6	Thanks a million (humorous).
	WTF	The universal interrogative particle. WTF knows what
		it means?
	WTH	What the hell
	<double CRLF>  When the typing party has finished, he types
		two CRLFs to signal that he is done; this leaves a
		blank line between individual ``speeches'' in the
		conversation, making it easier to re-read the
		preceding text.
	<name>:	When three or more terminals are linked, each speech
		is preceded by the typist's login name and a colon (or
		a hyphen) to indicate who is typing.  The login name
		often is shortened to a unique prefix (possibly a
		single letter) during a very long conversation.

   Most of the above ``sub-jargon'' is used at both Stanford and MIT.
   Several of these are also common in EMAIL, esp. FYI, FYA, BTW,
   BCNU, and CUL A few other abbrevs have been reported from
   commercial networks such as GEnie and Compuserve where on-line
   `live' chat including more than two people is common and usually
   involves a more `social' context, notably

	<g>	grin
	BRB	be right back
	HHOJ	ha ha only joking
	LOL	laughing out load
	ROTF	rolling on the floor
	AFK	away from keyboard
	b4	before
	CU l8tr	see you later
	MORF	Male or Female?
	TTFN	ta-ta for now
	OIC	Oh, I see
	rehi	hello again

   These are not used at universities; conversely, most of the people
   who know these are unfamiliar with FOO?, BCNU, HELLOP, NIL, and T.

TANKED adj. Same as DOWN, used primarily by UNIX hackers. See also
   HOSED. Popularized as a synonym for ``drunk'' by Steve Dallas in
   the late lamented ``Bloom County'' comix.

TASTE n. [primarily MIT-DMS] The quality in programs which tends to be
   inversely proportional to the number of features, hacks, and kluges
   programmed into it.  Also, TASTY, TASTEFUL, TASTEFULNESS.  ``This
   feature comes in N tasty flavors.''  Although TASTEFUL and
   FLAVORFUL are essentially synonyms, TASTE and FLAVOR are not.

TCB (tee see bee) [IBM] Trouble Came Back. Intermittent or
   difficult-to reproduce problem which has failed to respond to
   neglect. Compare HEISENBUG.

TELERAT (tel'@-rat) n. Unflattering hackerism for ``Teleray'', a line
   of extremely losing terminals. See also TERMINAK, SUN-STOOLS,

TELNET (telnet) v. To communicate with another ARPAnet host using the
   TELNET program.  TOPS-10 people use the word IMPCOM since that is
   the program name for them.  Sometimes abbreviated to TN.  ``I
   usually TN over to SAIL just to read the AP News.''

TENSE adj. Of programs, very clever and efficient.  A tense piece of
   code often got that way because it was highly bummed, but sometimes
   it was just based on a great idea.  A comment in a clever display
   routine by Mike Kazar: ``This routine is so tense it will bring
   tears to your eyes.  Much thanks to Craig Everhart and James
   Gosling for inspiring this hack attack.''  A tense programmer is
   one who produces tense code.

TERAFLOP CLUB (ter'a-flop kluhb) n. Mythical group of people who
   consume outragous amounts of computer time in order to produce a
   few simple pictures of glass balls with intricate ray tracing
   techniques.  Cal Tech professor James Kajiya is said to be the
   founding member.

TERMINAK (ter'mi-nak) [Caltech, ca. 1979] n. Any malfunctioning
   computer terminal. A common failure mode of Lear-Siegler ADM3a
   terminals caused the ``L'' key to produce the ``K'' code instead;
   complaints about this tended to look like ``Terminak #3 has a bad
   keyboard.  Pkease fix.'' See SUN-STOOLS, TELERAT, HP-SUX.

TERMINAL ILLNESS n. 1. Syn. with RASTER BURN.  2.  The `burn-in'
   condition your CRT tends to get if you don't have a screen saver.

TERPRI (ter'pree) [from the LISP 1.5 (and later, MacLISP) function to
   start a new line of output] v. To output a CRLF (q.v.).

THANKS IN ADVANCE [USENET] Conventional net.politeness ending a posted
   request for information or assistance. Sometimes written
   ``advTHANKSance''. See ``NET.'', NETIQUETTE.

THEOLOGY n. 1. Ironically used to refer to RELIGIOUS ISSUES.  2.
   Technical fine points of an abstruse nature, esp. those where the
   resolution is of theoretical interest but relatively MARGINAL with
   respect to actual use of a design or system. Used esp. around
   software issues with a heavy AI or language design component.
   Example: the deep- vs. shallow-binding debate in the design of
   dynamically-scoped LISPS.

THEORY n. Used in the general sense of idea, plan, story, or set of
   rules.  ``What's the theory on fixing this TECO loss?''  ``What's
   the theory on dinner tonight?''  (``Chinatown, I guess.'')
   ``What's the current theory on letting lusers on during the day?''
   ``The theory behind this change is to fix the following well-known

THINKO (thin'ko) [by analogy with `typo'] n. A bubble in the stream of
   consciousness; a momentary, correctable glitch in mental
   processing, especially one involving recall of information learned
   by rote. Compare MOUSO.

THRASH v. To move wildly or violently, without accomplishing anything
   useful.  Paging or swapping systems which are overloaded waste most
   of their time moving data into and out of core (rather than
   performing useful computation), and are therefore said to thrash.


THUNK n. 1. An expression, frozen together with its environment for
   later evaluation if and when needed. The process of unfreezing a
   THUNK is called `forcing'. 2. People and and activities scheduled
   in a thunklike manner. ``It occurred to me the other day that I am
   rather accurately modelled by a thunk -- I frequently need to be
   forced to completion.'' -- paraphrased from a .plan file.

TICK n. 1. Interval of time; basic clock time on the computer.
   Typically 1/60 second.  See JIFFY.  2. In simulations, the discrete
   unit of time that passes ``between'' iterations of the simulation
   mechanism.  In AI applications, this amount of time is often left
   unspecified, since the only constraint of interest is that caused
   things happen after their causes.  This sort of AI simulation is
   often pejoratively referred to as ``tick-tick-tick'' simulation,
   especially when the issue of simultaneity of events with long,
   independent chains of causes is handwaved.

