term% ls -F
term% cat index.txt
========= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 2.2.1 15 DEC 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 file contains essentially the entire text of a late version of
that file intermingled with the newer entries.

A version of the original jargon-file (expanded with commentary for the
mass market) was edited by by Guy L. Steele into a book published in 1983
as _The_Hacker's_Dictionary_ (Harper & Row CN 1082, ISBN 0-06-091082-8).
It is now out of print, but this version contains about 80% of its text
(omitting the introductions, the author bios, and a very few obsolescent

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 communities.

The present maintainer of the jargon file is Eric S. Raymond
( with assistance from Guy L. Steele
(  Send all additions, corrections and correspondence
relating to the jargon file to (UUCP-only sites
without connections to an autorouting smart site can use

(Warning: other email addresses appear in this file *but are not
guaranteed to be correct* later than the revision date on the first
line.  *Don't* email us if an attempt to reach your idol bounces
--- we have no magic way of checking addresses or looking up people)

It is intended that some `snapshot' of this on-line version will become the
main text of a second paper edition, possibly as early as Fall 1991. The
maintainers are committed to updating the on-line version of the jargon
file through and beyond paper publication, and will continue to make it
available to archives and public-access sites as a trust of the hacker

Revision History

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 2.1.1, Jun 12 1990: 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 The Untimely Demise of Mabel The Monkey).  Some
obsolescent usages (mostly PDP-10 derived) were moved to appendix B.

Version 2.1.5, Nov 28 1990: Changes and additions by ESR in response to
numerous USENET submissions and comment from the First Edition coauthors.
The bibliography (Appendix C) was also appended.

Version 2.2.1: most of the contents of the 1983 paper edition edited by Guy
Steele was merged in. Many more USENET submissions added, including the

Version numbering: Read versions as <major>.<minor>.<revision>.  Major
version 1 is reserved for the `old' (ITS) Jargon File, jargon-1.  Major
version 2 encompasses revisions by ESR with assistance from GLS.  Someday,
the next maintainer will take over and spawn `version 3'. In general, later
versions will either completely obsolesce or incorporate earlier versions,
so there is generally no point in keeping old versions around.

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 formerly

Format For New Entries

Try to conform to the format already being used -- pronunciations in
slashes, etymologies in brackets, single-space after definition numbers and
word classes, etc.  Stick to the standard ASCII character set (no high-half
characters or {nt}roff/TeX/Scribe escapes), as one of the versions
generated from the master file is an info document that has to be viewable
on a character tty.

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.

A few new definitions attached to entries are marked [proposed].  These are
coinages generated by editors or USENET correspondents in the process of
responding to previous definitions of those entries.  These are *not*
represented as established jargon.

The jargon 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!

Jargon Construction

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, HACK, FLAME, BARF,

     "The disk heads just crashed."  "Lose, lose."
     "Mostly he just talked about his @#!!$% crock.  Flame, flame."
     "Boy, what a bagbiter!  Chomp, chomp!"

Some verb-doubled constructions have special meanings not immediately
obvious from the verb.  These have their own listings in the lexicon.

Soundalike slang: Phonetic distortions of a phrase intended to produce the
effect of a pun or wordplay.  Not really similar to the Cockney rhyming
slang it has been compared to in the past, because Cockney substitutions
are opaque whereas hacker rhyming slang is intentionally transparent.
Often made up on the spur of the moment.  Standard examples:

     Boston Globe => Boston Glob
     Herald American => Horrid (or Harried) American
     New York Times => New York Slime
     Prime Time => Slime Time
     Data General => Dirty Genitals
     Government Property - Do Not Duplicate (seen on keys)
             => Government Duplicity - Do Not Propagate
     for historical reasons => for hysterical raisins

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

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:
            Q: "Foodp?"
            A: "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry." or "T!"

            Q: "State-of-the-world-P?"
            A: (Straight) "I'm about to go home."
            A: (Humorous) "Yes, the world has a state."

     On the phone to Florida:
            Q: "State-p Florida?"
            A: "Been reading JARGON.TXT again, eh?"

[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 grammar: Many 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. For example, because

     porous => porosity
     generous => generosity

hackers happily generalize:

     mysterious => mysteriosity
     ferrous => ferrocity

Also, note that all nouns can be verbed.  e.g.: "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.

Similarly, all verbs can be nouned. Thus:

     win -> winnitude, winnage
     disgust -> disgustitude
     hack -> hackification

Finally, note the prevalence of certain kinds of nonstandard plural
forms.  Anything ending in x may form plurals in -xen (see VAXEN and
BOXEN in the main text). Even words ending in phonetic /k/ alone are
sometimes treated this way; ex. `soxen' for a bunch of socks.  Other
funny plurals are `frobbotzim' for the plural of FROBBOTZ (see main
text) and `Unices' and `Tenices' (rather than `Unixes' and `Tenexes';
see UNIX, TENEX in main text). But note that `Unixen' and `Tenexen'
are *never* used; there seems to be a rule that operating system
names take the default English or Latin plural rather than the
Anglo-Saxon or Hebrew.

The pattern here, as with other hackish grammatical quirks, is
generalization of an inflectional rule which (in English) is either
an import or a fossil (such as Hebrew plural in `-im', or the
Anglo-Saxen plural in `en') to cases where it isn't normally
considered to apply.

This is not `poor grammar', as hackers are generally quite well
aware of what they are doing when they distort the language. It is
grammatical creativity, a form of playfulness.

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 on a comm link.  Another
expression sometimes heard is "complain!", meaning "I have a

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

Finally, note that 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


The last is spoken of as a mythical absolute, never actually attained.

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 of jargon or a breathless, excessively
gung-ho attitude are considered tacky and the mark of a loser.

This speech style is a variety of the precisionist English normally
spoken by scientists, design engineers, and academics in technical
fields. Unlike the jargon construction methods it is fairly constant
throughout hackerdom.

It has been observed that many hackers are confused by negative
questions  -- or, at least, the  people they're talking to are
confused by the sense of their answers.  The problem is that they've
done so much coding that distinguishes between

     if (going) {


     if (!going) {

that when they parse the question "Are you not going?" it seems to be
asking the opposite question from "Are you going?", and so merits the
opposite answer.  This confuses non-hackers because they were taught
to answer as though the negative part weren't there. Hackers often
find themselves wishing for a word like french "si" with which one
could unambiguously answer `yes' to a negative question.

For similar reasons, English-speaking hackers almost never use a
double negative even if they live in a region where colloquial usage
allows it. The thought of uttering something that logically ought to
be an affirmative knowing it will be mis-parsed as a negative tends to
disturb them. 

Hacker Writing Style

Hackers tend to use quotes as balanced delimiters like parens, much
to the dismay of editors.  Thus, if "Jim is going" is a phrase, and
so is "Bill runs" and "Spock groks", then hackers generally
prefer to write: "Jim is going", "Bill runs", and"Spock groks".
This is incorrect according to prevalent usage (which would put the
continuation commas and the final period inside the string quotes)
but it is counter-intuitive to hackers to mutilate literal strings
with characters that don't belong there. The Jargon File follows
hackish usage fairly consistently throughout.

Hackers have also developed a number of punctuation and emphasis
conventions adapted to single-font all-ASCII communications links, and
these are occasionally carried over into written documents even when
normal means of font changes, underlining and the like are available.

One of these is that, TEXT IN ALL CAPS IS INTERPRETED AS "LOUD", and
this becomes such a synesthetic reflex that a person who goes to
caps-lock while in TALK MODE (see main text) may be asked to "stop
shouting, please, you're hurting my ears!".

Also, it is common to use bracketing with asterisks to signify
emphasis, as in "What the *hell*?".

Underlining is often suggested by substituting underscores for spaces
and prepending and appending one underscore to the underlined phrase.
Example: "It is often alleged that Haldeman wrote _The_Forever_War_
in response to Robert Heinlein's earlier _Starship_Troopers_".

Another habit is that of using enclosure to "genericize" a term;
this derives from conventions used in BNF (q.v.).  Uses like
the following are common:

     So this <ethnic> walks into a bar one day, and...

Another special form of enclosure uses the square brackets [, ].  This
is often interpreted as "comment by an editor" in contexts where
that's reasonable, and there's a semi-standard way to identify the
editor where there might be more than one. For example:

     [This is an editorial comment -- ESR]

is a comment by an editor with initials ESR. You'll see examples of
this in the lexicon at places where present or past editors have added
their own glosses on various entries.  It is also common in moderated
groups on USENET (q.v.).

One quirk that shows up frequently in the email style of UNIX hackers
in particular is a tendency for some things which are normally
all-lowercase (including usernames and the names of commands and C
routines) to remain uncapitalized even when they occur at the
beginning of sentences.  It is clear that for many hackers, the case of
such identifiers becomes a part of their internal representation and
cannot be overridden without mental effort (an appopriate reflex
because UNIX and C both distinguish cases and confusing them can lead
to lossage). The *rest* of us simply avoid using these
constructions at the beginning of sentences.

Finally, it should be noted that hackers exhibit much less
reluctance to use multiply-nested parentheses than is normal in
English (this is almost certainly due to influence from LISP (which
uses deeply nested parentheses in its syntax)).

International Style

Although the Jargon File remains primarily a lexicon of hacker
usage in American English, we have made some effort to get input from
abroad. Though the hacker-speak of other languages often uses
translations of English slang (often as transmitted to them by earlier
Jargon File versions!) the local variations are interesting, and
knowledge of them may be of some use to traveling hackers.

There are some references to `Commonwealth English'. These are
intended to describe some variations in hacker usage as reported in 
the English spoken in Great Britain and the Commonwealth (Canada,
Australia, India etc.) There is also an entry on COMMONWEALTH HACKISH,
which see.

Hackers in Western Europe and (especially) Scandinavia are reported
to often use a mixture of English and their native languages for
technical conversation. Occasionally they develop idioms in their
English usage which are influenced by their native-language styles.
Some of these are reported here.

A note or two on hackish usages in Russian have been added where they
are parallel with and comprehensible to English-speakers. 

UNIX Conventions

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 and n=6 is games. Sections
4, 5, 7 and 8 have changed roles frequently and in any case are not
referred to from any of the entries.

Pronunciation Guide

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. Slashes bracket a phonetic
pronunciation to be interpreted using the following conventions:

  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'.
     The digraph `kh' is the guttural of `loch' or `l'chaim'.

  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
/kul'r/, not /kit'@n/ and /kul'@r/.

The Jargon (Low Moby, Current Terminology)

                                {=   =}

@-SIGN PARTY n. Semi-closed parties thrown at SF conventions (esp.
   the annual Worldcon) for hackers; one must have a NETWORK ADDRESS
   to get in, or at least be in company with someone who is.  One of
   the most reliable opportunities for hackers to meet face to face
   with people who might otherwise be represented by mere phosphor
   dots on their screens.  Compare BOINK.

@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; note, if
   you are viewing an ASCII-only version of this file, that the actual
   case is all-lower: "/dev/null"] 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 BIT BUCKET, NULL

2 INFIX n. In translation software written by hackers, infix 2 often
   represents the syllable "to" with the comnnotation "translate to";
   as in dvi2ps (DVI to PostScript), int2string (integer to string)
   and texi2roff (Texinfo to [nt]roff).

                                {= A =}

ACK /ak/ interj. 1. [from the ASCII mnemonic for 00110] Acknowledge.
   Used to register one's presence (compare mainstream "Yo!").  An
   appropriate response to PING or ENQ (q.v.). 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 (010101),
   i.e. "I'm not here").

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." Compare

AD-HOCKERY /ad-hok'@r-ee/ [Purdue] n. 1. Gratuitous assumptions made
   inside certain programs, esp. expert systems, which lead to the
   appearance of semi-intelligent behavior, but are in fact entirely
   arbitrary.  2. Special-case code to cope with some awkward input
   which would otherwise cause a program to CHOKE, presuming normal
   inputs are dealt with in some cleaner and more regular way.

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.

AI KOANS pl.n. A series of pastiches of Zen teaching riddles created
   at the MIT AI Lab around various major figures of the Lab's
   culture.  A selection are included in Appendix A. See also HA HA

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.

AMP OFF [Purdue] v. To run in BACKGROUND.  From the UNIX shell '&'

ANGLE BRACKETS [primarily MIT] n. Either of the characters "<" and
   ">" (ASCII less-than or greater-than signs).  The `real world'
   angle bracket used by typographers is actually taller than these.

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

   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, pling, 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, octothorpe
     (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,

     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,

     virgule, slash, stroke, slant, diagonal, solidus, over, slat


     semicolon, semi

     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,

     equal sign, equals, quadrathorp, gets, half-mesh

     question mark, query, whatmark, what, wildchar, ques, huh,

     at sign, at, each, vortex, whorl, whirlpool, cyclone, snail,
     ape, cat

     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), slosh.

     circumflex, caret, uparrow, hat, chevron, sharkfin, to ("to
     the power of"), fang

     underscore, underline, underbar, under, score, backarrow

     grave accent, grave, backquote, left quote, open quote,
     backprime, unapostrophe, backspark, birk, blugle, back tick,

     open/close brace, left/right brace, brace/unbrace, curly
     bracket, curly/uncurly, leftit/rytit, embrace/bracelet

     vertical bar, bar, or, or-bar, v-bar, pipe, gozinta, thru,
     pipesinta (last four from UNIX)

     tilde, squiggle, approx, wiggle, twiddle, swung dash, enyay

ASYMPTOTIC adj. Infinitely close to. This is used in a generalization
   of its mathematical meaning to allege that something is WITHIN
   EPSILON OF some standard, reference or goal (see EPSILON).

AUTOBOGOTIPHOBIA /aw'to-boh-got'@-foh`bee-uh/ n. See BOGOTIFY.

AUTOMAGICALLY /aw-toh-maj'i-klee/ or /aw-toh-maj'i-k@l-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.  "The C-INTERCAL compiler generates C, then automagically
   invokes cc(1) to produce an executable."

AWK n. 1. [UNIX] An interpreted language developed by Aho, Weinberg
   and Kernighan, characterized by: C-like syntax, a BASIC-like
   approach to variable typing and declarations, associative arrays,
   and field-oriented text processing.  See also PERL. 2. Editing term
   for an expression awkward to manipulate through normal regular
   expression facilities.

                                {= 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.  Syn. TRAP DOOR.  See also IRON BOX, CRACKER,

BACKGROUND vt.,adj. A task running in background is detached from the
   terminal where it was started (and often 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 AMP OFF, 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,
   vi.  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.

BANDWIDTH n. 1. Used by hackers in a generalization of its techniucal
   meaning as the volume of information per unit time that a computer,
   person or transmission medium can handle. "Those are amazing
   graphics but I missed some of the detail --- not enough bandwidth, I
   guess."  2. Attention span. 3. Very loosely, total data volume.
   "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station-wagon full of
   magtapes."  4. On USENET, a measure of network capacity that is
   often wasted by people complaining about how network news items
   posted by others are a waste of bandwidth.

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 (esp. via the term BANG PATH) 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 "Congratulations
   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.

BARE METAL n. 1. New computer hardware, unadorned with such snares and
   delusions as an OPERATING SYSTEM, HLL or even assembler. Commonly
   in the phrase "programming on the bare metal" which refers to the
   arduous work of BIT-BASHING needed to create these basic tools for
   a new machine.  Real bare-metal programming involves things like
   building boot proms and BIOS chips, implementing basic monitors
   used to test device drivers, and writing the assemblers that will
   be used to write the compiler back ends that will give the new
   machine a real development environment. 2. The same phrase is also
   used to describe a style of HAND-HACKING that relies on bit-level
   peculiarities of a particular hardware design, esp. tricks for
   speed and space optimization that rely on crocks like overlapping
   opcodes (or, in one famous case, interleaving of opcodes on a
   magnetic drum to minimize fetch delays due to the device's
   rotational latency).  This sort of thing has become less common as
   the relative costs of programming time and machine resources have
   changed, but is still found in heavily constrained environments
   like industrial embedded systems.  See REAL PROGRAMMER.

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. vi. 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. Note that in Commonwealth
   English, "barf" is generally replaced by "puke" or "vom".
   BARF is sometimes also used as a metasyntactic variable like
   FOO or BAR.

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.
   Baud barf is not completely RANDOM, by the way; hackers with a lot
   of serial-line experience can usually tell whether the device at
   the other end is expecting a higher or lower speed than the
   terminal is set to.  *Really* experienced ones can identify
   particular speeds.

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!"] vt. 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, SNARF,

BELLS AND WHISTLES [by analogy with steam calliopies] 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 users.  "Now that we've got the basic program
   working, let's go back and add some bells and whistles."  However,
   no one seems to know what distinguishes a bell from a whistle.

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. May be more common among SUITS
   attempting to sound like cognoscenti than hackers, who usually just
   say `BSD'.

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.

BIBLE n. As used by hackers, usually refers to one of a small number
   of fundamental source books including Donald Knuth's "The Art Of
   Computer Programming" or the WHITE BOOK.

BIFF /bif/ [USENET] n.  The most famous PSEUDO, and the prototypical
   NEWBIE.  Articles from BIFF are characterized by all upper case
   letters sprinkled liberally with BANGS, typos, "cute"
   long SIG (sometimes even a DOUBLED SIG), and unbounded naivete.
   BIFF posts articles using his elder brother's VIC-20.  BIFF's
   location is a mystery, as his articles appear to come from a
   variety of sites.  However, BITNET seems to be the most frequent
   origin.  The theory that BIFF is a denizen of BITNET is supported
   by BIFF's (unfortunately invalid) electronic mail address:

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;
   compare HEAVY METAL, oppose DINOSAUR.

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".

BIGNUM /big'num/ [orig. from MIT MACLISP; the name is said to derive
   from a pun on the FORTRAN REAL type] n.  1. 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!"

   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 ^ 15 (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:


   2. BIGNUMS [from Macsyma] n. In backgammon, large numbers on the
   dice, especially a roll of double fives or double sixes.  See also

BIT [from the unit of information] n.  1. The unit of information; the
   amount of information obtained by asking a yes-or-no question (this
   is straight technicalese).  2. A computational quantity that can
   take on one of two values, such as true and false, or zero and one.
   3. 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.)  A
   bit is said to be "set" if its value is true or one, and
   "reset" or "clear" if its value is false or zero.  One speaks
   of setting and clearing bits.  To "toggle" or "invert" a bit is
   to change it, either from zero to one or from one to zero.

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. instructions 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 BASHING n. (also, "bit diddling") Term used to describe any of
   several kinds of low-level programming characterized by
   manipulation of BIT, FLAG, NYBBLE and other smaller-than-character
   sized pieces of data: these include low-level device control,
   encryption algorithms, checksum and error-correcting codes, hash
   functions, some flavors of graphics programming (see BITBLT), and
   assembler/compiler code generation.  May connote either tedium or a
   real technical challenge (more usually the former)."The command
   decoding for the new tape driver looks pretty solid but the
   bit-bashing for the control registers still has bugs." See also

BIT BUCKET n. The great data sink in the sky (originally, the mythical
   receptacle used to catch bits when they fall off the end of a
   register during a shift instruction).  Data that is discarded,
   lost, or destroyed 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 the Sky".  This term is used purely in jest.  It's
   based on the fanciful notion that bits are objects that are not
   destroyed, but only misplaced. See also NULL DEVICE.

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/ or /bit'belt/ n. [from BLT, q.v.] 1. Any 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. Synonym for BLIT or BLT (q.v.)

BITS n.  1. Information.  Examples: "I need some bits about file
   formats."  ("I need to know about file formats.")  Compare CORE
   DUMP, sense #4. 2.  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.  3. Also in THE SOURCE OF ALL GOOD BITS n.  A person
   from whom (or a place from which) information may be obtained.  If
   you need to know about a program, a WIZARD might be the source of
   all good bits.  The title is often applied to a particularly
   competent secretary.

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
   800, 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 (q.v.) used on BIX (the Byte
   Information Exchange); BIXers believe (probably incorrectly) the
   emoticon was invented there.

BLACK ART n. A collection of arcane, unpublished, and (by implication)
   mostly ad-hoc techniques developed for a particular application or
   systems area. VLSI design and compiler code optimization were (in
   their beginnings) considered classic examples of black art; as
   theory developed they became DEEP MAGIC, and once standard
   textbooks had been written became merely HEAVY WIZARDRY. The huge
   proliferation of formal and informal channels for spreading around
   new computer-related technologies during the last twenty years has
   made both the term "black art" and what it describes less common
   than formerly.

BLACK HOLE n. When a piece of email or netnews disappears mysteriously
   between its origin and destination sites it is commonly said to
   have "fallen into a black hole".  Similarly, one might say "I
   think there's a black hole at foovax!" to convey suspicion that 
   site foovax has been dropping a lot of stuff on the floor lately.
   The implied metaphor of email as interstellar travel is interesting
   in itself.

BLAST vt.,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.

BLETCHEROUS /blech'@-rus/ adj. Disgusting in design or function;
   aesthetically unappealing.  This word is seldom used of people.
   "This keyboard is bletcherous!" (Perhaps the keys don't work very
   well, or are misplaced).  See LOSING, CRETINOUS, BAGBITING, BOGUS,
   and RANDOM.  BLETCHEROUS applies to the aesthetics of the thing so
   described; similarly for CRETINOUS.  By contrast, something that is
   LOSING or BAGBITING may be failing to meet objective criteria.  See
   BOGUS and RANDOM, which have richer and wider shades of meaning
   than any of the above.

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 sign in its entiretu 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 1959 at Stanford
   University and had already gone international by the early '60s,
   when it was reported at London University's ATLAS computing site.
   There are several variants of it in circulation.

BLIT /blit/ vt.  1. To copy a large array of bits from one part of a
   computer's memory to another part, particularly when the memory is
   being used to determine what is shown on a display screen.  "The
   storage allocator picks through the table and copies the good parts
   up into high memory, and at the end BLITs it all back down again."
   See BITBLT, BLT, DD, CAT, BLAST, SNARF, Appendix B.  More
   generally, to perform some operation (such as toggling) on a large
   array of bits while moving them.  2. An early experimental
   bit-mapped terminal designed by Rob Pike at Bell Labs, later
   commercialized as the AT&T 5620.

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

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

BLOW PAST vi. To BLOW OUT despite a safeguard.  "The server blew past
   the 5K reserve buffer."

BLT /bee ell tee/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,v. 1. Synonym for BLIT.  This
   is the original form of BLIT and the ancestor of BITBLT (q.v.).  In
   these versions the usage has outlasted the PDP-10 BLock Transfer
   instruction for which BLT derives; nowadays, the assembler mnemonic
   BLT almost always means `Branch if Less Than Zero'. 

BLUE BOOK n. 1. Informal name for one of the three standard references
   on the page-layout and graphics-control language PostScript; the
   others are known as the GREEN BOOK and RED BOOK.  2. Any of the
   1988 standards issues by the CCIT 9th plenary assembly. They change
   color each review cycle (1984 was RED BOOK, 1992 will be GREEN
   BOOK). These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and
   the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also RED BOOK, GREEN 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
   LOATHING. It may not be irrelevant that BLUE GLUE is the trade name
   of a 3M product that is commonly used to hold down the carpet
   squares to the removable panel floors so common in computer
   installations.  A correspondent at U.Minn. reports "The CS dept
   here has about 80 bottles of BLUE GLUE hanging about, so we're
   occasionally calling [sic] any messy work to be done `using the

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.  See also PARSE.

   It is worth noting that the term BNF is also used loosely for
   extensions  of this notation containing some or all of the GLOB

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.


BOGON /boh'gon/ [by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless
   reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to the "Vogons", see
   Appendix C] 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." 5. A person who is bogus or who says bogus
   things.  This was historically the original usage, but has been
   overtaken by its derivatives in 1-4.

BOGON FILTER /boh'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-go's@-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

BOGOTIFY /boh-go't@-fie/ vt. To make or become bogus.  A program that
   has been changed so many times as to become completely disorganized
   has become bogotified.  If you tighten a nut too hard and strip the
   threads on the bolt, the bolt has become bogotified and you'd
   better not use it any more.  This coinage led to the notional
   AUTOBOGOTIPHOBIA (aw'to-boh-got'@-foh`bee-uh) n., defined as the
   fear of becoming bogotified; but is not clear that the latter has
   ever been `live' slang rather than a self-conscious joke in jargon
   about jargon.

BOGUE OUT /bohg owt/ vi. to becomes bogus, suddenly and unexpectedly.
   "His talk was relatively sane until somebody asked him a trick
   question, then he bogued out and did nothing but FLAME

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. Unbelievable.  "You claim to have solved
   the halting problem for Turing Machines?  That's totally bogus."
   6. Silly.  "Stop writing those bogus sagas."  Astrology is bogus.
   So is a bolt that is obviously about to break.  So is someone who
   makes blatantly false claims to have solved a scientific problem.
   (This word seems to have some, but not all, of the connotations of

   [Etymological note: "Bogus" was originally used in the hackish 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 (see AUTOBOGOTIPHOBIA under BOGOTIFY).  By
   the mid-1980s it was also current in something like the hackish
   sense in West Coast teen slang]

   Further note: A correspondent at Cambridge claims these uses of
   bogus grate on British nerves; in Britain the word means rather
   specifically `counterfeit' as in "a bogus pound note".

BOHR BUG /bohr 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.
   In Commonwealth English this the variant "bonk" is more common.
   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.  Compare @-SIGN PARTY.

BOMB vi. 1. General synonym for CRASH, esp. used of software or OS
   failures. "Don't run Empire with less than 32K stack, it'll bomb
   out" 2. Atari ST and Macintosh equivalents of PANIC or GURU (sense
   2), where icons of little black-powder bombs or mushroom clouds are
   displayed indicating the system has died. On the Mac this may be
   accomanied by a hexadecimal number indicating what went wrong,
   similar to the Amiga GURU MEDITION number.  MESS-DOS machines tend
   to get LOCKED UP in this situation.

