all aboutz hacking – from outside

*RFC1392,Internet User Glossary, : Hacker adalah: Seseoang yang tertarik
untuk mengetahui  secara mendalam  mengenai kerja suatu system,komputer,
atau jaringan komputer.”

Pengertian:
==========

hack
[secara umum]
1.pekerjaan yang dilakukan secara cepat dan berhasil, walau tidak sempurna
2.Suatu hal Mustahil, dan    mungkin  menghabiskan  banyak  waktu   tetapi
menghasilkan yang diinginkan.
3.untuk membuktikan baik  secara   emosional ataupun  fisik bahwa ini bisa
dilakukan
4.Mengerjakan sesuatu secara  bersungguh-sungguh,  dengan  ketelitian yang
tinggi
5.Berinteraksi dengan komputer dalam bermain dan bereksplorasi
6.kependekan dari hacker

hacker
[aslinya, seseorang yang membuat kerajinan dengan kapak]
1.Seseorang yang sangat senang mengeksplorasi suatu   program   dari  suatu
system untuk untuk mengetahui batas kemampuannya, dengan mengunakan cara-
cara dasar yang akan digunakan oleh orang  yang    tidak  mengerti   dan
mengetahui bagaimana program itu dibuat dan dengan pengetahuan   minimum
terhadap program.
2.seseorang yang sangat antusias dalam membuat program, dan lebih menikmati
membuat program dibandingkan berteori tentang program tersebut.
3.seseorang yang mampu melakukan “hack”
4.seseorang yang sangat baik dalam memprogram
5.ahli pemrograman, atau sering melakukan pekerjaan dengan program itu
6.ahli yang tertarik dengan semua hal, contoh hacker di bidang astronomy.
7.seseeorang yang senang dengan tantangan intelektual dengan ide kreatif
8.seseorang yang secara   sembunyi-sembunyi   berusaha  menemukan informasi
penting dengan cara menjelajah,  lebih  sering  di sebut  sebagai cracker.

Crack
[warez d00dz]
1.memaksa masuk kedalam suatu sistem
2.kegiatan menghilangkan copy protection
3.Program, instruksi yang digunakan untuk menghilangkan copy protection

Cracker
1.seseorang yang mencoba masuk kedalam suatu jaringan secara  paksa  dengan
tujuan mengambil keuntungan, merusak, dsb.
2.seseorang yang menghilangkan copy protection
3.seseorang yang melakukan kegiatan “crack”

Cracking
1.kegiatan membobol   suatu  sistem   komputer   dengan   tujuan menggambil
keuntungan merusak dan menghancurkan dengan motivasi tertentu.

Etika Hacker
============

1.Kepercayaan bahwa berbagi informasi adalah suatu hal yang sangat baik dan
berguna,      dan sudah merupakan    kewajiban   (kode etik) bagi seorang
hacker untuk membagi hasil penelitiannya dengan cara  menulis  kode  yang
“open-source” dan memberikan fasilitas untuk mengakses informasi tersebut
dan menggunakan peralatan pendukung apabila memungkinkan.

2.keyakinan bahwa “system-cracking” untuk kesenangan dan eksplorasi  sesuai
dengan etika adalah tidak apa-apa [OK] selama   seorang  hacker,  cracker
tetap komitmen  tidak mencuri, merusak dan m elanggar batas2 kerahasiaan.

=(di ambil,diartikan dan diedit dari the jargon file (versi 4.4.4) )=

===========================================================================

“Yang menarik,ternyata dalam dunia hacker terjadi strata-strata (tingkatan)
yang diberikan oleh komunitas hacker kepada seseorang karena kepiawaiannya,
bukan karena umur atau senioritasnya.  Saya yakin tidak semua orang setuju
dengan derajat yang akan dijelaskan disini,karena ada kesan aroganterutama
pada level yang tinggi. Untuk memperoleh pengakuan/derajat, seorang hacker
harusmampu  membuat  program  untuk  eksploit  kelemahan  sistem,  menulis
tutorial (artikel), aktif diskusi di mailing list, membuat situs web dsb.”

Hirarki Hacker
==============
Mungkin agak  terlalu kasar jika  di  sebut hirarki  /  tingkatan   hacker;
saya yakin istilah ini  tidak  sepenuhnya  bisa  di terima oleh  masyarakat
hacker. Oleh  karenanya  saya   meminta  maaf sebelumnya. Secara  umum yang
paling tinggi (suhu) hacker sering di sebut ‘Elite’; di  Indonesia  mungkin
lebih sering di sebut ‘suhu’.Sedangkan, di ujung lain derajat hackerdikenal
‘wanna-be’ hacker atau dikenal sebagai ‘Lamers’.

Elite :
Juga dikenal sebagai 3l33t, 3l337, 31337 atau kombinasi dari itu; merupakan
ujung tombak industri keamanan jaringan. Mereka mengerti sistemoperasi luar
dalam, sanggup  mengkonfigurasi &  menyambungkan  jaringan  secara  global.
Sanggup melakukan pemrogramman setiap harinya. Sebuah  anugrah  yang sangat
alami, mereka biasanya effisien & trampil,menggunakan pengetahuannya dengan
tepat. Mereka seperti  siluman  dapat  memasuki  sistem  tanpa  di ketahui,
walaupun mereka tidak akan menghancurkan data-data. Karena  mereka  selalu
mengikuti peraturan yang ada.

Semi Elite:
Hacker ini biasanya lebih mudadaripada Elite.Mereka juga mempunyai kemampuan
& pengetahuan luas tentang komputer. Mereka mengerti tentang sistem operasi
(termasuk lubangnya). Biasanya dilengkapi dengan sejumlah kecilprogram cukup
untuk mengubah program eksploit. Banyak serangan yang dipublikasi dilakukan
oleh hacker kaliber ini, sialnya oleh  para Elite  mereka  sering  kali  di
kategorikan Lamer.

Developed Kiddie:
Sebutan ini terutamakarena umur kelompok ini masih muda (ABG)&masih sekolah.
Mereka membaca tentang metoda hacking &  caranya  di  berbagai   kesempatan.
Mereka mencoba berbagai sistem sampai akhirnya berhasil  &  memproklamirkan
kemenangan ke lainnya.Umumnya mereka masih menggunakan Grafik UserInterface
(GUI) & baru belajar basic dari UNIX, tanpa mampu menemukan lubang kelemahan
baru di sistem operasi.

Script Kiddie:
Seperti developed kiddie, Script Kiddie biasanya melakukan aktifitas di atas.
Seperti juga Lamers, mereka hanya mempunyai  pengetahuan  teknis  networking
yang sangat minimal. Biasanya tidak lepas   dari   GUI.  Hacking   dilakukan
menggunakan trojan untuk   menakuti &  menyusahkan  hidup  sebagian pengguna
Internet.

Lamer:
Mereka adalah orang tanpa pengalaman & pengetahuan yang ingin menjadi hacker
(wanna-be hacker). Mereka biasanya membaca atau mendengar   tentang hacker &
ingin seperti itu. Penggunaan komputer mereka terutama untuk main game, IRC,
tukar menukar software prirate, mencuri kartu kredit.   Biasanya    melakukan
hacking menggunakan software trojan, nuke & DoS. Biasanya  menyombongkan diri
melalui IRC channel dsb. Karena banyak kekurangannya  untuk   mencapai elite,
dalam perkembangannya mereka hanya akan sampai level developed  kiddie   atau
script kiddie saja.

Etika & Aturan main Hacker
=========================

+ Di atas segalanya, hormati pengetahuan & kebebasan informasi.
+ Memberitahukan sistem administrator akan adanya pelanggaran keamanan/lubang
di keamanan yang anda lihat.
+ Jangan mengambil keuntungan yang tidak fair dari hack.
+ Tidak mendistribusikan & mengumpulkan software bajakan.
+ Tidak pernah mengambil resiko yang bodoh
+ selalu mengetahui kemampuan sendiri.
+ Selalu bersedia untuk secara terbuka/bebas/gratis memberitahukan&
mengajarkan berbagai informasi & metoda yang diperoleh.
+ Tidak pernah meng-hack sebuah sistem untuk mencuri uang.
+ Tidak pernah memberikan akses ke seseorang yang akan membuat kerusakan.
+ Tidak pernah secara sengaja menghapus & merusak file di komputer yangdihack.
+ Hormati mesin yang di hack, dan memperlakukan dia seperti mesin sendiri.

Jelas dari Etika & Aturan main Hacker di atas, terlihat jelas sangat tidak
mungkin seorang hacker betulan akan membuat kerusakan di komputer.
=(diambil , dan diedit berdasarkan tulisan : Onno w. Purbo)=

Hacker – ALL ABOUT

Author : SPYRO KiD
Contact : spyro_zone@Yahoo.com ==> http://www.spyrozone.net
CopyLEFT (c) 2004 http://www.spyrozone.net All Rights Reserved

———————-

Hacker atau Cracker?

———————-
Jangan dulu punya anggapan buruk dengan yang namanya Hacker, karena anda mesti tahu seperti apa Hacker sejati itu. Masalahnya, ada sekelompok orang yang menyebut-nyebut dirinya sebagai Hacker padahal mereka itu adalah seorang Cracker. Hacker sejati sebenarnya tidak sejahat (atau bahkan tidak jahat sama sekali) seperti yang kebanyakan dipikirkan orang. Hacker adalah sekumpulan atau beberapa kelompok yang bertujuan untuk mengembangkan ilmu pengengetahuan dan sharing informasi bebas tanpa batas. Hacker adalah seseorang yang tertarik untuk mengetahui secara mendalam mengenai kerja suatu system,komputer, atau jaringan komputer. Mereka terdiri dari para programer yang ahli jaringan. Mereka jugalah yang berjasa membangun Internet lewat pengembangan sistem operasi UNIX.

Istilah Hacker sendiri lahir sekitar tahun 1959 dari MIT(Massacusetts Institute of Technology), sebuah universitas di Amerika yang terdiri dari orang-orang cerdas namun cenderung tidak mempercayai adanya Tuhan (Atheis). Saat itulah semua berawal, dari sebuah ruangan baru, “EAM room” pada Building 26 MIT, sebuah tempat yang merupakan nenek moyang dari “dunia baru” yang kini kita kenal, tempat nenek moyang sebuah mesin yang kini kita sebut sebagai “komputer”, mesin yang mampu membawa kita menuju kelebihbaikan dengan kebebasan informasi, dunia para Hacker sejati.

Para Hacker selalu bekerjasama secara sukarela menyelesaikan masalah dan membangun sesuatu. Mereka selalu berbagi informasi, memberi jawaban serta berlomba-lomba untuk berbuat yang terbaik agar dihormati di lingkungannya. Mereka tidak pernah berhenti belajar untuk menjadi ahli dan sangat anti untuk melakukan sesuatu berulang-ulang dan membosankan. Mereka berpedoman pada kata-kata bijak : “Untuk mengikuti jalan – pandanglah sang ahli – ikuti sang ahli – berjalan bersama sang ahli – kenali sang ahli -jadilah sang ahli ”

Sementara itu, para cracker sibuk untuk memuaskan diri mereka dengan aktivitas Cracking. mulai dari membobol komputer, menebar virus (tanpa tujuan – beberapa Hacker sejati ada yang menulis virus namun dengan tujuan yang jelas), hingga mengakali telepon (Phreaking). Para Hacker menyebut mereka sebagai orang malas yang tidak bertanggung jawab. Jadi, sangat tidak adil jika kita tetap menganggap bahwa Hacker itu jahat dan menakutkan karena sangat jelas bahwa Hacker bersifat membangun sementara Cracker bersifat membongkar.

Ingin jadi seorang Hacker?? Tidak ada kata sulit bagi mereka yang mau belajar. Untuk menjadi seorang Hacker anda harus menguasai beberapa bahasa pemrograman dan tentu saja sikap-sikap yang bisa membuat anda diterima di lingkungan mereka. Biasanya calon Hacker memulai dengan belajar bahasa [Python] karena bahasa ini tergolong bahasa pemrograman yang termudah. Bahasan mengenai bahasa ini bisa anda lihat di http://www.python.org. Setelah itu anda juga harus menguasai [java] yang sedikit lebih sulit akan tetapi menghasilkan kode yang lebih cepat dari Python, [C], [C++] yang menjadi inti dari UNIX, dan [Perl] (www.perl.com ) serta [LISP] untuk tingkat lanjut.

Setelah menguasai semua kemampuan dasar diatas, calon Hacker disarankan untuk membuka salah sati versi UNIX open-source atau mempelajari LINUX, membaca kodenya, memodifikasi dan menjalankannya kembali. Jika mengalami kesulitan, disarankan untuk berkomunikasi dengan club pengguna Linux [ http://www.linpeople.org

Sisi menarik dari seorang Hacker adalah dimana mereka saling bahu-membahu dalam menyelesaikan sebuah masalah dan membangun sesuatu. Tetapi sayangnya, kehidupan mereka yang menghabiskan 90% waktunya untuk aktivitas Hacking bukanlah hal yang baik. Kalau memang benar-benar ingin jadi Hacker, jadilah Hacker yang baik dengan memanfaatkan Teknologi Informasi untuk mengembangkan da’wah Islam.

——————————

Manifesto Sang Hacker

——————————

It happened again today. Another one sold out, sacrificing their dreams to the corporate security machine.
Damn whitehats, noone believes in a cause anymore.
Another bug was released today to the security mailing lists.
Damn Whitehats, they know not what they do.
Another potential computer genius was relegated to an existence of nothing more than a 9-5 cubicle-dwelling promotional tool.
Damn whitehats, putting money before discovery.
Another family was ravaged by cooperations and governments bent on instituting control over individuality, monitoring every action..
Another kid was sentenced today for searching for a way to understand the world. Convicted and imprisoned, not because of what he did, but because of what others thought he could do.
Damn Whitehats – Fear keeps them in business.
The public, believing anything it hears from “reputed experts”. Screaming for blood. Looking for something to blame for their lost hope. Their lost ability to seek out new knowledge. Fear consumes them. They cannot let go of their uncertainty and doubt because there is no meaning. They seek to destroy explorers, outlaws, curiosity seekers because they are told too. They are told these people that seek information are evil. Individuality is evil. Judgment should be made based upon a moral standard set in conformity rather than resistance. Lives are ruined in the name of corporate profit and information is hoarded as a commodity.
Damn Whitehats, you were once like us.
I was a Whitehat. I had an awakening. I saw the security industry for what is really is. I saw the corruption, the lies, the deceit, the extortion of protection money in the form of subscription services and snake-oil security consultants.
I wanted to know, I wanted to understand, I wanted to go further then the rest. I never want to be held down by contracts and agreements.
You say I should grow up. You say I should find better things to do with my time. You say I should put my talent to better use. You’re saying I should fall in line with the other zombies and forget everything I believe in and shun those with my drive, my curiosity, tell them it’s not worth it, deny them of the greatest journey they will ever experience in their lives.
I am not a blackhat. The term is insulting, it implies I am the opposite of you. You think i seek to defeat security, when I seek something greater. I will write exploits, travel through networks, explore where you are afraid to go. I will not put myself in the spotlight and release destructive tools to the public to attract business. I will not feed the fear and hysteria created by the security industry to increase stock prices. I can, and will, code and hack and find out everything I can for the same reasons I did years ago.
I am a Hacker, dont try to understand me, you lost all hope of that when you crossed the line. You fail to see the lies and utter simplicity behind the computer security industry. Once, you may have shared my ideals. You fail to see the fact that security is a maintenance job.
You’ve given up hope for something better. You fail to see yourself as worthless, fueling an industry whose cumulative result is nothing. I dont hate you, I dont even really care about you – If you try to stop me, you will fail, because I do this out of love — you do it for money.
This is our world now.. the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore… and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge… and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat and lie to us and try to make us belive it is for our own good, yet we’re the ciminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
I am a Hacker, and this is my manifesto. You can’t stop me, and you certainly can’t stop us all.