TIME T (tiem tee) n. 1. An unspecified but usually well-understood
   time, often used in conjunction with a later time T+1.  ``We'll
   meet on campus at time T or at Louie's at time T+1.''  2. SINCE (OR
   AT) TIME T EQUALS MINUS INFINITY: A long time ago; for as long as
   anyone can remember; at the time that some particular frob was
   first designed.

TIP OF THE ICE-CUBE [IBM] n. The visible part of something small and
   insignificant. Used as an ironic comment in situations where ``tip
   of the iceberg'' might be appropriate if the subject were actually

TIRED IRON [IBM] n. Hardware that is perfectly functional but enough
   behind the state of the art to have been superseded by new
   products, presumably with enough improvement in bang-per-buck that
   the old stuff is starting to look a bit like a DINOSAUR.

TLA (tee el ay) [Three-Letter-Abbreviation] n. 1. Self-describing
   acronym for a species with which computing terminology is infested.
   2. Any confusing acronym at all.  Examples include MCA, FTP, SNA,
   CPU, MMU, SCCS, DMU, FPU, TLA, NNTP.  People who like this looser
   usage argue that not all TLAs have three letters, just as not all
   four letter words have four letters.

TOAST 1. n. Any completely inoperable system, esp. one that has just
   crashed; ``I think BUACCA is toast.'' 2. v. To cause a system to
   crash accidentally, especially in a manner that requires manual
   rebooting. ``Rick just toasted harp again.''

TOASTER n. 1. The archetypal really stupid application for an embedded
   microprocessor controller esp. `toaster oven'; often used in
   comments which imply that a scheme is inappropriate technology.
   ``DWIM for an assembler?  That'd be as silly as running UNIX on
   your toaster!'' 2.  A very very dumb computer. ``You could run this
   program on any dumb toaster.'' See BITTY BOX, TOASTER, TOY.

TOOL 1. n. A program primarily used to create other programs, such as
   a compiler or editor or cross-referencing program. Oppose APP,
   OPERATING SYSTEM. 2. [UNIX] An application program with a simple,
   ``transparent'' (typically text-stream) interface designed
   specifically to be used in programmed combination with other tools
   (see FILTER).  3. [MIT] v.i. To work; to study.  See HACK (def #9).

TOPS-10 (tops-ten) n. DEC's proprietary OS for the fabled PDP-10
   machines, long a favorite of hackers but now effectively extinct. A
   fountain of hacker folklore; see Appendix B. See also ITS, TOPS-20,

TOPS-20 (tops-twen'tee) n. See TWENEX.

TOURIST [from MIT's ITS system] n. A guest on the system, especially
   one who generally logs in over a network from a remote location for
   games and other trivial purposes. One step below LUSER. TOURISTIC
   is often used as a pejorative, as in ``losing touristic scum''.

TOY (toy) n. A computer system; always used with qualifiers. 1. NICE
   TOY One which supports the speaker's hacking style adequately. 2.
   JUST A TOY A machine that yields insufficient COMPUTRONS for the
   speaker's preferred uses (this is not condemnatory as is BITTY BOX,
   toys can at least be fun). See also GET A REAL COMPUTER, BITTY BOX.

TOY PROBLEM [AI] n. A deliberately simplified or even oversimplified
   case of a challenging problem used to investigate, prototype, or
   test algorithms for the real problem. Sometimes used pejoratively.
   See also GEDANKEN.

TRAP 1. n. A program interrupt, usually used specifically to refer to
   an interrupt caused by some illegal action taking place in the user
   program.  In most cases the system monitor performs some action
   related to the nature of the illegality, then returns control to
   the program.  See UUO.  2. v. To cause a trap.  ``These
   instructions trap to the monitor.''  Also used transitively to
   indicate the cause of the trap.  ``The monitor traps all
   input/output instructions.''

TRASH v. To destroy the contents of (said of a data structure). The
   most common of the family of near-synonyms including MUNG, MANGLE
   and SCRIBBLE.

TRIVIAL adj. 1. In explanation, too simple to bother detailing. 2. Not
   worth the speaker's time. 3. Complex, but solvable by methods so
   well-known that anyone not utterly CRETINOUS would have thought of
   them already. Hackers' notions of triviality may be quite at
   variance with those of non-hackers. See NONTRIVIAL, UNINTERESTING.

TROGLODYTE [Commodore] n. A hacker who never leaves his cubicle.  The
   term `Gnoll' (from D&D) is also reported.

TROGLODYTE MODE [Rice University] n. Programming with the lights
   turned off, sunglasses on, and the (character) terminal inverted
   (black on white) because you've been up for so many days straight
   that your eyes hurt. Loud music blaring from a stereo stacked in
   the corner is optional but recommended. See LARVAL STAGE, MODE.

TROJAN HORSE n. A program designed to break security or damage a
   system that is disguised as something else benign, such as a
   directory lister or archiver. See VIRUS, WORM.

TRUE-HACKER [analogy with ``trufan'' from SF fandom] n.  One who
   exemplifies the primary values of hacker culture, esp.  competence
   and helpfulness to other hackers. A high complement.  ``He spent
   six hours helping me bring up UUCP and netnews on my FOOBAR 4000
   last week -- unequivocally the act of a true-hacker.''  Compare

TTY (tee-tee-wie [UNIX], titty [ITS]) n. 1. Terminal of the teletype
   variety, characterized by a noisy mechanical printer, a very
   limited character set, and poor print quality.  Usage: antiquated
   (like the TTYs themselves).  2. [especially UNIX] Any terminal at
   all; sometimes used to refer to the particular terminal controlling
   a job.

TUBE n. A CRT terminal. Never used in the mainstream sense of TV; real
   hackers don't watch TV, except for Loony Toons and Bullwinkle &
   Rocky and the occasional cheesy old swashbuckle movie.

TUNE [from automotive or musical usage] v. To optimize a program or
   system for a particular environment. One may `tune for time'
   (fastest execution) `tune for space' (least memory utilization) or
   `tune for configuration' (most efficient use of hardware). See BUM,

TWEAK v. To change slightly, usually in reference to a value.  Also
   used synonymously with TWIDDLE.  See FROBNICATE and FUDGE FACTOR.