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"] vi.,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); the
   opposite condition is called `balanced', which is more jargon in
   the strict sense and may be found in technical dictionaries. 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, perhaps from "to bounce a check"] 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.  At one time there was a
   volleyball court next to the computer laboratory.  From 5:00 PM to
   7:00 PM was the scheduled maintenance time for the computer, so
   every afternoon at 5:00 the computer would become unavailable, and
   over the intercom a voice would cry , "Bounce, bounce!"  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.  4.
   To casually reboot a system in order to clear up a transient
   problem.  Reported primarily among VMS users.

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
   Honeywell 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, and that its failure to work is due to poor design
   rather than some accident.

BRAIN-DEAD adj. Brain-damaged in the extreme. Not quite like
   mainstream use, as it tends to imply terminal design failure rather
   than malfunction or simple stupidity.

BRAINO /bray'no/ n. Syn. for THINKO (q.v.).

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 editor broke the paragraph commands."  2. (of a program) To
   stop temporarily, so that it may be examined for debugging
   purposes.  The place where it stops is a "breakpoint". 3. To send
   an RS-232 "break" (125 msec. of line high) over a serial comm
   line. 4. [UNIX] To strike whatever key currently causes the tty
   driver to send SIGINT to the current process. Normally "break"
   (sense 3) or delete does this.

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.
   Oppose ROBUST.

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/ or /broh'ket/ [by analogy with "bracket": a
   "broken bracket"] (primarily Stanford) n. Either of the characters
   "<" and ">".  This word originated as a contraction of the
   phrase "broken bracket", that is, a bracket that is bent in the
   middle.  (At MIT, and apparently in THE REAL WORLD (q.v.) as well,
   these are usually called ANGLE BRACKETS.)

BRUTE FORCE adj. Describes a certain kind of primitive programming
   style.  Brute-force programs typically work by enumerating all
   possible combinations of things in an effort to find the one
   combination that solves the problem.  An example of a brute-force
   program is one that sorts a thousand numbers by examining them all,
   picking the smallest one, and saving it in another table; then
   examining all the numbers again, and picking the smallest one
   except for the one it already picked; and in general choosing the
   next number by examining all one thousand numbers and choosing the
   smallest one that hasn't yet been picked (as determined by
   examining all the ones already picked).  Yes, the program will
   produce the right answer, but it will be much slower than a program
   that uses even a modicum of cleverness to avoid most of the work.
   (A little bit of computer science---specifically, the theory of
   algorithms---will show that if a typical large computer can sort a
   thousand numbers in a tenth of a second using a clever sorting
   method, the brute-force method outlined above would take about 14

BRUTE FORCE AND IGNORANCE n. A popular design technique at many
   software houses --- BRUTE FORCE coding unrelieved by any knowledge
   of how problems have been previously solved in elegant ways.
   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."  (this comment
   might be used by a hacker to describe the example given under BRUTE
   FORCE above).  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 University of California at 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,

BUCKY BITS /buh'kee bits/ [primarily Stanford] n. The bits produced by
   the CTRL and META shift keys, esp. on a Stanford (or Knight)
   keyboard (see SPACE-CADET 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.  See DOUBLE BUCKY, QUADRUPLE BUCKY.

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

BUG n. An unwanted and unintended property of a program or hardware,
   esp. one which causes it to malfunction.  Antonym of FEATURE.
   Examples: "There's a bug in the editor: it writes things out
   backwards."  "The system CRASHED because of a hardware bug."
   "Fred is a winner, but he has a few bugs."  (e.g. Fred is a good
   guy, but he has a few personality problems.)

   Some have said this term came from telephone company usage: "bugs
   in a telephone cable" were blamed for noisy lines, but this
   appears to be a `folk etymology'.  Admiral Grace Hopper (an early
   computing pioneer better known for inventing COBOL) liked to tell a
   story in which a technician solved a persistent glitch in the
   Harvard Mark II machine by pulling an actual physical bug out
   between the contacts of one of its relays, and she subsequently
   promulgated BUG in its hackish sense as a joke about the incident
   (though, as she was careful to admit, she was not there when it
   happened).  For many years the logbook associated with the incident
   and the actual bug in question (a moth) sat in a display case at
   the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and now resides in the
   Smithsonian.  Interestingly, the text of the log entry, which is
   said to read "First example of a real computer `bug"' establishes
   that the term was already in use at the time; and a similar
   incident is alleged to have occurred on the original ENIAC machine.
   Indeed, the use of "bug" to mean an industrial defect was already
   established in Thomas Edison's time, and "bug" in the sense of an
   annoyance goes back to Shakespeare!

   In any case, in hacker's slang the word almost never refers to
   insects.  Here is a plausible conversation that never actually

   "This ant-farm has a bug."

   "What do you mean?  There aren't even any ants in it."

   "That's the bug."

BUG COMPATIBLE n. Said of a design or revision the design of which has
   been badly compromised by a requirement to be compatible with
   FOSSILS or MISFEATURES in other programs or (esp.) previous releases
   of itself.

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. vt. To make highly efficient, either in time or space, often at
   the expense of clarity.  "I managed to bum three more instructions
   out of that code."  2. n. A small change to an algorithm, program,
   or hardware device to make it more efficient.  "This hardware bum
   makes the jump instruction faster."  Usage: now uncommon, largely
   superseded by TUNE (q.v.). Note that both these uses are rare in
   Commonwealth English, where "bum" is interpreted as a rude
   synonym for "buttocks".

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

BUSY-WAIT vi. 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
   processor.  Syn. SPIN-LOCK

BUZZ vi. 1. Of a program, to run with no indication of progress and
   perhaps without guarantee of ever finishing; esp. said of programs
   thought to be executing tight loops of code.  The state of a
   buzzing program resembles CATATONIA, but you never get out of
   catatonia, while a buzzing loop may eventually end of its own
   accord.  Example: "The program buzzes for about ten seconds trying
   to sort all the names into order." 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 vt. 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.
   It is said that the ASCII character with mnemonic CAN (0011000) was
   used as a kill-job character on some early OSs.

CALCULATOR [Cambridge] n. Syn. for BITTY BOX.

CANONICAL adj. The usual or standard state or manner of something.
   This word has a somewhat more technical meaning in mathematics.
   For example, one sometimes speaks of a formula as being in
   canonical form.  Two formulas such as "9 + x" and "x + 9" are
   said to be equivalent because they mean the same thing, but the
   second one is in canonical form because it is written in the usual
   way, with the highest power of x first.  Usually there are fixed
   rules you can use to decide whether something is in canonical form.
   The slang meaning is a relaxation of the technical meaning (this
   generalization 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: "Bob just used
   `canonical' in the canonical way."

CARD WALLOPER n. An EDP programmer who works on batch programs that do
   stupid things like print people's paychecks. Compare CODE GRINDER.

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

CASTING THE RUNES n. The act of getting a GURU to run a particular
   program and type at it because it never works for anyone else; esp.
   used when nobody can ever see what the guru is doing different from

CAT [from "concatenate" via UNIX cat(1)] vt. 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,

CATATONIA n. A condition of suspended animation in which something is
   so WEDGED that it makes no response.  For example, if you are
   typing on a terminal and suddenly the computer doesn't even echo
   the letters back to the screen as you type, let alone do what
   you're asking it to do, then the computer is suffering from
   catatonia (possibly because it has CRASHED).

CDR /ku'dr/ [from LISP] v. To remove the first item from a list of
   things.  In the form CDR DOWN, to trace down a list of elements.
   "Shall we cdr down the agenda?"  Usage: silly.

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] vi. 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/ or /char/; rarely, /kar/ n. Shorthand for `character'.
   Esp.  used by C programmers, as `char' is C's typename for
   character data.

CHASE POINTERS 1. vi. 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 jargon 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..."  2. [Cambridge] POINTER
   CHASE or POINTER HUNT: the process of going through a dump
   (intractively or on a large piece of paper printed with hex RUNES)
   following dynamic data-structures.  Only used in a debugging

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.

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

CHOMP vt. 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 (much like what the PacMan does in the classic video
   game, though this pantomime seems to predate that).  The gesture
   alone means CHOMP CHOMP (see Verb Doubling).  The hand may be
   pointed at the object of complaint, and for real emphasis you can
   use both hands at once.  For example, to do this to a person is
   equivalent to saying "You chomper!"  If you point the gesture at
   yourself, it is a humble but humorous admission of some failure.
   You might do this if someone told you that a program you had
   written had failed in some surprising way and you felt dumb for not
   having anticipated it.

CHOMPER n. Someone or something that is chomping; a loser. See LOSER,

CHRISTMAS TREE n. A kind of RS-232 line tester or breakout box
   featuring rows of blinking red and green LEDs like Christmas

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

   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 `Coke Classic'] 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

CLEAN adj. Used of hardware or software designs, implies "elegance in
   the small", that is a design or implementation which may not hold
   any surprises but does things in a way that is reasonably intutive
   and relatively easy to comprehend from the outside. The antonym is

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.
   Compare CYCLES.

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 blatant ripoff, most likely
   violating copyright, patent, or trade secret protections, as in
   "your product is a clone of my product." This usage implies legal
   action is pending.  4. A PC-BUS/ISA or EISA-compatible 80x86 based
   microcomputer (in-context shorthand for "PC clone").  5. 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

CLOSE /klohz/ [from the verb "to close", thus the `z' sound] 1. n.
   Abbreviation for "close (or right) parenthesis", used when
   necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity.  See OPEN.  2. adj.  Of a
   delimiting character, used at the right-hand end of a grouping.
   Used in such terms as "close parenthesis", "close bracket",
   etc. 3. vt. To release a file or communication channel after

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 fingers!"

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. Compare CARD WALLOPER.

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 ironically, to suggest that the practice under
   discussion is condemned mainly by anal-retentive weenies.  The
   ironic usage is perhaps more common.

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. Other
   utility programs which try to do too much with source code may turn
   into codewalkers. As in "This new vgrind feature would require a
   codewalker to implement."

COKEBOTTLE /kohk'bot-l/ n. Any very unusual character, particularly
   one that isn't on your keyboard so you can't type it.  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). Mythically, some variants are the "assigned
   come from", and the "computed come from" (parodyong some nasty
   control constructs in BASIC and FORTRAN).  Notionally,  multi-tasking
   can be implemented by having more than one COME FROM statement
   coming from the same label.

   COME FROM was actually implemented under a different name in
   Univac's Fortran, c.1975.  The statement "AT 100" would perform a
   "COME FROM 100".  It was intended strictly as a debugging aid, with
   dire consequences promised to anyone so deranged as to use it in
   production code.  It was supported under its own name for the first
   time fifteen years later, in C-INTERCAL (see INTERCAL,
   RETROCOMPUTING); knowledgeable observers are still reeling from

COMMONWEALTH HACKISH n. Hacker slang as spoken outside the U.S., esp.
   in the British Commonwealth.  It is reported that Commonwealth
   speakers are more likely to pronounce "char", "soc" etc. as
   spelled (/char/, /sok/) as opposed to American /keir/ or /sohsh/.
   Dots in names tend to be pronounced more often (/sok dot wi'bble/
   rather than /sohsh wib'ble/).  Preferred metasyntactic variables
   include FRODO and BILBO; WIBBLE, WOBBLE and in emergencies WUBBLE;
   BANANA, WOMBAT and FROG and so on and on.  Alternatives to verb
   doubling include suffixes "-o-rama", "frenzy" (as in feeding
   frenzy) and "city" (as in "barf city!" "hack-o-rama!" "core
   dump frenzy!").  Finally, note that the American usages `parens'
   `brackets' and `braces' for (), [], and {} are uncommon;
   Commonwealth hackish prefers "bracket", "square bracket" and
   "curly bracket".  Also, the use of "pling" for BANG is common
   outside the U.S.. See also CALCULATOR, CHEMIST, GRUNGE, HEAVY
   WEASEL, YABA and notes or definitions under BARF, BOGUS, CHASE
   TWEAK, and BUM.

COMPRESS [UNIX] vt. 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

COMPUTRON /kom-pyoo-tron/ n. 1. 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
   COMPUTER, TOY, CRANK. 2. A mythical subatomic particle that bears
   the unit quantity of computation or information, in much the same
   way that an electron bears one unit of electric charge (see BOGON).
   An elaborate pseudo-scientific theory of computrons has been worked
   out based on the physical fact that the molecules in a solid object
   move more rapidly as it is heated.  It is argued that an object
   melts because the molecules have lost their information about where
   they are supposed to be (that is, they have emitted computrons).
   This explains why computers get so hot and require air
   conditioning; they use up computrons.  Conversely, you should be
   able to cool down an object by placing it in the path of a
   computron beam.  It is believed that this may also explain why
   machines that work at the factory fail in the computer room ---
   because the computrons there have been all used up by your other

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, esp. at
   the top.  2.  CONS UP: vt. To synthesize from smaller pieces: "to
   cons up an example".

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 (the "considered silly" found at various
   places in this jargon file is related).

CONTENT-FREE adj. Ironic analogy with "context-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.  Perhaps most used with reference to speeches
   by company presidents and like animals.  "Content-free?
   Uh...that's anything printed on glossy paper".

CONWAY'S LAW n. The rule that the organization of the software and the
   organization of the software team will be congruent; originally
   stated as "If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll
   get a four-pass compiler."

   This was originally promulgated by Melvin Conway, an early
   proto-hacker who wrote an assembler for the Burroughs 220 called
   SAVE.  "SAVE" didn't stand for anything, it was just that you
   lost fewer decks and listings because they all had SAVE written on
   top of them.

COOKIE MONSTER [from "Sesame Street"] 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

COPYLEFT /kop'ee-left/ n. 1. The copyright notice ("General Public
   License") carried by GNU EMACS and other Free Software Foundation
   software, granting re-use and reproduction rights to all comers
   (but see also GENERAL PUBLIC VIRUS). 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.  See CORE

CORE DUMP n. [UNIX] 1. A symptom of 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."
   3. Occasionally used for a human rambling on pointlessly at great
   length; esp. in apology: "Sorry I dumped core on you".  4.  A
   recapitulation of knowledge (compare BITS, sense 1). Hence, spewing
   all one knows about a topic, esp. in a lecture or answer to an exam
   question.  "Short, concise answers are better than core dumps"
   [From the instructions to a qual exam at Columbia].  See

CORE LEAK n. Syn. with MEMORY LEAK (q.v.).

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.
   See CORE.

CORGE /korj/ [originally, the name of a cat] n. Yet another
   meta-syntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher and propagated
   by the Gosmacs documentation.  See GRAULT.

COSMIC RAYS n. Notionally, the cause of BIT ROT (q.v.). However, this
   is a semi-independent usage which may be invoked as a humorous way
   of HANDWAVING away any minor RANDOMNESS that doesn't seem worth the
   bother of investigating. "Hey, Eric --- I just got a burst of
   garbage on my TUBE, where did that come from?" "Cosmic rays, I
   guess". Compare SUNSPOTS, PHASE OF THE MOON.  The British seem to
   prefer the usage `cosmic showers'.

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 OS-8, RSTS and RSX-11.

CPU WARS n. A 1979 large-format comic by Chas Andres chronicling the
   attempts of the brainwashed androids of "IPM" (Impossible to
   Program Machines) to conquer and destroy the peaceful denizens of
   HEC (Human Engineered Computers).  This rather transparent allegory
   featured many references to ADVENT (q.v.) and the immortal line
   "Eat flaming death, minicomputer mongrels!"  (uttered, of course,
   by an IPM stormtrooper). It is alleged that the author subsequently
   received a letter of appreciation on IBM company stationery from
   the then-head of IBM's Thomas J. Watson research laboratories (then
   as now one of the few islands of true hackerdom in the IBM
   archipelago). The lower loop of the `B' in the IBM logo, it is
   said, had been carefully whited out. See EAT FLAMING DEATH, X!.

CRACKER n. One who breaks security on a system.  Coined c.1985 by
   hackers in defense against journalistic misuse of HACKER, (q.v.,
   sense #7).

CRANK [from automotive slang] vt. 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", whereas the term "system crash"
   usually, though not always, implies that the operating system or
   other software was at fault.  2. vi. 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 vi.,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.

CRAYOLA n. A super-mini or -micro computer that provides some
   reasonable percentage of supercomputer perfermance for an
   unreasonably low price. Now known also as KILLER MICROS.

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. 1. 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"...) 2. More generally, The
   tendency for anything complicated to become even more complicated
   because people keep saying, "Gee, it would be even better if it
   had this feature too."  (See FEATURE.)  The result is usually a
   patchwork because it grew one ad-hoc step at a time, rather than
   being planned.  Planning is a lot of work, but it's easy to add
   just one extra little feature to help someone... and then
   another...  and another....  When creeping featurism gets out of
   hand it's like a cancer.  Usually this term is used to describe
   computer programs, but it could also be said of the federal
   government, the IRS 1040 form, and new cars.

CRETIN /kre'tn/ or /kree'tn/ n. Congenital LOSER (q.v.); an obnoxious
   person; someone who can't do anything right. It has been observed
   that American hackers tend to favor the British pronunciation
   /kret'n/ over standard American /kreet'n/; it is thought this may
   be due to the phonetic influence Monty Python's Flying Circus.

CRETINOUS /kre't@n-us/ or /kree't@n-us/ adj. Wrong; non-functional;
   very poorly designed (Also used pejoratively of people).  Synonyms:

CRIPPLEWARE n. 1. SHAREWARE which has some important functionality
   deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a
   working version.  See also GUILTWARE.  2. [Cambridge] GUILTWARE
   (q.v.) which exhorts you to donate to some charity.

CRLF /ker'l@f/, sometimes /kru'l@f/ n. A carriage return (CR) followed
   by a line feed (LF).  More loosely, whatever it takes to get you
   from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next line.
   See NEWLINE, TERPRI.  Under UNIX influence this usage has become
   less common (UNIX uses a bare line feed as its `CRLF').

CROCK [from the obvious mainstream scatologism] 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.  See
   KLUGE.  Also in the adjectives CROCKISH, CROCKY and the noun

CROSS-POST [USENET] v.  To post a single article directed to several
   newsgroups.  Distinguished from posting the article repeatedly,
   once to each newsgroup, which causes people to see it multiple

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!" The related usage "fuckware"
   is reported for software so bad it mutilates your disk, broadcasts
   to the Internet, or some similar fiasco.

CRUFT /kruhft/ 1. [back-formation from CRUFTY] n. 1. An unpleasant
   substance.  The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft.  2. n.
   The results of shoddy construction.  3. v. [from hand cruft, pun on
   hand craft] to write assembler code for something normally (and
   better) done by a compiler (see HAND HACKING).

CRUFT TOGETHER, CRUFT UP /kruhft too-ge'thr/, /kruhft uhp/ vt. To
   throw together something ugly but temporarily workable.  Like v.
   KLUGE, but more pejorative.  "There isn't any program now to
   reverse all the lines of a file, but I can probably cruft one
   together in about ten minutes." See CRUFTY.

CRUFTSMANSHIP n. [from CRUFT] The antithesis of craftsmanship.

CRUFTY /kruhf'tee/ [origin unknown; poss. from "crusty" or
   "cruddy"] adj. 1.  Poorly built, possibly overly complex.  The
   CANONICAL example is "This is standard old crufty DEC software".
   In fact, one theory of the origin of "crufty" holds that was
   originally a mutation of "crusty" applied to DEC software so old
   that the Ss were tall and skinny, looking more like Fs.  Hence
   CRUFT, n. shoddy construction.  2.  Unpleasant, especially to the
   touch, often with encrusted junk.  Like spilled coffee smeared with
   peanut butter and catsup.  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)."

CRUMB n. Two binary digits; a quad.  Larger that a BIT, smaller than a
   NYBBLE (q.v.).

CRUNCH 1. vi. 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. vt. 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.  4.
   [Cambridge] To squeeze program source into a minimum-size
   representation that will still compile. The term came into being
   specifically for a famous program on the BBC micro which crunched
   Basic source in order to make it run more quickly (it was a
   wholly-interpretive basic).

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, GRIND GRIND.

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.
CRYPPIE /krip'ee/ n. A cryptographer. One who hacks or implements
   cryptographic software or hardware.

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.).

CTY /sit'ee/ or /see tee wie/ n. [MIT] The terminal physically
   associated with a computer's operating console.  The term is a
   contraction of "Console TTY", that is, "Console TeleTYpe".
   This ITS and TOPS-10-associated term has become less common than
   formerly, as most UNIX hackers simply refer to the CTY as `the

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

CUSPY /kuhs'pee/ [coined at WPI from the DEC acronym CUSP, for
   Commonly Used System Program, i.e., a utility program used by many
   people] adj. 1.  (of a program) Well-written.  2. Functionally
   excellent.  A program which performs well and interfaces well to
   users is cuspy.  See RUDE.  2. [NYU] An attractive woman,
   especially one regarded as available.

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

CYCLE n. The "basic unit of computation".  What every hacker wants
   more of.  One might think that single machine instructions would be
   the measure of computation, and indeed computers are often compared
   by how many instructions they can process per second, but some
   instructions take longer than others.  Nearly all computers have an
   internal clock, though, and you can describe an instruction as
   taking so many "clock cycles".  Frequently the computer can
   access its memory once on every clock cycle, and so one speaks also
   of "memory cycles".  These are technical meanings of "cycle".
   The slang meaning comes from the observation that there are only so
   many cycles per second, and when you are sharing a computer, the
   cycles get divided up among the users.  The more cycles the
   computer spends working on your program rather than someone else's,
   the faster your program will run.  That's why every hacker wants
   more cycles: so he can spend less time waiting for the computer to

CYCLE CRUNCH n. The situation where the number of people trying to use
   the computer simultaneously has reached the point where no one can
   get enough cycles because they are spread too thin.  Usually the
   only solution is to buy more computer.  Happily, this has rapidly
   become easier in recent years, so much so that the very term CYCLE
   CRUNCH now has a faintly archaic flavor (most hackers now use
   workstations or personal computers as opposed to traditional
   timesharing systems).

CYCLE DROUGHT n. A scarcity of cycles.  It may be due to a CYCLE
   CRUNCH, but could also occur because part of the computer is
   temporarily not working, leaving fewer cycles to go around.
   Example: "The HIGH MOBY is DOWN, so we're running with only half
   the usual amount of memory.  There will be a CYCLE DROUGHT until
   it's fixed."

                                {= D =}

DAEMON /day'mun/ or /dee'mun/ [Disk And Execution MONitor] n. A
   program which is not invoked explicitly, but which lies 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,
   under ITS writing a file on the LPT spooler's directory would
   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 IBM JCL via archaic UNIX dd(1)] vt. Equivalent to
   CAT or BLT.  A specialized UNIX copy command for block-oriented
   devices. Often used in heavy-handed system abuse, as in "Let's dd
   the root partition onto a tape, then use the boot prom to load it
   back on to a new disk".  The UNIX dd(1) was originally written
   with a weird, distinctly non-UNIXy keyword option syntax
   reminiscent of IBM System/360 JCL (which had a similar DD command);
   though the command filled a need the design choice looks to have
   been somebody's joke.  The slang usage is now very rare outside
   UNIX sites and now nearly obsolescent even there, as dd(1) has been
   DEPRECATED for a long time (though it has no replacement).
   Replaced by BLT or simple English `copy'.

DDT /dee'dee'tee'/ n. 1. Generic term for a program that helps you to
   debug other programs by showing individual machine instructions in
   a readable symbolic form and letting the user change them.  In this
   sense the term DDT is now slightly archaic, having been widely
   displaced by `debugger' 2. [ITS] Under MIT's fabled ITS operating
   system (q.v.), its DDT was also used as the SHELL or top level
   command language used to execute other programs. 3. Any one of
   several specific DDTs (sense 1) supported on early DEC hardware.
   The DEC PDP-10 Reference Handbook (1969) contained a footnote on
   the first page of the documentation for DDT which illuminates the
   origin of the term:

     Historical footnote: DDT was developed at MIT for the PDP-1
     computer in 1961.  At that time DDT stood for "DEC Debugging
     Tape".  Since then, the idea of an on-line debugging program
     has propagated throughout the computer industry.  DDT programs
     are now available for all DEC computers.  Since media other
     than tape are now frequently used, the more descriptive name
     "Dynamic Debugging technique" has been adopted, retaining
     the DDT acronym.  Confusion between DDT-10 and another well
     known pesticide, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane
     (C14-H9-Cl5) should be minimal since each attacks a different,
     and apparently mutually exclusive, class of bugs.

   Sadly, this quotation was removed from later editions of the
   handbook as DEC became much more "businesslike".

DEADLOCK n. 1. 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 server, which may
   find itself waiting for output from the server before sending
   anything more to it, while the server is similarly waiting for more
   input from the controlling program before outputting anything.  (It
   is reported that this particular flavor of deadlock is sometimes
   called a "starvation" deadlock, though that term is more properly
   used for situations where a program can never run simply because it
   never gets high enough priority.  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.  2. Also used of deadlock-like
   interactions between humans, as when two people meet in a narrow
   corridor, and each tries to be polite by moving aside to let the
   other pass, but they end up swaying from side to side without
   making any progress because they always both move the same way at
   the same time.

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.  Also
   DEADLY EMBRACE is often restricted to the case where exactly two
   processes are involved, while DEADLOCK can involve any number.

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.

DEC WARS n. A 1983 USENET posting by Alan Hastings and Steve Tarr,
   spoofing the _Star_Wars_ movies in hackish terms. Some years later,
   ESR (disappointed by Hastings/Tarr's failure to exploit a great
   premise more thoroughly) posted a three-times-longer complete
   rewrite called `UNIX WARS'; the two are often confused.

DECKLE /dek'l/ n. Two NICKLES; 10 bits. Reported among developers for
   Mattel's GI 1600 (the Intellivision games processor), a chip with
   16-bit-wide RAM but 10-bit-wide ROM.