————————

Etika Hacker

————————

* Akses ke komputer-komputer – dan segala sesuatu yang berpotensi untuk mengajarmu mengenai dunia ini haruslah bebas dan total. Semua informasi haruslah tersedia secara bebas / cuma-cuma.

* Jangan percaya otoriter/kemapanan – dukung desentralisasi.

* Hackers haruslah dinilai berdasarkan kemampuan hackingnya – bukannya berdasar kriteria seperti derajat, umur, ras, atau posisi. Anda bisa berkarya seni dan keindahan melalui komputer. Komputer dapat merubah hidupmu menuju kelebih baikan.

Sedangkan dalam prakteknya, Etika Hacker diatas (prinsip) dipraktekkan dengan mengikuti kode etik:

* Jangan merusak sistem manapun secara sengaja. (rmrf hard disk, crash, overflow, dll. Mengubah tampilan index.html sebuah website sah-sah saja asalkan file aslinya disimpan di sistem yang sama dan bisa diakses oleh administrator.)

* Jangan mengubah file-file sistem selain yang diperlukan untuk mengamankan identitas anda.

* Jangan meninggalkan nama asli anda (maupun orang lain), handle asli, maupun nomor telepon asli di sistem apapun yang anda akses secara ilegal. Mereka bisa dan akan melacak anda dari handle anda.

* Berhati-hatilah dalam berbagi informasi sensitif. Pemerintah akan menjadi semakin pintar. Secara umum, jika anda tidak mengenal siapa sebenarnya lawan bicara/chatmu, berhati-hatilah!

* Jangan memulai dengan mentargetkan komputer-komputer milik pemerintah. Ya, ada banyak sistem milik pemerintah yang cukup aman untuk di-hack, namun resikonya lebih besar dari keuntungannya. Ingat, pemerintah punya dana yang tak terbatas dibanding dengan ISP/Perusahaan yang objektifnya adalah untuk mencari profit..

————————————–

Tingkatan-tingkatan Dalam Dunia Hacker

————————————–
Elite :
Juga dikenal sebagai 3l33t, 3l337, 31337 atau kombinasi dari itu; merupakan ujung tombak industri keamanan jaringan. Mereka mengerti sistemoperasi luar dalam, sanggup mengkonfigurasi & menyambungkan jaringan secara global. Sanggup melakukan pemrogramman setiap harinya. Sebuah anugrah yang sangat alami, mereka biasanya effisien & trampil,menggunakan pengetahuannya dengan tepat. Mereka seperti siluman dapat memasuki sistem tanpa di ketahui, walaupun mereka tidak akan menghancurkan data-data. Karena mereka selalu mengikuti peraturan yang ada.

Semi Elite:
Hacker ini biasanya lebih mudadaripada Elite.Mereka juga mempunyai kemampuan & pengetahuan luas tentang komputer. Mereka mengerti tentang sistem operasi (termasuk lubangnya). Biasanya dilengkapi dengan sejumlah kecilprogram cukup untuk mengubah program eksploit. Banyak serangan yang dipublikasi dilakukan oleh Hacker kaliber ini, sialnya oleh para Elite mereka sering kali di kategorikan Lamer.

Developed Kiddie:
Sebutan ini terutamakarena umur kelompok ini masih muda (ABG)&masih sekolah. Mereka membaca tentang metoda hacking & caranya di berbagai kesempatan. Mereka mencoba berbagai sistem sampai akhirnya berhasil & memproklamirkan kemenangan ke lainnya.Umumnya mereka masih menggunakan Grafik UserInterface (GUI) & baru belajar basic dari UNIX, tanpa mampu menemukan lubang kelemahan baru di sistem operasi.

Script Kiddie:
Seperti developed kiddie, Script Kiddie biasanya melakukan aktifitas di atas. Seperti juga Lamers, mereka hanya mempunyai pengetahuan teknis networking yang sangat minimal. Biasanya tidak lepas dari GUI. Hacking dilakukan menggunakan trojan untuk menakuti & menyusahkan hidup sebagian pengguna Internet.

Lamer:
Mereka adalah orang tanpa pengalaman & pengetahuan yang ingin menjadi Hacker (wanna-be Hacker). Mereka biasanya membaca atau mendengar tentang Hacker & ingin seperti itu. Penggunaan komputer mereka terutama untuk main game, IRC, tukar menukar software prirate, mencuri kartu kredit. Biasanya melakukan hacking menggunakan software trojan, nuke & DoS. Biasanya menyombongkan diri melalui IRC channel dsb. Karena banyak kekurangannya untuk mencapai elite, dalam perkembangannya mereka hanya akan sampai level developed kiddie atau script kiddie saja.

———————————-

Hacking Scene di indonesia.
———————————-
Pada era 80-an hingga 1994, lahirlah para Hacker Indonesia yang boleh dibilang masih “ASLI”. Pada umumnya mereka lahir secara otodidak dan secara kebetulan memiliki akses jaringan. Biasanya terdiri dari para pegawai perusahaan-perusahaan besar atau instansi-instansi pemerintah. Mereka ini terdiri dari orang-orang yang berkecimpung di bidang UNIX, VAX/VMS, dan tentu saja ahli jaringan.

Ketika Internet mulai marak di Indonesia, mulailah masyarakat begitu antusias mempelajari komputer terutama network security. Jika dulunya tidak ada aktivitas yang bersifat merusak, kini perlahan hal itu mulai berubah. Remaja-remaja ABG mulai “berterbangan” di Internet, mencari tutorial-tutorial baru, mencari pengetahuan-pengetahuan komputer yang tidak mereka dapatkan di sekolah. Mereka menjadi semakin pintar, bahkan melebihi guru-guru di sekolah mereka.

Namun layaknya seorang ABG, sebagian besar dari mereka jiwanya masih labil. Pengetahuan mereka masih sangat minim dan memiliki semangat tinggi untuk merusak. Mereka masih belum mengerti arti “Hack” yang sebenarnya. Mereka dengan sombong dan tidak tau malu menyebut diri mereka Hacker hanya karena berhasil mengakali Billing, menjalankan email BOMB, menjalankan exploit-exploit. Padahal mereka sama sekali tidak tau bagaimana tool yang mereka gunakan itu sendiri bekerja. Mereka tidak mengenal sang system, namun dengan sombong mereka menyebut dirinya Hacker. Tanpa tau apa itu TCP/IP, namun dengan banga menyebut dirinya Hacker. Padahal para Hacker sejati Indonesia yang kemampuannya sudah setara dengan para wizard di Amerika dengan tegas menolak dirinya disebut Hacker lantaran masih selalu merasa ilmu yang dimilikinya belum cukup. Yeah, inilah Hacking Scene (pangung perhackingan) di Indonesia yang cukup menyedihkan ^_^ namun bisa juga diangap wajar dan manusiawi :)

Akan tetapi tidak semua dari mereka yang hanya bermulut besar. Tentu saja pasti ada diantaranya yang benar-benar memiliki kemampuan walaupun jumlahnya sedikit. Mereka yang sedikit ini kemudian banyak yang mengadakan pertemuan-pertemuan baik secara sengaja maupun tidak sengaja. Mereka tetap berexplorasi dan mencari pengetahuan, beraktivitas seperti biasa di lingkungannya tanpa menimbulkan kecurigaan atau prasangka dari masyarakat sekitarnya.

Dari pertemuan-pertemuan yang dilakukan, mulailah bermunculan organisasi-organisasi Hacker dan Cracker. Diantaranya yang cukup ternama ialah: AntiHackerlink (sudah tidak kedengaran lagi keberadaannya), Crack Sky (biasa juga dikenal sebagai Cracker Society, sebuah organisasi Underground yang berpusat di Surabaya), Kecoak Elektronik, ECHO, Jasakom Community, IndoHack, Secreet Colony, dan masih banyak lagi. Pada umumnya setiap daerah memiliki organisasi-organisasi sendiri dan nama organisasi disesuaikan dengan daerah asal mereka. Misalnya untuk komunitas Hacker Batam biasa menyebut dirinya Batam Hacker, untuk daerah malang biasa menyebut dirinya MalangHackerlink, dan lain sebagainya.

Aktivitas-aktivitas yang kini mereka lakukan cukup beragam. Pada umumnya ialah memoderasi forum-forum dan milis besar, menjadi OP di IRC-IRC Channel ternama, saling berbagi pengetahuan dengan menulis tutorial-tutorial, Artikel, Advisories seputar bugs-bugs baru beserta cara pencegahannya, mengadakan seminar-seminar tentang Network Security, menulis program open-source, serta melakukan berbagai aktivitas “Hack” sebagai sarana pemenuhan kebutuhan untuk berexplorasi.

Pada umumnya para Hacker peka terhadap keadaan lingkungannya. Anggapan bahwa mereka adalah orang-orang yang individualis dan egois tampaknya harus segera dihapuskan. Hal ini telah lama terbukti, anda bisa menyaksikan sendiri bagaimana pertarungan para Hacker Indonesia dengan Hacker-Hacker Malaysia saat negara itu ingin merampas Ambalat dari Indonesia. Atau perseteruan Hacker Indonesia melawan Hacker-Hacker dari Australia saat mereka mengusik Indonesia. Inilah cara berbeda para Hacker dalam mempertahankan negaranya, bukan dengan senjata, bukan dengan kekerasan, namun dengan ilmu pengetahuan.

———-

Creditz:

z i n e [k - e l e k t r o n i k]
[e c h o] z i n e # 2
[p h r a c k] m a g a z i n e

———-
STAY ALERT!! KEEP LEARNING AND HAPPY HACKING!!

Sudut Pandang Hacker Web

——————————————————
Author : SPYRO KiD
Contact : spyro_zone@Yahoo.COM ==> http://www.spyrozone.net
CopyLEFT (c) 2005 http://www.spyrozone.net All Rights Reserved

——————————————————

Seorang Hacker Web memiliki analisa-analisa yang baik dan cara berfikir yang unik. Mereka biasa berfikir “di luar kerangka” dan mencari hal-hal “yang tidak biasa”. Bagaimana perjalanan mereka dalam menjalankan aksinya? Berikut ini Spyro kupas sedikit tentang anatomi Hack yang mungkin akan sedikit membuka pikiran kamu tentang sudut pandang Web Hacker. Sebelumnya.. demi kelengkapan artikel ini, tambahan dari rekan-rekan Hacker sangat saya harapkan.. layangkan ke Spyro_Zone@Yahoo.com

Well.. kita mulai pembahasan kita…:

1. Menentukan Target

Ini jelas langkah yang paling awal dari perjalanan sang Hacker. Dia mulai menentukan target dan mengumpulkan informasi sebanyak-banyaknya tentang sang korban. Entah dengan cara Social Engineering atau dengan mengunakan tools-tools yang ada. Namun kini cukup mudah untuk mengumpulkan data tentang suatu situs target, http://www.domainwhitepages.com adalah kuncinya. Tinggal masukkan alaamt target, maka info-info penting mengenai webserver, alamat IP dan sekumpulan info lainnya akan terdisplay.

2. Scanning

Setelah target ditentukan dan info-info berharga telah terkumpul, sang Hacker Web mulai mencari-cari celah yang ada dengan menggunakan berbagai Scanner yang sudah tersedia (Nmap, Superscan dll…). Selain menggunakan Tools, sang Hacker dapat melakukan analisa dari struktur URL, komentar-komentar HTML, kesalahan programming, pesan-pesan Error yang muncul, dan di berbagai bagian web lainnya. Sang hacker mulai menduga-duga dan berfikir dengan cara Hacker.

3. Analisa System

Masa ini biasa disebut [enumerasi], sang Hacker mulai melakukan analisa system target dan mencari-cari kelemahan. Bisa dari user anonymouse dan bagian lain yang memiliki system keamanan lemah. Biasanya sang Hacker akan mengunakan tools sejenis Netcat.

4. Attacking

Sang Hacker mulai melakukan attacking (Penyerangan) kepada sang target setelah semua data tentang target didapatkan dan dirasa cukup. Ada banyak tools yang bisa dimanfaatkan, diantaranya : legion, tcpdump, dll..

5. Escalating Priviledges (Getting Root Access)

Pada tahap ini sang Hacker akan mencoba mendapatkan akses Tuhan (Root), yaitu meraih akses tertinggi sebagai Super User atau Administrator System. Tools yang biasa digunakan diantaranya: ptrace, getadmin, KaHT, dll ..

6. Backdooring

Bacdooring adalah yang pertama kali dilakukan setelah sang Hacker Web mendapatkan akses tinggi di System. Hal ini berguna untuk jalan masuk kembali bagi sang Hacker di kemudian hari agar hasil Hacknya tidak “tinggal sejarah” saja.

7. Clearing Log

Tahap Akhir dari perjalanan sang Hacker adalah membersihakan file log di system target untuk mempersulit pelacakan. Ada banyak Script exploit penghapus jejak berusia cukup “tua” namun masih ampuh dan sering digunakan. Hampir semua script tersebut didistribusikan secara bebas di Internet. Namun bagi sang Web Hacker Sejati, tak jarang mereka menulis suatu script exploit Clear log sendiri.

Regards,
Spyro KiD
WWW.spyrozone.net

ICMP Tunneling pada Wireless Hotspot

[ Pendahuluan ]

Beberapa waktu yang lalu,saya menghadiri pertemuan dengan client di sebuah kafe,
karena saya datang lebih dulu bersama rekan saya. Untuk menghindari rasa bosan selama
menunggu saya lalu mencoba untuk mengaktifkan wireless pada notebook saya ,
hmm … ternyata di kafe tersebut ada wireless hotspot yang bisa dipakai.

Saat itu saya lalu bertanya pada karyawan kafe tersebut bagaimana caranya untuk
mendapatkan akses wireless di kafe itu,singkat cerita karyawan tersebut memberitahu
bahwa untuk mendapatkan akses wireless saya harus membayar sekian (xx.xxx) rupiah untuk
akses internet selama 1 jam.

Hmm .. mahal sekali, pikir saya .. dengan harga sebesar itu saya dapat mengunjungi
warung internet dan mendapatkan akses internet selama 3 jam :) , tetapi itu tidak mungkin
karena saya sedang menunggu client saya datang . Hmm … akhirnya saya tidak jadi membayar
untuk mendapatkan akses internet tersebut,dengan kata lain saya menggunakan cara yang lain :)

Melalui artikel ini saya akan mencoba untuk membagi sedikit pengalaman saya
tentang mengakali proses authentikasi wireless hotspot. Berbekal sistem operasi Slackware 11.0
saya mulai melakukan beberapa riset kecil pada wirelesshotspot tersebut.

[ Percobaan Pertama ]

Setelah berhasil melakukan koneksi ke wireless hotspot tersebut saya mencoba untuk
browsing ke http://www.echo.or.id, tapi sayang sekali .. ternyata gagal. Saya tidak begitu
saja putus asa, apalagi client saya juga belum datang :D, hehehe.