TWENEX (twe-neks) n. The TOPS-20 operating system by DEC.  So named
   because TOPS-10 was a typically crufty DEC operating system for the
   PDP-10.  BBN developed their own system, called TENEX (TEN
   EXecutive), and in creating TOPS-20 for the DEC-20 DEC copied TENEX
   and adapted it for the 20.  Usage: DEC people cringe when they hear
   TOPS-20 referred to as ``Twenex'', but the term seems to be
   catching on nevertheless.  Release 3 of TOPS-20 is sufficiently
   different from release 1 that some (not all) hackers have stopped
   calling it TWENEX, though the written abbreviation ``20x'' is still

TWIDDLE n. 1. tilde (ASCII 176, ``~'').  Also called ``squiggle'',
   ``sqiggle'' (sic--pronounced ``skig'gul''), and ``twaddle'', but
   twiddle is by far the most common term.  2. A small and
   insignificant change to a program.  Usually fixes one bug and
   generates several new ones.  3. v. To change something in a small
   way.  Bits, for example, are often twiddled.  Twiddling a switch or
   knob implies much less sense of purpose than toggling or tweaking
   it; see FROBNICATE.

TWINK (twink) [UCSC] n. Equivalent to READ-ONLY USER.

TWO-TO-THE-N quant. Used like N, but referring to bigger numbers. ``I
   have two to the N things to do before I can go out for lunch''
   means you probably won't show up.

TWO-PI q. The number of years it takes to finish one's thesis.  Occurs
   in stories in the form: ``He started on his thesis; two pi years

			= U =

UNINTERESTING adj. 1. Said of a problem which, while NONTRIVIAL, can
   be solved simply by throwing sufficient resources at it. 2. Also
   said of problems for which a solution would neither advance the
   state of the art nor be fun to design and code. True hackers regard
   uninteresting problems as an intolerable waste of time, to be
   solved (if at all) by lesser mortals. See WOMBAT, SMOP.

U*IX, UN*X n. Used to refer to the Unix operating system (trademark
   and/or copyright AT&T) in writing, but avoiding the need for the
   ugly (tm) typography.  Also used to refer to any or all varieties
   of Unixoid operating systems. Ironically, some lawyers now claim
   (1990) that the requirement for superscript-tm has no legal force,
   but the asterisk usage is entrenched anyhow.

UNWIND THE STACK v. 1. During the execution of a procedural language
   one is said to `unwind the stack' from a called procedure up to a
   caller when one discards the stack frame and any number of frames
   above it, popping back up to the level of the given caller.  In C
   this is done with longjmp/setjmp; in LISP with THROW/CATCH.  This
   is sometimes necessary when handling exceptional conditions.  See
   also SMASH THE STACK. 2. People can unwind the stack as well, by
   quickly dealing with a bunch of problems ``Oh hell, let's do lunch.
   Just a second while I unwind my stack''.

UNWIND-PROTECT [MIT, from the name of a LISP operator] n. A task you
   must remember to perform before you leave a place or finish a
   project.  ``I have an unwind-protect to call my advisor.''

UNIX (yoo'nix) [In the authors' words, ``A weak pun on MULTICS''] n. A
   popular interactive time-sharing system originally invented in 1969
   by Ken Thompson after Bell Labs left the MULTICS project, mostly so
   he could play SPACEWAR on a scavenged PDP7. The turning point in
   UNIX's history came when it was reimplemented almost entirely in C
   in 1974, making it the first source-portable operating system.
   Fifteen years and a lot of changes later UNIX is the most widely
   used multiuser general-purpose operating system in the world. This
   fact probably represents the single most important victory yet of
   hackerdom over industry opposition. See VERSION 7, BSD UNIX, USG

UP adj. 1. Working, in order.  ``The down escalator is up.''  2.
   BRING UP: v. To create a working version and start it.  ``They
   brought up a down system.''

UPLOAD [uhp'lohd] v. 1. To transfer code or data over a digital comm
   line from a smaller `client' system to a larger `host' one. Oppose
   DOWNLOAD. 2.  [speculatively] To move the essential patterns and
   algorithms which make up one's mind from one's brain into a
   computer.  Only those who are convinced that such patterns and
   algorithms capture the complete essence of the self view this
   prospect with aplomb.


USENET (yooz'net) n. A distributed bulletin board system supported
   mainly by UNIX machines, international in scope and probably the
   largest non-profit information utility in existence. As of early
   1990 it hosts over 300 topic groups and distributes up to 15
   megabytes of new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and
   FLAMAGE every day. See NEWSGROUP.

USER n. A programmer who will believe anything you tell him.  One who
   asks annoying questions.  Identified at MIT with ``loser'' by the
   spelling ``luser''.  See REAL USER.  [Note by GLS: I don't agree
   with RF's definition at all.  Basically, there are two classes of
   people who work with a program: there are implementors (hackers)
   and users (losers).  The users are looked down on by hackers to a
   mild degree because they don't understand the full ramifications of
   the system in all its glory.  (A few users who do are known as real
   winners.)  It is true that users ask questions (of necessity).
   Very often they are annoying or downright stupid.]

USER FRIENDLY adj. Programmer-hostile. Generally used by hackers in a
   hostile tone, to describe systems which hold the user's hand so
   obsessively that they make it painful for the more experienced and
   knowledgeable to get any work done. See MENUITIS, DROOL-PROOF

USER-OBSEQUIOUS adj. Emphatic form of USER FRIENDLY. Connotes a system
   so verbose, inflexible, and determinedly simple-minded that it is
   nearly unusable. ``Design a system any fool can use and only a fool
   will want to use it''.

USG UNIX (yoo-ess-jee yoo'nix) n. Refers to AT&T UNIX versions after
   VERSION 7, especially System III and System V releases 1, 2 and 3.
   So called because at that time AT&T's support crew was called the
   `Unix Support Group' See BSD UNIX.

			= V =

VADDING (vad'ing) [from VAD, a permutation of ADV (i.e. ADVENT
   (q.v.)), used to avoid a particular sysadmin's continual
   search-and-destroy sweeps for the game] n. A leisure-time activity
   of certain hackers involving the covert exploration of the
   ``secret'' parts of large buildings -- basements, roofs, freight
   elevators, maintenance crawlways, steam tunnels and the like. A few
   go so far as to learn locksmithing in order to synthesize vadding
   keys. The verb is `to vad'. The most extreme and dangerous form of
   vadding is ELEVATOR RODEO, aka ELEVATOR SURFING, a sport played by
   wrasslin' down a thousand-pound elevator car with a three-foot
   piece of string, and then exploiting this mastery in various
   stimulating ways (such as elevator hopping, shaft exploration,
   rat-racing and the ever-popular drop experiments).  Kids, don't try
   this at home!