DEFENESTRATION [from the traditional Czechoslovak method of
   assassinating prime ministers, via ESR and SF fandom] n. 1. Proper
   karmic retribution for an incorrigible punster. "Oh, ghod, that
   was *awful*!" "Quick! Defenestrate him!"  See also H INFIX.
   2. [proposed] The requirement to support a command-line interface. As:
   "It has to run on a VT100." "Curses! I've been defenestrated".

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.

DEHOSE vt. To clear a HOSED condition.

DELINT vt. To modify code to remove problems detected when linting.
   See LINT.

DEEP MAGIC n. An awesomely arcane technique central to a program or
   system, esp. one not generally published and available to hackers
   at large (compare BLACK ART). one which could only have been
   uttered by a true WIZARD.  Compiler optimization techniques and
   many aspects of OS design used to be DEEP MAGIC; many techniques in
   cryptography, signal processing, graphics and AI still are. Compare
   HEAVY WIZARDRY. Esp. found in comments of the form "Deep magic
   begins here...".

DEEP SPACE adj. 1. Describes the "location" of any program which has
   gone OFF THE TROLLEY (q.v.).  Esp. used of programs which just sit
   there silently grinding long after either failure or some output is
   expected. Compare BUZZ, CATATONIA.  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.

DELTA n. 1. A change, especially a small or incremental change.
   Example: "I just doubled the speed of my program!"  "What was
   the delta on program size?"  "About thirty percent."  (He
   doubled the speed of his program, but increased its size by only
   thirty percent.) 2. [UNIX] A DIFF (q.v.), especially a DIFF stored
   under the set of version-control tools called SCCS (Source Code
   Control System).  3. n. A small quantity, but not as small as
   EPSILON.  The slang usage of DELTA and EPSILON stems from the
   traditional use of these letters in mathematics for very small
   numerical quantities, particularly in so-called "epsilon-delta"
   proofs in the differential calculus.  DELTA is often used once
   EPSILON has been mentioned to mean a quantity that is slightly
   bigger than EPSILON but still very small.  For example, "The cost
   isn't epsilon, but it's delta" means that the cost isn't totally
   negligible, but it is nevertheless very small.  Compare WITHIN
   DELTA OF, WITHIN EPSILON OF: that is, close to and even closer to.

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 lies 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, DEREZ /dee rez/ [from the movie TRON] 1. vi. 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.  2. vt.
   On a Macintosh, the data is compiled separately from the program,
   in small segments of the program file known as "resources". The
   standard resource compiler is Rez. The standard resource decompiler
   is DeRez. Usage: very common.

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 1. vt. 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. 2. n. The action or result of
   diddling. See also TWEAK, TWIDDLE, FROB.

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 vt. To remove or disable a portion of something, as a wire from a
   computer or a subroutine from a program.  A standard slogan runs:
   "When in doubt, dike it out."  (The implication is that it is
   usually more effective to attack software problems by reducing
   complexity rather than increasing it).  The word "dikes" is
   widely used among mechanics and engineers to mean "diagonal
   cutters", a heavy-duty metal-cutting device; to "dike something
   out" means to use such cutters to remove something.  Among hackers
   this term has been metaphorically extended to non-physical objects
   such as sections of code.

DING /ding/ n.,v. 1. Synonym for FEEP (q.v.). Usage: rare among
   hackers, but commoner in THE REAL WORLD. 2. DINGED: What happens
   when someone in authority gives you a minor bitching about
   something, esp. something you consider trivial.  "I was dinged for
   having a messy desk".

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, CHURCH OF THE SUB-GENIUS, and HA HA

DISPLAY HACK n. A program with the same approximate purpose as a
   kaleidoscope: to make pretty pictures.  Famous display hacks
   program, worms(6) on miscellaneous UNIXes, and the X kaleid
   program.  Display hacks can also be implemented without programming
   by creating text files containing numerous escape sequences for
   interpretation by a video terminal; one notable example displayed,
   on any VT100, a christmas tree with twinkling lights and a toy
   train circling its base.

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

DO PROTOCOL [from network protocol programming] vt.  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.

DODGY adj. Syn. with FLAKEY (q.v.). Preferred outside the U.S.

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."] 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 [from an old doctor's office joke about a patient
   with a trivial complaint] 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
   transferrable 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 disk".

DONUTS n. Collective noun for any set of memory bits.  This is really
   archaic and may no longer be live slang; it dates from the days of
   ferrite-core memories in which each bit was represented by a
   donut-shaped magnetic flip-flop.  Compare CORE.

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 normally invisible).

DOUBLE BUCKY: adj. Using both the CTRL and META keys.  "The command
   to burn all LEDs is double bucky F."  See also META BIT,
   lyrics were written on May 27, 1978, in celebration of the Stanford
   keyboard.  A typical MIT comment was that the Stanford BUCKY BITS
   (control and meta shifting keys) were nice, but there weren't
   enough of them; you could only type 512 different characters on a
   Stanford keyword.  An obvious thing was simply to add more shifting
   keys, and this was eventually done; one problem, is that a keyboard
   with that many shifting keys is hard on touch-typists, who don't
   like to move their hands away from the home position on the
   keyboard.  It was half-seriously suggested that the extra shifting
   keys be pedals; typing on such a keyboard would be very much like
   playing a full pipe organ.  This idea is mentioned below, in a
   parody of a very fine song by Jeffrey Moss called "Rubber
   Duckie", which was published in "The Sesame Street Songbook".

     			Double Bucky

     	Double bucky, you're the one!
     	You make my keyboard lots of fun.
     	    Double bucky, an additional bit or two:
     	Control and meta, side by side,
     	Augmented ASCII, nine bits wide!
     	    Double bucky!  Half a thousand glyphs, plus a few!
     		I sure wish that I
     		Had a couple of
     		    Bits more!
     		Perhaps a
     		Set of pedals to
     		Make the number of
     		    Bits four:
     		Double double bucky!
     	Double bucky, left and right
     	OR'd together, outta sight!
     	    Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of
     	    Double bucky, I'm happy I heard of
     	    Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of you!

     	--- The Great Quux (with apologies to Jeffrey Moss)

[This is, by the way, an excellent example of computer FILK --- ESR]

DOUBLED SIG /duh'b@ld sig/ [USENET] n.  A SIG BLOCK (q.v.) that has
   been included twice in a USENET article or, less frequently, in an
   electronic mail message.  An article or message with a doubled sig
   can be caused by improperly configured software.  More often,
   however, it reveals the author's lack of experience in electronic
   communication.  See BIFF, PSEUDO.

DOWN 1. adj. Not working.  "The up escalator is down."  That is
   considered a humorous thing to say, but "The elevator is down"
   always means "The elevator isn't working" and never refers to
   what floor the elevator is on. 2. GO DOWN vi. To stop functioning;
   usually said of the SYSTEM.  The message every hacker hates to hear
   from the operator is, "The system will go down in five minutes."
   3.  TAKE DOWN, BRING DOWN vt. To deactivate purposely, usually for
   repair work. "I'm taking the system down to work on that bug in
   the tape drive."

DOWNLOAD vt. 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
   complexity".  See also BLUE BOOK, RED BOOK, GREEN BOOK, SILVER

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

DREAD HIGH BIT DISEASE n. A condition endemic to PRIME (formerly
   PR1ME) minicomputers which results in all the characters having
   their high (\200) bit ON rather than OFF.  This of course makes
   transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to
   mention talking to true eightbit devices.  It is reported that
   PRIME adopted the reversed eight bit convention in order to save 25
   cents/serial line/machine.  This probably qualifies as one of the
   most CRETINOUS design tradeoffs ever made.  See META BIT.

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). See also CONNECTOR

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".  For example, this is
   an actual quote from Apple's LaserWriter manual: "Do not expose
   your LaserWriter to open fire or flame."

DROP ON THE FLOOR vt. To react to an error condition by silent
   discarding messages or other valuable data.  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.  See also BLACK HOLE.

DRUGGED adj., also ON DRUGS.  1. Conspicuously stupid, heading towards
   BRAIN DAMAGE.  Often accompanied by a pantomime of toking a joint.
   2. Of hardware, very slow relative to normal preformance.

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. Another
   recommended fix is to the rotate optical mouse pad 90 

DUMBASS ATTACK /duhm'ass @-tak'/ [Purdue] n. A novice's mistake made
   by the experienced, especially one made by running as root under
   UNIX, eg. typing "rm *" or mkfs on a mounted file system. Compare

DUSTY DECK n. Old software (especially applications) with which one is
   obliged to remain compatible.  The term implies that the software
   in question is a holdover from card-punch days.  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 FOSSIL.

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;
   also occasionally described as the single instruction the ideal
   computer would have (back when proof of program correctness were in
   vogue, there were also jokes about DWIMC: Do What I Mean,
   Correctly).  A related term, more often seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do
   The Right Thing), see RIGHT THING, THE.  2. n. The INTERLISP
   function that attempts to accomplish this feat by correcting many
   of the more common errors.  See HAIRY.

DYNNER /din'r/ 32 bits, by analogy with NYBBLE and BYTE. Usage: rare
   and extremely silly.  See also PLAYTE.

                                {= E =}

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.

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 SOS (q.v.) 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.

EAT FLAMING DEATH, X! expl. A construction popularized among hackers
   by the infamous DEC WARS comic (q.v.); supposed to derive from a
   famously turgid line in a WWII-era anti-Nazi propaganda comic
   in which X was "non-Aryan mongrels" or something of the sort.
   Used in humorously overblown expressions of hostility. "Eat
   flaming death, EBCDIC users!"

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,
   like (according to an old joke) the founder of IBM, will be buried
   `9-EDGE-FORWARD-FACE-DOWN'.  These people are thought by most
   hackers to dominate IBM's customer base, and its thinking.

EL CAMINO BIGNUM /el' k@-mee'noh big'num/ n. El Camino Real.  El
   Camino Real is the name of a street through the San Francisco
   peninsula that originally extended (and still appears in places)
   all the way down to Mexico City.  Navigation on the San Francisco
   peninsula is usually done relative to El Camino Real, which is
   assumed to run north and south even though it doesn't really in
   many places (see LOGICAL).  El Camino Real runs right past Stanford
   University, and so is familiar to hackers.  The Spanish word
   "real" (which has two syllables (ree-ahl')) means "royal"; El
   Camino Real is "the royal road".  Now the English word "real"
   is used in mathematics to describe numbers (and by analogy is
   misused in computer jargon to mean floating-point numbers).  In the
   FORTRAN language, for example, a "real" quantity is a number
   typically precise to seven decimal places, and a "double
   precision" quantity is a larger floating-point number, precise to
   perhaps fourteen decimal places.  When a hacker from MIT visited
   Stanford in 1976 or so, he remarked what a long road El Camino Real
   was.  Making a pun on "real", he started calling it "El Camino
   Double Precision" --- but when the hacker was told that the road
   was hundreds of miles long, he renamed it "El Camino Bignum", and
   that name has stuck.  (See BIGNUM.)

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

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.  Some versions running under window managers iconify as
   a kitchen sink, perhaps to suggest the one feature the editor
   doesn't include. See also VI.

EMAIL /ee-mayl/ vt.,n. Electronic mail automatically passed through
   computer networks and/or via modems common-carrier lines.  Contrast

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

   Note for the NEWBIE: overuse of the smiley is a mark of loserhood!
   More than one per paragraph is a sure sign that you've gone over
   the line.

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.

ENQ /enkw/ [from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000101] 1. An on-line
   convention for querying someone's availability.  After opening a
   TALK MODE connection to someone apparently in heavy hack mode, one
   might type "SYN SYN ENQ?" (the SYNs representing notional
   synchronization bytes) expecting a return of ACK or NAK depending
   on whether or not the person felt interruptible. See ACK; compare
   PING, FINGER, and the usage of `FOO?' listed under TALK MODE.

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. The time and date corresponding to zero in an
   operating system's clock and timestamp values.  Under most UNIX
   versions, 00:00 of January 1st 1970 GMT.  System time is measured
   in seconds or TICKS past the era.  Syn. with EPOCH.  See TICKS,
   WALL TIME.  Note that weird problems may ensue when the clock wraps
   around, and that this is actually not a rare event; on systems
   counting 10 TICKS per second, a 32 bit count of ticks is only good
   for 6.8 years.

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.  This is even
   closer than being WITHIN DELTA OF.  Example: "That's not what I
   asked for, but it's within epsilon of what I wanted."
   Alternatively, it may mean not close enough, but very little is
   required to get it there: "My program is within epsilon of
   working." See ASYMPTOTIC.

EPSILON SQUARED n. A quantity even smaller than EPSILON, as small in
   comparison to it as it is to something normal.  If you buy a
   supercomputer for a million dollars, the cost of the
   thousand-dollar terminal to go with it is EPSILON, and the cost of
   the ten-dollar cable to connect the two is EPSILON SQUARED.

ERA, THE n. Syn. for EPOCH.

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 Eric
   Allman of BSD fame, Erik Fair (coauthor of NNTP) and your editor
   [ESR]; 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

EROTICS /ee-ro'tiks/ n. Reported from Scandinavia as English-language
   university slang for electronics. Often used by hackers, maybe
   because of its exciting aspects.

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 a BLUE GLUE 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." Often pronounced
   with the first syllable lengthened, as /eeeevil/.

EXAMINING THE ENTRAILS n. The process of rooting through a core dump
   or hex image in the attempt to discover the bug that brought your
   program or system down.  Compare RUNES, INCANTATION, BLACK ART.

EXCH /eks'ch@, ekstch/ vt. To exchange two things, each for the other;
   to swap places.  If you point to two people sitting down and say
   "Exch!", you are asking them to trade places.  EXCH, meaning
   EXCHange, was originally the name of a PDP-10 instruction that
   exchanged the contents of a register and a memory location.

EXCL /eks'kl/ n. Abbreviation for "exclamation point".  See BANG,

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

EXEC /eg'zek/ [shortened from "executive" or "execute"] vt.,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] vi. Yet another synonym for CRASH or LOSE.  `Fall over
   hard' equates to CRASH AND BURN.

FALL THROUGH vu. 1. To exit a loop by exhaustion, i.e. by having
   fulfilled its exit condition rather than via a break or exception
   condition that exits from the middle of it.  This usage appears to
   be *really* old, as in dating from the '40s and '50s.  It may no
   longer be live slang. 2. In C, `fall-through' is said to occur when
   the flow of execution in a switch statement reaches a `case' label
   for the second or subsequent time, passing a point where one would
   normally expect to find a `break'. A trivial example:

     switch (color)
         case GREEN:
         case PINK:
         case RED:

   The effect of this code is to do_green() when color is GREEN,
   do_red() when color is RED, do_blue() on any other color than PINK,
   and (this is the important part) do_pink() and *then* do_red() when
   color is PINK.  It is considered good practice to include a comment
   highlighting the fall through, at ytje point one would normally
   expect a break.

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.

FAQ LIST /ef-ay-kyoo list/ [Usenix] n. Compendium of accumulated lore,
   posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an attempt to
   forestall Frequently Asked Questions.
   The jargon file itself serves as a good example of a collection
   of one kind of lore, although it is far too big for a regular
   posting.  Several extant FAQ lists do (or should) make reference
   to the jargon file.  "How do you pronounce `char'?" and "What's
   that funny name for the `#' character?" are, for example, both
   Frequently Asked Questions.

FASCIST 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. The variant "fascistic" seens to
   have been preferred at MIT, poss. by analogy with TOURISTIC.

FAULTY adj. Non-functional; buggy.  Same denotation as "bagbiting",
   "bletcherous", "losing", q.v., but the connotation is much

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. An intended property or behavior (as of a program).
   Whether it is good or not is immaterial.  2. A good property or
   behavior (as of a program).  Whether it was intended or not is
   immaterial.  3. A surprising property or behavior; in particular,
   one that is purposely inconsistent because it works better that
   way.  For example, in some versions of the EMACS text editor, the
   "transpose characters" command exchanges the two characters on
   either side of the cursor on the screen, *except* when the cursor
   is at the end of a line, in which case the two characters before
   the curspor are exchanged.  While this behavior is perhaps
   surprising, and certainly inconsistent, it has been found through
   extensive experimentation to be what most users want; the
   inconsistency is therefore a FEATURE and not a BUG.  4. A property
   or behavior that is gratuitous or unnecessary, though perhaps also
   impressive or cute.  For example, one feature of the MACLISP
   language is the ability to print numbers as Roman numerals.  See
   BELLS AND WHISTLES.  5. A property or behavior that was put in to
   help someone else but that happens to be in your way. 6. A BUG that
   has been documented.  To call something a feature sometimes means
   the author of the program did not consider the particular case, and
   the program responded in a way that was unexpected, but not
   strictly incorrect.  A standard joke is that a BUG can be turned
   into a FEATURE simply by documenting it (then theoretically no one
   can complain about it because it's in the manual), or even by
   simply declaring it to be good.  "That's not a bug, that's a
   feature!" See also FEETCH FEETCH.

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. vi. To cause the display to make a feep sound.
   TTY's do not have feeps; they have mechanical bells that ring.
   Alternate forms: BEEP, BLEEP, or just about anything suitably
   onomatopoeic.  (Jeff Macnelly, in his comic strip `Shoe', uses the
   word `eep' for sounds made by computer terminals and video games;
   this is perhaps the closest written approximation yet.)  The term
   BREEDLE was sometimes heard at SAIL, where the terminal bleepers
   are not particularly "soft" (they sound more like the musical
   equivalent of a raspberry or Bronx cheer; for a close
   approximation, imagine the sound of a Star Trek communicator's beep
   lasting for five seconds.).  The "feeper" on a VT-52 has been
   compared to the sound of a '52 Chevy stripping its gears.  See also

FEEPER /fee'pr/ n. The device in a terminal or workstation (usually a
   loudspeaker of some kind) that makes the FEEP sound.

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
   hacks.This term isn't really well-defined, but it sounds so neat
   that most hackers have said or heard it.  It probably derives from
   an image of terminals prowling about in the dark making their
   customary noises.

FEETCH FEETCH interj.  If someone tells you about some new improvement
   to a program, you might respond, "Feetch, feetch!"  The meaning
   of this depends critically on vocal inflection.  With enthusiasm,
   it means something like, "Boy, that's great!  What a great hack!"
   Grudgingly or with obvious doubt, it means "I don't know; it
   sounds like just one more unnecessary and complicated thing."
   With a tone of resignation, it means, "Well, I'd rather keep it
   simple, but I suppose it has to be done."

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.)  For example, suppose you have a long
   list or array of items, and want to process items m through n; how
   many items are there?  The obvious answer is n - m, but that is off
   by one; the right answer is n - m + 1.  A program that used the
   "obvious" formula would have a fencepost error in it.  See also
   OFF-BY-ONE ERROR, and note that not all off-by-one errors are
   fencepost errors.  The game of Musical Chairs involves an
   off-by-one problem where N people try to sit in N-1 chairs, but
   it's not a fencepost error.  Fencepost errors come from counting
   things rather than the spaces between them, or vice versa, or by
   neglecting to consider whether one should count one or both ends of
   a row.  2.  Occasionally, an error induced by unexpectedly regular
   spacing of inputs, which can (for instance) screw up your hash

FIELD CIRCUS [a derogatory pun on "field service"] n.  The field
   service organization of any hardware manufacturer, but especially
   DEC.  There is an entire genre of jokes about DEC field circus

     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
   nature.  See DOUBLE BUCKY for an example.

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. "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 [SAIL's ITS, via 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.  vt.  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.

FIREFIGHTING n. The act of throwing lots of manpower and late nights
   at a project to get it out before deadline.

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, VENUS 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 n. A variable or quantity that can take on one of two values; a
   bit, particularly one that is used to indicate one of two outcomes
   or is used to control which of two things is to be done.  Examples:
   "This flag controls whether to clear the screen before printing
   the message."  "The program status word contains several flag
   bits." See also BIT.

FLAG DAY 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?"
   This term has nothing to do with the use of the word FLAG to mean a
   variable that has two values.  It came into use when a massive
   change was made to the MULTICS timesharing system to convert from
   the old ASCII code to the new one; this was scheduled for Flag Day,
   June 14, 1966.

FLAKEY, FLAKY adj. Subject to frequent lossages.  See LOSSAGE.  This
   use is of course related to the common slang use of the word, to
   describe a person as eccentric or crazy.  A system that is flakey
   is working, sort of, enough that you are tempted to try to use it,
   but it fails frequently enough that the odds in favor of finishing
   what you start are low. Commonwealth hackish prefers DODGY (q.v.).

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. vi. To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively
   uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude.  When
   a discussion degenerates into useless controversy, one might tell
   the participants, "Now you're just flaming" or "Stop all that
   flamage!"  to try to get them to cool down (so to speak).  2.  To
   post an email message intended to insult and provoke.  FLAME ON: vi.
   To continue to flame.  See RAVE, BURBLE.  The punning reference to
   Marvel comics's Human Torch has been lost as recent usage completes
   the circle: "Flame on" now usually means "beginning of flame".

   A USENETter who was at WPI from 1972 to 1976 adds: I am 99% certain
   that the use of "FLAME" originated at WPI.  Those who made a
   nuisance of themselves insisting that they needed to use a TTY for
   "real work" came to be known as "flaming asshole lusers".  Other,
   particularly annoying people became "flaming asshole ravers", which
   shortened to "flaming ravers", and ultimately "flamers".  I
   remember someone picking up on the Human Torch pun, but I don't
   think "FLAME ON/OFF" was ever much used at WPI.

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

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

FLAP vt. 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."  "These lights come in two flavors, big red ones and
   small green ones."  See VANILLA.  2. The attribute that causes
   something to be FLAVORFUL.  Usually used in the phrase "yields
   additional flavor."  "This convention yields additional flavor by
   allowing one to print text either right-side-up or upside-down."

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 (but note sense 4 below!); one speaks of the
   text that would have been printed, but was not, as having been
   flushed.  Under ITS, if you asked to have a file printed on your
   terminal, it was printed a page at a time; at the end of each page,
   it asked whether you want to see more, and if you said no, it
   replied "FLUSHED".  (It is speculated that this term arose from a
   vivid image of flushing unwanted characters by hosing down the
   internal output buffer, washing the characters away before they can
   be printed.)  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.  This is
   *not* an abort as in sense 1 but a demand for early completion!
   UNIX hackers find the ITS usage confusing and vice versa.


FOAF [USENET] n.  Written-only acronym for Friend Of A Friend.  The
   source of an unverified, possibly untrue story.

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 this may
   well have been a sort-of pseudonym for noted weird-comix artist
   Robert Crumb.  The title FOO was featured in large letters on the
   front cover.

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 able to accept input from and return output to
   the user; oppose BACKGROUND.  Normally, there is only one
   foreground task per terminal (or terminal window); having multiple
   processes simultaneously reading the keyboard is a good way to
   LOSE.  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.

FORKED [UNIX] adj. Terminally slow, or dead. Originated when the
   system slowed to incredibly bad speeds due to a process recursively
   spawning copies of itself (using the Unix system command fork(2))
   and taking up all the process table entries.

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

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 (LCASE) bits in the V7 and
   BSD UNIX tty driver, designed for use with monocase terminals.  In
   a perversion of the usual backwards compatibility goal, this
   functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in some later
   USG UNIX releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits.

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.  (Sometimes this literally happens to
   electronic circuits!  In particular, resistors can burn out and
   transformers can melt down, emitting terribly-smelling smoke.
   However, this term is also used metaphorically.)  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

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; an object that you
   can comfortably hold in one hand; something you can frob.  See
   FROBNITZ.  2. v. Abbreviated form of FROBNICATE.

FROBNICATE /frob'ni-kayt/ v. To manipulate or adjust, to tweak.  Thus:
   "Please frob the light switch."  (That is, flip the light
   switch.), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it."
   Poss. derived from FROBNITZ (q.v.).  Usually abbreviated to FROB,
   but FROBNICATE is recognized as the official full form.  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'), plural FROBBOTZIM (fruh-bot'z@m) has
   also become very popular, largely due to its exposure as a name via
   ZORK.  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/ adj. DOWN due to hardware problems.

FRY 1. vi. To fail.  Said especially of smoke-producing hardware
   failures.  More generally, to become non-working.  Usage: never
   said of software, only of hardware and humans.  See FRIED, MAGIC
   SMOKE. 2. vt. To cause to fail; to ROACH, TOAST or HOSE a piece of
   hardware (never used of software or humans).

FTP /ef-tee-pee/, *not* /fit'ip/ 1. n. The File Transfer Protocol for
   transmitting files between systems on the Internet.  2.  vt. 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!*" The phrase is sometimes heard abbreviated
   FMH in polite company.

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.  A good example is the FUZZ
   typically needed in floating-point calculations: two numbers being
   compared for equality must be allowed to differ by a small amount;
   if that amount is too small, a computation may never terminate,
   while if it is too large, results will be needlessly inaccurate.
   Fudge factors are frequently adjusted incorrectly by programmers
   who don't fully understand their import.

FUEL UP vi. 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 (or
   possibly a contraction of "fuckin' 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.

FUNNY MONEY n. 1. Notional `dollar' units of computing time and/or
   storage handed to students at the beginning of a computer course by
   professors; also called "purple money" (in implicit opposition to
   real or "green" money). When your funny money ran out, your
   account froze and you needed to go to a professor to get more.
   Formerly a common practice, this has now been made sufficiently
   rare by the plunging cost of timesharing CYCLES that it has become
   folklore. The amounts allocated were almost invariably too small,
   even for the non-hackers who wanted to slide by with minimum work.
   In extreme cases the practice led to small-scale black markets in
   bootlegged computer accounts. 2. By extension, phantom money or
   quantity tickets of any kind used as a resource-allocation hack
   within a system.