[ Percobaan Kedua ]

Dengan menggunakan aplikasi netcat[1] saya mencoba untuk melakukan koneksi
ke http://www.google.com pada port 80(http). Berikut ini cuplikannya :)

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:~$ nc -vv http://www.google.com 80
| DNS fwd/rev mismatch: http://www.l.google.com != hk-in-f104.google.com
| http://www.l.google.com [64.233.189.104] 80 (http) : Connection refused
| sent 0, rcvd 0
|
+—— command —–

Hmm, dari keterangan diatas asumsi saya mungkin semua akses ke port 80 diblok.
Saya lalu mencoba kembali melakukan koneksi ke beberapa server yang saya miliki.
Saya mencoba untuk melakukan koneksi ke port 21(ftp).

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:~$ nc -vv research.snip.net 21
| DNS fwd/rev mismatch: research.snip.net != ip-pr13.sep.snip.net
| research.snip.net [63.123.231.13] 21 (ftp) : Connection refused
| sent 0, rcvd 0
|
+—— command —–

Hmm, keterangan tersebut menambah keyakinan yang dari tadi saya sudah pikirkan.
Asumsi saya, semua port tcp di blok dan untuk dns lookup keliatannya diizinkan,
supaya tidak penasaran saya coba untuk melakukan nslookup ke http://www.detik.com.

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:~$ nslookup
| > server 208.67.220.220
| Default server: 208.67.220.220
| Address: 208.67.220.220#53
|
| > http://www.detik.com
| Server: 208.67.220.220
| Address: 208.67.220.220#53
|
| Non-authoritative answer:
| http://www.detik.com canonical name = detik.com.
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 202.158.66.94
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 202.158.66.190
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 203.190.241.41
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 203.190.241.43
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 202.158.66.20
| Name: detik.com
| Address: 202.158.66.86
|
+—— command —–

Ternyata dugaan saya benar,untuk dns lookup diizinkan .. sampai saat ini
sebenarnya sudah dapat dilakukan aksi mengakali wireless hotspot ini dengan cara
dnstunneling[2]. Namun,pada saat itu aplikasi dnstunneling tidak tersedia di
notebook saya ini.

Disisi lain karena terlalu lama menunggu saya (mengakali wireless hotspot),
rekan saya akhirnya membayar untuk mendapatkan akses internet wireless tersebut ..
hehehehe . Sebenarnya, saya bisa saja meminta teman saya untuk mendownload aplikasi
dnstunneling, tapi karena saya masih ingin tahu sedikit lagi , maka saya memutuskan
untuk melanjutkan satu percobaan lagi.

Percobaan tersebut yakni ping , saya akan mencoba melakukan ping
ke http://www.google.com , berikut cuplikannya :)

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:~$ ping http://www.google.com
| PING http://www.l.google.com (64.233.189.104) 56(84) bytes of data.
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=1 ttl=240 time=687 ms
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=2 ttl=240 time=1052 ms
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=3 ttl=240 time=679 ms
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=4 ttl=240 time=638 ms
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=5 ttl=240 time=673 ms
| 64 bytes from hk-in-f104.google.com (64.233.189.104): icmp_seq=6 ttl=240 time=614 ms
|
| — http://www.l.google.com ping statistics —
| 7 packets transmitted, 6 received, 14% packet loss, time 8113ms
| rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 614.820/724.617/1052.803/148.931 ms, pipe 2
|
+—— command —–

Dari percobaan ping tersebut,dapat disimpulkan bahwa begitu kita menjadi
bagian dari network wireless hotspot tersebut,maka :

1. Kita dapat melakukan dns lookup
2. Kita dapat melakukan ping

[ ICMP Tunneling ]

Setelah mengetahui bahwa ping diizinkan,maka saya memutuskan untuk menggunakan
cara lain untuk mengirimkan dan menerima data melalui icmptunneling[3], karena beberapa
hari sebelumnya saya sudah mencoba untuk menggunakan icmptunneling , saya ingin
mempraktekannya pada wireless hotspot ini.

Untuk aplikasi icmptunneling,saya menggunakan aplikasi yang bernama PingTunnel[4],
aplikasi ini dijalankan di sisi client dan sisi server. Kebetulan disisi server aplikasi
itu sengaja saya tidak matikan, jadi saya dapat langsung menjalankan aplikasi client.

Untuk referensi jelasnya ,coba anda baca manual yang terdapat dalam aplikasi
PingTunnel tersebut. Namun saya akan mencoba memandu sedikit cara penggunaan PingTunnel ini.
Setelah aplikasi itu didownload dan di extract, dan setelah aplikasi tersebut
dicompile, anda tinggal menjalankan aplikasi disisi server dengan perintah ini :

+—– command —-
|
| root@az001:/home/az001/icmp-tunnel/PingTunnel# ./ptunnel
| [inf]: Starting ptunnel v 0.60.
| [inf]: (c) 2004-2005 Daniel Stoedle, daniels@cs.uit.no
| [inf]: Forwarding incoming ping packets over TCP.
| [inf]: Ping proxy is listening in privileged mode.
|
+—— command —–

Untuk menjalankan aplikasi ini disisi client,anda tinggal mengetikkan perintah ini :
Dimana proxy.snip.net adalah server dimana aplikasi server PingTunnel dijalankan.

+—– command —-
|
| ./ptunnel -p proxy.snip.net -lp 8000 -da server2.snip.net -dp 22
| [inf]: Starting ptunnel v 0.60.
| [inf]: (c) 2004-2005 Daniel Stoedle, daniels@cs.uit.no
| [inf]: Relaying packets from incoming TCP streams.
| [inf]: Incoming connection.
| [evt]: No running proxy thread – starting it.
| [inf]: Ping proxy is listening in privileged mode.
| [inf]: Received session close from remote peer.
| [inf]: Incoming connection.
| [inf]: Received session close from remote peer.
| [inf]: Incoming connection.
|
+—— command —–

Setelah itu anda lakukan koneksi ssh seperti ini :

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:/home/az001# ssh -p 8000 az001@localhost
|
+—— command —–

Setelah saya melakukan langkah-langkah diatas, saya coba untuk melakukan
sshtunneling[5] dengan cara seperti ini :

+—– command —-
|
| az001@az001:/home/az001# ssh -vvND 8080 -p 8000 az001@localhost
|
+—— command —–

Lalu setelah itu saya set proxy di firefox saya dengan setting ini :

Socks Host : localhost
Socks Port : 8080

Dan akhirnya, saya berhasil mengakali wireless hotspot tersebut dan
dapat browsing sepuasnya tanpa harus membayar seperti teman saya tadi
(makanya sabar sedikit dunk),hehehe .

[ Penutup ]

Mengakali wireless hotspot tidak hanya dapat dilakukan melalui cara ini saja,
masih banyak cara lain termasuk dnstunneling tadi,untuk referensi , coba anda baca
artikel yang ditulis willhackforbandwith[6] di echo|zine volume 5 issue 16. Sekitar
beberapa minggu yang lalu saya juga sempat mencoba keampuhan icmptunneling & dnstunneling di
salah satu operator gsm yang ada di Indonesia. Melalui dnstunneling & icmptunneling,
saya mendapatkan akses internet gprs gratis tanpa harus membayar sepeserpun.

Cara ini harusnya juga dapat juga digunakan sebagai alternatif lain,
sebagai contoh jika situs echo.or.id diblok di kantor anda, anda dapat menggunakan cara ini.

[ Referensi ]

[1] Netcat
http://netcat.sourceforge.net/

[2] DNS Tunneling
http://www.digitalsec.net/stuff/texts/dns-tunnelingv0.2-en.txt
http://www.dnstunnel.de
http://www.doxpara.com
http://www.thomer.com/howtos/nstx.html

[3] ICMP Tunneling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICMP_tunnel
http://thomer.com/icmptx/index.html

[4] PING Tunnel
http://www.cs.uit.no/~daniels/PingTunnel/index.html

[5] SSH Tunneling
http://www.plenz.com/tunnel-everything

[6] Wireless Hotspot: The Hacker’s Playground (Bagian I)
http://ezine.echo.or.id/ezine16/08_wireless-hotspot-the-hackers-playground.txt

[ Greetz ]

:- echo|staff : y3dips , m0by ,the_day ,comex ,z3r0byt3 ,k-159 ,c-a-s-e ,s’to ,lirva32 ,anonymous ,pushm0v
:- echo|members

Brought To You By : az001 (az001/at/plasa/or/com)

Menjadi Unix Hacker

Jadi kamu memutuskan untuk menjadi seorang hacker UNIX tapi kami nggak tau gimana mulainya?
Sebelum kamu benar-benar mulai, pastikan bahwa hal-hal berikut ini adalah jelas:
(Pastikan juga bahwa kamu mengerti, bahwa tidak ada satupun anggota ‘Kecoak’ yang mengklaim
diri sebagai ‘hackers’. Bagi kami yang terpenting adalah eksplorasi dan eksploitasi, *grins*

[1] Hacking adalah kerja keras. Hacking bukanlah tempat bermain anak-anak yang hanya ingin
mendapat 15 menit secara cuma-cuma. Kamu harus belajar bagaimana caranya mengoperasikan
dan memprogram sebuah system. Kamu mesti ngeriset bagaimana mesin-mesin bereaksi dan
membaca kode-kode asli. Ini adalah proses yang panjang dan sukar – inilah peringatan
untuk kamu!

[2] Hacking adalah ilegal. Masuk ke jaringan komputer tanpa izin adalah ilegal, paling tidak
di banyak negara (hanya Belanda dan Argentina kalo nggak salah yang belum punya hukum
mengenai hacking. Belum aja, sih … paling juga nanti akan ada.) Walaupun hanya log-on
ke sebuah sustem dengan menggunakan account bukan milikmu adalah tindakan pidana yang bisa
dikenakan hukuman. Sekali sang hakim menjatuhkan hukuman, maka hukuman tersebut akan
dimasukkan ke data hidup / arsip kamu. Seluruh hidup kamu mungkin bisa terlantar karena
hanya sedikit perusahaan yang bersedia menerima hacker sebagai karyawan. Ini serius.
Apalagi di Indonesia. Jika kamu meng-hacking server milik pemerintah, bisa dijamin kamu akan
amblas. Dan keluarga kamu nggak aman! Beberapa anggota kami nggak bisa balik lagi ke tanah
air karena sudah dicekal, dan terakhir, pemerintah mulai menyelidiki asal-usul ChiKo dan
mencari keluarganya di Indonesia.

[3] Hacking memerlukan banyak waktu. Kamu nggak mungkin cuman nge-hack selama setengah thun,
terus berhenti dan istirahat selama tiga bulan, lalu kembali lagi. Waktu berjalan cepat di
internet. Rilis baru UNIX, bug-bug baru, dan juga fix-fix nya. Sekali kamu ketinggalan jaman
dengan eksploit data milikmu, kamu mesti mengemis-ngemis ke orang lain untuk memberikan
barang-barang baru kepadamu, dan jika kamu melakukan hal tsb terlalu sering, mereka nggak
akan begitu senang jadinya. 50% dari waktu hacking sebenarnya dihabiskan untuk mengumpulkan
informasi. Bicaralah ke hacker-hacker lainnya, baca mailing lists dan newsgroups, jangan lupa
situs-situs www dan ftp yang bagus.

Tapi apa motivasi kamu untuk secara benar-benar melakukan ‘unix hacking’? Itu terserah kamu. Kamu
ingin menjadi salah satunya, maka pikirkan lagi mengapa kamu ingin menjadi salah satu unix hacker.
Lupakan film-film seperti “The Net” ataupun “Hackers” – film-film tsb BUKANLAH realita! Lupakan
mimpi-mimpi menjadi pahlawan, mengehack Pentagon atau HanKam dan menjadi cowok terseksi, mendapat
pacar-pacar yang cantik dan pada akhirnya bekerja untuk sebuah perusahaan keamanan sistem dengan gaji
berjibun ;o). Hal-hal tersebut BUKANLAH apa yang akan terjadi – jadi, pastikanlah bahwa alasan kamu
jelas, mengapa kamu ingin menjadi hacker dan apa yang kamu harapkan dari hacking. Bisakah kamu
bayangkan ibundamu tercinta, tersedu-sedu saat polisi datang untuk menahanmu?

Ingatlah peringatan-peringatan ini. Ini kami jadikan peringatan untuk memastikan bahwa kamu
menyadari apa yang kamu lakukan dan kamu ingin menjadi apa.

Catatan juga bahwa kami menulis petunjuk singkat ini sebab seringkali kami mendapat pertanyaan
dari banyak orang, “Gimana caranya supaya gue jadi jago nge-hack UNIX?” – dan dari waktu ke waktu
kami menjadi makin cape ngejawabinnya. Maka … inilah dia jawaban-jawabannya. Jangan salahkan
kami atas ketidaklengkapan ataupun kesalahan- kami udah nggak peduli lagi dengan permintaan-permintaan
ngajarin nge-hack lewat jalan potong. Hanya yang paling tahan bantinglah yang bertahan – jadi,
cobalah mendapatkan sebanyak mungkin melalui teks ini jika kamu benar-benar masih pemula. Kami
sendiri masih belum pantas menyandang gelar “hacker” karena kami merasa masih jauh sekali tertinggal
oleh rekan-rekan kebangsaan lain dan kami masih selalu dalam proses mempelajari segalanya.

Gimana cara mulainya

[1] Kenalilah sang sistem – atau – gimana caranya kamu bisa menang rodeo tanpa belajar
caranya menunggang kuda?

[2] Dapatkan distribusi unix. Cobalah mendapatkan Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Sinix dll. untuk PC
kamu. Linux dan FreeBSD adalah sistem-sistem murah (kadang-kadang gratis!) yang berasal dari
BSD, sedangkan Solaris dan Sinix adalah sistem-sistem mahal yang berasal dari System V.
Tip: Carilah distribusi linux yang punya buku pegangan yang cukup bagus. Kamu mesti mempelajari
bagaimana caranya mengoperasikan unix. Pelajarilah dasar-dasarnya, seperti mengganti direktori,
perintah-perintah menyalin dan menghapus dan menggunakan program penyunting.

[3] Motivasi dirimu sendiri untuk secara benar-benar menggunakan UNIX. Gimana caranya memotivasi
– itu terserah kamu sendiri. Mungkin dengan menggunakan databasi yang ada di distribusi unix
kamu, membuat program dalam C untuk sekolah/universitas kamu, apa aja lah, yang jelas kamu
mesti benar-benar menggunakan unix (seperti jamannya ngetik perintah di DOS dulu).

[4] Beli beberapa buku untuk menolong kamu. Diluar sana ada banyak, jadi, pergilah ke toko buku
terkemuka, paling bagus didekat sebuah universitas, dimana banyak orang-orang yang bisa menolong
memberitahukan buku-buku apa yang cukup baik mengenai unix. Buku-buku Nutshell terbitan O’reilly
(dan terjemahannya) kami sukai, namun ini adalah opini pribadi. Kamu mungkin mau mulai dengan
seri For Dummies terbitan IDG (banyak yang bahasa Indonesianya. Baca FAQ untuk judul-judul lain.