VANILLA adj. Ordinary flavor, standard.  See FLAVOR.  When used of
   food, very often does not mean that the food is flavored with
   vanilla extract!  For example, ``vanilla-flavored wonton soup'' (or
   simply ``vanilla wonton soup'') means ordinary wonton soup, as
   opposed to hot and sour wonton soup.  Applied to hardware and
   software. As in ``Vanilla Version 7 UNIX can't run on a vanilla

VANNEVAR (van'@-var) n. A bogus technological prediction or foredoomed
   engineering concept, esp. one which fails by implicitly assuming
   that technologies develop linearly, incrementally, and in isolation
   from one another when in fact the learning curve tends to be highly
   nonlinear, revolutions are common, and competition is the rule. The
   prototype was Vannevar Bush's prediction of ``electronic brains''
   the size of the Empire State Building with a
   Niagara-Falls-equivalent cooling system for their tubes and relays,
   at a time when the semiconductor effect had already been
   demonstrated. Other famous vannevars have included commercial LISP
   machines and a paper from the late 1970s that purported to prove
   maximum achievable areal densities for ICs less than those
   routinely achieved five years later.

VAPORWARE n. Products announced far in advance of any shipment (which
   may or may not actually take place).

VAR (veir, vahr) n. Short for ``variable''. Compare ARG, PARAM.

VAX n. (vaks) [from Virtual Address eXtended] 1. The most successful
   minicomputer design in industry history, possibly excepting its
   immediate ancestor the PDP-11. Between its release in 1978 and
   eclipse by KILLER MICROS after about 1986 the VAX was probably the
   favorite hacker machine of them all, esp. after the 1982 release of
   4.2BSD UNIX (see BSD UNIX). Esp. noted for its large,
   assembler-programmer-friendly instruction set, an asset which
   became a liability after the RISC revolution following about 1985.
   2. A major brand of vacuum cleaner in Britain. Cited here because
   its alleged sales pitch, ``Nothing sucks like a VAX!'' became a
   sort of battle-cry of RISC partisans. Ironically, the slogan was
   actually that of a rival brand called Electrolux.

VAXEN (vak'sn) [from ``oxen'', perhaps influenced by ``vixen''] n. pl.
   The plural of VAX (a DEC machine). See BOXEN.

VEEBLEFESTER (vee'b@l-fes-tr) [from the ``Born Loser'' comix via
   Commodore; prob originally from Mad Magazine's ``Veeblefeetzer'' c.
   1960] n.  Any obnoxious person engaged in the alleged professions
   of marketing or management.  Antonym of HACKER. Compare SUIT,

VENUS FLYTRAP (vee'n:s flie'trap) [after the plant] n. See FIREWALL.

VERBIAGE (ver'bee-@j) [IBM] n. Documentation.

VERSION 7 alt. V7 (vee-se'v@n) n. The 1978 unsupported release of UNIX
   (q.v.) ancestral to all current commercial versions. Before the
   release of the POSIX/SVID standards V7's features were often
   treated as a UNIX portability baseline.  See BSD, USG UNIX, UNIX.

VIRGIN adj. Unused, in reference to an instantiation of a program.
   ``Let's bring up a virgin system and see if it crashes again.''
   Esp. useful after contracting a VIRUS (q.v.) through SEX (q.v.).
   Also, by extension, unused buffers and the like within a program.

VIRUS [from SF] n. A cracker program that propagates itself by
   `infecting' (embedding itself in) other trusted programs,
   especially operating systems. See WORM, TROJAN HORSE.

VMS (vee em ess) n. DEC's proprietary operating system for their VAX
   minicomputer; one of the seven or so environments that looms
   largest in hacker folklore.  Many UNIX fans generously concede that
   VMS would probably be the hacker's favorite commercial OS if UNIX
   didn't exist; though true, this makes VMS fans furious. See also
   TOPS-10, TOPS-20, UNIX.

VIRTUAL adj. 1. Common alternative to LOGICAL (q.v.), but never used
   with compass directions.  2.  Performing the functions of.  Virtual
   memory acts like real memory but isn't.

VIRTUAL REALITY n. A form of network interaction incorporating aspects
   of role-playing games, interactive theater, improvisational comedy
   and ``true confessions'' magazines. In a ``virtual reality'' forum
   (such as USENET's alt.callahans newsgroup or the MUD experiments on
   Internet) interaction between the participants is written like a
   shared novel complete with scenery, ``foreground characters'' which
   may be personae utterly unlike the people who write them, and
   common ``background characters'' manipulable by all parties. The
   one iron law is that you may not write irreversible changes to a
   character without the consent of the person who ``owns'' it.
   Otherwise anything goes. See BAMF.

VISIONARY n. One who hacks vision (in an AI context, such as the
   processing of visual images).

VULCAN NERVE PINCH n. [From the old Star Trek TV series via Commodore
   Amiga hackers] The keyboard combination that forces a soft-boot or
   jump to ROM monitor (on machines that support such a feature). On
   many micros this is Ctrl-Alt-Del. Also called THREE-FINGER SALUTE.

			= W =

WABBIT (wabb'it) [almost certainly from Elmer Fudd's immortal line
   ``you wascal wabbit!''] n. 1. A legendary early hack reported on
   the PDP-10s at RPI and elsewhere around 1978. The program would
   reproduce itself twice every time it was run, eventually crashing
   the system.  2. By extension, any hack that includes infinite
   self-replication but is not a VIRUS or WORM. See also COOKIE

WALDO (wahl'doh) [probably taken from the story ``Waldo'', by
   Heinlein, which is where the term was first used to mean a
   mechanical adjunct to a human limb] Used at Harvard, particularly
   by Tom Cheatham and students, instead of FOOBAR as a meta-syntactic
   variable and general nonsense word.  See FOO, BAR, FOOBAR, QUUX.