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.  See FUDGE FACTOR.

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. vt.  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; "Garbage Collect"] 1. vt. To
   clean up and throw away useless things.  "I think I'll GC the top
   of my desk today."  When said of files, this is equivalent to GFR
   (q.v.).  2.  vt. To recycle, reclaim, or put to another use.  3. n.
   An instantiation of the garbage collector process. `Garbage
   collection' is computer science jargon for a particular class of
   strategies for dynamically reallocating computer memory.  One such
   strategy involves periodically scanning all the data in memory and
   determining what is no longer useful; useless data items are then
   discarded so that the memory they occupy can be recycled and used
   for another purpose.  Implementations of the LISP language usually
   use garbage collection.  In slang, the full phrase is sometimes
   heard but the acronym is more frequently used because it's shorter.
   Note that there is an ambiguity in usage that has to be resolved by
   context: "I'm going to garbage-collect my desk" usually means to
   clean out the drawers, but it could also mean to throw away or
   recycle the desk itself.

GCOS n. A quick and dirty clone of System/360 DOS that emerged from GE
   about 1970; originally called GECOS (the General Electric
   Comprehensive Operating System) and later kluged to support
   primitive timesharing and transaction processing.  After the buyout
   of GE's computer division by Honeywell the name was changed to
   General Comprehensive Operating System (GCOS). Other OS groups at
   Honeywell began referring to it as `God's Chosen Operating System',
   allegedly in reaction to the GCOS crowd's uninformed and snotty
   attitude about the superiority of their product.  All this might be
   of zero interest, except for two facts: 1) the GCOS people won the
   political war, resulting in the orphaning and eventual death of
   Honeywell MULTICS (q.v.), and 2) GECOS/GCOS left one permanent mark
   on UNIX.  Some early UNIX systems at Bell Labs were used as front
   ends to GCOS machines; the field added to /etc/passwd to carry GCOS
   ID information was called `the GECOS field' and survives today as
   the pw_gecos member used for the user's full name and other
   human-id information.  GCOS itself played a major rule in keeping
   Honeywell a dismal also-ran in the mainframe market, and was itself
   ditched for UNIX in the late 1980s when Honeywell retired its aging
   BIG IRON designs.


GEDANKEN /g@-dahn'kn/ adj. Wild-eyed; impractical; not
   well-thought-out; untried; untested.  "Gedanken" is a German word
   for "thought".  A thought experiment is one you carry out in your
   head.  In physics, the term "gedanken experiment" is used to
   refer to an experiment that is impractical to carry out, but useful
   to consider because you can reason about it theoretically.  (A
   classic gedanken experiment of relativity theory involves thinking
   about a man flying through space in an elevator.)  Gedanken
   experiments are very useful in physics, but you have to be careful.
   It was a gedanken experiment that led Aristotle to conclude that
   heavy things always fall faster than light things (he thought about
   a rock and a feather); this was accepted until Galileo proved
   otherwise.  Among hackers, however, the word has a pejorative
   connotation.  It is said of a project, especially one in artificial
   intelligence research, which is written up in grand detail
   (typically as a Ph.D. thesis) without ever being implemented to any
   great extent.  Such a project is 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 an

GEEK OUT vi. 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" and "sex changer") A cable
   connector shell with either two male or two female connectors on
   it, used to correct the mismatches that result when some LOSER
   didn't understand the RS232C specification and the distinction
   between DTE and DCE.  Used esp. for RS-232C parts in either the
   original D-25 or the IBM PC's bogus D-9 format.

GENERAL PUBLIC VIRUS n. Pejorative name for some versions of the GNU
   project COPYLEFT (q.v.) or General Public License, which requires
   that any tools or apps incorporating copylefted code must be
   source-distributed on the same anti-commercial terms as GNU stuff.
   Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects' software generated
   with GNU tools.  FSF's official position is that only code
   incorporating either the Bison parser skeleton or GNU CC libraries
   is so infected.  Nevertheless, widespread suspicion that the
   COPYLEFT language is `boobytrapped' has caused many developers to
   avoid using GNU tools and the GPL license.

GENERATE vt. 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 LIFE! imp. Hacker-standard way of suggesting that the person to
   whom you are speaking has succumbed to terminal geekdom (see
   COMPUTER GEEK).  Often heard on USENET.  It is alleged that this
   exhortation was originally uttered by William Shatner to a crowd of
   eager trekkies in a speach which ended "Get a job! Get a

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 an address space
   smaller than 4 megabytes. 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/ vt. [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

GIG (gig) n. Short for "gigabyte" (1000 megabytes); esp. used in
   describing amounts of CORE or mass storage. "My machine just got
   upgraded to a quarter-gig".

GIGO /gie'goh/ [acronym] 1. 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.
   2. Garbage In, Gospel Out -- this more recent expansion is a
   comment on the tendency human beings have to put excessive trust in
   "computerized" data.

GILLION /jill'yun/ n. 10^9.  [From giga, following construction of
   mega/million and tera/trillion] Same as an American billion or a
   British `myriad'.

GLARK /glark/ vt. To figure something out from context, taken from an
   old Scientific American "Mathematical Games" column. "The System
   III manuals are pretty poor, but you can generally glark the
   meaning from context".  Interestingly, the original sentence was
   "This gubblick contains many nonsklarkish English flutzpahs, but
   the overall pluggandisp can be glorked [sic] from context." by
   David Moser, quoted by Douglas Hofstadter in his "Metamagical
   Themas" column in the January 1981 Scientific American. It is
   conjectured that hackish usage mutated the verb to `glark' because
   GLORK (q.v.)  was already an established jargon term.

GLASS [IBM] n. Synonym for SILICON.

GLASS TTY /glas tee-tee-wie/ or /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 ,
   thereby combining the disadvantages of both: like a printing
   terminal, it can't do fancy display hacks, and like a display
   terminal, it doesn't produce hard copy An example is Lear-Siegler
   the ADM-3 (without cursor control).  See TUBE, TTY.  See Appendix A
   for an interesting true story about glass TTYs.

GLITCH /glich/ [from German "glitchen" to slip, via Yiddish
   "glitshen", to slide or skid] 1. n. A sudden interruption in
   electric service, sanity,, continuity, or program function.
   Sometimes recoverable.  An interruption in electric service is
   specfically called a POWER GLITCH.  This is of grave concern
   because it usually crashes all the computers.  More common in
   slang, though, a hacker who got to the middle of a sentence and
   then forgotten how he or she intended to complete it might say,
   "Sorry, I just glitched".  2. vi. To commit a glitch.  See
   GRITCH.  3. vt.  [Stanford] To scroll a display screen several
   lines at a time.  This derives from some oddities in the terminal
   behavior on the ITS machines formerly used at SAIL. 4.  (obs.) Same
   as MAGIC COOKIE, sense #2.

GLOB /glob/, *not* /glohb/ [UNIX, from "glob", the name of a
   subprogram that translated wildcards in archaic Bourne Shell
   versions] v. To expand special characters in a wildcarded name (the
   action is "globbing").  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 at the beginning or in the middle of a word).
     []      wildcard matching one character from a specified set.

   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. vt. 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 (  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 (sense #1).

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] vi., 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 vt. 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/ vt.,n. 1. 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.  2. [British] To grab some sleep at an odd time.

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;
   outrageous; over the top; 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

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?"

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".

GOSPERISM /goss'p@r'iz'm/ A hack, invention, or saying by
   arch-hacker R. William (Bill) Gosper.  This notion merits its own
   term because there are so many of them.  Many of the entries in
   HAKMEM are Gosperisms; see also LIFE.

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 simplest of the NANOTECHNOLOGY (q.v.) disaster scenarios and
   is easuky refuted by arguments from energy requirements and
   elemental abundances.

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
   multiple-hierarchies scheme.

GREAT-WALL [from SF fandom] vi.,n. A mass expedition to an oriental
   restaurant, esp. one where food is seved family-style and shared.
   There is a common heuristic about the amount of food to order
   expressed as "For N people, get N - 1 entrees.".  See 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.  4. Any of the 1992
   standards which will be issued by the CCIT 10th plenary assembly.
   They change color each review cycle (1984 was RED BOOK, 1988 BLUE
   BOOK).  These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and
   the Group 1 through 4 fax standards.  See also BLUE BOOK, RED 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. [proposed] 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

GREP /grep/ [from the qed/ed editor idiom g/re/p (Global search for
   Regular Expression and Print) via UNIX grep(1)] vt. 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 vt. 1. [MIT and Berkeley] To format code, especially LISP code,
   by indenting lines so that it looks pretty.  This usage was
   associated with the MACLISP community and is now rare; PRETTY PRINT
   was and is 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.  3. GRIND GRIND excl. "Isn't the machine slow today!"

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
   noise.  See GRIND, and WUGGA WUGGA.

   Historical note: At least one real machine actually had a grind
   crank --- the R1, a research machine built towards the the end of
   the great days of vacuum tube computers in 1959.  R1 (also known as
   "The Rice Institute Computer" - TRIC, and later as "The Rice
   University Computer" - TRUC) had a single step/free run switch for
   use when debugging programs.  Since single stepping through a large
   program was rather tedious, there was also a crank with a cam and
   gear arrangement that repeatedly pushed the single step button.
   This allowed one to "crank" through a lot of code, then slow down
   to single step a bit when you got near the code of interest, poke
   at some registers using the "console typewriter", and then keep on

GRITCH /grich/ 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a GLITCH (q.v.)).
   2. vi. To complain.  Often verb-doubled: "Gritch gritch".  3.  A
   synonym for GLITCH (as verb or noun).

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"] vt. 1. To understand,
   usually in a global sense.  Connotes intimate and exhaustive
   knowledge.  Contrast ZEN, similar supernal understanding as a
   single brief flash.  2. Used of programs, may connote merely
   sufficient understanding, e.g., "Almost all C compilers grok void
   these days."

GRONK /gronk/ [popularized by the cartoon strip "B.C." by Johnny
   Hart, but the word apparently predates that] vt. 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.  Oppose BROKEN, which
   means about the same as GRONK used of hardware but connotes
   depression or mental/emotional problems in people.  4. GRONK OUT:
   vi. To cease functioning.  Of people, to go home and go to sleep.
   "I guess I'll gronk out now; see you all tomorrow."

GROVEL vi. 1. To work interminably and without apparent progress.
   Often used transitively with "over" or "through". "The file
   scavenger has been grovelling through the file directories for ten
   minutes now."  Compare GRIND and CRUNCH.  Emphatic form: GROVEL
   OBSCENELY.  2. To examine minutely or in complete detail.  "The
   compiler grovels over the entire source program before beginning to
   translate it."  "I grovelled through all the documentation, but I
   still couldn't find the command I wanted."

GRUNGE [Cambridge] n. Code which is `dead' (can never be accessed) due
   to changes in other parts of the program.

GRUNGY /gruhn'jee/ adj. Incredibly dirty, greasy, 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

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] vt. 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!"
   Compare WEEBLE.

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, orig. as mutation of HHOK, "Ha Ha
   Only Kidding"] A phrase that aptly captures the flavor of much
   hacker discourse (often 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 HUMOR, HACKER and AI

HACK 1. n. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but
   not well.  2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very
   time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.
   3. The result of a hack (sense 1 or 2); 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).  vt. 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 major interest (or
   project)".  "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.  [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.  For more
   on the meaning of HACK, see Appendix A.

HACK ATTACK n. Nearly synonymous with HACKING RUN (q.v.) though the
   latter implies an all-nighter more strongly.

HACK VALUE n. Often adduced 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.  As a musician once said of jazz, if you don't
   understand hack value there is no way it can be explained.

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.  An expert of
   any kind.  One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.  7.
   (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. It is better to be described as hackish by others
   than to describe oneself that way.  Hackers consider themselves
   somewhat of an elite, though one to which new members are gladly
   welcome.  It is a meritocracy based on ability.  There is a certain
   self-satisfaction in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you
   claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labelled BOGUS).

HACKISHNESS, HACKITUDE n.  The quality of being or involving a hack.
   (The word HACKITUDE is considered silly; the standard term is

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." (or just: "Hair squared!")

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.  (The title of the memo really
   is "HAKMEM", which is an acronym of sorts for "hacks memo".)
   Some of them are very useful techniques or powerful theorems, but
   most fall into the category of mathematical and computer trivia.  A
   sampling of the entries (with authors), slightly paraphrased:

   Item 41 (Gene Salamin) There are exactly 23,000 prime numbers less
   than 2 to the 18th power.

   Item 46 (Rich Schroeppel) The most *probable* suit distribution in
   bridge hands is 4-4-3-2, as compared to 4-3-3-3, which is the most
   *evenly* distributed.  This is because the world likes to have
   unequal numbers: a thermodynamic effect saying things will not be
   in the state of lowest energy, but in the state of lowest
   disordered energy.

   Problem 81 (Rich Schroeppel) Count the magic squares of order 5
   (that is, all the 5-by-5 arrangements of the numbers from 1 to 25
   such that all rows, columns, and diagonals add up to the same
   number).  There are about 320 million, not counting those that
   differ only by rotation and reflection.

   Item 174 (Bill Gosper and Stuart Nelson) 21963283741 is the only
   number such that if you represent it on the PDP-10 as both an
   integer and a floating-point number, the bit patterns of the two
   representations are identical.

HAKMEM also contains some rather more complicated mathematical and
   technical items, but these examples show some of its fun flavor.

HAND-HACKING n. 1. 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; syn. with v.
   CRUFT.  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 humans.

HANDWAVE 1. v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener;
   to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty
   logic.  If someone starts a sentence with "Clearly..." or
   "Obviously..."  or "It is self-evident that...", you can be
   sure he is about to handwave.  The theory behind this term is that
   if you wave your hands at the right moment, the listener may be
   sufficiently distracted to not notice that what you have said is
   BOGUS. Alternatively, if a listener does object, you might try to
   dismiss the objection with a wave of your hand. 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; if a speaker makes an outrageous
   unsupported assumption, you might simply wave your hands in this
   way, as an accusation more eloquent than words could express that
   his logic is faulty

HANG v. 1. To wait for some event to occur; to hang around until
   something happens. "The program displays a menu and then hangs
   until you type a character." 2. More commonly, to wait for an
   event that will never occur. "The system is hanging because it
   can't read from the crashed drive". See WEDGED.

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".  The derivation of the common title Hanlon's Razor
   is unknown; a similar epigram has been attributed to William James.
   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.  "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." The variant "hash clash" is also reported.

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 MC6800 microprocessor was the first for which the HCF opcode
   became widely known.  This instruction caused 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.

HEAVY METAL [Cambridge] n. Syn. with BIG IRON (q.v).

HEAVY WIZARDRY n. Code or designs which trade on a particularly
   intimate knowledge or experience of a particular operating system
   or language or complex application interface. Distinguished from
   DEEP MAGIC, which trades more on arcane *theoretical* knowledge.
   Writing device drivers is heavy wizardry; so is interfacing to X
   (sense #2) without a toolkit. Esp. found in comments of the form
   "Heavy wizardry begins here...".

HEISENBUG /hie'sen-buhg/ [from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
   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 SMASH THE STACK.

HELEN KELLER MODE n. State of a hardware or software system which is
   deaf, dumb, and blind, i.e. accepting no input and generating no
   output, usually due to an infinite loop or some other excursion
   into DEEP SPACE.  (Unfair to the real Helen Keller, whose success
   at learning speech was triumphant.) See also GO FLATLINE.

HELLO SAILOR! interj. Occasional West Coast equivalent of `Hello,
   world!'; seems to have originated at SAIL, later associated with
   the game ZORK. 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 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."

HIGH MOBY /hie mohb'ee/ n. The high half of a stock PDP-10's address
   space; the other half was of course the LOW MOBY. This usage has
   been generalized in a way that has outlasted the PDP-10; for
   example, at the 1990 Washington D.C Area Science Fiction Conclave
   (DISCLAVE) when a miscommunication resulted in two separate @-SIGN
   PARTIES being held in commemoration of the shutdown of MIT's last
   ITS machines, the one on the upper floor was dubbed the HIGH MOBY
   and the other the LOW MOBY. All parties involved grokked this
   instantly.  See MOBY in main text and Appendix B.

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 or hardware 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", "hog the processor", "hog the disk". Example: "A
   controller that never gives up the I/O bus gets killed after the
   bus hog timer expires."

HOLY WARS [from USENET, but may predate it] n.  FLAME WARS over
   RELIGIOUS ISSUES. The 1980 paper by Danny Cohen that popularized
   the terms BIG-ENDIAN and LITTLE-ENDIAN in connection with the
   LSB-first/MSB-first controversy was entitled "On Holy Wars and a
   Plea for Peace". Other perennial Holy Wars have included: EMACS vs.
   VI, <my personal computer> vs. <everyone else's personal computer>,
   UNIX vs. VMS, BSD UNIX vs. AT&T UNIX, C vs. Pascal, etc. etc. etc.
   The characteristic that distinguishes HOLY WARS from normal
   technical disputes is that (regardless of the technical merits of
   the case on either side) most participants spend their time trying
   to pass off personal value choices and cultural attachments as
   objective technical evaluations.

HOOK n. An extraneous piece of software or hardware included in order
   to simplify later additions or changes by a user.  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.  As another example, a simple program that prints
   numbers might always print them in base ten, but a more flexible
   version would let a variable determine what base to use; setting
   the variable to 5 would make the program print numbers in base
   five.  The variable is a simple hook.  An even more flexible
   program might examine the variable, and treat a value of 16 or less
   as the base to use, but treat any other number as the address of a
   user-supplied routine for printing a number.  This is a very
   powerful hook; one can then write a routine to print numbers as
   roman numerals, say, or as Hebrew characters, and plug it into the
   program through the hook.  Often the difference between a good
   program and a superb one is that the latter has useful hooks in
   judiciously chosen places.  Both may do the original job about
   equally well, but the one with the hooks is much more flexible for
   future expansion of capabilities.

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.  This is sometimes called "bit hose" or "hosery" (play
   on "hosiery").  See also WASHING MACHINES.

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.

   There is a story that a Cray which had been experiencing periodic
   difficulties once CRASHED, and it was announced to have been HOSED.
   It was discovered that the crash was due to the disconnection of
   some coolant hoses. The problem was connected, and users were then
   assured that everything was OK because the system had been rehosed.
   [This is an excellent example of hackish wordplay --- ESR].

HOT SPOT n. 1. [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 micro-optimization or 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 TUNE, BUM, HAND-HACKING.  2. The active location
   of a cursor on a bit-map display.  "Put the mouse's hot spot on
   the `ON' widget and click the left button."

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.  HP-UX is often referred to as "hockey-pux"
   inside HP, and one outside correspondent claims that the proper
   pronunciation is /aych-pee ukkkhhhh/ as though one were spitting.

HUMMA excl. A filler word used on various "chat" and "talk"
   programs when you had nothing to say but felt that it was important
   to say something.  The word apparently originated (at least with
   this definition) on the MECC Timeshare System (MTS) a now-defunct
   educational time-sharing system running in Michigan during the
   1970s and early '80s, but was later sighted on early UNIX systems.

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 generally used of people. Syn. with

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, usually
   inaccessible because it is not even mapped in. "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; It's Been Malfunctioning; Incontinent Bowel
   Movement; and a near-INFINITE number of 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 code is locked up tight and programming tools are
   expensive, hard to find, and bletcherous 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, this
   lexicon 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 (in Gibson's
   original, software that responds to intrusion by attempting to
   literally kill the intruder).  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. 1. [numerical analysis] Said of an algorithm or
   computational method that tends to blow up due to accumulated
   roundoff error or poor convergence properties.  2. 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, there is a folk theorem (nearly true) to the effect that
   (due to gross inadequacies and performance penalties in the OS
   interface) all interesting applications are ill-behaved.  Oppose

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."
   "He is an infinite loser." This is an abuse of the word's
   mathematical meaning.

INFINITY n. 1. The largest value that can be represented in a
   particular type of variable (register, memory location, data type,
   whatever).  2. MINUS INFINITY The smallest such value.  Note that
   this is different from TIME T EQUALS MINUS INFINITY, which is
   closer to a mathematician's usage of infinity.

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 (or, occasionally, as "sudden
   infant death syndrome").

INTERCAL /in'tr-kal/ [said by the authors to stand for "Compiler
   Language With No Pronounceable Acronym"] n. A computer language
   designed by Don Woods and James Lyon in 1972. INTERCAL is purposely
   different from all other computer languages in all ways but one; it
   is purely a written language, being totally unspeakable.  An
   excerpt from the INTERCAL Reference Manual will make the style of
   the language clear.  In most languages, if you wanted the variable
   A to have the value 65536, you would write something like

        LET A = 65536;

   The INTERCAL Reference Manual, however, explains that "It is a
   well-known and oft-demonstrated fact that a person whose work is
   incomprehensible is held in high esteem.  For example, if one were
   to state that the simplest way to store a value of 65536 in a
   32-bit INTERCAL variable is:

        DO :1 <- #0$#256

   any sensible programmer would say that that was absurd.  Since this
   is indeed the simplest method, the programmer would be made to look
   foolish in front of his boss, who would of course happened to turn
   up, as bosses are wont to do.  The effect would be no less
   devastating for the programmer having been correct." INTERCAL has
   many other peculiar features designed to make it even more
   unspeakable.  The Woods/Lyons implementation was actually used by
   many (well, at least several) people at Princeton.  The language
   has been recently re-implemented as C-INTERCAL and is consequently
   enjoying an unprecedented level of unpopularity; there is even an
   alt.lang.intercal newsgroup devoted to the study and ...
   appreciation of the language on USENET.

INTERESTING adj. In hacker parlance, this word is not simply
   synonymous with "intriguing", but has strong connotations of
   "annoying", or "difficult", or both. Hackers relish a
   challenge.  Oppose UNININTERESTING.

INTERNET ADDRESS n. An `absolute' network address of the form
   foo@bar.baz, where foo is a user name, bar is a SITENAME (q.v.),
   and baz is a `domain' name, possibly including periods itself.
   Contrasts with BANG PATH, q.v.; see also NETWORK, THE and NETWORK
   ADDRESS. 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

INTERRUPT interj. 1. On a computer, an event which interrupts normal
   processing and temporarily diverts flow-of-control through an
   "interrupt handler" routine. See also TRAP.  2. A request for
   attention from a hacker. Often explicitly spoken. "Interrupt ---
   have you seen Joe recently?".  See PRIORITY INTERRUPT.

INTERRUPTS LOCKED OUT adj. 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 housing 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.  The Royal
   Institute of Technology in Sweden is maintaing one `live' ITS site
   at its computer museum (right next to the only TOPS-10 system still
   on the Internet), so ITS is still alleged to hold the record for OS
   in longest continuous use.  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 =}

J. RANDOM /jay rand'm/ n. [generalized from J. RANDOM HACKER, q.v.]
   Arbitrary; ordinary; any one; "any old".  "Would you let J.
   Random Loser marry your daughter?". See RANDOM.

J. RANDOM HACKER /jay rand'm hak'r/ n. A mythical figure like the
   Unknown Soldier; the archetypal hacker nerd.  See RANDOM, LITTLE

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

JIFFY n. 1. The width of one tick of the system clock on the computer
   (see TICK).  Often 1 AC cycle time (1/60 second in the U.S. and
   1/50 elsewhere) but more recently 1/100 sec has become common.  2.
   Confusingly, the term is sometimes also used for a 1-millisecond
   WALL TIME interval.  "The swapper runs every six jiffies" means
   that the virtual memory management routine is executed once for
   every six ticks of the clock, or about ten times a second.  3.
   Indeterminate time from a few seconds to forever. "I'll do it in a
   jiffy" means certainly not now and possibly never.  This is a bit
   contrary to the more widespread use of the word.

JOCK n. 1. Programmer who is characterized by large and somewhat brute
   force programs.  See BRUTE FORCE. 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".

                                {= 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.

KGBVAX /kay-jee-bee-vaks/ n. See KREMVAX

KILL FILE [USENET] n.  Per-user file used by some USENET reading
   programs to discard summarily (without presenting for reading)
   articles which match some particularly uninteresting (or unwanted)
   patterns of subject, author, or other header lines.  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 /klooj/ alt. KLUDGE /kluhj/ [from the German "klug", clever]
   (`klooj' is the original pronunciation, more common in the US;
   `kluhj' is reported more common in England).  n. 1. A Rube Goldberg
   (or Heath Robinson) device in hardware or software. (A long-ago
   Datamation article said: "An ill-assorted collection of poorly
   matching parts, forming a distressing whole.")  2. n.  A clever
   programming trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an
   expedient, if not clear, manner.  Often used to repair bugs.  Often
   involves AD-HOCKERY and 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 (the name refers to a mathematical
   formalism invented by Alonzo Church with which LISP is intimately
   connected). 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

KREMVAX /krem-vaks/ [From the then large number of USENET VAXEN with
   names of the form "foovax"] n.  A fictitious USENET site at the
   Kremlin, announced on April 1, 1984, in a posting ostensibly from
   Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko.  The posting was actually
   forged by Piet Beertema as an April Fool's joke.  Other sites
   mentioned in the hoax were moskvax and KGBVAX, which now seems to
   be the one by which it is remembered.  This was probably the
   funniest of the many April Fool's forgeries perpetrated on USENET
   (which has negligible security against them), because the notion
   that USENET might ever penetrate the Iron Curtain seemed so totally
   absurd at the time.  But in fact, the first genuine site in Moscow
   ( joined USENET only 6 years later --- and some readers
   needed convincing that it wasn't a hoax.