[5] Dapatkan internet account dengan PPP dan/atau akses shell (hubungi ISPmu). JANGAN SEKALI-KALI
menge-hack atau bertukar informasi mengenai hacking (tanpa PGP) dengan menggunakan account milik
kamu sendiri (atau account dibawah nama/alamat/telepon kamu!). Coba untuk mengkonfigurasikan PC
unix kamu untuk menghubungkan diri ke Internet provider. Beberapa distribusi Linux dilengkapi
dengan sebuah buku petunjuk dimana mereka menggambarkan gimana caranya untuk menyambungkan ke
internet. Jika kamu sudah mengikuti 5 langkah tsb diatas dan mengetahui caranya mengoperasikan
unix (ini akan makan waktu sekitar 2 – 8 minggu) maka kamu sebaiknya melanjutkan ke langkah
berikutnya:

Pelajari Dasar-Dasarnya!

[6] Kembalilah ke toko buku, kali ini carilah buku-buku mengenai unix dan keamanan internet.
Beberapa buku terbitan Elex Media membahas hal ini. Buku-buku berbahasa inggris antara lain
“Practical Unix Security” oleh Garfinkel and Spafford. Pelajari masalah-masalah keamanan dasar,
‘holes’ dan ciri-ciri apa yang ada di unix, dan kesalahan-kesalahan apa yang sering orang-orang
lakukan.

[7] Cobalah untuk mendapatkan semua informasi dan file-file yang kamu bisa temukan di internet.
Selidiki situs-situs www dan ftp dan gunakan mesin pencari. Berlangganlah ke mailing list mengenai
keamanan yang cukup penting dan bacalah newsgroups yang mungkin bisa jadi penting. Tanya-tanya
di sekeliling di IRC mengenai situs-situs yang bagus. berikut adalah situs-situs untuk permulaan:

http://underground.org
ftp://onyx.infonexus.com/

(*Catatan editor: karena tulisan ini ditulis sekitar tahun 1997
dan kedua situs tersebut sudah tidak aktif, makan silahkan
kunjungi situs berikut — scut*)

http://wks.uts.ohio-state.edu/unix_course/unix.html
http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/unixhelp/

Dan tentu saja link-link di “Kecoak Elektronik” ;-)

bugtraq mailing list ->
http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1

[8] Baca dan analisa file-file hasil kumpulan kamu – dan jangan cuman dikumpulin aja.

Jika kata-kata seperti suid, buffer overflow, firewall, rdist, nis, nfs, dan SATAN sudah menjadi bukan
rahasia lagi bagi kamu dan kamu benar-benar mengetahui apa makna dan konsekwensi kata-kata tersebut,
…lanjutkan.

Mulai Hacking

[9] Dapatkan sebuah account yang bukan milikmu! Coba minta dari hacker yang kamu kenal/jumpai.
Atau gunakan metode-metode yang ada di FAQ. Ingatlah: jangan coba-coba nge-hack dari account
milik kamu sendiri!

[10] Dengan account ini kamu bisa mencoba untuk menge-hack sistem pertamamu. Coba eksploit-
eksploitmu. Tapi ingatlah untuk selalu untuk menutupi jejak (artikel akan segera menyusul)
supaya account ilegal milikmu tidak menjadi sejarah setelah baru sekali dipakai!

[11] Gunakan ypx, eksploit – eksploit remote sendmail, insecure NFS exports, dll untuk mendapatkan
host-host lainnya. Kamu bisa menjadi benar-benar sukses dengan barang “lama” ini jika kamu
menggunakan daftar host yang cukup besar dan skrip tulis/temukan (write/find) yang
mengotomatisasi proses penge-test-an untuk kamu. Tapi dimana bisa ditemukan nama-nama host
untuk membuat daftar host? Banyak kemungkinan. Coba irc, /etc/hosts, www, data analisis
statistik dari akses-akses internet atau www, dll. Ini akan memberikan kamu banyak host dengan
account-account yang ada.

[12] Instal sebuah sniffer jika keadaan sistem memungkinkan dan kamu membobol account ‘root’!
Account ini akan memperbolehkan kamu mengakses banyak account ke host-host baru. Jalankan
skrip-skrip eksploit kamu. pada akhirnya paling tidak ada beberapa yang bisa digunakan.
Lanjutkanlah.

Menjadi seorang Hacker

APPPA? Kamu udah berhasil nge-hack root di beberapa sistem – dan kamu masih belum juga seorang
“hacker”? Kenapa tuh? Seorang hacker bukanlah seseorang yang kerjanya menge-hack sebuah site, install
sebuah sniffer dan selanjutnya. Seorang hacker asli adalah seseorang yang ingin mengerti sebuah sistem,
mengetahui bagaimana sang sistem bereaksi, bersenang-senang mengambil alih kekuasaan di server tersebut
dan tertarik dalam menemukan bugs-bugs baru dan mengarang program-program kegunaan (tool utility) baru.
Yang cocok digambarkan diatas bisa dipanggil Columbus-nya Cyberspace.

[13[ Cobalah untuk berhubungan dengan hacker-hacker lainnya dan saling bertukar informasi, pengalaman,
accounts, eksploits, dan file.

[14] Amati diskusi-diskusi di newsgroups, mailing lists, dan irc. Cobalah membaca RFC-RFC penting,
pelajarilah C dan mulailah memprogram tools karyamu sendiri.

[15] Jangan kut-ikutan menjadi “31337″ – kamu sendiri tahu bahwa kamu udah cukup keren hackingnya
(“cool”, gitu, bahasa Sunda-nya mah!) dan kamu nggak perlu untuk meyakinkan setiap orang bahwa
kamu emang elit. Bertindaklah secara normal dan tolonglah orang-orang lain yang sekarang
bertanya-tanya kepada kamu “gimana caranya supaya gue bisa nge-hack UNIX?”

[16] Jangan lelah. Tetaplah bertahan di kawasan per-hacking-an, selalu amati newsgroup dan mailing
list dan teman teman, jangan berhenti ber-hacking ria.

Yah, segitulah dari kami, kawan-kawan, teks diatas kayaknya cukup untuk membuat para pendatang baru
tersedak mulutnya. Teks tsb emang singkat dan kotor, namun mempunyai apa yang diperlukan.

Ciao…
LithErr
Oleh: LithErr – LithiumError (Kecoak Elektronik)

Masyarakat Underground Dunia Maya

Masyarakat Underground? Bawah tanah? … Betul, masyarakat yang tidak terlihat, tidak terdeteksi, seperti siluman, mereka hidup & berjaya di dunia maya – tanpa terdeteksi oleh pengguna Internet biasa, tak terdeteksi oleh sistem administrator WARNET & ISP.
Siapakah mereka? – mereka adalah para hacker. Media & stereotype masyarakat membentuk karakter hacker sebagai orang jahat dan suka merusak. Stereotype ABG 15-20 tahun-an, yang duduk di belakang komputer berjam-jam, masuk ke sistem dan men-delete, berbelanja menggunakan kartu kredit curian atau menghancurkan apa saja yang bisa mereka hancurkan – “anak” ini dikenal sebagai cracker bukan sebagai hacker. Cracker ini yang sering anda dengar di berita / media, mematikan situs web, menghapus data dan membuat kekacauan kemanapun mereka pergi. Hacker yang betul sebenarnya tidak seperti yang ada dalam stereotype banyak orang di atas.
Di dunia elektronik underground nama jelas & nama lengkap tidak digunakan. Orang biasanya menggunakan nama alias, callsign atau nama samaran. Hal ini memungkinkan kita bisa menyamarkan identitas, dan hanya di kenali sesama underground. Beberapa nama diantara hacker Indonesia bisa dikenali seperti hC, cbug, litherr, fwerd, d_ajax, r3dshadow, cwarrior, ladybug, chiko, gelo, BigDaddy dsb..
Apakah perbedaan mendasar antara seorang cracker & hacker? Di http://www.whatis.com, cracker di definisikan sebagai “seseorang yang masuk ke sistem orang lain, biasanya di jaringan komputer, membypass password atau lisensi program komputer, atau secara sengaja melawan keamanan komputer. Cracker dapat mengerjakan hal ini untuk keuntungan, maksud jahat, atau karena sebab lainnya karena ada tantangan. Beberapa proses pembobolan dilakukan untuk menunjukan kelemahan keamanan sistem”
Berbeda dengan Cracker, Hacker menurut Eric Raymond di definisikan sebagai programmer yang pandai. Sebuah hack yang baik adalah solusi yang cantik kepada masalah programming dan “hacking” adalah proses pembuatan-nya. Ada beberapa karakteristik yang menandakan seseorang adalah hacker, seperti (1) dia suka belajar detail dari bahasa pemrograman atau system, (2) dia melakukan pemrograman tidak cuma berteori saja, (3) dia bisa menghargai, menikmati hasil hacking orang lain, (4) dia dapat secara cepat belajar pemrogramman, dan (5) dia ahli dalam bahasa pemrograman tertentu atau sistem tertentu, seperti “UNIX hacker”.
Yang menarik, ternyata dalam dunia hacker terjadi strata / tingkatan / level yang diberikan oleh komunitas hacker kepada seseorang karena kepiawaiannya, bukan karena umur atau senioritasnya. Proses yang paling berat adalah untuk memperoleh pengakuan / derajat / acknowledgement diantara masyarakat underground, seorang hacker harus mampu membuat program untuk meng-eksploit kelemahan sistem, menulis tutorial (artikel) biasanya dalam format ASCII text biasa, aktif diskusi di mailing list / IRC channel para hacker, membuat situs web dsb. Entah kenapa warna background situs web para hacker seringkali berwarna hitam gelap, mungkin untuk memberikan kesan misterius. Proses memperoleh acknowledgement / pengakuan, akan memakan waktu lama bulanan bahkan tahun, tergantung ke piawaian hacker tersebut.
Proses memperoleh pengakuan di antara sesama hacker tidak lepas dari etika & aturan main dunia underground. Etika ini yang akhirnya akan membedakan antara hacker & cracker, maupun hacker kelas rendahan seperti Lamer & Script Kiddies. Salah satu etika yang berhasil di formulasikan dengan baik ada di buku Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, yang ditulis oleh Steven Levy 1984, ada enam (6) etika yang perlu di resapi seorang hacker:
1. Akses ke komputer – dan apapun yang akan mengajarkan kepada anda bagaimana dunia ini berjalan / bekerja – harus dilakukan tanpa batas & totalitas. Selalu mengutamakan pengalaman lapangan!
2. Semua informasi harus bebas, terbuka, transparan, tidak di sembunyikan.
3. Tidak pernah percaya pada otoritas, penguasa – percaya pada desentralisasi.
4. Seorang hacker hanya di nilai dari kemampuan hackingnya, bukan kriteria buatan seperti gelar, umur, posisi atau suku bangsa.
5. Seorang hacker membuat seni & keindahan di komputer.
6. Komputer dapat mengubah hidup anda menuju yang lebih baik.
Gambaran umum aturan main yang perlu di ikuti seorang hacker seperti di jelaskan oleh Scorpio http://packetstorm.securify.com/docs/hack/ethics/my.code.of.ethics.html, yaitu:
• Di atas segalanya, hormati pengetahuan & kebebasan informasi.
• Memberitahukan sistem administrator akan adanya pelanggaran keamanan / lubang di keamanan yang anda lihat.
• Jangan mengambil keuntungan yang tidak fair dari hack.
• Tidak mendistribusikan & mengumpulkan software bajakan.
• Tidak pernah mengambil resiko yang bodoh – selalu mengetahui kemampuan sendiri.
• Selalu bersedia untuk secara terbuka / bebas / gratis memberitahukan & mengajarkan berbagai informasi & metoda yang diperoleh.
• Tidak pernah meng-hack sebuah sistem untuk mencuri uang.
• Tidak pernah memberikan akses ke seseorang yang akan membuat kerusakan.
• Tidak pernah secara sengaja menghapus & merusak file di komputer yang dihack.
• Hormati mesin yang di hack, dan memperlakukan dia seperti mesin sendiri.
Jelas dari Etika & Aturan main Hacker di atas, sangat tidak mungkin seorang hacker betulan akan membuat kerusakan di komputer.
Tentunya ada berbagai tingkatan / strata di dunia underground. Saya yakin tidak semua orang setuju dengan derajat yang akan dijelaskan disini, karena ada kesan arogan terutama pada level yang tinggi. Secara umum yang paling tinggi (suhu) hacker sering di sebut ‘Elite’; di Indonesia mungkin lebih sering di sebut ‘suhu’. Sedangkan, di ujung lain derajat hacker dikenal ‘wanna-be’ hacker atau dikenal sebagai ‘Lamers’. Yang pasti para pencuri kartu kredit bukanlah seorang hacker tingkat tinggi, mereka hanyalah termasuk kategori hacker kelas paling rendah / kacangan yang sering kali di sebut sebagai Lamer. Mereka adalah orang tanpa pengalaman & pengetahuan biasanya ingin menjadi hacker (wanna-be hacker). Lamer biasanya membaca atau mendengar tentang hacker & ingin seperti itu. Penggunaan komputer Lamer terutama untuk main game, IRC, tukar menukar software prirate, mencuri kartu kredit. Biasanya melakukan hacking menggunakan software trojan, nuke & DoS (Denial of Service). Biasanya menyombongkan diri melalui IRC channel dsb. Karena banyak kekurangannya untuk mencapai elite, dalam perkembangannya Lamer hanya akan sampai level developed kiddie atau script kiddie saja.Developed Kiddie, dua tingkat di atas Lamer – di sebut Kiddie karena kelompok ini masih muda (ABG) & masih sekolah (SMU atau sederajat). Mereka membaca tentang metoda hacking & caranya di berbagai kesempatan. Mereka mencoba berbagai sistem sampai akhirnya berhasil & memproklamirkan kemenangan ke lainnya. Umumnya mereka masih menggunakan Grafik User Interface (GUI) & baru belajar basic dari UNIX, tanpa mampu menemukan lubang kelemahan baru di sistem operasi.
Script Kiddie, seperti tingkat di atasnya, yaitu developed kiddie, biasanya melakukan aktifitas hacking berbasis pada Grafical User Interface (GUI). Seperti juga Lamers, mereka hanya mempunyai pengetahuan teknis networking yang sangat minimal. Hacking dilakukan menggunakan trojan untuk menakuti & menyusahkan hidup sebagian pengguna Internet.
Dua tingkat tertinggi para hacker & yang membuat legenda di underground dunia maya, adalah tingkat Elite & Semi Elite. Barangkali kalau di terjemahkan ke bahasa Indonesia, tingkat ini merupakan suhu dunia underground. Elite juga dikenal sebagai 3l33t, 3l337, 31337 atau kombinasi dari itu; merupakan ujung tombak industri keamanan jaringan. Mereka mengerti sistem operasi luar dalam, sanggup mengkonfigurasi & menyambungkan jaringan secara global. Sanggup melakukan pemrogramman setiap harinya. Sebuah anugrah yang sangat alami, mereka biasanya effisien & trampil, menggunakan pengetahuannya dengan tepat. Mereka seperti siluman dapat memasuki sistem tanpa di ketahui, walaupun mereka tidak akan menghancurkan data-data. Karena mereka selalu mengikuti peraturan yang ada.
Semi Elite – hacker ini biasanya lebih muda daripada Elite. Mereka juga mempunyai kemampuan & pengetahuan luas tentang komputer. Mereka mengerti tentang sistem operasi (termasuk lubangnya). Biasanya dilengkapi dengan sejumlah kecil program cukup untuk mengubah program eksploit. Banyak serangan yang dipublikasi dilakukan oleh hacker kaliber ini, sialnya oleh para Elite mereka sering kali di kategorikan Lamer.
Sombong merupakan salah satu sebab utama seorang hacker tertangkap. Mereka menyombongkan diri & memproklamirkan apa yang mereka capai untuk memperoleh pengakuan dari yang lain. Hacker lain, karena pengetahuan-nya masih kurang, biasanya akan memilih target secara hati-hati, tanpa terlihat, diam-diam seperti siluman di kegelapan malam. Setelah melalui banyak semedi & membaca banyak buku-buku tentang kerja jaringan komputer, Request For Comment (RFC) di Internet & mempraktekan socket programming. Semua ini tidak pernah di ajarkan di bangku sekolah maupun kuliah manapun. Secara perlahan mereka akan naik hirarki mereka sesuai dengan kemampuannya, tanpa menyombongkan dirinya – itulah para suhu dunia underground. Salah satu suhu hacker di Indonesia yang saya hormati & kagumi kebetulan bekas murid saya sendiri di Teknik Elektro ITB, beliau relatif masih muda + sekarang telah menjadi seorang penting di Research & Development Telkomsel.
Umumnya pembuatan software akan sangat berterima kasih akan masukan dari para hacker, karena dengan adanya masukan ini software yang mereka buat menjadi semakin baik. Memang kadang eksploit yang dihasilkan para hacker tidak langsung di peroleh si perusahaan software, tapi di tahan oleh komunitas underground ini – sampai digunakan oleh lamers & membuat kekacauan.
Bagaimana proses hacking dilakukan? Ah ini bagian paling menarik dalam dunia underground. Ada bermacam-macam teknik hacking, yang paling menyebalkan adalah jika terjadi Denial of Service (DoS) yang menyebabkan server / komputer yang kita gunakan menjadi macet / mati. Terlepas dari masalah menyebalkan, secara umum ada empat (4) langkah sederhana yang biasanya dilakukan, yaitu:
1. Membuka akses ke situs.
2. Hacking root (superuser)
3. Menghilangkan jejak.
4. Membuat backdoor (jalan belakang), untuk masuk di kemudian hari.
Hmmm bagaimana secara singkat lebih jauh proses hacking ini dilakukan? Untuk dapat mengakses ke dalam sebuah situs biasanya melalui beberapa proses terlebih dulu, seperti hal-nya dinas intelejen, kita harus tahu persis segala sesuatu tentang perusahaan & situs yang akan kita masuki, rencana melarikan diri kalau ada apa-apa dsb. Proses intelejen ini dilakukan dalam tiga (3) tahapan besar, yaitu footprinting, scanning & enumeration. Footprinting untuk mengetahui seberapa besar scope / wilayah serangan bisa dilihat dari berbagai file HTML perusahaan tsb, perintah whois, host, dig, nslookup pada Linux untuk melihat scope host yang perlu di serang / di amankan. Scanning untuk melihat servis apa saja yang ada di mesin-mesin tersebut, topologi jaringan dsb. bisa dilakukan mengunakan perintah ping, traceroute, nmap, strobe, udp_scan, netcat di Linux & terakhir Cheops untuk melakukan network mapping. Enumeration sistem operasi yang jalan di server target apakah Windows NT/2000 / Linux / Netware. Program seperti snmputil, enum, dumpsec, showmount, rcpinfo, finger menjadi sangat “handy”.
Setelah proses intelejen di lakukan dengan baik proses serangan dapat mulai dikerjakan. Seperti kita tahu, umumnya berbagai perusahaan / dotcommers akan menggunakan Internet untuk (1) hosting web server mereka, (2) komunikasi e-mail dan (3) memberikan akses web / internet kepada karyawan-nya. Pemisahan jaringan Internet dan IntraNet umumnya dilakukan dengan menggunakan teknik / software Firewall dan Proxy server. Detail sepuluh (10) besar serangan di Internet bisa dibaca di http://www.sans.org/topten.html. Melihat kondisi penggunaan di atas, kelemahan sistem umumnya dapat di tembus misalnya dengan menembus mailserver external / luar yang digunakan untuk memudahkan akses ke mail keluar dari perusahaan. Selain itu, dengan menggunakan agressive-SNMP scanner & program yang memaksa SNMP community string dapat mengubah sebuah router menjadi bridge (jembatan) yang kemudian dapat digunakan untuk batu loncatan untuk masuk ke dalam jaringan internal perusahaan (IntraNet).
Agar hacker terlindungi pada saat melakukan serangan, teknik cloacking (penyamaran) dilakukan dengan cara melompat dari mesin yang sebelumnya telah di compromised (ditaklukan) melalui program telnet atau rsh. Pada mesin perantara yang menggunakan Windows serangan dapat dilakukan dengan melompat dari program Wingate / proxy server; dapat melalui unauthenticated SOCKproxy port 1080 atau open Web proxy port 80, 81, 8000, 8080. Daftar WinGate server di maintain oleh CyberArmy di http://www.cyberarmy.com/wingate/.
Langkah selanjutnya, hacker akan mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang dipercaya oleh system apa saja. Komponen jaringan tersebut biasanya mesin administrator dan server yang biasanya di anggap paling aman di jaringan. Start dengan check akses & eksport NFS ke berbagai direktori yang kritis seperti /usr/bin, /etc dan /home. Eksploitasi mesin melalui kelemahan Common Gateway Interface (CGI), dengan akses ke file /etc/hosts.allow.
Selanjutnya hacker harus mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang lemah dan bisa di taklukan. Hacker bisa mengunakan program di Linux seperti ADMhack, mscan, nmap dan banyak scanner kecil lainnya. Program seperti ‘ps’ & ‘netstat’ di buat trojan (ingat cerita kuda troya? dalam cerita klasik yunani kuno) untuk menyembunyikan proses scanning. Bagi hacker yang cukup advanced dapat mengunakan aggressive-SNMP scanning untuk men-scan peralatan dengan SNMP.
Setelah hacker berhasil mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang lemah dan bisa di taklukan, maka hacker akan menjalan program untuk menaklukan program daemon yang lemah di server. Cara paling sederhana menggunakan script kiddies yang tersedia di Internet di http://www.technotronics.com / http://www.hackingexposed.com seperti cgiscan.c, phfscan.c dsb. Program daemon adalah program di server yang biasanya berjalan di belakang layar (sebagai daemon / setan). Keberhasilan menaklukan 4
program daemon ini akan memungkinkan seorang Hacker untuk memperoleh akses sebagai ‘root’ (administrator tertinggi di server).
Untuk menghilangkan jejak, seorang hacker biasanya melakukan operasi pembersihan ‘clean-up‘ operation dengan cara membersihkan berbagai log file. Program seperti zap, wzap, wted, remove akan membantu. Walaupun simpel text editor seperti vi dapat juga melakukan pekerjaan itu. Jangan lupa menambahkan program ‘backdooring’ dengan cara Mengganti file .rhosts di /usr/bin untuk memudahkan akses ke mesin yang di taklukan melalui rsh & csh. Selanjutnya seorang hacker dapat menggunakan mesin yang sudah ditaklukan untuk kepentingannya sendiri, tapi seorang hacker yang baik akan memberitahukan sistem administrator tentang kelemahan sistemnya & tidak akan pernah menjalankan perintah ‘rm –rf / &’.
Oleh karena itu semua mesin & router yang menjalankan misi kritis sebaiknya selalu di periksa keamanannya & di patch oleh software yang lebih baru. Backup menjadi penting sekali terutama pada mesin-mesin yang menjalankan misi kritis supaya terselamatkan dari ulah cracker yang men-disable sistem dengan ‘rm –rf / &’.
Cukup banyak situs di Internet yang bisa menjadi basis pengetahuan underground, beberapa diantara-nya berbahasa Indonesia seperti Kecoa Elektronik http://www.k-elektronik.org, Hackerlink http://www.hackerlink.or.id, maupun Anti-hackerlink (entah dimana lokasinya). Referensi terbaik mungkin bisa dibaca di berbagai situs di luar negeri seperti http://packetstorm.securify.com, http://www.hackingexposed.com, http://neworder.box.sk, http://www.sans.org, http://www.rootshell.com.
Onno W Purbo
onno@indo.net.id