WALKING DRIVES An occasional failure mode of magnetic-disk drives back
   in the days when they were 14'' wide WASHING MACHINES. Those old
   DINOSAURS carried terrific angular momentum; the combination of a
   misaligned spindle or worn bearings and stick-slip interactions
   with the floor could cause them to ``walk'' across a room, lurching
   alternate corners forward a couple of millimeters at a time. This
   could also be induced by certain patterns of drive access (a fast
   seek across the whole width of the disk, followed by a slow seek in
   the other direction). It is known that some bands of old-time
   hackers figured out how to induce disk-accessing patterns that
   would do this to particular drive models and held disk-drive races.
   This is not a joke!

WALL [shortened form of HELLO WALL, apparently from the phrase ``up
   against a blank wall''] [WPI] interj. 1. An indication of
   confusion, usually spoken with a quizzical tone.  ``Wall??''  2. A
   request for further explication. Compare OCTAL FORTY.

WALL TIME n. 1. `Real world' time (what the clock on the wall shows)
   as opposed to the system clock's idea of time. 2. The real running
   time of a program, as opposed to the number of CLOCKS required to
   execute it (on a timesharing system these will differ, as no one
   program gets all the CLOCKS).

WALLPAPER n. A file containing a listing (e.g., assembly listing) or
   transcript, esp. a file containing a transcript of all or part of a
   login session.  (The idea was that the LPT paper for such listings
   was essentially good only for wallpaper, as evidenced at SAIL where
   it was used as such to cover windows.)  Usage: not often used now,
   esp. since other systems have developed other terms for it (e.g.,
   PHOTO on TWENEX).  The term possibly originated on ITS, where the
   commands to begin and end transcript files were :WALBEG and
   :WALEND, with default file DSK:WALL PAPER.

WASHING MACHINE n. Old-style hard disks in floor-standing cabinets. So
   called because of the size of the cabinet and the ``top-loading''
   access to the media packs. See WALKING DRIVES.

WEASEL [Cambridge University] A ``naive user'', one who deliberately
   or accidentally does things which are stupid or ill-advised.
   Roughly synonymoius with LUSER.

WEDGED [from ``head wedged up ass''] adj. 1. To be in a locked state,
   incapable of proceeding without help.  (See GRONK.)  Often refers
   to humans suffering misconceptions.  ``The swapper is wedged.''
   This term is sometimes used as a synonym for DEADLOCKED (q.v.).  2.
   [UNIX] Specifically used to describe the state of a TTY left in a
   losing state by abort of a screen-oriented program or one that has
   messed with the line discipline in some obscure way.

WEEBLE (weeb'l) [Cambridge University] interj. Use to denote
   frustration, usually at amazing stupidity.  ``I stuck the disk in
   upside down.'' ``Weeble...'' Compare GURFLE.

WEEDS n. Refers to development projects or algorithms that have no
   possible relevance or practical application.  Comes from ``off in
   the weeds''.  Used in phrases like ``lexical analysis for microcode
   is serious weeds...''

WELL BEHAVED adj. Of software: conforming to coding guidelines and
   standards.  Well behaved software uses the operating system to do
   chores such as keyboard input, allocating memory and drawing
   graphics. Oppose ILL-BEHAVED.

WETWARE n. 1. The human brain, as opposed to computer hardware or
   software (as in ``Wetware has at most 7 +/- 2 registers'').  2.
   Human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) attached to a
   computer system, as opposed to the system's hardware or software.

WHAT n. The question mark character (``?'').  See QUES.  Usage: rare,
   used particularly in conjunction with WOW.

WHEEL [from Twenex, q.v.] n. A privileged user or WIZARD (sense #2).
   Now spreading into the UNIX culture. Privilege bits are sometimes
   called WHEEL BITS. The state of being in a privileged logon is
   sometimes called WHEEL MODE.

WHEEL WARS [Stanford University] A period in LARVAL STAGE during which
   student wheels hack each other by attempting to log each other out
   of the system, delete each other's files, or otherwise wreak havoc,
   usually at the expense of the lesser users.

WHITE BOOK, THE n. Kernighan & Ritchie's _The_C_Programming_Language_,
   esp. the classic and influential first edition. Also called simply

WIBNI [Bell Labs, Wouldn't It Be Nice If] n. What most requirements
   documents/specifications consist entirely of. Compare IWBNI.

WIDGET n.  1. A meta-thing.  Used to stand for a real object in
   didactic examples (especially database tutorials).  Legend has it
   that the original widgets were holders for buggy whips.  2. A user
   interface object in X Window System GUIs.

WIMP ENVIRONMENT n. [acronymic from Window, Icon, Mouse, Pointer] A
  graphical-user-interface based environmend, as described by a hacker
  who prefers command-line interfaces for their superior flexibility

WIN [from MIT jargon] 1. v. To succeed.  A program wins if no
   unexpected conditions arise.  2. BIG WIN: n. Serendipity.  Emphatic
   forms: MOBY WIN, SUPER WIN, HYPER-WIN (often used interjectively as
   a reply).  For some reason SUITABLE WIN is also common at MIT,
   usually in reference to a satisfactory solution to a problem.  See

WINNAGE (win'@j) n. The situation when a lossage is corrected, or when
   something is winning.  Quite rare.  Usage: also quite rare.

WINNER 1. n. An unexpectedly good situation, program, programmer or
   person.  2. REAL WINNER: Often sarcastic, but also used as high

WINNITUDE (win'i-tood) n. The quality of winning (as opposed to
   WINNAGE, which is the result of winning).  ``That's really great!
   Boy, what winnitude!''

WIREHEAD n. 1. A hardware hacker, especially one who concentrates on
   communications hardware.  2. An expert in local area networks.  A
   wirehead can be a network software wizard too, but will always have
   the ability to deal with network hardware, down to the smallest
   component.  Wireheads are known for their ability to lash up an
   Ethernet terminator from spare resistors, for example.

WIZARD n. 1. A person who knows how a complex piece of software or
   hardware works; someone who can find and fix his bugs in an
   emergency.  Rarely used at MIT, where HACKER is the preferred term.
   2. A person who is permitted to do things forbidden to ordinary
   people, e.g., a ``net wizard'' on a TENEX may run programs which
   speak low-level host-imp protocol; an ADVENT wizard at SAIL may
   play Adventure during the day. 3. A UNIX expert. See GURU.