   [Ed. note: Vadim Antonov (avg), the major poster from up
   to at least the end of 1990, was well acquainted with the kremvax
   hoax and referred to it in his own postings --- even to the extent
   of twitting a number of credulous netters on alt.folklore.computers
   by blandly "admitting" that *he* was a hoax! Mr. Antonov,
   BTW, also contributed the Russian-language material for this File
   --- ESR]

                                {= L =}

LACE CARD n. obs. A Hollerith card with all holes punched (also called
   a WHOOPEE CARD).  Card readers jammed when they got to one of
   these, as the resulting card had too little structural strength to
   avoid buckling inside the mechanism. When some practical joker fed
   a LACE CARD through the reader you needed to clear the jam with a
   card knife --- which you use on the joker first.

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.
   Compare WIZARD.

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.

LASER CHICKEN n. Kung Pao Chicken, a standard Chinese dish containing
   chicken, peanuts, and bell peppers in a spicy pepper-oil sauce.  A
   few hackers call it "laser chiicken" for two reasons; it can ZAP
   you just like a laser, and the pepper-oil sauce has a red color
   reminiscent of a laser beam.

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.

LEAKY HEAP [Cambridge] n. Syn. MEMORY LEAK (q.v.).

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, and hackers at various places contributed
   heavily to the mathematical analysis of this game (most notably
   Bill Gosper at MIT; see GOSPERISM).  When a hacker mentions
   "life", he is much more likely to mean this game than the
   magazine, the breakfast cereal, or the human state of existence.
   2. The opposite of USENET. As in "Get a life!".

   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. 1. A bug in some now-obsolete versions of the
   netnews software used to cause the first parts 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
   gateways.  2. The mythical NSA trawling program sometimes assumed
   to be reading USENET for the U.S. Government's spooks.  Some
   netters put loaded phrases like `Uzi' `nuclear materials'
   `Palestine' `cocaine' and `assassination' in their SIG BLOCKs in an
   attempt to confuse and overload the creature.

LINE STARVE [MIT] 1. v. To feed the paper through the terminal the
   wrong way by one line (most terminals can't do this!).  On a
   display terminal, to move the cursor up to the previous line of the
   screen.  Example: "To print X squared, you just output X, line
   starve, 2, line feed."  (The line starve causes the 2 to appear on
   the line above the X, and the line feed gets back to the original
   line.) 2. n. A "character" (or character sequence) that causes a
   terminal to perform this action.  Unlike "line feed", "line
   starve" is *not* standard ASCII terminology.  Even among hackers
   it is considered a bit silly.  3. [proposed] A sequence like \c
   (used in System V echo, as well as nroff/troff) which suppresses a
   line feed that would normally implicitly be emitted.

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), named perhaps for the bits of fluff it
   picks from programs] 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 USENET) has become a shorthand
   for `desk-check' at some non-UNIX shops, even in some languages
   other than C. See also DELINT.

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

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

LIVE FREE OR DIE! imp. 1. The state motto of New Hampshire.  2. A
   slogan associated with UNIX in the romantic days when UNIX
   aficionados saw themselves as a tiny, beleaguered underground
   tilting against the windmills of industry. Armando Stettner, one of
   the early UNIX developers, used to give out fake license plates
   bearing this motto under a large UNIX, all in New Hampshire colors
   of green and white. These are now valued collector's items.

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".  Compare
   VIRTUAL, oppose PHYSICAL. This use of LOGICAL is an extension from
   its technical use in computer science.  A program can be written to
   do input or output using a "logical device"; when the program is
   run, the user can specify which "physical" (actual) device to use
   for that logical device.  For example, a program might write all
   its error messages to a logical device called ERROR; the user can
   then specify whether logical device ERROR should be associated to
   the terminal, a disk file, or the BIT BUCKET (to throw the error
   messages away).  Perhaps the word "logical" is used because even
   though a thing isn't the actual object in question, you can reason
   logically about the thing as if it were the actual object.

   At Stanford, "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.)
   In giving directions, one might say, "To get to Rincon Tarasco
   restaurant, get onto El Camino Bignum going logical north."  Using
   the word "logical" helps to prevent the recipient from worrying
   about that the fact that the sun is setting almost directly in
   front of him.  The concept is perpetuated by North American
   highways which are almost, but not quite, consistently labelled
   with logical rather than physical directions.  A similar situation
   exists at MIT.  Route 128 (famous for the electronics industries
   that have grown up along it) is a three-quarters circle surrounding
   Boston at a radius of ten miles, terminating at the coastline at
   each end.  It would be most precise to describe the two directions
   along this highway as being "clockwise" and "counterclockwise",
   but the road signs all say "north" and "south", respectively.
   A hacker would describe these directions as "logical north" and
   "logical south", to indicate that they are conventional
   directions not corresponding to the usual convention for those
   words.  (If you went logical south along the entire length of route
   128, you would start out going northwest, curve around to the
   south, and finish headed due east!)

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 or fails to work in the
   expected manner.  2. To be exceptionally unaesthetic.  3. Of
   people, to be obnoxious or unusually stupid (as opposed to
   ignorant).  4. DESERVES 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 MESS-DOS
   deserves to lose!" (ITS fans used to say this of UNIX; many still
   do) 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 LOSE interj. A reply or comment on an undesirable situation.  "I
   accidentally deleted all my files!" "Lose lose."

LOSER n. An unexpectedly bad situation, program, programmer, or
   person.  Someone who habitually loses (even winners can lose
   occasionally).  Someone who knows not and knows not that he knows
   not.  emphatic forms are "real loser", "total loser", and
   "complete loser" (but not "moby loser", which would be a
   contradiction in terms). See LUSER.

LOSS n. Something (not a person) which loses; a situation in which
   something is losing.  Emphatic forms include "moby loss" "total
   loss", "complete loss".  WHAT A (MOBY) LOSS!: interjection.
   Compare LOSSAGE.

LOSSAGE /los'@j/ n. The result of a bug or malfunction.  This is a
   collective noun.  "What a loss!" and "What lossage!" are nearly
   synonymous remarks.  The former is slightly more particular to the
   speaker's present circumstances while the latter implies a
   continuing lose of which the speaker is presently victim.  Thus
   (for example) a temporary hardware failure is a loss, but bugs in
   an important tool (like a compiler) are serious lossage.

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 FLAMAGE-emitting regulars.

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

LUSER /loo'zr/ n.  A USER who is probably also a LOSER.  (LUSER and
   LOSER are pronounced identically.)  This word was coined about 1975
   at MIT.  Under ITS, when you first walked up to a terminal at MIT
   and typed Control-Z to get the computer's attention, it prints out
   some status information, including how many people are already
   using the computer; it might print "14 users", for example.
   Someone thought it would be a great joke to patch the system to
   print "14 losers" instead.  There ensued a great controversy, as
   some of the users didn't particularly want to be called losers to
   their faces every time they used the computer.  For a while several
   hackers struggled covertly, each changing the message behind the
   back of the others; any time you logged into the computer it was
   even money whether it would say "users" or "losers".  Finally,
   someone tried the compromise "lusers", and it stuck until ITS
   died in early 1990. The usage lives on, however, and the term
   `luser' is often seen in program comments.

                                {= 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, as described by a
   hacker who doesn't appreciate being kept away from the
   _real_computer_ by the interface.  See also WIMP ENVIRONMENT,

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) as well as other "expansions" such as the
   "keyboard macros" supported in some text editors (and PC TSR
   keyboard enhancers).

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 AUTOMAGICALLY and Clarke's Third 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.  Characteristic of something that works but no
   one really understands why.  3. [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
   operation; 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. An in-band
   code for changing graphic rendition (i.e. inverse video or
   underlining) or performing other control functions. Some older
   terminals would leave a blank on the screen corresponding to
   mode-change cookies; 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 (also called "blue smoke"). 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

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."  In everyday terms, this means that
   it's a lot easier to clean off your desk if you have a spare place
   to put some of the junk while you sort through it. 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 fried."  4.
   MARGINALLY: adv.  Slightly.  "The ravs here are only marginally
   better than at Small Eating Place." See EPSILON. 4. MARGINAL
   HACKS: n. Margaret Jacks Hall, a building into which the Stanford
   AI Lab was moved near the beginning of the '80s.

   MARKETEER n.  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; and/or one who describes
   existing features (and misfeatures) in ebullient, buzzword-laden
   adspeak.  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/ or /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.

MELTDOWN, NETWORK n. A state of complete network overload; the network
   equivalent of THRASHing. See also BROADCAST STORM.

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.
   Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious reasons.

MEMETICS /me-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"
   "mess-loss" "mess-dross" and various combinations thereof.

META /meta@/ or /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.  See HUMOR, HACKER.

META BIT /meta@ bit/ or /mayt'@ bit/ 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
   MACROTAPE.  A DECtape is a small reel of magnetic tape about four
   inches in diameter and an inch wide.  Unlike standard magnetic
   tapes, microtapes allow "random access" to the data.  In their
   heyday they were used in pretty much the same ways one would now
   use a floppy disk: as a small, portable way to save and transport
   files and programs.  Apparently the term "microtape" was actually
   the official term used within DEC for these tapes until someone
   consed up [invented] the word "DECtape", which of course had more
   commercial appeal.

   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] 1. A measure of computing speed; 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.  2. The corporate name of
   a RISC-chip maker; among other things, they supplied silicon for the
   DEC 3100 workstation series.

MISBUG [MIT] n. An unintended property of a program that turns out to
   be useful; something that should have been a BUG but turns out to be

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.
   A misfeature is different from a simple unforeseen side effect; the
   term implies that the misfeature was actually carefully planned to
   be that way, but future consequences or circumstances just weren't
   predicted accurately.  This is different from just not having
   thought ahead about it at all.  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 the original implementors
   wanted to save directory space and 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, complex, impressive.  "A
   Saturn V rocket is a truly moby frob."  "Some MIT undergrads
   pulled off a moby hack at the Harvard-Yale game." (see Appendix
   A).  2. n. obs.  The maximum address space of a machine (see
   Appendix B). Examples: for a PDP-10, a moby is 256K 36-bit words;
   for a PDP-8, it is 4096 12-bit words; for a 68000 or VAX or most
   modern 32-bit architectures, it is 4294967296 8-bit bytes.  3.  A
   title of address (never of third-person reference), usually used to
   show admiration, respect, and/or friendliness to a competent
   hacker. "Greetings, moby Dave. How's that address-book thing for
   the Mac going?"  4.  adj. In backgammon, doubles on the dice, as
   in "moby sixes", "moby ones", etc.  Compare this with BIGNUMS:
   double sixes are both bignums and moby sixes, but moby ones are not
   bignums (the use of term "moby" to describe double ones is
   sarcastic).  MOBY FOO, MOBY WIN, MOBY LOSS: standard emphatic
   forms.  FOBY MOO: a spoonerism due to Greenblatt.

MODE n. A general state, usually used with an adjective describing the
   state.  Use of the word "mode" rather than "state" implies that
   the state is extended over time, and probably also that some
   activity characteristic of that state is being carried out. "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. "The E editor normally uses a
   display terminal, but if you're on a TTY it will switch to
   non-display mode." This term is normally used in a technical sense
   to describe the state of a program.  Extended usage --- for example,
   to describe people --- is definitely slang.  In particular, see HACK

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) (the precise meaning is a bit more complicated, but that's the
   idea).  "Well, LISP seems to work okay now, modulo that GC bug."
   "I feel fine today modulo a slight headache."

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/ n. 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/ [from the 1970 census forms via USENET, Member Of The
   Opposite 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 /motss/ [from the 1970 census forms via 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 newsgroup on USENET is called
   soc.motss.  See MOTOS and MOTAS, which derive from it.  Also see

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 AHEAD v. To manipulate a computer's pointing device (almost
   always a mouse in this usage, but not necessarily) and its
   selection or command buttons before a computer program is ready to
   accept such input, in anticipation of the program accepting the
   input.  Handling this properly is rare, but it can help make a USER
   FRIENDLY program usable by real users, assuming they are familiar
   with the behavior of the user interface.  Point-and-click analog of
   "type ahead".

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
   screen. Compare THINKO.

MS-DOS /em-es-das/ [MicroSoft Disk Operating System] n. A clone of
   CP/M (q.v.) for the 8088 crufted together in six weeks by hacker
   Tim Paterson, who is said to have regretted it ever since.  Now the
   highest-unit-volume OS in history.  Often known as DOS, which
   annoys people familiar with other similarly-abbreviated operating
   systems.  See MESS-DOS.

MULTICIAN /muhl-ti'sh@n/ [coined at Honeywell, c.1970] n.  Competent
   user of MULTICS (q.v.).

MULTICS /muhl'tiks/ n. [from "MULTiplexed Information and Computing
   Service"] An early (late 1960s) timesharing operating system
   co-designed by a consortium including MIT, GE and Bell
   Laboratories, very innovative for its time (among other things, it
   introduced the idea of treating all devices uniformly as special
   files). All the members but GE eventually pulled out after
   determining that SECOND-SYSTEM EFFECT had bloated MULTICS to the
   point of practical unusability (the `lean' predecessor in question
   is said to have been CTSS, (q.v.)).  Honeywell comercialized
   MULTICS after buying out GE's computer group, but it was never very
   successful (amomg other things, one was required to enter a
   password to log out).  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.  "Don't you think that we could
   improve LISP performance by using a hybrid reference-count
   transaction garbage collector, if the cache is big enough and there
   are some extra cache bits for the microcode to use?"  "Well,
   mumble... I'll have to think about it."  2. Sometimes used as an
   expression of disagreement.  "I think we should buy a VAX."
   "Mumble!"  Common variant: MUMBLE FROTZ. 3. Yet another
   metasyntactic variable, like FOO.

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 and nearly
   synonymous with GROVEL, 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
   generally, suppose a graphics program produces an impressive and
   ever-changing display of some basic form FOO on a display terminal,
   and does it using a relatively simple program; then the program (or
   the resulting display) is likely to be referred to as "munching
   FOOs" (this is a good example of the use of the word FOO as a
   metasyntactic variable).

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 /muhng/ alt. MUNGE /muhnj/ [in 1960 at MIT, "Mash Until No
   Good"; sometime after that the derivation from the recursive
   acronym "Mung Until No Good" became standard] 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; this ia a consequence of Murphy's Law.  See
   SCRIBBLE, MANGLE, TRASH. Reports from USENET suggest that the
   pronunciation /muhnj/ is now usual in speech, but the spelling
   `mung' is still common in program comments. 3. The kind of beans of
   which the sprouts are used in Chinese food.  (That's their real
   name!  Mung beans!  Really!)

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; "This crock has N bugs, as N goes to infinity".  3. A
   variable whose value is specified by the current context.  For
   example, when ordering a meal at a restaurant N may be understood
   to mean however many people there are at the table.  From the
   remark "We'd like to order N wonton soups and a family dinner for
   N-1." you can deduce that one person at the table wants to eat
   only soup, even though you don't know how many people there are.  A
   silly riddle: "How many computers does it take to shift the bits
   in a register?  N+1: N to hold all the bits still, and one to shove
   the register over." 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 areal init (about 2mm.sq.) of
   "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/ n. 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

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
   NETIQUETTE. Compare SHITOGRAM.  3. (deprecated) An error reply by
   mail from a DAEMON; in particular, a BOUNCE MESSAGE.

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.

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/ [onomatopoeic, 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!"

NET. (net dot) [USENET] Prefix used to describe people and events
   related to USENET.  From the time before the GREAT RENAMING, when
   when all non-local newsgroups had names beginning "net.".
   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.  See also NET.POLICE.

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.

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 NET., CODE POLICE.

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. See also

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

NEW TESTAMENT n. [C programmers] The second edition of K&R's "The C
   Programming Language", defining ANSI Standard C. See WHITE BOOK.

NEWBIE /n./ [orig. fr. British military & public-school slang] A
   USENET neophyte.  This term originated in the NEWSGROUP
   "talk.bizarre" but is now in wide use.  Criteria for being
   considered a newbie vary wildly; a person can be called a newbie in
   one newsgroup while remaining a respected participant in another.
   The label "newbie" is sometimes applied as a serious insult, to a
   person who has been around USENET for a long time, but who
   carefully hides all evidence of having a clue.  See BIFF.

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.

NEWLINE /n[y]oo'lien/ n. 1. [UNIX] The ASCII LF character (decimal
   10), used under UNIX as a text line terminator.  A Bell-Labs-ism
   rather than a Berkeleyism; interestingly (and unusually for UNIX
   slang) it is said originally to have been an IBM usage. 2. More
   generally, any magic character sequence or operation (like Pascal's
   writeln() function) required to terminate a text record.  See CRLF,

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.1.wizards (for UNIX wizards), rec.arts.sf-lovers
   (for science-fiction fans) and talk.politics.misc (miscellaneous
   political discussions and FLAMAGE).

NICKLE n. A NYBBLE + 1; 5 bits. Reported among developers for Mattel's
   GI 1600 (the Intellivision games processor), a chip with
   16-bit-wide RAM but 10-bit-wide ROM.  See also DECLE.

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.

NMI n. Non-Maskable Interrupt. See PRIORITY INTERRUPT.

NON-OPTIMAL (or SUB-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 DIKE, applied to smaller
   things such as files, features or code sections. 3. Used of
   processes as well as files; frequently an alias for "kill -9" on

NULL DEVICE n. A LOGICAL input/output device connected to the BIT
   BUCKET; when you write to it nothing happens, when you reaad from
   it you get a zero-length record full of nothing.  Useful for
   discarding unwanted output or using interactive programs in a
   non-interactive way.  See /DEV/NULL.

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,

NYBBLE /nib'l/ [from v. `nibble' by analogy with `bite' -> `byte'] n.
   Four bits; one hexadecimal digit; a half-byte. Though `byte' is now
   accepted technical jargon found in dictionaries, this useful
   relative is still slang. Compare CRUMB, see also BIT.

                                {= O =}

OB /ob/ pref. Obligatory.  A piece of NETIQUETTE that acknowledges the
   author has been straying from the newsgroup's charter.  For
   example, if a posting in has nothing particularly to do
   with sex, the author may append "ObSex" (or "Obsex") and toss
   off a question or vignette about some unusual erotic act.

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."  "The find(1) command's 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 form.

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.

   This relatively short and sweet entry might help convey the flavor
   of obfuscated C:


   main(v,c)char**c;{for(v[c++]="Hello, world!\n)";(!!c)[*c]&&

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

OFF-BY-ONE ERROR n. Exceedingly common error induced in many ways,
   such as by starting at 0 when you should have started at 1 or vice
   versa, or by writing < N instead of <= N 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."  Specifically used on USENET to suggest that
   a discussion be taken off a public newsgroup to email.

OLD FART n. Tribal elder. A title self-assumed with remarkable
   frequency by (esp.) USENETters who have been programming for more
   than about twenty five years; frequently appears in SIGs attached
   to jargon file contributions of great archeological significance.
   This is a term of insult in second or third person but pride in
   first person.

OLD TESTAMENT n. [C programmers] The first edition of the book
   describing CLASSIC C; see WHITE BOOK.

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 (see WRITE-ONLY LANGUAGE). 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
   (q.v.) 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/ [from Dr. Seuss' "Bartholomew and the Ooblick"] 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
   are roughly C2.  See also RED BOOK, BLUE BOOK, GREEN BOOK, SILVER

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
   also RAVS, GREAT-WALL, STIR-FRIED RANDOM. Thai, Indian, Korean and
   Vietnamese cuisines are also quite popular.

ORPHAN [UNIX] n. A process whose parent has died; one inherited by
   init(1). Compare ZOMBIE.

ORTHOGONAL [from mathematics] adj. Mutually independent;
   well-separated; sometimes, irrelevant to.  Used in a generalization
   of its mathematical meaning 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 `nand', `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.  See
   Appendix B.

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.  Often called "Half-an-OS". See VAPORWARE, MONSTROSITY,

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. Compare GLITCH, THINKO.

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." Derives from a
   relatively common but nearly always correctable transient error in
   RAM hardware.

PARSE [from linguistic terminology via AI research] 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 source code upgrades and fixes over USENET.

PBD [abbrev of `Programmer Brain Damage'] n. Applied to bug reports
   revealing places where the program was obviously broken due to an
   incompetent or short-cited programmer. Compare UBD; see also

PC-ISM n. A piece of code or coding technique that takes advantage of
   the unprotected single-tasking environment in IBM PCs and the like.
   e.g. by busy-waiting on a hardware register, direct diddling of
   screen memory, or using hard timing loops. Compare ILL-BEHAVED,
   VAXISM, UNIXISM. Also, PC-WARE n., a program full of PC-ISMs on a
   machine with a more capable operating system. Pejorative.

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
   or 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."  "I haven't
   done it yet because every time I pop my pdl something new gets
   pushed."  If you are interrupted several times in the middle of a
   conversation, "my pdl overflowed" means "I forget what we were
   talking about" (the implication is that too many items were pushed
   onto the pdl than could be remembered, and so the least recent
   items were lost).  All these usages are also frequently found with
   STACK (q.v) itself as the subject noun.  See PUSH and POP.  2. Dave
   Lebling, one of the coauthors of ZORK (q.v.); (his NETWORK ADDRESS
   on the ITS machines was at one time pdl@dms).

PDP-10 [Programmable Data 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.  Later editions
   were labelled `DECsystem-10' as a way of differentiating them from
   the PDP-11.  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' ess/ [From "%s", the formatting sequence in C's
   printf(3) 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

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

PERL [Practical Extraction and Report Language, aka Pathologically
   Eclectic Rubbish Lister] n. An interpreted language developed by
   Larry Wall (, author of patch(1)) and distributed
   over USENET.  Superficially resembles awk(1), but is much more
   arcane (see AWK).  Increasingly considered a LANGUAGE OF CHOICE by
   UNIX sysadmins, who are almost always incorrigible hackers. Perl
   has been described, in a parody of a famous remark about lex(1), as
   the "Swiss-army chainsaw" of UNIX programming.

PESSIMAL /pes'i-ml/ [Latin-based antonym for "optimal"] adj.
   Maximally bad.  "This is a pessimal situation." Also PESSIMIZE v.
   to make as bad as possible.  These words are the obvious
   Latin-based antonyms for "optimal" and "optimize", but for some
   reason they do not appear in most English dictionaries, although
   "pessimize" is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

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.  The
   implication is that the compiler is actually trying to optimize the
   program, but through stupidity is doing the opposite.  A few
   pessimizing compilers have been written on purpose, however, as

PHANTOM n. At Stanford, the term PHANTOM was formerly used to mean a
   DRAGON (q.v.).

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 , but less frequently, used, meaning you're working 9 to 5 (or
   more likely 10 to 6)) 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. However, some claim
   that either staying awake longer or sleeping longer is easy, an
   that it's *shortening* your day or night that's hard. The
   phenomenon of "jet lag" that afflicts travelers who cross many
   time-zone boundaries may be attributed to two distinct causes: the
   strain of travel per se, and the strain of changing phase.  Hackers
   who suddenly find that they must change phase drastically in a
   short period of time, particularly the hard way, experience
   something very like jet lag without travelling.

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."

   True story: Once upon a time, a program written by Gerry Sussman
   (professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT) and Guy Steele had a
   bug that really did depend on the phase of the moon!  There is a
   little subroutine that had traditionally been used in various
   programs at MIT to calculate an approximation to the moon's true
   phase; the phase is then printed out at the top of program
   listings, for example, along with the date and time, purely for
   fun.  (Actually, since hackers spend a lot of time indoors, this
   might be the only way they would ever know what the moon's phase
   was!)  Steele incorporated this routine into a LISP program that,
   when it wrote out a file, would print a `timestamp" line almost
   80 characters long. Very occasionally the first line of the message
   would be too long and would overflow onto the next line, and when
   the file was later read back in the program would BARF.  The length
   of the first line depended on the precise time when the timestamp
   was printed, and so the bug literally depended on the phase of the

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, also ENQ. 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 submariners'
   "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.

PIP /pip/ v. obs. To copy, from the program PIP on CP/M and RSX-11
   that was used for file copying (and in RSX for just about every
   other file operation you might want to do). Obsolete, but still
   occasionally heard.

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. See also ROTARY DEBUGGER.

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

PLAYTE /din'r/ 16 bits, by analogy with NYBBLE and BYTE. Usage: rare
   and extremely silly.  See also DYNNER.

PLINGNET /pling'net/ n. See UUCPNET.  (Usage: British)

PLONK [USENET] The sound a NEWBIE makes as he falls to the bottom of a
   KILL FILE.  Almost exclusively used in the NEWSGROUP
   "talk.bizarre", this term (usually written "*plonk*") is a form
   of public ridicule.

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; see SCRATCH MONKEY. 2. n.
   Abbrev. for "Presentation Manager", an ELEPHANTINE OS/2 graphical
   user interface.

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

POD n. A diablo 630 (or, latterly, any impact letter quality printer).
   From the DEC-10 PODTYPE program used to feed formatted text to

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). Also "rectangle slinger".

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] 1. v.  To remove something from a stack or PDL.
   If a person says he has popped something from his pdl, he means he
   has finally finished working on it and can now remove it from the
   list of things hanging over his head.  2. To return from a
   digression (the J-form derives specifically 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.  See GRIND.

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. Also called an NMI (non maskable
   interrupt) especially in PC-land.

PROGRAMMER'S CHEER "Shift to the left!  Shift to the right!  Push
   down, pop up!  Byte!  Byte!  Byte!"  A joke so old it has hair on

PROPELLER HEAD n. Used by hackers, this is syn. with COMPUTER GEEK.
   Non-hackers sometimes use it to describe all techies.  Prob.
   derives from SF fandom's tradition of propeller beanies as fannish
   insignia (though nobody actually wears them except as a joke).


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, REAPER.