Belajar Menjadi Hacker

Hacker dengan keahliannya dapat melihat & memperbaiki kelemahan perangkat lunak di komputer; biasanya kemudian di publikasikan secara terbuka di Internet agar sistem menjadi lebih baik. Sialnya, segelintir manusia berhati jahat menggunakan informasi tersebut untuk kejahatan – mereka biasanya disebut cracker. Pada dasarnya dunia hacker & cracker tidak berbeda dengan dunia seni, disini kita berbicara seni keamanan jaringan Internet.
Saya berharap ilmu keamanan jaringan di tulisan ini digunakan untuk hal-hal yang baik – jadilah Hacker bukan Cracker. Jangan sampai anda terkena karma karena menggunakan ilmu untuk merusak milik orang lain. Apalagi, pada saat ini kebutuhan akan hacker semakin bertambah di Indonesia dengan semakin banyak dotcommers yang ingin IPO di berbagai bursa saham. Nama baik & nilai sebuah dotcom bisa jatuh bahkan menjadi tidak berharga jika dotcom di bobol. Dalam kondisi ini, para hacker di harapkan bisa menjadi konsultan keamanan bagi para dotcommers tersebut – karena SDM pihak kepolisian & aparat keamanan Indonesia amat sangat lemah & menyedihkan di bidang Teknologi Informasi & Internet. Apa boleh buat cybersquad, cyberpatrol swasta barangkali perlu di budayakan untuk survival dotcommers Indonesia di Internet.
Berbagai teknik keamanan jaringan Internet dapat di peroleh secara mudah di Internet antara lain di http://www.sans.org, http://www.rootshell.com, http://www.linuxfirewall.org/, http://www.linuxdoc.org, http://www.cerias.purdue.edu/coast/firewalls/, http://www.redhat.com/mirrors/LDP/HOWTO/. Sebagian dari teknik ini berupa buku-buku yang jumlah-nya beberapa ratus halaman yang dapat di ambil secara cuma-cuma (gratis). Beberapa Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tentang keamanan jaringan bisa diperoleh di http://www.iss.net/vd/mail.html, http://www.v-one.com/documents/fw-faq.htm. Dan bagi para experimenter beberapa script / program yang sudah jadi dapat diperoleh antara lain di http://bastille-linux.sourceforge.net/, http://www.redhat.com/support/docs/tips/firewall/firewallservice.html.
Bagi pembaca yang ingin memperoleh ilmu tentang jaringan dapat di download secara cuma-cuma dari http://pandu.dhs.org, http://www.bogor.net/idkf/, http://louis.idaman.com/idkf. Beberapa buku berbentuk softcopy yang dapat di ambil gratis dapat di ambil dari http://pandu.dhs.org/Buku-Online/. Kita harus berterima kasih terutama kepada team Pandu yang dimotori oleh I Made Wiryana untuk ini. Pada saat ini, saya tidak terlalu tahu adanya tempat diskusi Indonesia yang aktif membahas teknik-teknik hacking ini – tetapi mungkin bisa sebagian di diskusikan di mailing list lanjut seperti kursus-linux@yahoogroups.com & linux-admin@linux.or.id yang di operasikan oleh Kelompok Pengguna Linux Indonesia (KPLI) http://www.kpli.or.id.
Cara paling sederhana untuk melihat kelemahan sistem adalah dengan cara mencari informasi dari berbagai vendor misalnya di http://www.sans.org/newlook/publications/roadmap.htm#3b tentang kelemahan dari sistem yang mereka buat sendiri. Di samping, memonitoring berbagai mailing list di Internet yang berkaitan dengan keamanan jaringan seperti dalam daftar http://www.sans.org/newlook/publications/roadmap.htm#3e.
Dijelaskan oleh Front-line Information Security Team, “Techniques Adopted By ‘System Crackers’ When Attempting To Break Into Corporate or Sensitive Private Networks,” fist@ns2.co.uk http://www.ns2.co.uk. Seorang Cracker umumnya pria usia 16-25 tahun. Berdasarkan statistik pengguna Internet di Indonesia maka sebetulnya mayoritas pengguna Internet di Indonesia adalah anak-anak muda pada usia ini juga. Memang usia ini adalah usia yang sangat ideal dalam menimba ilmu baru termasuk ilmu Internet, sangat disayangkan jika kita tidak berhasil menginternetkan ke 25000 sekolah Indonesia s/d tahun 2002 – karena tumpuan hari depan bangsa Indonesia berada di tangan anak-anak muda kita ini.
Nah, para cracker muda ini umumnya melakukan cracking untuk meningkatkan kemampuan / menggunakan sumber daya di jaringan untuk kepentingan sendiri. Umumnya para cracker adalah opportunis. Melihat kelemahan sistem dengan mejalankan program scanner. Setelah memperoleh akses root, cracker akan menginstall pintu belakang (backdoor) dan menutup semua kelemahan umum yang ada.
Seperti kita tahu, umumnya berbagai perusahaan / dotcommers akan menggunakan Internet untuk (1) hosting web server mereka, (2) komunikasi e-mail dan (3) memberikan akses web / internet kepada karyawan-nya. Pemisahan jaringan Internet dan IntraNet umumnya dilakukan dengan menggunakan teknik / software Firewall dan Proxy server. Melihat kondisi penggunaan di atas, kelemahan sistem umumnya dapat di tembus misalnya dengan menembus mailserver external / luar yang digunakan untuk memudahkan akses ke mail keluar dari perusahaan. Selain itu, dengan menggunakan agressive-SNMP scanner & program yang memaksa SNMP community string dapat mengubah sebuah router menjadi bridge (jembatan) yang kemudian dapat digunakan untuk batu loncatan untuk masuk ke dalam jaringan internal perusahaan (IntraNet).
Agar cracker terlindungi pada saat melakukan serangan, teknik cloacking (penyamaran) dilakukan dengan cara melompat dari mesin yang sebelumnya telah di compromised (ditaklukan) melalui program telnet atau rsh. Pada mesin perantara yang menggunakan Windows serangan dapat dilakukan dengan melompat dari program Wingate. Selain itu, melompat dapat dilakukan melalui perangkat proxy yang konfigurasinya kurang baik.
Setelah berhasil melompat dan memasuki sistem lain, cracker biasanya melakukan probing terhadap jaringan dan mengumpulkan informasi yang dibutuhkan. Hal ini dilakukan dengan beberapa cara, misalnya (1) menggunakan nslookup untuk menjalankan perintah ‘ls ‘ , (2) melihat file HTML di webserver anda untuk mengidentifikasi mesin lainnya, (3) melihat berbagai dokumen di FTP server, (4) menghubungkan diri ke mail server dan menggunakan perintah ‘expn ‘, dan (5) mem-finger user di mesin-mesin eksternal lainnya.
Langkah selanjutnya, cracker akan mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang dipercaya oleh system apa saja. Komponen jaringan tersebut biasanya mesin administrator dan server yang biasanya di anggap paling aman di jaringan. Start dengan check akses & eksport NFS ke berbagai direktori yang kritis seperti /usr/bin, /etc dan /home. Eksploitasi mesin melalui kelemahan Common Gateway Interface (CGI), dengan akses ke file /etc/hosts.allow.
Selanjutnya cracker harus mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang lemah dan bisa di taklukan. Cracker bisa mengunakan program di Linux seperti ADMhack, mscan, nmap dan banyak scanner kecil lainnya. Program seperti ‘ps’ & ‘netstat’ di buat trojan (ingat cerita kuda troya? dalam cerita klasik yunani kuno) untuk menyembunyikan proses scanning. Bagi cracker yang cukup advanced dapat mengunakan aggressive-SNMP scanning untuk men-scan peralatan dengan SNMP.
Setelah cracker berhasil mengidentifikasi komponen jaringan yang lemah dan bisa di taklukan, maka cracker akan menjalan program untuk menaklukan program daemon yang lemah di server. Program daemon adalah program di server yang biasanya berjalan di belakang layar (sebagai daemon / setan). Keberhasilan menaklukan program daemon ini akan memungkinkan seorang Cracker untuk memperoleh akses sebagai ‘root’ (administrator tertinggi di server).
Untuk menghilangkan jejak, seorang cracker biasanya melakukan operasi pembersihan ‘clean-up‘ operation dengan cara membersihkan berbagai log file. Dan menambahkan program untuk masuk dari pintu belakang ‘backdooring’. Mengganti file .rhosts di /usr/bin untuk memudahkan akses ke mesin yang di taklukan melalui rsh & csh.
Selanjutnya seorang cracker dapat menggunakan mesin yang sudah ditaklukan untuk kepentingannya sendiri, misalnya mengambil informasi sensitif yang seharusnya tidak dibacanya; mengcracking mesin lain dengan melompat dari mesin yang di taklukan; memasang sniffer untuk melihat / mencatat berbagai trafik / komunikasi yang lewat; bahkan bisa mematikan sistem / jaringan dengan cara menjalankan perintah ‘rm –rf / &’. Yang terakhir akan sangat fatal akibatnya karena sistem akan hancur sama sekali, terutama jika semua software di letakan di harddisk. Proses re-install seluruh sistem harus di lakukan, akan memusingkan jika hal ini dilakukan di mesin-mesin yang menjalankan misi kritis.
Oleh karena itu semua mesin & router yang menjalankan misi kritis sebaiknya selalu di periksa keamanannya & di patch oleh software yang lebih baru. Backup menjadi penting sekali terutama pada mesin-mesin yang menjalankan misi kritis supaya terselamatkan dari ulah cracker yang men-disable sistem dengan ‘rm –rf / &’.
Bagi kita yang sehari-hari bergelut di Internet biasanya justru akan sangat menghargai keberadaan para hacker (bukan Cracker). Karena berkat para hacker-lah Internet ada dan dapat kita nikmati seperti sekarang ini, bahkan terus di perbaiki untuk menjadi sistem yang lebih baik lagi. Berbagai kelemahan sistem di perbaiki karena kepandaian rekan-rekan hacker yang sering kali mengerjakan perbaikan tsb. secara sukarela karena hobby-nya. Apalagi seringkali hasil hacking-nya di sebarkan secara cuma-cuma di Internet untuk keperluan masyarakat Internet. Sebuah nilai & budaya gotong royong yang mulia justru tumbuh di dunia maya Internet yang biasanya terkesan futuristik dan jauh dari rasa sosial.
Pengembangan para hobbiest hacker ini menjadi penting sekali untuk keberlangsungan / survival dotcommers di wahana Internet Indonesia. Sebagai salah satu bentuk nyatanya, dalam waktu dekat Insya Allah sekitar pertengahan April 2001 akan di adakan hacking competition di Internet untuk membobol sebuah server yang telah di tentukan terlebih dahulu. Hacking competition tersebut di motori oleh anak-anak muda di Kelompok Pengguna Linux Indonesia (KPLI) Semarang yang digerakan oleh anak muda seperti Kresno Aji (masaji@telkom.net), Agus Hartanto (hartx@writeme.com) & Lekso Budi Handoko (handoko@riset.dinus.ac.id). Seperti umumnya anak-anak muda lainnya, mereka umumnya bermodal cekak – bantuan & sponsor tentunya akan sangat bermanfaat dan dinantikan oleh rekan-rekan muda ini.
Mudah-mudahan semua ini akan menambah semangat pembaca, khususnya pembaca muda, untuk bergerak di dunia hacker yang mengasyikan dan menantang. Kalau kata Captain Jean Luc Picard di Film Startrek Next Generation, “To boldly go where no one has gone before”.
Onno W. Purbo
onno@indo.net.id