WIZARD MODE [from nethack] n. A special access mode of a program or
   system, usually passworded, that permits some users godlike
   privileges.  Generally not used for operating systems themselves
   (ROOT MODE or WHEEL MODE would be used instead).

WOMBAT [Waste Of Money, Brains and Time] adj. Applied to problems
   which are both profoundly UNINTERESTING in themselves and unlikely
   to benefit anyone interesting even if solved. Often used in
   fanciful constructions such as WRESTLING WITH A WOMBAT. See also

WONKY (won'kee) [from Australian slang] adj. Yet another approximate
   synonym for BROKEN. Specifically connotes a malfunction which
   produces behavior seen as crazy, humorous, or amusingly perverse.
   ``That was the day the printer's font logic went wonky and
   everybody's listings came out in Elvish.'' Also in WONKED OUT. See

WORM [from `tapeworm' in John Brunner's _Shockwave_Rider_, via XEROX
   PARC] n. A cracker program that propagates itself over a network,
   reproducing itself as it goes. See `VIRUS'. Perhaps the best known
   example was RTM's `Internet Worm' in '87, a `benign' one that got
   out of control and shut down hundreds of Suns and VAXen nationwide.

WOUND AROUND THE AXLE adj. In an infinite loop.  Often used by older
   computer types, along with ``out in the WEEDS''.


WRONG THING, THE n. A design, action or decision which is clearly
   incorrect or inappropriate. Often capitalized; always emphasized in
   speech as if capitalized. Antonym: THE RIGHT THING (q.v.).

WUGGA WUGGA (wuh'guh wuh'guh) n. Imaginary sound that a computer
   program makes as it labors with a tedious or difficult task.

			= X =

X Used in various speech and writing contexts in roughly its algebraic
   sense of ``unknown within a set defined by context'' (compare `N').
   Thus: the abbreviation 680x0 stands for 68000, 68010, 68020, 68030
   or 68040, and 80x86 stands for 80186, 80286 80386 or 80486 (note
   that a UNIX hacker might write these as 680[01234]0 and 80[1234]86
   or 680?0 and 80?86 respectively; see GLOB).

XYZZY (exs-wie-zee-zee-wie) [from the ADVENT game] adj. A magic word.
   This has actually been implemented as an undocumented no-op command
   on several OSs; in Data General's AOS, for example, it would
   respond ``Nothing happens.'' just as ADVENT did before a player had
   performed the action that enabled the word. See PLUGH.

			= Y =

YABA (ya'buh) [Cambridge University] n. Yet Another Bloody Acronym.
   Whenever some program is being named, someone invariably suggests
   that it be given a name which is acronymic. The response from those
   with a trace of originality is to remark ironically that the
   proposed name would then be ``YABA-compatible''. Also used in
   response to questions like ``What is WYSIWYG?'' ``YABA.'' See also

YOW! (yow) [from Zippy the Pinhead comix] interj. Favored hacker
   expression of humorous surprise or emphasis. ``Yow! Check out what
   happens when you twiddle the foo option on this display hack!''

YOYO MODE n. State in which the system is said to be when it rapidly
   alternates several times between being up and being down.

YU-SHIANG WHOLE FISH (yoo-shyang hohl fish) n. The character gamma
   (extended SAIL ASCII 11), which with a loop in its tail looks like
   a fish.  Usage: used primarily by people on the MIT LISP Machine.
   Tends to elicit incredulity from people who hear about it

			= Z =

ZEN v. To figure out something by meditation, or by a sudden flash of
   enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied
   to problems of life in general. ``How'd you figure out the buffer
   allocation problem?'' ``Oh, I zenned it''.  Contrast GROK, which
   connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system.

ZERO v. 1. To set to zero.  Usually said of small pieces of data, such
   as bits or words.  2. To erase; to discard all data from.  Said of
   disks and directories, where ``zeroing'' need not involve actually
   writing zeroes throughout the area being zeroed.  See SCRIBBLE.

ZIPPERHEAD [IBM] n. A person with a closed mind.

ZOMBIE [UNIX] n. A process which has been killed but has not yet
   relinquished its process table slot. These show up in ps(1)
   listings occasionally.

ZORK (zork) n. Second of the great early experiments in computer
   fantasy gaming; see ADVENT. Originally written on MIT-DMS during
   the late seventies, later distributed with BSD UNIX and
   commercialized as ``The Zork Trilogy'' by Infocom.

==================== MAIN TEXT ENDS HERE ===================================

			a cautionary tale

   The following, modulo a couple of inserted commas and capitalization
changes for readability, is the exact text of a famous USENET message.
The reader may wish to review the definitions of PM and MOUNT in the main
text before continuing.

~Date: Wed 3 Sep 86 16:46:31-EDT
~From: "Art Evans" <Evans@TL-20B.ARPA>
~Subject: Always Mount a Scratch Monkey

My friend Bud used to be the intercept man at a computer vendor for
calls when an irate customer called.  Seems one day Bud was sitting at
his desk when the phone rang.
    Bud:	Hello.			Voice:	YOU KILLED MABEL!!
    B:		Excuse me?		V:	YOU KILLED MABEL!!

This went on for a couple of minutes and Bud was getting nowhere, so he
decided to alter his approach to the customer.

Well, to avoid making a long story even longer, I will abbreviate what had
happened.  The customer was a Biologist at the University of Blah-de-blah,
and he had one of our computers that controlled gas mixtures that Mabel (the
monkey) breathed.  Now, Mabel was not your ordinary monkey.  The University
had spent years teaching Mabel to swim, and they were studying the effects
that different gas mixtures had on her physiology.  It turns out that the
repair folks had just gotten a new Calibrated Power Supply (used to
calibrate analog equipment), and at their first opportunity decided to
calibrate the D/A converters in that computer.  This changed some of the gas
mixtures and poor Mabel was asphyxiated.  Well, Bud then called the branch
manager for the repair folks:

    Manager:	Hello
    B:		This is Bud, I heard you did a PM at the University of
    M:		Yes, we really performed a complete PM.  What can I do
		for you?
    B:		Can you swim?

The moral is, of course, that you should always mount a scratch monkey.