PSEUDO /soo'do/ [USENET] n. 1. An electronic-mail or USENET persona
   adopted by a human for amusement value or as a means of avoiding
   negative repercussions of his/her net.behavior; a `nom de USENET',
   often associated with forged postings designed to conceal message
   origins. Perhaps the best-known and funniest hoax of this type is
   BIFF (q.v.). 2. Notionally, a FLAMAGE-generating AI program
   simulating a USENET user. Many FLAMERS have been accused of
   actually being such entities, despite the fact that no AI program
   of the required sophistication exists. However, in 1989 there was a
   famous series of forged postings that used a phrase-frequency-based
   travesty generator to simulate the styles of several well-known
   flamers based on large samples of their back postings. A
   significant number of people were fooled by these, and the debate
   over their authenticity was only settled when the perpetrator of
   the hoax came publicly forward to admit the deed.

PSEUDOPRIME n. A backgammon prime (six consecutive occupied points)
   with one point missing.  This term is an esoteric pun derived from
   a mathematical method which, rather than determining precisely
   whether a number is prime (has no divisors), uses a statistical
   technique to decide whether the number is "probably" prime.  A
   number that passes this test is called a pseudoprime.  The hacker
   backgammon usage stems from the idea that pseudoprime is almost as
   good as a prime: it does the job of a prime until proven otherwise,
   and that probably won't happen.

PSEUDOSUIT n. A SUIT wannabee; a hacker who's decided that he wants to
   be in management or administration and begins wearing ties, sport
   coats and (shudder!) suits voluntarily.  Chacun a son gout...

PUNT [from the punch line of an old joke referring to American
   football: "Drop back 15 yards and punt"] v. To give up, typically
   without any intention of retrying.  "Let's punt the movie
   tonight."  "I was going to hack all night to get this feature in,
   but I decided to punt" may mean that you've decided not to stay up
   all night, and may also mean you're not ever even going to put in
   the feature.

PURPLE BOOK, THE n. The System V Interface Definition.  The covers of
   the first editions were an amazingly nauseating shade of
   off-lavender.  See also RED BOOK, BLUE BOOK, GREEN BOOK, SILVER

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] Also PUSHJ (push-jay), based on the PDP-10 procedure
   call instruction.  1. To put something onto a stack or PDL.  If a
   person says something has been pushed onto his pdl, he means yet
   another thing has been added to the list of things hanging over his
   head for him to do.  2. v. To enter upon a digression, to save the
   current discussion for later.  Antonym of POP, POPJ; see also PDL.


                                {= Q =}

QUADRUPLE BUCKY n., obs. On a SPACE-CADET KEYBOARD (q.v.), use of all
   four of the shifting keys control, meta, hyper, and super while
   typing a character key.  This was very difficult to do!  One
   accepted technique was to press the left-control and left-meta keys
   with your left hand, the right-control and right-meta keys with
   your right hand, and the fifth key with your nose.  Thus, this
   combination was very seldom used in practice, because when you
   invent a new command you usually assign it to some character that
   is easier to type.  If you want to imply that a program has
   ridiculously many commands or features, you can say something like
   "Oh, the command that makes it spin all the tapes while whistling
   Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is quadruple-bucky-cokebottle". See

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 /kwuhks/ The fourth of the standard metasyntactic variables, after
   BAZ and before the QUU*X series.  See FOO, BAR, BAZ, QUUX. Note
   that this appears to a be recent mutation from QUUX, and that many
   versions of the standard series just run FOO, BAR, BAZ, QUUX,

QUUX /kwuhks/ [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.  In an eloquent display of poetic justice,
   it has returned to the originator in the form of a nickname, as
   punishment for inventing this bletcherous word in the first place.
   2. interj. See FOO; however, denotes very little disgust, and is
   uttered mostly for the sake of the sound of it.  3. Guy L. Steele
   in his persona as "The Great Quux", which is somewhat infamous
   for light verse and for the "Crunchly" cartoons.  4. QUUXY: adj.
   Of or pertaining to a QUUX.

QWERTY /kwer'tee/ adj. Pertaining to a standard English typewriter
   keyboard, as opposed to Dvorak or foreign-language layouts or a
   SPACE-CADET or APL keyboard.

                                {= 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 registers, but randomly
   uses seven for assorted non-overlapping purposes, so that no one
   else can invoke it without first saving four extra registers.  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").  It means
   roughly "some particular" or "any specific one".  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 for its accidental failure to malfunction).  "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

RAPE v. To (metaphorically) screw someone or something, violently; in
   particular, to destroy a program or information irrecoverably
   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 (though it is alleged that some versions of the V7 manuals
   used the term `half-cooked'). Usage: rare.

RASTER BLASTER n. [Cambridge] Specialized hardware for BITBLT (q.v.)
   operations.  Allegedly inspired by analogy with `Rasta Blasta',
   British slang for the sort of portable stereo/radio/tapedeck
   Americans call a `boom box' or `ghetto blaster'.

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
   differs slightly from FLAME in that RAVE implies that it is the
   manner or persistence of speaking that is annoying, while FLAME
   implies somewhat more strongly that the subject matter is annoying
   as well.

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

RAVS /ravz/, also CHINESE RAVS n.  Kuo-teh.  A Chinese appetizer,
   known variously in the plural as dumplings, potstickers and (around
   Boston) `Peking Ravioli'.  The term "rav" is short for
   "ravioli", which among hackers always means the Chinese kind
   rather than the Italian kind.  Both consist of a filling in a pasta
   shell, but the Chinese kind uses a thinner pasta and is cooked
   differently, either by steaming or frying.  A rav or dumpling can
   be steamed or fried, but a potsticker is always the fried kind (so
   called because it sticks to the frying pot and has to be scraped
   off).  "Let's get hot-and-sour soup and three orders of ravs."
   See also ORIENTAL FOOD.

READ.ME FILE n. By convention, the top-level directory of a UNIX
   source distribution always contains a file named `READ.ME' (or
   README, or (rarely) ReadMe) which is a hacker's-eye introduction
   containing a pointer to more detailed documentation, credits,
   miscellaneous revision history notes, etc.

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

REAL PROGRAMMER [indirectly, from the book "Real Men Don't Eat
   Quiche"] n. A particular sub-variety of hacker, one possessed of a
   flippant attitude towards complexity that is arrogant even when
   justified by experience.  The archetypal `real programmer' likes to
   program on the BARE METAL, and is very good at same; he remembers
   the binary opcodes for every machine he's every programmed and
   thinks that HLLs are for wimps.  Real Programmers aren't satisfied
   with code that hasn't been BUMmed into a state of TENSEness just
   short of rupture.  Real Programmers never use comments or write
   documentation; "If it was hard to write", says the Real
   Programmer, "it should be hard to understand."  Real Programmers
   can make machines do things that were never in their spec sheets;
   in fact, they're seldom really happy unless doing so.  A Real
   Programmer's code can awe you with its fiendish brilliance even as
   it appalls by its level of CROCKISHNESS.  Real Programmers live on
   junk food and coffee, hang line-printer art on their walls, and
   terrify the crap out of other programmers --- because someday,
   somebody else might have to try to understand their code in order
   to change it.  Their successors generally consider it a GOOD THING
   that there aren't many Real Programmers around any more.

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
   USER.  Hackers who are also students may also be REAL USERS.  "I
   need this fixed so I can do a problem set.  I'm not complaining out
   of randomness, but as a real user." See also LUSER.

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.  Places where programs do such commercially
   necessary but intellectually uninspiring things as compute payroll
   checks and invoices.  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 person.  See also FEAR AND LOATHING, MUNDANE, and

REAPER n. A PROWLER which GFRs files (see GFR). A file removed in this
   way is said to have been "reaped".



RECURSIVE ACRONYMS pl.n. A hackish (and especially MIT) tradition is
   to choose acronyms which refer humorously to themselves or to other
   acronyms. The classic examples were two MIT editors called EINE
   ("EINE Is Not EMACS") and ZWEI ("ZWEI Was EINE Initially").
   More recently, GNU (q.v., sense #1) is said to stand for "GNU's
   Not UNIX!"

RED BOOK n. 1. Informal name for one of the three standard references
   on PostScript; the others are known as the GREEN BOOK and BLUE
   BOOK.  2. Any of the 1984 standards issued by the CCIT 8th plenary
   assembly. They change color each review cycle (1988 was BLUE BOOK,
   1992 will be GREEN BOOK).  These include, among other things, the
   X.400 email spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards.  See also

REGEXP /reg'exp/ [UNIX] n. 1. 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.  2. Name of a well-known PD regexp-handling package in
   portable C, written by revered USENETter Henry Spencer

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 theological idea.

RELIGIOUS ISSUES n. Questions which seemingly cannot be raised without
   touching off a HOLY WAR, such as "What is the best
   editor/language/operating system/architecture/shell/mail
   reader/news reader". See also THEOLOGY.

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), a pattern in a cellular automaton (see
   LIFE, sense #1), or (speculatively) a robot.

RETCON /ret'-con/ ["retroactive continuity", from USENET's
   rec.arts.comics] 1. n. the common situation in pulp fiction (esp.
   comics, soaps) where a new story "reveals" new things about
   events previous stories, usually leaving the "facts" the same
   (thus preserving "continuity") while completely changing their
   interpretation.  E.g., revealing that a whole season's episodes of
   Dallas was a dream was a retcon.  2.  v.t. To write such a story
   about (a character or fictitious object).  Thus, "Byrne has
   retconned Superman's cape so that it is no longer unbreakable".
   3. v.i. Used of something "transformed" in this way -
   "Marvelman's old adventures were retconned into synthetic
   dreams", "Swamp Thing was retconned from a transformed person
   into a sentient vegetable."

   [Ed.note: This is included because it's a good example of hackish
   innovation in a field completely unrelated to computers.  The word
   "retcon" will probably spread through comics fandom and lose its
   association with hackerdom within a couple of years; for the
   record, it started here.]

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
   programming language INTERCAL (q.v.), a jcl-emulating shell for
   UNIX, the card-punch-emulating editor named 029, and various
   elaborate PDP-11 hardware emulators and RT-11 OS emulators written
   just to keep an old, sourceless ZORK binary running.

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.  For this reason they remain
   known as RFCs even once adopted.

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 a mod 0? Should it
   return a, or give a divide-by-zero error?"  Antonym: WRONG THING,
   THE (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.

ROOT n. [UNIX] 1. The top node of the system directory structure (home
   directory of the root user).  2. The "superuser" account that
   ignores permission bits, user number zero on a UNIX system. This
   account has the user name `root'.  3. By extension, the privileged
   system-maintenance login on any OS.  4. Thus, ROOT MODE: Syn. with
   WIZARD MODE or WHEEL MODE. Like these, it is often generalized to
   describe privileged states in systems other than OSs.  5. GO ROOT:
   to temporarily enter ROOT MODE in order to perform a privileged
   operation. This use is deprecated in Australia, where v. "root"
   is slang for "to have sex with".

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.

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

ROT13 /rot-ther'teen/ [USENET, from "rotate alphabet 13 places"]
   n.,v. The simple encryption of replacing each English letter with
   the one 13 places forward or back along the alphabet, so that "The
   butler did it!" becomes "Gur ohgyre qvq vg!"  Most Usenet news
   reading and posting programs include a rot13 feature.  It is used
   as if to enclose the text in a sealed wrapper that the reader must
   choose to open, for posting things that might offend some readers,
   answers to puzzles, or discussion of movie plot surprises.

RTFM /ahr-tee-ef-em/ [UNIX] Abbrev. for "Read The Fucking Manual".
   1. Used by GURUs to brush off questions they consider trivial or
   annoying.  Compare DON'T DO THAT, THEN.  2. Used when reporting a
   problem to indicate that you aren't just asking out of RANDOMNESS.
   "No, I can't figure out how to interface UNIX to my toaster and
   yes I have RTFM."  Unlike sense #1 this use is considered polite.

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,

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.

RUNES pl.n. 1. Anything that requires HEAVY WIZARDRY or BLACK ART to
   PARSE; core dumps, JCL commands, or even code in a language you
   don't have the faintest idea how to read.  Compare CASTING THE
   RUNES.  2. Special display characters (for example, the high-half
   graphics on an IBM PC).  3. RUNIC adj. Syn. OBSCURE. VMS fans
   sometimes refer to UNIX as `Runix'; UNIX fans return the compliment
   by expanding VMS to `Vachement Mauvais Systeme'.

                                {= 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.  Example: The comment "Register 7 is sacred to the
   interrupt handler" appearing in a program would be interpreted by
   a hacker to mean that one part of the program, the "interrupt
   handler", uses register 7, and if any other part of the program
   changes the contents of register 7 dire consequences are likely 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.

SALESCRITTER /sayls'kri-tr/ n. Pejorative hackerism for a computer
   salesperson. Hackers tell the following joke:

     Q. What's the difference between a used car dealer and a
        computer saleman?
     A. The used car dealer knows he's lying.

   This reflects the widespread hacker belief that salescritters are
   self-selected for stupidity (after all, if they had brains and the
   inclination to use them they'd be making more money programming).

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;
   WIREHEAD and WORM originated in SF itself.

SCRATCH [from "scratchpad"] 1. adj. A device or recording medium
   attached to a machine for testing or temporary-use purposes; one
   which can be SCRIBBLED on without loss.  Usually in the combining
   See 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 EFFECT 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 was first used by Fred Brooks
   in his classic book "The Mythical Man-Month". It described the jump
   from a set of nice, simple, operating monitors on the IBM 70xx
   series to OS/360 on the 360 series.

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.

SEGMENT v. To CORE DUMP with a segment violation error (see SEGGIE).
   Used of programs.


SELVAGE /selv'@j/ [from sewing] 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?"
   "Semi-immediately." (That is, maybe not for an hour).  "We did
   consider that possibility semi-seriously."

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.  The Intel 8048
   even had logical-or and logical-and instructions ORL and ANL.

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 [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.  This sort
   of program is also called a "wrapper".

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!  You
   can move to that empty one to the left (right)."  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.

SHITOGRAM /shit'oh-gram/ n. A *really* nasty piece of email. Compare

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

SIG /sig/ or SIG BLOCK /sig blok/ [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 (see SIG QUOTE); 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 THE NETWORK.

SIG QUOTE /sig kwoht/ [USENET] n. A maxim, quote, proverb, joke or
   slogan embedded in one's SIG (q.v.) and intended to convey
   something of one's philosophical stance, pet peeves, or sense of
   humor. "He *must* be a Democrat --- he posted a sig quote from Dan

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

SITENAME [UNIX/Internet] n. The unique electronic name of a computer
   system, used to identify it in UUCP mail, USENET or other forms of
   electronic information interchange. The folklore interest of
   sitenames stems from the creativity and humor they often display.
   Interpreting a sitename is not unlike interpreting a vanity license
   plate; one has to mentally unpack it, allowing for mono-case and
   length restrictions and the lack of whitespace. Hacker tradition
   deprecates dull, institutional-sounding names in favor of punchy,
   humorous and clever coinages (except that it is considered
   appropriate for the official public gateway machine of an
   organization to bear the organization's name or acronym).
   Mythological references, cartoon characters, animal names, and
   allusions to SF or fantasy literature are probably the most popular
   sources for sitenames (in roughly that order). See also NETWORK

SLEEP v. 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 sleep'.

SLOP n. 1. A one-sided fudge factor (q.v.), that is, an allowance for
   error but only in one of two directions.  For example, if you need
   a piece of wire ten feet long and have to guess when you cut it,
   you make very sure to cut it too long, by a large amount if
   necessary, rather than too short by even a little bit, because you
   can always cut off the SLOP but you can't paste it back on again.
   When discrete quantities are involved, slop is often introduced to
   avoid the possibility of a FENCEPOST ERROR (q.v.).  2. n. The ratio
   of the size code generated by a compiler to the size of equivalent
   HAND-HACKED assembler code, minus 1; i.e., the space (or maybe
   time) you lose because you didn't do it yourself.  This number is
   often used as a measure of the goodness of a compiler; slop below
   5% is very good, and 10% is usually acceptable for most purposes.
   With modern compiler technology, esp. on RISC machines, the
   compiler's slop may actually be *negative*; that is, humans may be
   unable to generate code as good.  This is one of the reasons
   assembler programming is no longer common.

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 may be contrasted with the strategy of reading a small
   piece at a time, processing it, and then reading the next piece).
   "This program slurps in a 1K-by-1K matrix and does an FFT."

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).

SMART TERMINAL n. A terminal that has enough computing capability to
   perform useful work independently of the main computer.  The
   development of workstations and personal computers has made this
   term and the product it describes semi-obsolescent, but one may
   still hear variants of the phrase "act like a smart terminal"
   used to describe the behavior of workstations/PCs with respect to
   programs that execute almost entirely out of a remote SERVER's
   storage, using said devices as displays.

   There's a classic quote from Rob Pike (inventor of the BLIT (q.v.)
   terminal): "A smart terminal is not a smart*ass* terminal,
   but rather a terminal you can educate."  This illustrates a common
   design problem; the attempt to make peripherals (or anything else)
   intelligent sometimes results in finicky, rigid "special
   features" that become just so much dead weight if you try to use
   the device in any way the designer didn't anticipate.  Flexibility
   and programmability, on the other hand, are *really* smart.

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.


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 [ITS] 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. 1. 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.  It
   is also used ironically to imply that a difficult problem can be
   easily solved because a program can be written to do it; the irony
   is that it is very clear that writing such a program will be a
   great deal of work.  Example: "It's easy to change a FORTRAN
   compiler to compile COBOL as well; it's just a Small Matter of
   Programming."  2. Often used ironically by the intended victim
   when a suggestion for a program is made which seems easy to the
   suggester, but is obviously a lot of work to the programmer.

SNAIL-MAIL n. Paper mail, as opposed to electronic.  Sometimes written
   as the single word `SnailMail'.  Derives from earlier coinage
   `USnail' for which there have been parody posters and stamps made.
   Oppose 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.  to snarf, sometimes with the
   connotation of absorbing, processing, or understanding.  "I think
   I'll snarf down the list of DDT commands so I'll know what's
   changed recently."  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 and then stuffing the contents of
   that region into another region or into the same region, to avoid
   re-typing a command line.

SNARK [Lewis Carroll, via the Michigan Terminal System] n. 1. A system
   failure.  When a user's process bombed, the operator would get a
   message "Help, Help, Snark in MTS!".  2. More generally, any kind
   of unexplained or threatening event on a computer.  Often used to
   refer to events or log file entries which might indicate an
   attempted security violation.  3. UUCP name of,
   home site of the Jargon File 2.x.x versions.

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. (Also known as BIT DECAY, BIT ROT) Hypothetical
   disease the existence of which has been deduced from the
   observation that unused programs or features will often stop
   working after sufficient time has passed, even if "nothing has
   changed".  The theory explains that bits decay as if they were
   radioactive.  As time passes, the contents of a file or the code in
   a program will become increasingly garbled.  There actually are
   physical processes that produce such effects (the alpha particles
   such as are found in cosmic rays can change the contents of a
   computer memory unpredictably, and various kinds of subtle media
   failures can corrupt files in mass storage) but they are quite
   rare.  Nevertheless, when you can't figure out why something
   stopped working, it is often humorously convenient to blame

   Historical note: software rot in an even funnier sense than the
   mythical one was a real problem on early research computers (e. g.
   the R1, see GRIND CRANK).  If a program that depended on a peculiar
   instuction hadn't been run in quite a while, the user might
   discover that the opcodes no longer did the things as they used to.
   ("Hey, so-and-so needs an instruction to do such-and-such.  We can
   snarf this one, right?  No one uses it.")

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."

SORCERER'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.

SPACE-CADET KEYBOARD n. The Knight keyboard, a now-legendary device
   used on MIT LISP machines which inspired several still-current
   slang terms and influenced the design of EMACS (q.v.).  It was
   inspired by the Stanford keyboard and equipped with no less than
   *seven* shift keys: four BUCKY BIT (q.v.) keys (`control', `meta',
   `hyper', and `super') and three like the regular shift key, called
   `shift', `top', and `front'.  Many keys have three symbols on them:
   a letter and a symbol on the top, and a Greek letter on the front.
   For example, the "L" key has an "L" and a two-way arrow on the
   top, and the Greek letter lambda on the front.  If you press this
   key with the right hand while playing an appropriate "chord" with
   the left hand on the shift keys, you can get the following results:

     L               lower-case "l"
     shift-L         upper-case "L"
     front-L         Greek lower-case lambda
     front-shift-L   Greek upper-case lambda
     top-L           two-way arrow (front and shift are ignored)

   And of course each of these may also be typed with any combination
   of the control, meta, hyper, and super keys.  On this keyboard you
   can type over 8000 different characters!  This allows the user to
   type very complicated mathematical text, and also to have thousands
   of single-character commands at his disposal.  Many hackers were
   actually willing to memorize the command meanings of that many
   characters if it will reduce typing time (this view rather
   obviously shaped the interface of EMACS).  Other hackers, however,
   thought having that many bucky bits is overkill, and object that
   such a keyboard can require three or four hands to operate.  See

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 build, in his spare time on a
   scavenged PDP-7, the operating system that became UNIX (q.v.). Ten
   years after that, SPACEWAR was commercialized as one of the first
   video games; descendants are still feeping in video arcades

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

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

SPIN-LOCK [Cambridge] n. A BUSY-WAIT.  Preferred in Britain.

SPLAT n. 1. Name used in many places (DEC, IBM, and others) for the
   ASCII asterisk ("*") character.  2. [MIT] Name used by some
   people for the ASCII number-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
   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 [fr. early IBM "Simultaneous Peripheral Operation On-Line",
   but this acronym is widely thought to have been contrived for
   effect] 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
   universities.  The usual physical example of a stack is to be found
   in a cafeteria: a pile of plates sitting on a spring in a well in a
   cart, so that when you put a plate on the top they all sink down,
   and when you take one off the top the rest spring up a bit.

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. among
   microcomputer hackers.

STATE n. Condition, situation.  "What's the state of your latest
   hack?"  "It's winning away."  "The system tried to read and
   write the disk simultaneously and got into a totally wedged
   state."  A standard question is "What's your state?" which means
   "What are you doing?" or "What are you about to do?"  Typical
   answers might be "I'm about to GRONK OUT", or "I'm hungry".
   Another standard question is "What's the state of the world?"
   meaning "What's new?" or "What's going on?". The more terse and
   humorous way of asking these conventions would be "State-p?".

STIR-FRIED RANDOM alt. STIR-FRIED MUMBLE 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 and economical.

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.  "The
   recent system stoppage was caused by a FRIED transformer."

STUBROUTINE /stuhb'roo-teen/ [contr. of "stub routine"] n. Tiny,
   often vacuous placeholder for a subroutine to be written or fleshed
   out later.

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. English,
   BTW, is relatively kind; our Soviet correspondent informs us that
   the corresponding idiom in Russian hacker jargon is `sovok', lit. a
   tool for grabbing garbage.

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 misfeatures
   (X, however, is larger and slower; see SECOND SYSTEM EFFECT).

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.

SUPERPROGRAMMER n.  A prolific programmer; one who can code
   exceedingly well and quickly.  Not all hackers are
   superprogrammers, but many are.  (Productivity can vary from one
   programmer to another by factors of as much as 1000.  For example,
   programmer A might be able to write an average of 3 lines of
   working code in one day, while another, with the proper tools and
   skill, might be able to write 3,000 lines of working code in one
   day.  This variance is astonishing, appearing in very few other
   areas of human endeavor.)  The term SUPERPROGRAMMER is more
   commonly used within such places as IBM than in the hacker
   community.  It tends to stress productivity rather than creativity
   or ingenuity.  Hackers tend to prefer the terms HACKER and WIZARD.

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' or (in some non-IBM circles)
   `Cobol Charlie'.  2.  [proposed] Meta-name for any CODE GRINDER,
   analogous to J. RANDOM HACKER.

SWAB [From the PDP-11 "byte swap" instruction, and immortallized in
   the option "conv=swab" to DD (q.v.)] 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, or anything functionally
   equivalent to it.  See also BIG-ENDIAN, LITTLE-ENDIAN, BYTESEXUAL.

SWAP SPACE n. Storage space. "I'm just using that corner of the machine
   room for swap space".

SWAPPED adj. From the older (per-task) method of using secondary
   storage devices to implement support for multitasking.  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 the Scheme Report 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/ [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: C's "a[i]"
   notation in syntactic sugar for "*(a + i)".  Coined by Peter
   Landin. "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." - Alan

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 or OS on a computer.  2. n.  The
   entire computer system, including input/output devices, the
   supervisor program or OS, and possibly other software.  3. Any
   large-scale program.  4. Any method or algorithm.  5. 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.  In LISP, the name T means "true", among
   other things.  Some hackers use "T" and "NIL" instead of
   "yes" and "no" almost reflexively.  This sometimes causes
   misunderstandings.  When a waiter or flight attendant asks whether
   a hacker wants coffee, he may well respond "T", meaning that he
   wants coffee; but of course he will be brought a cup of tea
   instead.  As it happens, most hackers like tea at least as well as
   coffee, particularly those who frequent Chinese restaurants, so
   it's not that big a problem.  2. See TIME T. 3. In
   transaction-processing circles, an abbreviation for the noun
   "transaction". 4. [Purdue] Alternate spelling of TEE (q.v.)


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 talk mode conversation; the other person types
             BYE to confirm, or else continues the conversation.)
     CUL     See you later.
     ENQ?    Are you busy? Expects ACK or NAK in return.
     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.)
     JAM     Just a minute... Equivalent to SEC...
     NIL     No (see the main entry for NIL).
     O       Over to you (lower-case works too).
     OO      Over and out (lower-case works too).
     /       Another form of "Over to you"
     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.
     /\/\/\	A giggle or chuckle (rare).

   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 abbreviations 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 loud
     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 or in the UNIX world;
   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" comics.

TAR AND FEATHER [from UNIX tar(1)] v. To create a transportable
   archive from a group of files by first sticking them together with
   the tape archiver tar(1) and then compressing the result (see
   COMPRESS). The latter is dubbed `feathering' by analogy to what you
   do with an airplane propeller to decrease wind resistance; smaller
   files, after all, slip through comm links more easily.