Jargon File

THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 2.6.2, 14 FEB 1991

Introduction

************

This document is a collection of slang terms used by various

subcultures of computer hackers. Though some technical material is

included for background and flavor, it is not a technical dictionary;

what we describe here is the language hackers use among themselves for

fun, social communication, and techical debate within their communities.

The `hacker culture’ is actually a loosely networked collection of

subcultures that is nevertheless conscious of some important shared

experiences, shared roots, and shared values. It has its own myths,

heroes, villains, folk epics, in-jokes, taboos, and dreams. Because

hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define

themselves partly by rejection of `normal’ values and working habits,

it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional

culture less than thirty-five years old.

As usual with slang, the special vocabulary of hackers helps hold

their culture together — it helps hackers recognize each other’s

places in the community and expresses shared values and experiences.

Among hackers, though, slang has a subtler aspect paralleled perhaps

in the slang of jazz musicians and some kinds of fine artists but hard

to detect in most technical or scientific cultures; parts of it are

code for shared states of *consciousness*. There is a whole range

of altered states and problem-solving mental stances basic to

high-level hacking which don’t fit into conventional linguistic

reality any better than a Coltrane solo or one of Maurits Escher’s

trick-the-eye paintings (Escher is a favorite of hackers), and hacker

slang encodes these subtleties in many unobvious ways. Take the

distinction between a {kluge} and an {elegant} solution, and the

differing connotations attached to each, as a simple example. The

distinction is not only of engineering significance; it reaches right

back into the nature of the generative processes in program design and

asserts something important about two different kinds of relationship

between the hacker and the hack. Hacker slang is unusually rich in

implications of this kind, of overtones and undertones that illuminate

the hackish psyche.

Hackers, as a rule, love word-play and are very conscious in their use

of language. Thus, a compilation of their slang is a particularly

effective window into their culture — and, in fact, this one is the

latest version of an evolving compilation called the `Jargon File’

maintained by hackers themselves for over fifteen years. This one

(like its ancestors) is primarily a lexicon, but also includes `topic

entries’ which collect background or sidelight information on hacker

culture that would be awkward to try to subsume under individual

entries.

Though the format is that of a reference, it is also intended that the

material be enjoyable to browse or read straight through. Even a

complete outsider should find at least a chuckle on nearly every page,

and much that is amusingly thought-provoking. But it is also true

that hackers use humorous word-play to make strong, sometime combative

statements about what they feel. Some of these entries reflect the

views of opposing sides in disputes which have been genuinely

passionate; this is deliberate. We have not tried to moderate or

pretty up these disputes; rather we have attempted to ensure that

*everyone’s* sacred cows get gored, impartially. Compromise is

not particularly a hackish virtue, but the honest presentation of

divergent viewpoints is.

The reader with minimal computer background who finds some references

incomprehensibly technical can safely ignore them. We have not felt

it either necessary or desirable to eliminate all such; they, too,

contribute flavor, and one of this document’s major intended audiences

(fledgling hackers already partway inside the culture) will benefit

from them.

A selection of longer items of hacker folklore and humor are included

in appendix A. The `outside’ reader’s attention is particularly

directed to Appendix B, the Portrait of J. Random Hacker. Appendix C

is a bibliography of non-technical works which have either influenced

or described the hacker culture.

Because hackerdom is an intentional culture (one which each individual

must choose by their actions to join), one should not be surprised

that the line between description and influence can become more than a

little blurred. Earlier Jargon File versions have played a central

role in spreading hacker language and the culture that goes with it to

successively larger populations, and we hope and expect that this one

will do likewise.

Revision History

================

The original Jargon File was a collection of hacker slang from

technical cultures including the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI lab

(SAIL), the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, Carnegie-Mellon

University (CMU), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

The Jargon File (hereafter referred to as `jargon-1′ or `the File’)

was begun by Raphael Finkel at Stanford in 1975, though some terms in

it date back considerably earlier ({frob} and some senses of

{moby}, for instance, go back to the Tech Model Railroad Club and

MIT and are are believed to date at least back to the early 1960s).

The revisions of jargon-1 were all unnumbered and may be collectively

considered `Version 1′.

In 1976, Mark Crispin brought the File to MIT; he and Guy Steele then

added a first wave of new entries. Raphael Finkel dropped out of

active participation shortly thereafter, and Don Woods became the SAIL

contact for the File (which was subsequently kept in duplicate at SAIL

and MIT, with periodic re-synchronizations).

The File expanded by fits and starts until about 1983; Richard

Stallman was prominent among the contributors, adding many MIT and

ITS-related coinages.

A late version of jargon-1, expanded with commentary for the mass

market, was edited by Guy L. Steele into a book published in 1983 as

`The Hacker’s Dictionary’ (Harper & Row CN 1082, ISBN

0-06-091082-8). The other jargon-1 editors (Raphael Finkel, Don

Woods, and Mark Crispin) contributed to the revision, as did Richard

M. Stallman and Geoff Goodfellow. This book is hereafter referred to

as `Steele-1983′. It is now out of print.

Shortly after the publication of Steele-1983 the File effectively

stopped growing and changing. The PDP-10-centered cultures that had

originally nourished it were dealt a serious blow by the cancellation

of the Jupiter project at DEC. The AI-Lab culture died and its best

and brightest dispersed; the File’s compilers moved on to other

things.

By the mid-1980s the File’s content was dated, but the legend that

had grown up around it never quite died out. The book, and softcopies

obtained off the ARPANET, circulated even in cultures far removed from

MIT’s; the content exerted a strong and continuing influence on

hackish slang and humor. Even as the advent of the microcomputer and

other trends fueled a tremendous expansion of hackerdom, the File (and

related materials like the AI Koans in Appendix A) came to be seen as

a sort of sacred epic, a hacker-culture Matter of Britain chronicling

the heroic exploits of the Knights of the Lab. The pace of change in

hackerdom at large accelerated tremendously, but the Jargon File

passed from living document to icon and remained essentially untouched

for seven years.

This revision contains nearly the entire text of a late version of

jargon-1 (a few obsolete PDP-10-related entries have been dropped

following careful consultation with the editors of Steele-1983). It

merges in about about 80% of the Steele-1983 text, omitting some

framing material and a very few entries introduced in Steele-1983

which are now also obsolete.

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 represent slang now current in the

C and UNIX communities, but special efforts have been made to collect

slang from other cultures including IBM-PC programmers, Mac

enthusiasts, and even the IBM mainframe world.

Where a term can be attributed to a particular subculture or is known

to have originated there, we have tried to so indicate. Here is a

list of abbreviations used in etymologies:

Berkeley

University of California at Berkeley.

Cambridge

The university in England (*not* the town in Massachusetts!).

CMU

Carnegie-Mellon University

Commodore

Commodore Business Machines.

Fidonet

See the {Fidonet} entry.

IBM

International Business Machines

MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; esp. the legendary MIT AI Lab

culture of roughly 1971 to 1983. Some MITisms go as far as the

Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT c.1960.

NYU

New York University.

Purdue

Purdue University.

SAIL

Stanford Artificial Intelliegence Laboratory.

Stanford

Stanford University.

Sun

Sun Microsystems.

UCLA

University of California at Los Angeles.

USENET

See the {USENET} entry.

WPI

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, site of a very active community of

PDP-10 hackers during the Seventies.

Xerox PARC

Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, site of much pioneering research in

user interface design and networking.

Yale

Yale University.

Some other etymology abbreviations such as {UNIX}, {PDP-10}, etc.

refer to technical cultures surrounding specific operating systems,

processors, or other environments.

Eric S. Raymond (eric@snark.thyrsus.com) maintains the new File with

assistance from Guy L. Steele (gls@think.com); these are the persons

primarily reflected in the File’s editorial `we’, though we take

pleasure in acknowledging the special contribution of the other

coauthors of Steele-1983. Please email all additions, corrections and

correspondence relating to the jargon file to jargon@thyrsus.com

(UUCP-only sites without connections to an autorouting smart site can

use …!uunet!snark!jargon).

(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)

Some snapshot of this on-line version will become the main text of a

`New Hacker’s Dictionary’ by MIT Press possibly as early as Summer

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 community.

Here is a chronology of the recent on-line revisions:

Version 2.1.1, Jun 12 1990: the jargon file comes alive again after a

seven-year hiatus. 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 obsolete 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 co-authors.

The bibliography (Appendix C) was also appended.

Version 2.2.1, Dec 15 1990: most of the contents of the 1983 paper

edition edited by Guy Steele was merged in. Many more USENET

submissions added, including the International Style and the material

on Commonwealth Hackish. This version had 9394 lines, 75954 words,

490501 characters, and 1046 entries.

Version 2.3.1, Jan 03 1991: the great format change — case is no

longer smashed in lexicon keys and cross-references. A very few

entries from jargon-1 which were basically straight tech-speak were

deleted; this enabled the rest of Appendix B to be merged back into

main text and the appendix replaced with the Portrait of J. Random

Hacker. More USENET submissions were added. This version had 10728

lines, 85070 words, 558261 characters, and 1138 entries.

Version 2.4.1, Jan 14 1991: the Story of Mel and many more USENET

submissions merged in. More material on hackish writing habits added.

Numerous typo fixes. This version had 12362 lines, 97819 words,

642899 characters, and 1239 entries.

Version 2.5.1, Jan 29 1991: many new entries merged in. Discussion of

inclusion styles added. This version had 14145 lines, 111904 words,

734285 characters, and 1425 entries.

Version 2.6.1, Feb 13 1991: second great format change; no more

around headwords or references. Merged in results of serious

copy-editing passes by Guy Steele, Mark Brader. Still more entries

added. This version had 15011 lines, 118277 words, 774942 characters,

and 1485 entries.

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 (Eric S. Raymond) with

assistance from GLS (Guy Steele). Someday, the next maintainer will

take over and spawn `version 3′. In general, later versions will

either completely supersede or incorporate earlier versions, so there

is generally no point in keeping old versions around.

Our thanks to the other co-authors of Steele-1983 for oversight and

assistance; also to all the USENETters who contributed entries and

encouragement. Special thanks go to our Scandinavian correspondent

Per Lindberg (per@front.se), author of the remarkable Swedish

language ‘zine `Hackerbladet’, for bringing FOO! comics to our

attention and smuggling one of the IBM hacker underground’s own baby

jargon files out to us. Also, much gratitude to ace hacker/linguist

Joe Keane (jkg@osc.osc.com) for helping us improve the pronunciation

guides; and to Maarten Litmaath for generously allowing the inclusion

of the ASCII pronunciation guide he formerly maintained. Finally,

Mark Brader (msb@sq.com) submitted many thoughtful comments and did

yeoman service in catching typos and minor usage bobbles, and Eric

Tiedemann (est@thyrsus.com) contributed sage advice on rhetoric,

amphigory, and philosophunculism.

Format For New Entries

======================

Try to conform to the format already being used — head-words and

cross-references in angle brackets, pronunciations in slashes,

etymologies in square 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 usually generalizations suggested by editors or USENET

respondents in the process of commenting on 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 in English is to double a verb

and use it as an exclamation, such as “Bang, bang!” or “Quack,

quack!”. Most of these are names for noises. Hackers also double

verbs as a concise, sometimes sarcastic comment on what the implied

subject does. Also, a doubled verb is often used to terminate a

conversation, in the process remarking on the current state of affairs

or what the speaker intends to do next. Typical examples involve

{win}, {lose}, {hack}, {flame}, {barf}, {chomp}:

“The disk heads just crashed.” “Lose, lose.”