There are several morals here related to risks in use of computers.
Examples include, ``If it ain't broken, don't fix it.''  However, the
cautious philosophical approach implied by ``always mount a scratch
monkey'' says a lot that we should keep in mind.

Art Evans
Tartan Labs



   The following terms appeared in the main listing of the original
Jargon File, but have been rendered obsolescent by the passage of
time, the march of technology, the death of the DEC PDP-10, and the
May 1990 shutdown of the ITS machines. They are collected here for
possible historical interest.

AOS (aus (East coast) ay-ahs (West coast)) [based on a PDP-10
   increment instruction] v. To increase the amount of something.
   ``Aos the campfire.''  Usage: considered silly, and now
   obsolescent.  See SOS. Now largely supplanted by BUMP.

BIG BLT, THE (big belt, th:) n., obs. Shuffling operation on the
   PDP-10 under some operating systems that consumes a significant
   amount of computer time. See BLT in the main listing.

BIN (bin) [short for BINARY; used as a second file name on ITS] 1. n.
   BINARY.  2. BIN FILE: A file containing the BIN for a program.
   Usage: used at MIT, which runs on ITS.  The equivalent term at
   Stanford was DMP (pronounced ``dump") FILE.  Other names used
   include SAV ("save") FILE (DEC and Tenex), SHR ("share") and LOW
   FILES (DEC), and COM FILES (CP/M), and EXE ("ex'ee") FILE (DEC,
   Twenex, MS-DOS, occasionally UNIX).  Also in this category are the
   input files to the various flavors of linking loaders (LOADER,
   LINK-10, STINK), called REL FILES. See EXE in main text.

COM[M] MODE (kom mohd) [from the ITS feature for linking two or more
   terminals together so that text typed on any is echoed on all,
   providing a means of conversation among hackers; spelled with one
   or two Ms] Syn. for TALK MODE in main text.

DIABLO (dee-ah'blow) [from the Diablo printer] 1. n. Any letter-
   quality printing device.  2. v. To produce letter-quality output
   from such a device. See LASE in main listing.

DMP (dump) See BIN.

DPB (duh-pib') [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v., obs. To plop
   something down in the middle.

ENGLISH (ing'lish) n. The source code for a program, which may be in
   any language, as opposed to BINARY.  Usage: obsolete, used mostly
   by old-time hackers, though recognizable in context.  On ITS,
   directory SYSENG was where the ``English'' for system programs is
   kept, and SYSBIN, the binaries.  SAIL had many such directories,
   but the canonical one is [CSP,SYS].

EXCH (ex'chuh, ekstch) [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v., obs. To
   exchange two things, each for the other.

IMPCOM (imp'kahm) See TELNET. This term is now nearly obsolete.

IRP (erp) [from the MIDAS pseudo-op which generates a block of code
   repeatedly, substituting in various places the car and/or cdr of
   the list(s) supplied at the IRP] v. To perform a series of tasks
   repeatedly with a minor substitution each time through.  ``I guess
   I'll IRP over these homework papers so I can give them some random
   grade for this semester.'' Usage: rare, now obsolescent.

JFCL (djif'kl or djafik'l) [based on the PDP-10 instruction that acts
   as a fast no-op] v., obs. To cancel or annul something.  ``Why
   don't you jfcl that out?"

JRST (jerst) [based on the PDP-10 jump instruction] v., obs. To
   suddenly change subjects.  Usage: rather rare.  ``Jack be nimble,
   Jack be quick; Jack jrst over the candle stick.''

JSYS (jay'sis), pl. JSI (jay'sigh) [Jump to SYStem] v.,obs. See UUO.

LDB (lid'dib) [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v. To extract from the

MOBY (moh'bee) n.  This term entered the world of AI with the Fabritek
   256K moby memory of MIT-AI. Thus, classically, 256K words, the size
   of a PDP-10 moby.  (The maximum address space means the maximum
   normally addressable space, as opposed to the amount of physical
   memory a machine can have.  Thus the MIT PDP-10s each have two
   mobies, usually referred to as the ``low moby'' (0-777777) and
   ``high moby'' (1000000-1777777), or as ``moby 0'' and ``moby 1''.
   MIT-AI had four mobies of address space: moby 2 was the PDP-6
   memory, and moby 3 the PDP-11 interface.)  In this sense ``moby''
   is often used as a generic unit of either address space (18. bits'
   worth) or of memory (about a megabyte, or 9/8 megabyte (if one
   accounts for difference between 32- and 36-bit words), or 5/4

PHANTOM (fan'tm) [Stanford] n. The SAIL equivalent of a DRAGON (q.v.).
   Typical phantoms include the accounting program, the news-wire
   monitor, and the lpt and xgp spoolers. UNIX and most other
   environments call this sort of program a background DEMON or

PPN (pip'in) [DEC terminology, short for Project-Programmer Number] n.
   1. A combination `project' (directory name) and programmer name,
   used to identify a specific directory belonging to that user.  For
   instance, ``FOO,BAR'' would be the FOO directory for user BAR.
   Since the name is restricted to three letters, the programmer name
   is usually the person's initials, though sometimes it is a nickname
   or other special sequence.  (Standard DEC setup is to have two
   octal numbers instead of characters; hence the original acronym.)
   2.  Often used loosely to refer to the programmer name alone.  ``I
   want to send you some mail; what's your ppn?''  Usage: not used at
   MIT, since ITS does not use ppn's.  The equivalent terms would be
   UNAME and SNAME, depending on context, but these are not used
   except in their technical senses.

REL (rel) See BIN in the main listing. Short for `relocatable', used
   on the old TOPS-10 OS.

SAV (sayv) See BIN.

SHR (sheir) See BIN.

SOS 1. (ess-oh-ess) n. A losing editor, SON OF STOPGAP.  2. (sahss) v.
   Inverse of AOS, from the PDP-10 instruction set.

STY (pronounced ``stie'', not spelled out) n. A pseudo-teletype, which
   is a two-way pipeline with a job on one end and a fake keyboard-tty
   on the other.  Also, a standard program which provides a pipeline
   from its controlling tty to a pseudo-teletype (and thence to
   another tty, thereby providing a ``sub-tty").  This is MIT
   terminology; the SAIL, DEC and UNIX equivalent is PTY (see main

SUPDUP (soop'doop) v. To communicate with another ARPAnet host using
   the SUPDUP program, which is a SUPer-DUPer TELNET talking a special
   display protocol used mostly in talking to ITS sites.  Sometimes
   abbreviated to SD.