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.
   TASTE refers to sound judgement on the part of the creator; a
   program or feature can *exhibit* taste but cannot "have" taste.
   On the other hand, a feature can have FLAVOR.  Also, FLAVOR has the
   additional meaning of "kind" or "variety" not shared by TASTE.
   FLAVOR is a more popular word among hackers than TASTE, though both
   are used.

TCB /tee see bee/ [IBM] 1. Trouble Came Back.  Intermittent or
   difficult-to reproduce problem which has failed to respond to
   neglect.  Compare HEISENBUG. Not to be confused with: 2. Trusted
   Computing Base, an "official" jargon term from the ORANGE BOOK

TECO /tee'koh/ v. obs. Originally, to edit using the TECO editor in
   one of its infinite variations (see Appendix B); sometimes still
   used to mean "to edit" even when not using TECO! Usage: rare and
   now primarily historical.

TEE n.,v. [Purdue] A carbon copy of an electronic transmisson, "Oh,
   you're sending him the BITS to that?  Slap on a tee for me."  From
   the UNIX command tee(1).  Can also mean `save one for me' as in
   "Tee a slice for me!". Also spelled `T'.

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."

TEN FINGER INTERFACE n. The interface between two networks which
   cannot be directly connected for security reasons; refers to the
   practice of placing two terminals side by side and having an
   operator read from one and type into the other.

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, a student hacker at CMU: "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.

TENURED GRADUATE STUDENT n.  One who has been in graduate school for
   ten years (the usual maximum is five or six): a "ten-yeared"
   student (get it?).  Students don't really get tenure, of course,
   the way professors do, but a tenth-year graduate student has
   probably been around the university longer than any non-tenured

TERAFLOP CLUB /ter'a-flop kluhb/ [FLOP = Floating Point Operation] 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 have been 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 BRAIN DEATH n. Extreme form of TERMINAL ILLNESS (sense #1).

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.). Now rare.
   It is a contraction of "TERminate PRInt line".

TEX /tekh/ n. An extremely powerful MACRO-based text-formatter written
   by Donald E. Knuth, very popular in the computer-science community
   (it is good enough to have displaced UNIX troff(1), the other
   favored formatter, even at many UNIX installations).  TeX fans
   insist on the correct (guttural) pronunciation and mixed-case
   spelling (TeX) of the name.  They like to proliferate names from
   the word `TeX' --- such as TeXnichian (TeX user), TeXhacker (TeX
   programmer), TeXmaster (competent TeX programmer), TeXhax,

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.  This is a generalization and abuse of the technical
   meaning. "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.  Syn. BRAINO.  Compare MOUSO.

THIS TIME, FOR SURE!  Ritual affirmation frequently uttered during
   protracted debugging sessions involving numerous small obstacles
   (as, in for example, attempts to bring up a UUCP connection). For
   the proper effect, this must be uttered in a fruity imitation of
   Bullwinkle the Moose.  Also heard: "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a
   rabbit out of my hat!".  The canonical response is, of course,
   "Oh, Bullwinkle...that trick *never* works!". See HUMOR,

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.
   Someone who keeps changing his mind is said to be thrashing.

THREAD /thred/ n. [USENET, GEnie] Common abbreviation of `topic
   thread', a more or less continuous chain of postings on a single
   topic. Also in 2. UPTHREAD: earlier in the discussion. "As Joe
   pointed out upthread..."


THUNK n. [from the implementation model for ALGOL-60's "call by
   name", a design accident that resulted from a THINKO when
   attempting to describe "call by reference"] 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. Stub routine, in an overlay programming environment,
   which loads and jumps to the correct overlay.  3. 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. The width of one tick of the system clock on the computer.
   Often 1 AC cycle time (1/60 second in the U.S. and 1/50 elsewhere)
   but more recently 1/100 sec has become common.  Syn 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

TICK-LIST FEATURES [Acorn Computers] n. Features in software or
   hardware that customers insist on but never use (calculators in
   desktop TSRs and that sort of thing).

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." means, in the
   context of going out for dinner, "If we meet at Louie's directly,
   we can meet there a little later than if we meet on campus and then
   have to travel to Louie's."  (Louie's is a Chinese restaurant in
   Palo Alto that is a favorite with hackers.  Had the number 30 been
   used instead of "one", it would have implied that the travel time
   from campus to Louie's is thirty minutes; whatever time T is (and
   that hasn't been decided on yet), you can meet half an hour later
   at Louie's than you could on campus and end up eating at the same
   time.  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.  Sometimes the word "time" is
   omitted if there is no danger of confusing "T" as a time with
   "T" meaning "yes".

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.

TITS ON A KEYBOARD n. Small bumps on certain keycaps to keep
   touch-typists registered.  (Usually on the 5 of a numeric keypad,
   and on F and J of a QWERTY keyboard.)

TLA /tee el ay/ [Three-Letter-Acronym] 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. One also hears of "ETLA"
   (Extended Three Letter Acronym, pronounced /ee tee el ay/ ) being
   used to describe four-letter acronyms.

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.

TOGGLE v. To change a BIT from whatever state it is in to the other
   state; to change from 1 to 0 or from 0 to 1.  This probably comes
   from "toggle switches", such as standard light switches, though
   the word "toggle" apparently originally referred to the mechanism
   that keeps the switch in the position to which it is flipped,
   rather than to the fact that the switch has two positions.  There
   are four things you can do to a bit: set it (force it to be 1),
   clear (or zero) it, leave it alone, or toggle it.  (Mathematically,
   one would say that there are four distinct boolean-valued functions
   of one boolean argument, but saying that is much less fun than
   talking about toggling bits.)

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-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 adj. Having the quality of a TOURIST (q.v.).  Often used as
   a pejorative, as in "losing touristic scum".

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 in Appendix B.  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." This term is associated with assembler
   programming (INTERRUPT is more common among HLL programmers) and
   appears to be fading into history as the role of assembler
   continues to shrink.

TRAP DOOR alt. TRAPDOOR n. Syn. with BACK DOOR (q.v.).

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], /ti'tee/ [ITS, but some UNIX people say it
   this way as well] 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
   given 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 Rocky &
   Bullwinkle 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. 1. To change slightly, usually in reference to a value.  Also
   used synonymously with TWIDDLE.  If a program is almost correct,
   rather than figuring out the precise problem, you might just keep
   tweaking it until it works.  See FROBNICATE and FUDGE FACTOR.
   2. To TUNE or BUM a program. This is preferred usage in England.

TWENEX /twe-neks/ n. The TOPS-20 operating system by DEC.  TOPS-10 was
   a typically crufty DEC operating system for the PDP-10, so TOPS-20
   was the obvious name choice for the DEC-20 OS. Bolt, Beranek and
   Newman (BBN) had developed their own system, called TENEX (TEN
   EXecutive), and in creating TOPS-20 DEC copied TENEX and adapted it
   for the 20. The term TWENEX was therefore a contraction of "twenty
   TENEX".  DEC people cringed when they heard TOPS-20 referred to as
   "Twenex", but the term caught on nevertheless.  The written
   abbreviation "20x" was also used.  TWENEX was successful and very
   popular; in fact, there was a period in the 1980s when it commanded
   almost as fervent a culture of partisans as UNIX or ITS --- but
   DEC's decision to scrap all the internal rivals to the VAX
   architecture and the relatively stodgy VMS OS killed the DEC-20 and
   put a sad end to TWENEX's brief day in the sun.

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.  To speak of twiddling a bit connotes
   aimlessnes, and at best doesn't specify what you're doing to the
   bit; by contrast, TOGGLING a bit has a more specific meaning.

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

TWO-TO-THE-N q.  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 =}

UBD [abbreviation for "User Brain Damage"] An abbreviation used to
   close out trouble reports obviously due to utter cluelessness on
   the user's part. Compare PBD; see also BRAIN-DAMAGED.

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; oppose

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, lawyers now say (1990)
   that the requirement for superscript-tm has no legal force, but the
   asterisk usage is entrenched anyhow.  It has been suggested that
   there may be a psychological connection to practice in certain
   religions where the name of the deity is never written out in full,
   e.g. JHWH or G-d is used.

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. Dennis Ritchie, the
   inventor of C, is considered a co-author of the system.  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,

UNIXISM n. A piece of code or coding technique that depends on of the
   protected multi-tasking environment with relatively low
   process-spawn overhead that exists on UNIX systems. Common UNIXISMs
   include: gratuitous use of fork(2); the assumption that certain
   undocumented but well-known features of UNIX libraries like
   stdio(3) are supported elsewhere; reliance on OBSCURE side-effects
   of sytem calls (use of sleep(2) with a zero argument to clue the
   scheduler that you're willing to give up your time-slice, for
   example); the assumption that freshly-allocated memory is empty,
   the assumption that it's safe to never free() memory, etc.

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 /yoos'net/ or /yooz'net/ [from `User's Network'] 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 700 topic groups and distributes up to 15 megabytes of
   new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and FLAMAGE
   every day.  See NEWSGROUP.

USER n. 1. Someone doing "real work" with the computer, who uses a
   computer as a means rather than an end.  Someone who pays to use a
   computer.  See REAL USER.  2. A programmer who will believe
   anything you tell him.  One who asks silly questions.  (This is
   slightly unfair.  It is true that users ask questions (of
   necessity).  Sometimes they are thoughtful or deep.  Very often
   they are annoying or downright stupid, apparently because the user
   failed to think for two seconds or look in the documentation before
   bothering the maintainer.)  See LUSER.  3. Someone who uses a
   program from the outside, however skillfully, without getting into
   the internals of the program.  One who reports bugs instead of just
   going ahead and fixing them.  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.  (The few users who do are known as
   REAL WINNERS.)  The term is a relative one: a consummate hacker may
   be a user with respect to some program he himself does not hack.  A
   LISP hacker might be one who maintains LISP or one who uses LISP
   (but with the skill of a hacker).  A LISP user is one who uses
   LISP, whether skillfully or not.  Thus there is some overlap
   between the two terms; the subtle distinctions must be resolved by

USER FRIENDLY adj. Programmer-hostile.  Generally used by hackers in a
   critical 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.

UUCPNET n. The store-and-forward network consisting of all the world's
   UNIX machines (and others running some clone of the UUCP
   (Unix-to-Unix Copy Program) software). Any machine reachable via a

                                {= 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
   11/34".  Also used to orthogonalize TTL nomenclature; for instance
   a 74V00 is what TI calls a 7400, as distinct from a 74LS00, etc.
   This word differs from [CANONICAL in that the latter means "the
   thing you always use (or the way you always do it) unless you have
   some strong reason to do otherwise", whereas VANILLA simply means
   "ordinary".  For example, when hackers go on a GREAT WALL (q.v.),
   hot-and-sour wonton soup is the CANONICAL wonton soup to get
   (because that is what most of them usually order) even though it
   isn't the VANILLA wonton soup.

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 magnetic-bubble
   memory, LISP machines and a paper from the late 1970s that
   purported to prove limits on maximum 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/ or /vahr/ n. Short for "variable". Compare ARG, PARAM.

VAX /vaks/ n. 1. [from Virtual Address eXtension] 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 standardly used among hackers for the DEC VAX computers.
   "Our installation has four PDP-10's and twenty VAXEN."  See

VAXISM n. A piece of code that excebits VAXOCENTRISM (q.v.) in
   critical areas. Compare PC-ISM, UNIXISM, PC-WARE.

VAXOCENTRISM /vak`soh-sen'trizm/ [analogy with "ethnocentrism"] n. A
   notional disease said to afflict C programmers who persist in
   coding according to certain assumptions valid (esp. under UNIX) on
   VAXEN, but false elsewhere (this can create substantial portability
   problems). Among these are:

  1.    The assumption that dereferencing a null pointer is safe
        because location 0 is readable and zero (it may instead
        cause an illegal-address trap on non-VAXEN, and even on
        VAXEN under OSs other than BSD UNIX).

  2.    The assumption that pointer and integer types are the same
        size, and that pointers can be stuffed into integer
        variables and drawn back out without being truncated or

  3.    The assumption that a data type of any size may begin at
        any byte address in memory (for example, that you can
        freely construct and dereference a pointer to a word-sized
        object at an odd address). On many (esp. RISC) architectures
        better optimized for HLL execution speed this is invalid and
        can cause an illegal address fault or bus error.

  4.    The (related) assumption that there is no `padding' at the
        end of types and that in an array you can thus step right
        from the last byte of a previous component to the first
        byte of the next one.

  5.    The assumption that memory address space is globally flat
        and that the array reference foo[-1] is necessarily valid
        This is not true on segment-addressed machines like Intel
        chips (yes, segmentatation is universally considered a
        BRAIN-DAMAGED way to design but that is a separate issue).

  6.    The assumption that objects can be arbitrarily large with
        no special considerations (again, not true on segmented

  7.    The assumption that the parameters of a routine are stored
        in memory, contiguously, and in strictly ascending or
        descending order (fails on many RISC architectures).

  8.    The assumption that bits and addressable units within an
        object are ordered in the same way and that this order is
        a constant of nature (fails on BIG-ENDIAN machines).

  9.    The assumption that it is meaningful to compare pointers to
        different objects not located within the same array, or to
        objects of different types (the former fails on segmented
        architectures, the latter on word-oriented machines with
        multiple pointer formats).

 10.    The assumption that a pointer to any one type can freely be
        cast into a pointer to any other type (fails on word-
        oriented machines with multiple pointer formats).

 11.    The assumption that "int" is 32 bits (fails on 286-based
        systems under some compilers), or (nearly equivelantly) the
        assumption that sizeof(int) == sizeof(long).

 12.    The assumption that argv[] is writeable (fails in some
        embedded-systems C environments).

 13.    The assumption that characters are signed (fails on the
        68000 series and elsewhere).

 14.    The assumption that all pointers are the same size and
        format, which means you don't have to worry about getting
        the types correct in calls (fails on word-oriented
        machines with multiple pointer formats).

   Note that a programmer can be validly be accused of VAXOCENTRISM
   even if he/she has never seen a VAX. The terms "vaxocentricity"
   and "all-the-world's-a-VAX syndrome" have been used synonymously.

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 [after the plant] n. See FIREWALL.

VERBIAGE /ver'bee-@j/ [IBM] n. Documentation.

VERSION 7 alt. V7 /vee-se'vn/ 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.
   Some old-timers impatient with commercialization and kernel bloat
   still maintain V7 was the Last True UNIX.

VI /vee ie/, *not* /vie/ and NEVER /siks/ [from `Visual Editor'] n. A
   screen editor CRUFTED TOGETHER by Bill Joy for an early BSD
   version. Became the de-facto standard UNIX editor until displaced
   by EMACS after about 1984. Tends to frustrate new users no end, as
   it will neither take commands while accepting input text nor vice
   versa, and it is easy to forget which mode one is in (see CHOKE,
   GAG, BARF). Nevertheless it is still widely used for small editing
   jobs (mainly because it starts up faster than bulky EMACS) and many
   hackers take some trouble to maintain their vi reflexes.

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.

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. This word is nearly
   synonymous with LOGICAL, but is never used of directions.  Note
   that for any thing X, a logical X is either a real X or a virtual
   X, but not both.

VIRTUAL REALITY n. 1. Computer simulations that involve 3D graphics
   and use devices such as the Dataglove to allow the user interact
   with the simulation.  See CYBERSPACE.  2. 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, CYBERSPACE.

VISIONARY n. One who hacks vision, in the sense of an Artificial
   Intelligence researcher working on the problem of getting computers
   to "see" things using TV cameras.  (There isn't any problem in
   sending information from a TV camera to a computer.  The problem
   is, how can the computer be programmed to make use of the camera
   information?  See SMOP.)

VMS /vee em ess/ n. DEC's proprietary operating system for their VAX
   minicomputer; one of the seven or so environments that loom 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.  One major
   hacker gripe with it is its slowness, thus the following limerick:

        There once was a system called VMS
        Of cycles by no means abstemious.
        It's chock-full of hacks
        And runs on a VAX
        And makes my poor stomach all squeamious.
     			---The Great Quux

   See also VAX, TOPS-10, TOPS-20, UNIX.

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; on Macintoshes, it is
   <Cmd>-<Power switch>!  Also called THREE-FINGER SALUTE.

VULTURE CAPITALIST n. Pejorative hackerism for "venture capitalist",
   deriving from the common practice of pushing contracts that deprive
   inventors of both control over their own innovations and most of
   the money they ought to have made from them.

                                {= W =}

WABBIT /wab'it/ [almost certainly from Elmer Fudd's immortal line
   "you wascal wabbit!"] n. 1. A legendary early hack reported on
   a System/360 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 /wol'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] At Harvard (particularly by Tom
   Cheatham and students) this is used instead of FOOBAR as a
   meta-syntactic variable and general nonsense word.  See FOO, BAR,

WALKING DRIVES n. 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.  There
   is a legend about a drive that walked over to the only door to the
   computer room and jammed it shut; the staff had to cut a hole in
   the wall in order to get at it! Walking 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 [WPI] interj. 1. An indication of confusion, usually spoken with
   a quizzical tone.  "Wall??"  2. A request for further
   explication.  Compare OCTAL FORTY.

   It is said that "WALL?"  really came from "talking to a blank
   wall".  It was initially used in situations where, after one
   carefully answered a question, the questioner stared at you
   blankly, having understood nothing that was explained.  One would
   then throw out a "HELLO, WALL?" to elicit some sort of response
   from the questioner.  Later, confused questioners began voicing
   "WALL?" themselves.

   There is an anecdote about a child in a hospital who is addressed
   by a nurse over an intercom and replies "What do you want, Wall?"

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. 1. 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
   Stanford 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). However, the UNIX world doesn't
   have an equivalent term, so perhaps WALLPAPER will take hold there.
   The term probably originated on ITS, where the commands to begin
   and end transcript files were :WALBEG and :WALEND, with default
   file DSK:WALL PAPER.  2. The background pattern used on graphical
   workstations (this is jargon under the "Windows" graphical user
   interface to MS-DOS).  3. WALLPAPER FILE n. The file that contains
   the wallpaper information before it is actually printed on paper.
   (Sometimes you don't intend ever to produce a real paper copy of
   the file, because you can look at the file directly on your
   terminal, but it is still called a "wallpaper file".)

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 -- and, of coaurse, they
   were always set on "spin cycle".  The washing-machine idiom
   transcends language barriers; it's even used in Russian hacker
   jargon. See WALKING DRIVES.  The thick channel cables connecting
   these were called BIT HOSE (see HOSE).

WEASEL [Cambridge University] A "naive user", one who deliberately
   or accidentally does things which are stupid or ill-advised.
   Roughly synonymous with LUSER.

WEDGED adj. 1. To be stuck, incapable of proceeding without help.
   This is different from having CRASHED.  If the system has crashed,
   then it has become totally non-functioning.  If the system is
   wedged, it is trying to do something but cannot make progress; it
   may be capable of doing a few things, but not be fully operational.
   For example, the system may become wedged if the disk controller
   fries; there are some things you can do without using the disks,
   but not many.  Being wedged is slightly milder than being HUNG.
   Also see GRONK, LOCKED UP, HOSED.  2. This term is sometimes used
   as a synonym for DEADLOCKED (q.v).  3. Often refers to humans
   suffering misconceptions.  4. [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. 5. WEDGITUDE (wedj'i-tood) n. The
   quality or state of being wedged.

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. 1. [primarily MS-DOS] Said of software conforming to
   system interface 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.  2.
   Software that does its job quietly and without counterintuitive
   effects. Esp. said of software having an interface spec
   sufficiently simple and well-defined that it can be used as a tool
   by other software.

WELL-CONNECTED adj. Said of a computer installation, this means it has
   reliable email links with THE NETWORK and/or relays a large
   fraction of available USENET newsgroups.

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).
   The term was invented on the TENEX operating system, and carried
   over to TWENEX, Xerox-IFS, and others.  It entered the UNIX culture
   from TWENEX and has been gaining popularity there (esp. at
   university sites).  Privilege bits are sometimes called WHEEL BITS.
   The state of being in a privileged logon is sometimes called WHEEL
   MODE. See also ROOT.

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, and 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 graphical user interfaces.

WIMP ENVIRONMENT n. [acronymic from Window, Icon, Mouse, Pointer] A
   graphical-user-interface based environment, as described by a
   hacker who prefers command-line interfaces for their superior
   flexibility and extensibility.

WIN [from MIT jargon] 1. v. To succeed.  A program wins if no
   unexpected conditions arise.  2.  Success, or a specific instance
   thereof.  A pleasing outcome.  A FEATURE.  3. 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.  4. WIN BIG v. To experience serendipity.  "I went
   shopping and won big; there was a two-for-one sale." 5.  WIN WIN
   interj. Expresses pleasure at a WIN. Oppose LOSE.

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. [prob. from notional SF slang for an electrical brain
   stimulation junkie] 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

WISH LIST n. A list of desired features or bug fixes that probably
   won't get done for a long time, usually because the person
   responsible for the code is too busy or can't think of a clean way
   to do it.

WIZARD n.  1. A person who knows how a complex piece of software or
   hardware works (that is, who GROKS it); esp.  someone who can find
   and fix bugs quickly in an emergency.  This term differs somewhat
   from HACKER.  Someone is a hacker if he has general hacking
   ability, but is only a wizard with respect to something if he has
   specific detailed knowledge of that thing.  A good hacker could
   become a wizard for something given the time to study it.  2. A
   person who is permitted to do things forbidden to ordinary people.
   For example, an Adventure wizard at Stanford may play the Adventure
   game during the day, which is forbidden (the program simply refuses
   to play) to most people because it uselessly consumes too many
   CYCLES. 3. A UNIX expert, esp. a UNIX systems programmer.  This
   usage is well enough established that UNIX WIZARD is a recognized
   job title at some corporations and to most headhunters.  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).

WIZARDLY adj. Pertaining to wizards.  A wizardly FEATURE is one that
   only a wizard could understand or use properly.

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 '88, 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".


WRAP AROUND v., WRAPAROUND n.  1. This is "jargon" in its normal
   computer usage, i.e., describing the action of a counter that
   starts over at 0 or at MINUS INFINITY after its maximum value has
   been reached, and continues incrementing, either because it is
   programmed to do so, or because of an overflow like a car's
   odometer starting over at 0.  2. To CHANGE PHASE gradually and
   continuously by maintaining a steady wake-sleep cycle somewhat
   longer than 24 hours, e.g. living 6 long days in a week.

WRITE-ONLY CODE [a play on "read-only memory"] n. Code sufficiently
   arcane, complex, or ill-structured that it cannot be modified or
   even comprehended by anyone but the original author. A BAD THING.

WRITE-ONLY LANGUAGE n. A language with syntax (or semantics)
   sufficiently dense and bizarre that any routine of significant size
   is WRITE-ONLY CODE. A sobriquet often applied to APL (q.v.), though
   INTERCAL certainly deserves it more.

WRONG THING, THE n. A design, action or decision which is clearly
   incorrect or inappropriate.  Often capitalized; always emphasized
   in speech as if capitalized.  The opposite of the RIGHT THING; more
   generally, anything that is not the RIGHT THING. In cases were
   "the good is the enemy of the best", the merely good, while good,
   is nevertheless the WRONG THING.

WUGGA WUGGA /wuh'guh wuh'guh/ n. Imaginary sound that a computer
   program makes as it labors with a tedious or difficult task.

WYSIWYG /wiz'ee-wig/ adj. User interface (usu. text or graphics
   editor) characterized as being "what you see is what you get;" as
   opposed to one which uses more-or-less obscure commands which do
   not result in immediate visual feedback.  The term can be mildly
   derogatory, as it is often used to refer to dumbed-down interfaces
   targeted at non-programmers, while a hacker has no fear of obscure
   commands.  On the other hand, EMACS was one of the very first
   WYSIWYG editors, replacing (actually, at first overlaying) the
   extremely obscure, command-based TECO.

                                {= X =}

X /eks/ n. 1. 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).  2. An over-sized, over-featured, over-engineered window
   system developed at MIT and widely used on UNIX systems.

XOR /eks'ohr/ conj.  Exclusive or.  "A xor B" means "A or B, but
   not both".  Example: "I want to get cherry pie XOR a banana
   split."  This derives from the technical use of the term as a
   function on truth-values that is true if either of two arguments is
   true but not both.

XREF v.,n. Hackish standard abbreviation for `cross-reference'.

XYZZY /exs-wie-zee-zee-wie/ or /ik-zi'zee/ [from the ADVENT game] adj.
   The CANONICAL "magic word".  This comes from ADVENT (q.v.), in
   which the idea is to explore an underground cave with many rooms to
   collect treasure.  If you type XYZZY at the appropriate time, you
   can move instantly between two otherwise distant points.  If,
   therefore, you encounter some bit of MAGIC, you might remark on
   this quite succinctly by saying simply "XYZZY"!  Example:
   "Ordinarily you can't look at someone else's screen if he has
   protected it, but if you type quadruple-bucky-CLEAR the system will
   let you do it anyway."  "XYZZY!"  XYZZY has actually been
   implemented as an undocumented no-op command on several OSs; in
   Data General's AOS/VS, for example, it would typically respond
   "Nothing happens." just as ADVENT did before a player had
   performed the action that enabled the word.  See PLUGH.

                                {= Y =}

YA* ["Yet Another"] abbrev. In hackish acronyms this almost
   invariably expands to `Yet Another' following the precedent set by
   UNIX yacc(1). See YABA.

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

   describing something MAGIC or too complicated to bother explaining
   properly.  From a comment in the context-switching code of the V6
   UNIX kernel.

   genre of one-liners told by hackers about themselves. These include
   the following:

   * not only do you check your email more often than your paper
     mail, but you remember your NETWORK ADDRESS faster than your
     postal one.
   * your SO kisses you on the neck and the first thing you
     think is "Uh, oh, PRIORITY INTERRUPT" (q.v.).
   * you go to balance your checkbook and discover that you're
     doing it in octal.
   * your computers have a higher street value than your car.
   * `round numbers' are powers of 2, not 10.
   * you've woken up more than once to recall of a dream in C
     or LISP.
   * you realize you've never met half of your best friends.