“Mostly he talked about his latest 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: Hackers will often make rhymes or puns in order to

convert an ordinary word or phrase into something more interesting.

It is considered particularly {flavorful} if the phrase is bent so

as to include some other slang word; thus the computer hobbyist

magazine `Dr. Dobb’s Journal’ is almost always referred to among

hackers as `Dr. Frob’s Journal’ or simply `Dr. Frob’s’. Terms of

this kind that have been in fairly wide use include names for

newspapers:

Boston Herald American => Horrid (or Harried) American

Boston Globe => Boston Glob

Houston Chronicle => the Crocknicle

New York Times => New York Slime

However, terms like these are often made up on the spur of the moment.

Standard examples include:

Prime Time => Slime Time

Data General => Dirty Genitals

IBM 360 => IBM Three-Sickly

Government Property – Do Not Duplicate (seen on keys)

=> Government Duplicity – Do Not Propagate

for historical reasons => for hysterical raisins

Margaret Jacks Hall => Marginal Hacks Hall

This is 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.

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]

Overgeneralization: A very conspicuous feature of hackerspeak is the

frequency with which names of program tools, command language

primitives, and even assembler opcodes are applied to contexts outside

of computing wherever hackers find amusing analogies to them. Thus,

(to cite one of the best-known examples) UNIX hackers often {grep} for

things rather than *searching* for them. Many of the lexicon

entries are generalizations of exactly this kind.

Hackers enjoy overgeneralization on the grammatical level as well.

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 (or vice versa). For example, because

porous => porosity

generous => generosity

hackers happily generalize:

mysterious => mysteriosity

ferrous => ferrosity

obvious => obviosity

dubious => dubiosity

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; e.g. `soxen’ for a bunch of

socks. Other funny plurals are `frobbotzim’ for the plural of

{frobboz} (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; it has been

suggested that this is because -ix and -ex are Latin singular endings

that attract a Latinate plural.

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-Saxon 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 or in

email. Another expression sometimes heard is “Complain!”, meaning

“I have a complaint!”

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

flourish.

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

spectrum:

MONSTROSITY BRAIN-DAMAGE SCREW BUG LOSE MISFEATURE

CROCK KLUGE HACK WIN FEATURE ELEGANCE PERFECTION

The last is spoken of as a mythical absolute, approximated but never

actually attained. Coinages for describing {lossage} seem to call

forth the very finest in hackish linguistic inventiveness; it has been

truly said that “{Computer geeks} have more words for equipment

failures than Inuit have for snow”, or than Yiddish has for obnoxious

people.

Hacker Speech Style

===================

This 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 often

confused by the sense of their answers. The problem is that they’ve

done so much coding that distinguishes between

if (going) {

and

if (!going) {

that when they parse the question “Aren’t you going?” it seems to be

asking the opposite question from “Are you going?”, and so merits an

answer in the opposite sense. This confuses English-speaking

non-hackers because they were taught to answer as though the negative

part weren’t there (in some other languages, including Chinese and

Japanese, the hackish interpretation is standard and the problem

wouldn’t arise). Hackers often find themselves wishing for a word

like French `si’ or German `doch’ 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 American 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 standard American

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 in them.

Given the sorts of examples that can come up in discussing

programming, American-style quoting can even be grossly misleading.

When communicating command lines or small pieces of code, extra

characters can be a real pain in the neck. For example:

First do “foo -acrZ tempo | bar -,” then …

is different from

First do “foo -acrZ tempo | bar -”, then …

from a computer’s point of view. While the first is correct according

to the stylebooks and would probably be parsed correctly by the a

human recipient, the second is unambiguous. The Jargon File follows

hackish usage consistently throughout.

Interestingly, a similar style is now preferred practice in Great

Britain, though the older style (which became established for

typographical reasons having to do with the aesthetics of comma and

quotes in typeset text) is still accepted there. Hart’s Rules and the

Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors call the hacker-like style

`new’ or `logical’ style quoting.

Another hacker quirk about quoting style is a tendency to distinguish

between `scare’ quotes and `speech’ quotes; that is, to use

British-style single quotes for marking and reserve American-style

double quotes for actual reports of speech or text included from

elsewhere. Interestingly, some authorities describe this as correct

general usage, but mainstream American English has gone to using

double-quotes thoroughly enough that hacker usage appears marked [and,

in fact, I thought this was a personal quirk of mine until I checked

with USENET — ESR]. One further permutation that is definitely

*not* standard is a hackish tendency to do marking quotes by

using apostrophes in pairs; that is, ‘like this’. This is modelled on

string and character literal syntax in some programming languages

(reinforced by the fact that many character-only terminals display a

vertical single quote).

There seems to be a meta-rule behind these nonstandard hackerisms to

the effect that precision of expression is more important than

conformance to traditional rules; where the latter create ambiguity or

lose information they can be discarded without a second thought. It

is notable in this respect that other hackish inventions (for example,

in vocabulary) also tend to carry very precise shades of meaning even

when constructed to appear slangy and loose. In fact, to a hacker, the

contrast between `loose’ form and `tight’ content in hacker slang is a

substantial part of its humor!

There is another respect in which hackish usage often parallels

British usage; it tends to choose British spellings whenever these

seem more phonetically consistent than the American ones. For

example, a hacker is likely to insist on (British-style) `signalling’

rather than American-standard `signaling’ on the grounds that the

latter ought to be pronounced /sig’nay’ling/ rather than

/sig’n@-ling/. Similarly, `travelling’ is preferred to `traveling’.

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 an ingrained synesthetic reflex that a person who

goes to caps-lock while in {talk mode} 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*?” (note that this interferes with

the common use of asterisk suffix as a footnote mark). An alternative

form uses paired slash and backslash: “What the \hell/?”. The

latter is never used in text documents, as many formatters treat

backslash as an {escape} and may do inappropriate things with the

following text. Also note that there is a semantic difference between

*emphasis like this*, (which emphasizes the phrase as a whole) and

*emphasis* *like* *this* (which suggests the writer speaking very

slowly and distinctly, as if to a very young child or mentally

impaired person).

In a formula, `*’ signifies multiplication, and two asterisks in a

row are a shorthand for exponentiation (this derives from FORTRAN).

Thus, one might write `2 ** 8 = 256′.

Another notation for exponentiation one sees more frequently uses the

caret (^, ASCII 1011110); one might write instead `2 ^ 8 = 256′.

This goes all the way back to Algol-60, which used the archaic ASCII

`up-arrow’ that later became caret; this was picked up by Kemeny &

Kurtz’s original BASIC, which in turn influenced the design of the

bc(1) and dc(1) UNIX tools that have probably done most to reinforce

the convention on USENET. The notation is mildly confusing to C

programmers, because `^’ means logical {XOR} in C. Despite

this, it was favored 3/1 over ** in a late-1990 snapshot of USENET.

It is used consistently in this text.

Another on-line convention, used especially for very large or very

small numbers, is taken from C (which derived it from FORTRAN). This

is a form of `scientific notation’ using `e’ to replace `*10^’; for

example, one year is about 3e7 seconds long.

The tilde (`~’) is commonly used in a quantifying sense of

`approximately’; that is, `~50′ means `about fifty’.

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_”.

Occasionally this underline indication is used for emphasis, like the

paired asterisks.

On USENET and in the {MUD} world, common C boolean, logical and

relational operators (`|’, `!’, `==’, `!=’,

`>’, `<’) are often combined with English. The Pascal

not-equals, `’, is also recognized. The use of prefix `!’ as a

loose synonym for `not-’ or `no-’ is particularly common; thus,

`!clue’ is read `no-clue’ or `clueless’.

Another habit is that of using angle-bracket enclosure to genericize a

term; this derives from conventions used in {BNF}. Uses like the

following are common:

So this walks into a bar one day, and…

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

(the `spelling’) and cannot be overridden without mental effort (an

appropriate reflex because UNIX and C both distinguish cases and

confusing them can lead to lossage). A way of escaping this dilemma

is simply to avoid using these constructions at the beginning of

sentences.

Hackers also mix letters and numbers more freely than in mainstream

usage. In particular, it is good hackish style to write a digit

sequence where you intend the reader to understand the text string

that names that number in English. So, hackers write “1970s” rather

than “nineteen-seventies” or “1970′s”.

Finally, it should be noted that hackers exhibit much less reluctance

to use multiply nested parentheses than is normal in English. Partly

this is almost certainly due to influence from LISP ((which uses

deeply nested parentheses (like this) in its syntax) (a lot (see?))),

but it has also been suggested that a more basic hacker trait of

enjoying playing with complexity and pushing systems to their limits

is in operation.

One area where hackish conventions for on-line writing are still in

some flux is the marking of included material from earlier messages

— what would be called `block quotations’ in ordinary English. From

the usual typographic convention employed for these (smaller font at

an extra indent), there derived the notation of included text being

indented by one ASCII TAB (0001001) character, which under UNIX and

many other environments gives the appearance of an 8-space indent.

Early mail and netnews readers had no facility for including messages

this way, so people had to paste in copy manually. BSD `Mail(1)’

was the first message agent to support inclusion, and early USENETters

emulated its style. But the TAB character tended to push included

text too far to the right (especially in multiply nested inclusions),

leading to ugly wraparounds. After a brief period of confusion

(during which an inclusion leader consisting of three or four spaces

became established in EMACS and a few mailers), the use of leading “>”

or “> ” became standard, perhaps because the character suggests

movement to the right (alternatively, it may derive from the “>” that

some V7 UNIX mailers use to quote leading instances of “From” in

text). Inclusions within inclusions keep their “>” leaders, so the

`nesting level’ of a quotation is visually apparent.

A few other idiosyncratic quoting styles survive because they’re

automatically generated. One particularly ugly one looks like this:

/* Written hh:mm pm Mmm dd, yyyy by user@site in local:group */

/* ———- “Subject of article chopped to 35 ch” ———- */

<>

/* End of text from local:group */

It’s generated by an elderly, variant news-reading system called

`notesfiles’. The overall trend, however, is definitely away from

such verbosity.

Now, it was rapidly observed that the practice of including text

helped solve what had been a major nuisance on USENET: the fact that

articles do not arrive at different sites in the same order. Careless

posters used to post articles that would begin with, or even consist

entirely of, “No, that’s wrong”, or “I agree” or the like. It was

hard to see who was responding to what. Consequently, in about 1984,

new news-posting software was created with a facility to automatically

include the text of a previous article, marked with “> ” or whatever

the poster chose. The poster was expected to delete all but the

relevant lines. The result has been that, now, careless posters post

articles containing the *entire* text of a preceding article,

*followed* only by “No, that’s wrong” or “I agree”.

Many people feel that this cure is worse than the original disease,

and there soon appeared newsreader software designed to let the reader

skip over included text if desired. Today, some posting software

rejects articles containing too high a proportion of lines beginning

with “>”, but this too has led to undesirable workarounds such as the

deliberate inclusion of zero-content filler lines which aren’t quoted

and thus pull the message below the rejection threshold.

Because the default mailers supplied with UNIX and other operating

systems haven’t evolved as quickly as human usage, the older

conventions using a leading TAB or three or four spaces are still

alive; however, >-inclusion is now clearly the preferred form in both

netnews and mail.

Practice is still evolving, and disputes over the `correct’ inclusion

style occasionally leads to {holy wars}. One variant style reported

uses the citation character `|’ in place of `>’ for extended

quotations where original variations in indentation are being

retained. One also sees different styles of quoting a number of

authors in the same message: one (deprecated because it loses

information) uses a leader of “> ” for everyone, another (the most

common) is “> > > > “, “> > > “, etc. (or “>>>> “, “>>> “, etc.,

depending on line length and nesting depth) reflecting the original

order of messages, and yet another is to use a different citation

leader for each author, say “> “, “: “, “| “, “} ” (preserving

nesting so that the inclusion order of messages is still apparent, or

tagging the inclusions with authors’ names). Yet *another* style

is to use each poster’s initials (or login name) as a citation leader

for that poster. Occasionally one sees a “# ” leader used for

quotations from *authoritative* sources such as standards

documents; the intended allusion is to the root prompt (the special

UNIX command prompt issued when one is running as the privileged

super-user).

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 travelling 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., though Canada is heavily influenced by American

usage). There is also an entry on {Commonwealth Hackish} reporting

some general phonetic and vocabulary differences from U.S. hackish.

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 English idioms and thus comprehensible to

English-speakers.

UNIX Manual 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, n=6 is games, and n=8

(where present) is system administration utilities. Sections 4, 5,

and 7 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 that 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 `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’ (/nooz/ or /nyooz/)

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 /kuhl’r/,

not /kit’@n/ and /kuhl’@r/.

Entries are sorted in case-blind ASCII collation order (rather than

the letter-by-letter order ignoring interword spacing common in

mainstream dictionaries), except that all entries beginning with

nonalphabetic characters are sorted to the beginning. The

case-blindness is a feature, not a bug.

The `OED’ referred to in several entries is, of course, the Oxford

English Dictionary.

In pure ASCII renderings of the Jargon File, you will see {} used in

to bracket words which themselves have entries in the File. This

isn’t done all the time for every such word, but it is done everywhere

that a reminder seems useful that the term has a jargon meaning and

might wish to refer to its entry.

In this all-ASCII version, headwords for topic entries are

distinguished from those for ordinary entries by being followed by

“::” rather than “:”; similarly, references are surrounded by

“{{” and “}}” rather than “{” and “}”.

The Jargon Lexicon

******************

= [^A-Za-z] (see {regexp}) =

============================

‘Snooze: /snooz/ [FidoNet] n. Fidonews, the weekly official on-line

newsletter of FidoNet. As the editorial policy of Fidonews is

“anything that arrives, we print”, there are often large articles

completely unrelated to FidoNet, which in turn tend to elicit

{flamage} in subsequent issues.

(tm): [USENET] ASCII rendition of the trademark symbol, appended to

phrases that the author feels should be recorded for posterity,

perhaps in future editions of this lexicon. Sometimes used

ironically as a form of protest against the recent spate of

software and algorithm patents, and `look and feel’ lawsuits.

/dev/null: /dev-nuhl/ [from the UNIX null device, used as a data

sink] n. A notional `black hole’ in any information space being

discussed, used or referred to. A controversial posting, for

example, might end “Kudos to rasputin@kremlin.org, flames to

/dev/null”. See {bit bucket}, {null device}.

120 reset: [from 120 volts, wall current] n. To cycle power on a

machine in order to reset or unjam it. Compare {Big Red Switch},

{power cycle}.

2: infix. In translation software written by hackers, infix 2 often

represents the syllable *to* with the connotation

`translate to’; as in dvi2ps (DVI to PostScript), int2string

(integer to string) and texi2roff (Texinfo to [nt]roff).

@-party: /at’par`tee/ [from the @-sign in an Internet address] n.

(also `@-sign party’ /at’sien par`tee/) Semi-closed parties thrown

at science-fiction 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 does. 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: [written only; primarily CMU] n. Equivalent of {\begin}

in the Scribe text formatting language; used as an idiomy by Scribe

users.

\begin: [written only, from the LaTeX command] With \end, used

humorously in writing to indicate a context or to remark on the

surrounded text. For example:

\begin{Flame}

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.

\end{Flame}

The Scribe users at CMU and elsewhere used to use @Begin/@End in

an identical way. On USENET, this construct would more frequently

be rendered as “” and “”.