TECO (tee'koh) [acronym for Text Editor and COrrector] 1. n. A text
   editor developed at MIT, and modified by just about everybody.  If
   all the dialects are included, TECO might well be the single most
   prolific editor in use.  Noted for its powerful pseudo-programming
   features and its incredibly hairy syntax.  2. v. obs. To edit using
   the TECO editor in one of its infinite forms; sometimes used to
   mean ``to edit'' even when not using TECO!  Usage: rare at SAIL,
   where most people wouldn't touch TECO with a TENEX pole.

   [Historical note, c. 1982: DEC grabbed an ancient version of MIT
   TECO many years ago when it was still a TTY-oriented editor.  By
   now, TECO at MIT is highly display-oriented and is actually a
   language for writing editors, rather than an editor.  Meanwhile,
   the outside world's various versions of TECO remain almost the same
   as the MIT version of the early 1970s.  DEC recently tried to
   discourage its use, but an underground movement of sorts kept it
   alive. -- GLS]

   [Since this note was written I found out that DEC tried to force
   their hackers by administrative decision to use a hacked up and
   generally lobotomized version of SOS instead of TECO, and they
   revolted. -- MRC]

   [1990 update: TECO is now pretty much one with the dust of history,
   having been replaced (both functionally and psychologically) almost
   everywhere by GNU EMACS -- ESR]

UUO (yoo-yoo-oh) [short for ``Un-Used Operation"] n. A PDP-10 system
   monitor call.  The term ``Un-Used Operation'' comes from the fact
   that, on PDP-10 systems, monitor calls are implemented as invalid
   or illegal machine instructions, which cause traps to the monitor
   (see TRAP).  The SAIL manual describing the available UUOs has a
   cover picture showing an unidentified underwater object.  See YOYO.
   [Note: DEC sales people have since decided that ``Un-Used
   Operation" sounds bad, so UUO now stands for ``Unimplemented User
   Operation''.]  Tenex and Twenex systems use the JSYS machine
   instruction (q.v.), which is halfway between a legal machine
   instruction and a UUO, since KA-10 Tenices implement it as a
   hardware instruction which can be used as an ordinary subroutine
   call (sort of a ``pure JSR").

WORMHOLE (werm'hohl) n. A location in a monitor which contains the
   address of a routine, with the specific intent of making it easy to
   substitute a different routine.  The following quote comes from
   ``Polymorphic Systems'', vol. 2, p. 54:

   ``Any type of I/O device can be substituted for the standard device
   by loading a simple driver routine for that device and installing
   its address in one of the monitor's `wormholes.'* ---------- *The
   term `wormhole' has been used to describe a hypothetical
   astronomical situation where a black hole connects to the `other
   side' of the universe.  When this happens, information can pass
   through the wormhole, in only one direction, much as `assumptions'
   pass down the monitor's wormholes.''

   This term is now obsolescent. Modern operating systems use clusters
   of wormholes extensively (for modularization of I/O handling in
   particular, as in the UNIX device-driver organization) but the
   preferred jargon for these clusters is `device tables', `jump
   tables' or `capability tables'.

XGP (eks-jee-pee) 1. n. Xerox Graphics Printer.  2. v. To print
   something on the XGP.  ``You shouldn't XGP such a large file.''

YOYO (yoh'yoh) n. DEC service engineers' slang for UUO (q.v.).  Usage:
   rare at Stanford and MIT, has been found at random DEC



Here are some other books you can read to help you understand the hacker

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Hofstadter, Douglas
Basic Books, New York 1979
ISBN 0-394-74502-7

This book reads like an intellectual Grand Tour of hacker
preoccupations. Music, mathematical logic, programming, speculations on
the nature of intelligence, biology, and Zen are woven into a brilliant
tapestry themed on the concept of encoded self-reference. The perfect
left-brain companion to _Illuminatus_.

Illuminatus (three vols)
1. The Golden Apple
2. The Eye in the Pyramid
3. Leviathan
Shea, Robert & Wilson, Robert Anton
Dell Books, New York 1975
ISBN 0-440-{14688-7,34691-6,14742-5}

This work of alleged fiction is an incredible berserko-surrealist
rollercoaster of world-girdling conspiracies, intelligent dolphins,
the fall of Atlantis, who really killed JFK, sex, drugs, rock and roll
and the Cosmic Giggle Factor. First published in 3 volumes, but
there's now a one-volume trade paperback carried by most chain
bookstores under SF. The perfect right-brain companion to Hofstadter's
_Godel_Escher,_Bach:_An_Eternal_Golden_Braid_. See ERIS, DISCORDIANISM,

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Pocket Books 1981, New York
ISBN 0-671-46149-4

This Monty-Python-in-Space spoof of SF genre traditions has been
popular among hackers ever since the original British radio show.
Read it if only to learn about Vogons (see BOGONS) and the
significance of the number 42 (see RANDOM NUMBERS) -- also why the
winningest chess program of 1990 was called DEEP THOUGHT.

The Tao of Programming
James Geoffrey
Infobooks 1987, Santa Monica,
ISBN 0-931137-07-1

This gentle, funny spoof of the _Tao_Te_Ching_ contains much that is
illuminating about the hacker way of thought. ``When you have learned
to snatch the error code from the trap frame, it will be time for you
to leave.''

Steven Levy
Anchor/Doubleday 1984, New York
ISBN 0-385-19195-2

Levy's book is at its best in describing the early MIT hackers at the
Model Railroad Club and the early days of the microcomputer revolution.
He never understood UNIX or the networks, though, and his enshrinement of
RMS as ``the last hacker'' turns out to have been quite misleading.

The Cuckoo's Egg
Clifford Stoll
Doubleday 1989, New York
ISBN 0-385-24946-2

Clifford Stoll's absorbing tale of how he tracked Marcus Hess and the
Chaos Club cracking-ring nicely illustrates the difference between `hacker'
and `cracker'. And Stoll's portrait of himself and his lady Barbara and his
friends at Berkeley and on the Internet paints a marvelously vivid picture
of how hackers and the people around them like to live and what they think.

======================= END OF THE JARGON FILE ================================
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