   All but one of these have been reliably reported as hacker traits
   (some of them quite often). Even hackers may have trouble spotting
   the ringer.

YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY cav. [from the standard disclaimer attached to
   EPA mileage ratings by American car manufacturers] A ritual warning
   often found in UNIX freeware distributions. Translates roughly as
   "Hey, I tried to write this portably but who *knows* what'll
   happen on your system?"

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. obs.  The character
   gamma (extended SAIL ASCII 11), which with a loop in its tail looks
   like a little fish swimming down the page.  The term is actually
   the name of a Chinese dish in which a fish is cooked whole (not
   PARSED) and covered with Yu Shiang sauce.  Usage: was used
   primarily by people on the MIT LISP Machine, which could display
   this character on the screen.  Tends to elicit incredulity from
   people who hear about it second-hand.

                                {= Z =}

ZAP 1. n. Spiciness.  2. v. To make food spicy.  3. v. To make someone
   "suffer" by making his food spicy.  (Most hackers love spicy
   food.  Hot-and-sour soup is considered wimpy unless it makes you
   blow your nose for the rest of the meal.)  4. ZAPPED adj. Spicy.
   This term is used to distinguish between food that is hot (in
   temperature) and food that is "hot", that is, spicy.  For
   example, the Chinese appetizer Bon Bon Chicken is a kind of chicken
   salad that is cold but zapped.  See also ORIENTAL FOOD, LASER

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. Compare

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.  One may speak of
   something being "logically zeroed" rather than being "physically
   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 (because the parent process
   hasn't executed a wait(2) for it yet).  These show up in ps(1)
   listings occasionally. Compare ORPHAN.

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.

Appendix A: Hacker Folklore

This appendix contains several fables and legends which illuminate
the meaning of various entries in the main text. All of this material
except THE UNTIMELY DEMISE OF MABEL THE MONKEY appeared in the 1983
paper edition of the Jargon File (but not in the previous on-line

The Meaning of "Hack"

"The word HACK doesn't really have 69 different meanings," according
to Phil Agre, an MIT hacker.  "In fact, HACK has only one meaning, an
extremely subtle and profound one which defies articulation.  Which
connotation is implied by a given use of the word depends in similarly
profound ways on the context.  Similar remarks apply to a couple of
other hacker words, most notably RANDOM."

Hacking might be characterized as "an appropriate application of
ingenuity".  Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or
a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness
that went into it.

An important secondary meaning of `hack' is `a creative practical
joke'. This kind of hack is often easier to explain to non-hackers
than the programming kind.  Accordingly, here are three examples of
practical joke hacks:

In 1961, students from Caltech (California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena) hacked the Rose Bowl football game.  One student posed as a
reporter and "interviewed" the director of the University of
Washington card stunts (such stunts involve people in the stands who
hold up colored cards to make pictures).  The reporter learned exactly
how the stunts were operated, and also that the director would be out
to dinner later.

While the director was eating, the students (who called themselves the
"Fiendish Fourteen") picked a lock and stole one of the direction
sheets for the card stunts.  They then had a printer run off 2300
copies of the sheet.  The next day they picked the lock again and
stole the master plans for the stunts, large sheets of graph paper
colored in with the stunt pictures.  Using these as a guide, they
carefully made "corrections" for three of the stunts on the
duplicate instruction sheets.  Finally, they broke in once more,
replacing the stolen master plans and substituting the stack of
altered instruction sheets for the original set.

The result was that three of the pictures were totally different.
Instead of spelling "WASHINGTON", the word "CALTECH" was flashed.
Another stunt showed the word "HUSKIES", the Washington nickname,
but spelled it backwards.  And what was supposed to have been a
picture of a husky instead showed a beaver.  (Both Caltech and MIT use
the beaver as a mascot.  Beavers are nature's engineers.)

After the game, the Washington faculty athletic representative said,
"Some thought it ingenious; others were indignant."  The Washington
student body president remarked, "No hard feelings, but at the time
it was unbelievable.  We were amazed."

This is now considered a classic hack, particularly because revising
the direction sheets constituted a form of programming not unlike
computer programming.

Another classic hack:

One winter, late at night, an MIT fraternity hosed down an underpass
that is part of a commuter expressway near MIT.  This produced an ice
slick that "trapped" a couple of small cars: they didn't have the
momentum or traction to climb out of the underpass.  While it was
clever to apply some simple science to trap a car, it was also very
dangerous as it could have caused a collision.  Therefore this was a
very poor hack overall.  (There is another story about an even less
appealing hack in which some MIT students used thermite to weld a
trolley car to its tracks.  The story may be apocryphal, however.)

And yet another:

On November 20, 1982, MIT hacked the Harvard-Yale football game.  Just
after Harvard's second touchdown against Yale in the second quarter, a
small black ball popped up out of the ground at the 40-yard line, and
grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger.  The letters "MIT" appeared all
over the ball.  As the players and officials stood around gawking, the
ball grew to six feet in diameter and then burst with a bang and a
cloud of white smoke.

As the Boston Globe later reported, "If you want to know the truth,
M.I.T. won The Game."

The prank had taken weeks of careful planning by members of MIT's
Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.  The device consisted of a weather
balloon, a hydraulic ram powered by Freon gas to lift it out of the
ground, and a vacuum-cleaner motor to inflate it.  They made eight
separate expeditions to Harvard Stadium between 1 and 5 AM, in which
they located an unused 110-volt circuit in the stadium, and ran buried
wiring from the stadium circuit to the 40-yard line, where they buried
the balloon device.  When the time came to activate the device, two
fraternity members had merely to flip a circuit breaker and push a
plug into an outlet.

This stunt had all the earmarks of a perfect hack: surprise,
publicity, the ingenious use of technology, safety, and harmlessness.
The use of manual control allowed the prank to be timed so as not to
disrupt the game (it was set off between plays, so the outcome of the
game would not be unduly affected).  The perpetrators had even
thoughtfully attached a note to the balloon explaining that the device
was not dangerous and contained no explosives.

Harvard president Derek Bok commented: "They have an awful lot of
clever people down there at MIT, and they did it again."  President
Paul E. Gray of MIT said, "There is absolutely no truth to the rumor
that I had anything to do with it, but I wish there were."  Such is
the way of all good hacks.

The Untimely Demise of Mabel the Monkey (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
     To: Risks@CSL.SRI.COM

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

TV Typewriters: A Tale Of Hackish Ingenuity

Here is a true story about a glass tty.  One day an MIT hacker was in
a motorcycle accident and broke his leg.  He had to stay in the
hospital quite a while, and got restless because he couldn't HACK (use
the computer).  Two of his friends therefore took a display terminal
and a telephone connection for it to the hospital, so that he could
use the computer by telephone from his hospital bed.

Now this happened some years before the spread of home computers, and
computer terminals were not a familiar sight to the average person.
When the two friends got to the hospital, a guard stopped them and
asked what they were carrying.  They explained that they wanted to
take a computer terminal to their friend who was a patient.

The guard got out his list of things that patients were permitted to
have in their rooms: TV, radio, electric razor, typewriter, tape
player...  no computer terminals.  Computer terminals weren't on the
list, so they couldn't take it in.  Rules are rules.

Fair enough, said the two friends, and they left again.  They were
frustrated, of course, because they knew that the terminal was as
harmless as a TV or anything else on the list... which gave them an

The next day they returned, and the same thing happened: a guard
stopped them and asked what they were carrying.  They said, "This is
a TV typewriter!"  The guard was skeptical, so they plugged it in and
demonstrated it.  "See?  You just type on the keyboard and what you
type shows up on the TV screen."  Now the guard didn't stop to think
about how utterly useless a typewriter would be that didn't produce
any paper copies of what you typed; but this was clearly a TV
typewriter, no doubt about it.  So he checked his list: "A TV is all
right, a typewriter is all right... okay, take it on in!"

Two Stories About "Magic" (As Told By Guy Steele)

When Barbara Steele was in her fifth month of pregnancy, her doctor
sent her to a specialist to have a sonogram made to determine whether
there were twins.  She dragged her husband Guy along to the
appointment.  It was quite fascinating; as the doctor moved an
instrument along the skin, a small TV screen showed cross-sectional
pictures of the abdomen.

Now Barbara and I had both studied computer science at MIT, and we
both saw that some complex computerized image-processing was involved.
Out of curiosity, we asked the doctor how it was done, hoping to learn
some details about the mathematics involved.  The doctor, not knowing
our educational background, simply said, "The probe sends out sound
waves, which bounce off the internal organs.  A microphone picks up
the echoes, like radar, and send the signals to a computer---and the
computer makes a picture."  Thanks a lot!  Now a hacker would have
said, "... and the computer *magically* makes a picture,"
implicitly acknowledging that he has glossed over an extremely
complicated process.

Some years ago I was snooping around in the cabinets that housed the
MIT AI Lab's PDP-10, and noticed a little switch glued to the frame of
one cabinet.  It was obviously a homebrew job, added by one of the
lab's hardware hackers (no one know who).

You don't touch an unknown switch on a computer without knowing what
it does, because you might crash the computer.  The switch was labeled
in a most unhelpful way.  It had two positions, and scrawled in pencil
on the metal switch body were the words "magic" and "more magic".
The switch was in the "more magic" position.

I called another hacker over to look at it.  He had never seen the
switch before either.  Closer examination revealed that the switch
only had one wire running to it!  The other end of the wire did
disappear into the maze of wires inside the computer, but it's a basic
fact of electricity that a switch can't do anything unless there are
two wires connected to it.  This switch had a wire connected on one
side and no wire on its other side.

It was clear that this switch was someone's idea of a silly joke.
Convinced by our reasoning that the switch was inoperative, we flipped
it.  The computer instantly crashed.

Imagine our utter astonishment.  We wrote it off as coincidence, but
nevertheless restored the switch to the "more magic" position before
reviving the computer.

A year later, I told this story to yet another hacker, David Moon as I
recall.  He clearly doubted my sanity, or suspected me of a
supernatural belief in the power of this switch, or perhaps thought I
was fooling him with a bogus saga.  To prove it to him, I showed him
the very switch, still glued to the cabinet frame with only one wire
connected to it, still in the "more magic" position.  We scrutinized
the switch and its lone connection, and found that the other end of
the wire, though connected to the computer wiring, was connected to a
ground pin.  That clearly made the switch doubly useless: not only was
it electrically nonoperative, but it was connected to a place that
couldn't affect anything anyway.  So we flipped the switch.

The computer promptly crashed.

This time we ran for Richard Greenblatt, a long-time MIT hacker, who
was close at hand.  He had never noticed the switch before, either.
He inspected it, concluded it was useless, got some diagonal cutters
and diked it out.  We then revived the computer and it ran fine ever

We still don't know how the switch crashed the machine.  There is a
theory that some circuit near the ground pin was marginal, and
flipping the switch changed the electrical capacitance enough to upset
the circuit as millionth-of-a-second pulses went through it.  But
we'll never know for sure; all we can really say is that the switch
was MAGIC.

I still have that switch in my basement.  Maybe I'm silly, but I
usually keep it set on "more magic."

A Selection of AI Koans

   These are perhaps the funniest examples of a genre of jokes told at
the MIT AI lab about various noted computer scientists and hackers.

* * *

   A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power
off and on.

   Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly: "You can not
fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what
is going wrong."

   Knight turned the machine off and on.

   The machine worked.

[Ed note: This is much funnier if you know that Tom Knight was one of the
   Lisp machine's principal designers]

* * *

One day a student came to Moon and said, "I understand how to
make a better garbage collector.  We must keep a reference count
of the pointers to each cons."

Moon patiently told the student the following story:

      "One day a student came to Moon and said, "I understand how
      to make a better garbage collector...

[Ed. note: The point here is technical. Pure reference-count garbage
   collectors have problems with `pathological' structures that point
   to themselves.]

* * *

In the days when Sussman was a novice Minsky once came to him as
he sat hacking at the PDP-6.

   "What are you doing?", asked Minsky.

   "I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-Tac-Toe",
Sussman replied.

   "Why is the net wired randomly?", asked Minsky.

   "I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play",
Sussman said.

   Minsky then shut his eyes.

   "Why do you close your eyes?", Sussman asked his teacher.

   "So that the room will be empty."

   At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.

* * *

   A disciple of another sect once came to Drescher as he was
eating his morning meal.

   "I would like to give you this personality test", said the
outsider, "because I want you to be happy."

   Drescher took the paper that was offered him and put it
into the toaster, saying:

   "I wish the toaster to be happy, too."

Appendix B: The High Moby -- Obsolescent Terms From Jargon-1

   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. 1. To increase the amount of something.
   "Aos the campfire."  Usage: considered silly, and now
   obsolescent.  See SOS. Now largely supplanted by BUMP.  2. A crufty
   MULTICS-derived OS supported at one time by Data General.

   Sense #1 was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that takes any memory
   location in the computer and adds one to it; AOS means "Add One
   and do not Skip".  Why, you may ask, does the "S" stand for "do
   not Skip" rather than for "Skip"?  Ah, here is a beloved piece
   of PDP-10 folklore.  There are eight such instructions: AOSE adds
   one and then skips the next instruction if the result is Equal to
   zero; AOSG adds one and then skips if the result is Greater than
   zero; AOSN adds one and then skips if the result is Not zero; AOSA
   adds one and then skips Always; and so on.  Just plain AOS doesn't
   say when to skip, so it never skips.  For similar reasons, AOJ
   means "Add One and do not Jump".  Even more bizarre, SKIP means
   "do not SKIP"!  If you want to skip the next instruction, you
   must say "SKIPA".  Likewise, JUMP means "do not JUMP" (see JRST

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.

CHINE NUAL n.,obs. The Lisp Machine Manual, so called because the
   title was wrapped around the cover so only those letters show.

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, POD 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.  Usage: silly.  Example: "Dpb
   yourself into that couch, there."  The connotation would be that
   the couch is full except for one slot just big enough for you to
   sit in.  DPB means "DePosit Byte", and was the name of a PDP-10
   instruction that inserts some bits into the middle of some other

DRAGON [ITS; UNIX calls this a DAEMON or DEMON] n.  A program similar
   to a DAEMON, except that it doesn't sit around waiting for
   something to happen, but is instead used by the system to perform
   various useful tasks that just have to be done periodically.  A
   typical example would be an accounting program that accumulates
   statistics, keeps track of who is logged in, and so on.  Another
   example: most timesharing systems have several terminals, and at
   any given time some are in use and some are sitting idle; the idle
   ones usually sit there with some idiotic message on their screens,
   such as "Logged off.", from the last time someone used it.  The
   ITS timesharing system at MIT puts these idle terminals to good use
   by displaying useful information on them, such as who is using the
   computer, where they are, what they're doing, what their telephone
   numbers are, and so on, along with other information such as pretty
   pictures (the picture collection included a unicorn, Snoopy, and
   the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek).  All this information was
   displayed on idle terminals by the `name dragon', so called because
   it originally printed just the names of the users.  (That it now
   shows all kinds of things, including useless though pretty
   pictures, is an example of CREEPING FEATURISM.)  The name dragon is
   a program started up by the system, and it runs about every five
   minutes and updates the information on all idle terminals.

ENGLISH /ing'lish/ n. The source code for a program, which may be in
   any language, as opposed to BINARY.  The idea behind the term is
   that to a real hacker, a program written in his favorite
   programming language is as readable as English.  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 was [CSP,SYS].

EOU /ee oh yoo/ The mnemonic of a mythical ASCII control character
   (End Of User) that could make a Model 33 Teletype explode on
   receipt.  This parodied the numerous obscure record-delimiter
   control characters left in ASCII from the days when it was more
   associated with wire-service teletypes than computers (e.g. FS, GS,
   RS, US, EM, SUB, ETX and esp. EOT).  It is worth remembering that
   ASR-33s were big, noisy mechanical beasts with a lot of clattering
   parts; the notion that one might explode was nowhere near as
   ridiculous as it might seem to someone sitting in front of a TUBE
   or flatscreen today.

EXCH /ex'chuh/ or /ekstch/ [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v., obs. To
   exchange two things, each for the other.

IMPCOM /imp'kom/ 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 /jif'kl/ or /jaf'kl/ v., obs. To cancel or annul something.
   "Why don't you jfcl that out?" The fastest do-nothing instruction
   on the PDP-10 happened to be JFCL, which stands for "Jump if Flag
   set and then CLear the flag"; this does something useful, but is a
   very fast no-operation if no flag is specified.  Geoff Goodfellow,
   one of the jargon-1 compilers, once had JFCL on the license plate
   of his BMW.

JRN, JRL /jay ahr en/, /jay ahr el/ n. The names JRN and JRL were
   sometimes used as example names when discussing PPNs (q.v.); they
   were understood to be programmer names for (fictitious) programmers
   named "J. Random Nerd" and "J. Random Loser" (see [J. RANDOM).
   For example, one might say "To log in, type log one comma jay are
   en" (that is, "[log1,JRN]"), and the listener will understand
   that he should use his own computer id in place of "[JRN]".

JRST /jerst/ [based on the PDP-10 jump instruction] v., obs. To
   suddenly change subjects, with no intention of returning to the
   previous topic..  Usage: rather rare, and considered silly.  "Jack
   be nimble, Jack be quick; Jack jrst over the candle stick." This
   is even sillier.  Why JRST and not JUMP? The PDP-10 JUMP
   instruction means "do not jump", as explained in the definition
   of AOS.  The JUMPA instruction ("JUMP Always") does jump, but it
   isn't quite as fast as the JRST instruction (Jump and ReSTore
   flags).  The instruction was used so frequently that the speed
   matters, so all PDP-10 hackers automatically used the faster though
   more obscure JRST instruction.

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., sense 2. 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.  Back when address registers were
   narrow, the term was more generally useful; because when a computer
   had "virtual memory mapping" it might actually have more physical
   memory attached to it than any one program could access directly.
   One could then say "This computer has six mobies" to mean that
   the ratio of physical memory to address space is six, without
   having to say specifically how much memory there actually is.  That
   in turn implies that the computer can timeshare six "full-sized"
   programs without having to swap programs between memory and disk.
   Thus the MIT PDP-10s each had 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.) Nowadays the low cost of processor logic means
   registers are typically wider than the most memory you can cram
   onto a machine, so most systems have much *less* than 1 theoretical
   `native' moby of core.  However, the size of the PDP-10 "moby"
   was 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

OUTPUT SPY n.  On the ITS system there was a program that allowed you
   to see what is being printed on someone else's terminal.  It works
   by "spying" on the other guy's output, by examining the insides
   of the monitor system.  It could do this because the MIT system
   purposely had very little in the way of "protection" that
   prevents one user from interfering with another.  Fair is fair,
   however.  There was another program that would automatically notify
   you if anyone starts to spy on your output.  It worked in exactly
   the same way, by looking at the insides of the operating system to
   see if anyone else was looking at the insides that have to do with
   your output.  This "counterspy" program was called JEDGAR
   (pronounced as two syllables: /jed'gr/), in honor of the former
   head of the FBI.  By the way, the output spy program is called OS.
   Throughout the rest of computer science, and also at IBM, OS means
   "operating system", but among old-time ITS hackers it almost
   always meant "output spy".

PHANTOM /fan'tm/ [Stanford] n. The SAIL equivalent of a DRAGON (q.v.).
   Typical phantoms included 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'@n/ 1. A combination of a "project identifier" and
   "programmer name", used to identify a specific file directory
   belonging to that programmer.  This was used in the TOPS-10
   operating system that DEC provided for the PDP-10.  The implicit
   assumption is that there will be many projects, each with several
   programmers working on it, and that a programmer may work on
   several projects.  This is not a bad organization; what was totally
   BOGUS is that projects and programmers were identified by octal
   (base eight) numbers!  Hence the term Project-Programmer Number, or
   PPN.  If you were programmer 72534 and wanted to work on project
   306, you would have had to tell the computer "login 306,72534".
   This was absurd.  At CMU the TOPS-10 system was modified to be
   somewhat less ridiculous: projects were identified by a letter and
   three decimal (not octal) digits, and programmers were identified
   by his two initials, a digit indicating the first year he came to
   CMU, and a fourth character that is used to distinguish between,
   say, Fred Loser and Farley Luser who both happened to arrive the
   same year.  So to use the PDP-10 at CMU one might have said "login
   A780GS70".  The programmer name "GS70" was also called a "man
   number" at CMU, even though it isn't really a number.  At
   Stanford, projects and programmers were identified by three letters
   or digits each: if Guy Steele werre to work on a LISP project at
   Stanford, he might log in as "login lsp,gls".  This was much more
   mnemonic.  Programmer identifiers at Stanford were usually the
   programmer's initials, though sometimes it is a nickname or other
   three-letter sequence.  Even though the CMU and Stanford forms were
   not really (pairs of) numbers, the term PPN was used to refer to
   the combination. 2. At Stanford, the term PPN was often used
   loosely to refer to the programmer name alone.  "I want to send
   you some mail; what's your ppn?". This term is still used by
   old-timers on the commercial time-sharing service CompuServe (which
   uses PDP-10s) but has long since vanished from hackerdom.  ITS and
   UNIX, of course, never used PPNs; ITS had six-character UNAMEs, and
   UNIX has 15-character `usernames' and hierararchical file system
   rather than project areas.

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 n. 1. /sahss/ Inverse of AOS, from the PDP-10 instruction set.  2.
   /ess-oh-ess/ An infamously LOSING text editor.  Once, back in the
   1960's, when a text editor was needed for the PDP-6, a hacker
   CRUFTED TOGETHER a quick-and-dirty "stopgap editor" to be used
   until a better one was written.  Unfortunately, the old one was
   never really discarded when new ones (in particular, TECO) came
   along.  SOS is a descendant of that editor; SOS means "Son of
   Stopgap", and many PDP-10 users gained the dubious pleasure of its
   axquaintance.  [Since then other programs similar in style to SOS
   have been written, notably BILOS (bye'lohss) the Brother-In-Law Of
   Stopgap.] See also TECO.

STY /stie/, *not* /ess tee wie/ [ITS] 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 text).

TECO /tee'koh/ [acronym for Tape (later, Text) Editor and COrrector]
   n. 1. A text editor developed at MIT, and modified by just about
   everybody.  If all the dialects are included, TECO might have been
   the single most prolific editor in use before EMACS (q.v.) to which
   it was directly ancestral.  Noted for its powerful
   programming-language-like features and its incredibly hairy syntax.
   It is literally the case that every possible sequence of ASCII
   characters is a valid, though probably uninteresting, TECO program;
   one common hacker game used to be mentally working out what the
   teco commands corresponding to human names did.  As an example,
   here is a TECO program that takes a list of names like this:

	Loser, J. Random
	Quux, The Great
	Dick, Moby

   sorts them alphabetically according to last name, and then puts the
   last name last, removing the comma, to produce this:

	Moby Dick
	J. Random Loser
	The Great Quux

   The program is:

	[1 J ^P $ L $ $
	J <.-Z; .,(S,$ -D .)FX1 @F^B $K :L I $ G1 L>$$

   In fact, this very program was used to produce the second, sorted
   list from the first list!  The first time I tried the program it
   had a BUG: I had accidentally omitted the "@" in front of
   "F^B", which as anyone can see is clearly the wrong thing.  It
   worked fine the second time.  There is no space to describe all the
   features of TECO, but I will note that "^P" means "sort" and
   "J <.-Z; ... L>" is an idiomatic series of commands for "do once
   for every line".

   Historical data from MRC: DEC grabbed an ancient version of MIT
   TECO many years ago when it was still a TTY-oriented editor (that
   is, didn't make use of display screens).  By then, TECO at MIT had
   become a highly display-oriented and is actually a language for
   writing editors, rather than an editor.  Meanwhile, the outside
   world's various versions of TECO remained 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.  DEC
   later 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.

   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 salescritters 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

Appendix C: Bibliography

Here are some other books you can read to help you understand the
hacker mindset.

     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,

     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 (thankfully) 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 Markus 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.

     The Devil's DP Dictionary
     by Stan Kelly-Bootle
     McGraw-Hill Inc, 1981
     ISBN 0-07-034022-6

This pastiche of Ambrose Bierce's famous work is similar in format to
the Jargon File (and quotes several entries from jargon-1) but
somewhat different in tone and intent. It is more satirical and less
anthropological, and largely a product of the author's literate and
quirky imagination. For example, it defines "computer science" as
"A study akin to numerology and astrology, but lacking the precision
of the former and the success of the latter"; also as "The boring
art of coping with a large number of trivialities."

     The Devouring Fungus: Tales from the Computer Age
     by Karla Jennings
     W. W. Norton 1990, New York
     ISBN 0-393-30732-8

The author of this pioneering compendium knits together a great deal
of computer and hacker-related folklore with good writing and a few
well-chosen cartoons.  She has a keen eye for the human aspects of the
lore and is very good at illuminating the psychology and evolution of
hackerdom.  Unfortunately, a number of small errors and awkwardnesses
suggest that she didn't have the final manuscript vetted by a hackish
insider; the glossary in the back is particularly embarrassing, and at
least one classic tale (the Magic Switch story in this file's Appendix
A) is given in incomplete and badly mangled form.  Nevertheless, this
book is a win overall and can be enjoyed by hacker and non-hacker

     True Names...and Other Dangers
     by Vernor Vinge
     Baen Books 1987, New York
     ISBN 0-671-65363

RMS believes the title story this book "expresses the spirit of
hacking best".  This may well be true; it's certainly difficult to
recall anyone doing a better job.  Certainly it holds a special place
in the hearts of hackers everywhere.  The other stories in this
collection are also fine work by an author who is perhaps one of
today's very best practitioners of the hard-SF genre.