= A =

=====

abbrev: /@’breev/ n. Common abbreviation for `abbreviation’.

accumulator: n. Archaic term for a register. Cited here because

on-line use of it is a fairly reliable indication that the user has

been around for quite a while and/or the architecture under

discussion is quite old. The term in full is almost never used of

microprocessor registers, for example, though symbolic names for

arithmetic registers beginning in A derive from historical use of

`accumulator’ (and not, actually, from `arithmetic’!).

Confusingly, though, an `a’ register name prefix may also stand for

`address’, as for example on the Motorola 680×0 family.

ACK: /ak/ interj. 1. [from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000110]

Acknowledge. Used to register one’s presence (compare mainstream

*Yo!*). An appropriate response to {ping} or {ENQ}. 2.

[prob. from the Bloom County comic strip] An exclamation of

surprised disgust, esp. in “Oop ack!”. Semi-humorous. 3. Used

to politely interrupt someone to tell them you understand their

point. See {NAK}. Thus, for example, you might cut off an

overly long explanation with “Ack. Ack. Ack. I get it now”. See

also {NAK}.

There is also a usage “ACK?” (from sense #1) 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}

(sense #2), i.e., “I’m not here”).

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.

Also called `ad-hackery’.

Ada:: n. A {{Pascal}}-descended language that has been made

mandatory for Department of Defense software projects by the

Pentagon. Hackers are nearly unanimous in observing that,

technically, it is precisely what one might expect given that kind

of endorsement by fiat; designed by committee, crockish, difficult

to use, and overall a disastrous, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle

(one common description is “The PL/1 of the 1980s”; hackers find

the exception handling and inter-process communication features

particularly hilarious). Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron

who became the world’s first programmer while cooperating with

Babbage on the design of his mechanical computing engines in the

mid-1800s) would almost certainly blanch at the use her name has

been latterly put to; the kindest thing that has been said about it

it is that there is probably a good small language screaming to get

out from inside its vast, {elephantine} bulk.

adger: /adj’r/ [UCLA] vt. To make a bonehead move with consequences

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 {dumbass attack}.

admin: /ad-min’/ n. Short for `administrator’; very commonly used

in speech on-line to refer to the systems person in charge on a

computer. Common constructions on this include `sysadmin’ and

`site admin’ (emphasizing the administrator’s role as a site

contact for email and news) or `newsadmin’ (focusing on the

latter). Compare {postmaster}, {sysop}, {system mangler}.

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. See also {vadding}.

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 some noun X). “You are in a

maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” “You are in a little

maze of twisty passages, all different.” 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 by Danny Hillis 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 only serious} and {{Humor, Hacker}}.

AIDS: /aydz/ n. Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (“A*” matches,

but not limited to, Apple), this condition is the quite often the

result of practicing unsafe {SEX}. See {virus}, {worm}, {Trojan

horse}, {virgin}.

airplane rule: n. “Complexity increases the possibility of

failure; a twin-engine airplane has twice as many engine problems

as a single engine airplane.” By analogy, in both software and

electronics, the rule that simplicity increases robustness (see

also {KISS Principle}. It is correspondingly argued that the

right way to build reliable systems is to design to put all your

eggs in one basket, after making sure that you’ve built a

*really good* basket.

aliasing bug: [C programmers] n. A class of subtle programming

errors which can arise in code that does dynamic allocation, esp.

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 avoidable by use of higher-level languages

such as {LISP} which employ a garbage collector (see {GC}).

Also called a {stale pointer bug}. See also {precedence

lossage}, {smash the stack}, {fandango on core}, {memory

leak}, {overrun screw}, {spam}.

all-elbows: adj. Of a TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) IBM PC

program, such as the N pop-up calendar and calculator utilities

that circulate on {BBS} systems: unsociable. Used to describe a

program that rudely steals the resources that it needs without

considering that other TSRs may also be resident. One particularly

common form of rudeness is lock-up due to programs fighting over

the keyboard interrupt. See also {mess-doss}.

ALT: /awlt/ [PDP-10] n.obs. Alternate name for the ASCII ESC

character, after the keycap labeling on some older terminals. Also

`ALTMODE’. This character was almost never pronounced

“escape” on an ITS system, in TECO, or under TOPS-10 — always

ALT, as in “Type ALT ALT to end a TECO command” or “ALT U onto

the system” (for “log onto the [ITS] system”). This was

probably because ALT is more convenient to say than “escape”,

especially when followed by another ALT or a character (or another

ALT *and* a character, for that matter!).

alt bit: /awlt bit/ [from alternate] adj. See {meta bit}.

Aluminum Book: [MIT] n. `Common Lisp: The Language’, by Guy L.

Steele Jr., Digital Press, first edition, 1984, second edition

1990. Strictly speaking, only the first edition is the aluminum

book, since the second edition has a yucky pale green cover. See

also {Blue Book}, {Red Book}, {Green Book}, {Silver Book}, {Purple

Book}, {Orange Book}, {White Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book}, {Dragon

Book}, {Wizard Book}.

amoeba: /@-mee’b@/ n. Humorous term for the Commodore Amiga

personal computer.

amp off: [Purdue] vt. To run in {background}. From the UNIX shell `&’

operator.

angle brackets: n. Either of the characters `’

(ASCIIless-than or greater-than signs). The {Real World} angle

brackets used by typographers are actually taller than a less-than

or greater-than sign. See {broket}, {{ASCII}}.

AOS: 1. /aws/ (East coast), /ay-os/ (West coast) [based on a PDP-10

increment instruction] vt.,obs. To increase the amount of

something. “Aos the campfire.” Usage: considered silly, and now

obsolete. See {SOS}. Now largely supplanted by {bump}. 2. A

crufty {Multics}-derived OS supported at one time by Data

General. This was pronounced /ay-oh-ess/ or /ay-os/, the latter

being prevalent internally at DG. A spoof of the standard AOS

system administrator’s manual (`How to load and generate your

AOS system’) was created, issued a part number, and allegedly

released. It was called `How to goad and levitate your chaos

system’.

Historical note: AOS in sense #1 was the name of a {PDP-10}

instruction that took any memory location in the computer and added

one to it; AOS meant `Add One and do not Skip’. Why, you may

ask, does the `S’ stand for `do not Skip’ rather than for

`Skip’? Ah, here was a beloved piece of PDP-10 folklore. There

were eight such instructions: AOSE added one and then skipped the

next instruction if the result was Equal to zero; AOSG added one

and then skipped if the result was Greater than zero; AOSN added

one and then skipped if the result was Not zero; AOSA added one and

then skipped Always; and so on. Just plain AOS didn’t say when to

skip, so it never skipped. For similar reasons, AOJ meant `Add

One and do not Jump’. Even more bizarre, SKIP meant `Do not

SKIP’! If you wanted to skip the next instruction, you had to say

`SKIPA’. Likewise, JUMP means `Do not JUMP’. Such were the

perverse mysteries of assembler programming.

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}.

arc: [primarily MSDOS] vt. To create a compressed archive from a

group of files using the SEA ARC, PKWare PKARC, or compatible

program. Rapidly becoming obsolete as the ARC compression method

is falling into disuse, having been replaced by newer compression

techniques. See {tar and feather}, {zip}.

arc wars: [primarily MSDOS] n. {holy wars} over which archiving

program one should use. The first arc war was sparked when System

Enhancement Associates (SEA) sued PKWare for copyright and

trademark infringement on its ARC program. PKWare’s PKARC

outperformed ARC on both compression and speed while largely

retaining compatibility (it introduced a new compression type which

could be disabled for backward-compatibility). PKWare settled out

of court to avoid enormous legal costs (both SEA and PKWare are

small companies); as part of the settlement, the name of PKARC was

changed to PKPAK. The public backlash against SEA for bringing

suit helped to hasten the demise of ARC as a standard when PKWare

and others introduced new, incompatible archivers with better

compression algorithms.

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 screw}, {aliasing bug}, {memory leak}, {smash the stack}.

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

{param}, {var}.

armor-plated: n. Syn. for {bulletproof}.

asbestos cork award: n. Once, long ago at MIT, there was a {flamer}

so consistently obnoxious that another hacker designed, had made,

and distributed posters announcing that said flamer had been

nominated for the `asbestos cork award’. Persons in any doubt as

to the intended application of the cork should consult the

etymology under {flame}. Since then, it is agreed that only a

select few have risen to the heights of bombast required to earn

this dubious dignity — but there’s no agreement on *which*

few.

asbestos longjohns: n. Notional garments often donned by {USENET}

posters just before emitting a remark they expect will elicit

{flamage}. Also `asbestos underwear’, `asbestos overcoat’,

etc.

ASCII:: [American Standard Code for Information Interchange] /as’kee/

n. Common slang names for ASCII characters are collected here. See

individual entries for {bang}, {excl}, {open}, {ques},

{semi}, {shriek}, {splat}, {twiddle}, {what}, {wow}, and {Yu-Shiang

whole fish}. 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, common names are given in rough order of popularity

followed by names which are reported but rarely seen; official

ANSI/CCITT names are parenthesized.

`!’

Common: {bang}, pling, excl, shriek, (exclamation point).

Rare: factorial, exclam, smash, cuss, boing, yell, wow, hey,

wham, spot-spark, soldier.

`”‘

Common: double quote, quote. Rare: literal mark,

double-glitch, (quotation marks), (dieresis), dirk.

`#’

Common: (number sign), pound, hash, sharp, {crunch}, mesh,

hex, octothorpe. Rare: flash, crosshatch, grid, pig-pen,

tictactoe, scratchmark, thud, {splat}.

`$’

Common: dollar, (dollar sign). Rare: currency symbol, buck,

cash, string (from BASIC), escape (from {TOPS-10}), ding,

cache.

`%’

Common: percent, (percent sign), mod, grapes.

`&’

Common: (ampersand), amper, and. Rare: address (from C),

reference (from C++), andpersand, bitand, background (from

`sh(1)’), pretzel, amp.

`”

Common: single quote, quote, (apostrophe). Rare: prime,

glitch, tick, irk, pop, spark, (closing single quotation

mark), (acute accent).

`()’

Common: left/right paren, left/right parenthesis, left/right,

paren/thesis, open/close paren, open/close, open/close

parenthesis, left/right banana. Rare: lparen/rparen,

so/already, wax/wane, (opening/closing parenthesis),

left/right ear, parenthisey/unparenthisey, open/close round

bracket.

`*’

Common: star, {splat}, (asterisk). Rare: wildcard, gear,

dingle, mult, spider, aster, times, twinkle, glob (see

{glob}), {Nathan Hale}.

`+’

Common: (plus), add. Rare: cross.

`,’

Common: (comma). Rare: (cedilla).

`-’

Common: dash, (hyphen), (minus). Rare: worm, option, dak,

bithorpe.

`.’

Common: dot, point, (period), (decimal point). Rare: radix

point, full stop.

`/’

Common: slash, stroke, (slant), forward slash. Rare:

diagonal, solidus, over, slak, virgule.

`:’

Common: (colon). Rare: two-spot.

`;’

Common: (semicolon), semi. Rare: weenie.

`’

Common: (less/greater than), left/right angle bracket,

bra/ket, left/right broket. Rare: from/{into,towards}, read

from/write to, suck/blow, comes-from/gozinta, in/out,

crunch/zap (all from UNIX).

`=’

Common: (equals), gets. Rare: quadrathorpe.

`?’

Common: query, (question mark), {ques}. Rare: whatmark, what,

wildchar, huh, hook, buttonhook, hunchback.

`@’

Common: at sign, at, strudel. Rare: each, vortex, whorl,

cyclone, snail, ape, cat, rose, cabbage, (commercial at).

`V’

Rare: vee, book.

`[]’

Common: left/right square bracket, (opening/closing bracket),

bracket/unbracket left/right bracket. Rare: square/unsquare.

`\’

Common: backslash, escape (from C/UNIX), reverse slash, slosh,

backslant. Rare: bash, backwhack, (reverse slant), reversed

virgule.

`^’

Common: hat, control, uparrow, caret. Rare: (circumflex),

chevron, shark (or shark fin), to the (`to the power of’),

fang.

`_’

Common: (underline), underscore, underbar, under. Rare:

score, backarrow.

“’

Common: backquote, left quote, open quote, (grave accent),

grave. Rare: backprime, backspark, unapostrophe, birk,

blugle, back tick, back glitch, push, (opening single

quotation mark), quasiquote.

`{}’

Common: open/close brace, left/right brace, left/right

squiggly bracket/brace, left/right curly bracket/brace,

(opening/closing brace). Rare: brace/unbrace, curly/uncurly,

leftit/rytit.

`|’

Common: bar, or, or-bar, v-bar, pipe. Rare: vertical bar,

(vertical line), gozinta, thru, pipesinta (last three ones

from UNIX).

`~’

Common: (tilde), squiggle, {twiddle}, not. Rare: approx,

wiggle, swung dash, enyay, sqiggle.

The pronunciation of `#’ as `pound’ is common in the U.S. but

a bad idea; Commonwealth hackish has its own rather more apposite

use of `pound sign’. The U.S. practice derives from an

old-fashioned commercial practice of using a `#’ suffix to tag

pound weights on bills of lading. The character is usually

pronounced `hash’ outside the U.S.

Also note that the `swung dash’ or `approx’ sign is not quite the

same as tilde in typeset material, but the ASCII tilde serves for

both (compare {angle brackets}).

Some other common usages cause odd overlaps. The `#’,

`$’, `>’, and `&’ chars, for example, are all

pronounced “hex” in different communities because various assemblers

use them as a prefix tag for hexadecimal constants (in particular,

$ in the 6502 world, > at Texas Instruments, and & on the Sinclair

and some other Z80 machines).

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}).

attoparsec: n. `atto-’ is the official SI prefix for

multiplication by 10 ^ -18; an attoparsec is thus 1 parsec

(parallax-second, 3.26 light years) times 10 ^ -18, or about 1.3

cm. This unit is reported to be in use (though probably not very

seriously) among hackers in Great Britain. See {micro-}

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: 1. n. [UNIX] An interpreted language developed by Aho,

Weinberg, and Kernighan (the name is from their initials). It is

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. 3. vt. To process data using `awk(1)’.

= B =

=====

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 infamous RTM worm of late 1988, for example, used a back door

in the {BSD} UNIX `sendmail(1)’ utility.

Ken Thompson’s 1983 Turing Award lecture to the ACM revealed the

existence of a back door in early UNIX versions that may have

qualified as the most fiendishly clever security hack of all time.

The binaries of the C compiler had code in them which would

automatically patch itself into the output executable whenever the

compiler itself was being recompiled, and also patch the

`login’ command, when *it* was being recompiled, to

accept a password that gave Thompson entry to the computer whether

or not an account had been created for him! Thompson describes

this hack as a {Trojan Horse}. This talk was published as

`Reflections on Trusting Trust’, Communications of the ACM

27,8 (August 1984) pp761-763. Although Thompson didn’t say whether

the hacked version ever made it off site, it is commonly believed

that this back door was in fact propagated through hundreds of

machines without any clue to it ever showing up in source.

Syn. {trap door}; may also be called a `wormhole’. See also

{iron box}, {cracker}, {worm}, {logic bomb}.

backbone cabal: n. A 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.

backbone site: n. A key USENET and email site; one which processes

a large amount of third-party traffic, especially if it’s the home

site of any of the regional coordinators for the USENET maps.

Notable backbone sites as of early 1991 include `uunet’ and the

mail machines at Rutgers University, UC Berkeley, DEC’s Western

Research Laboratories, Ohio State University, and the University of

Texas. Compare {rib site}, {leaf site}.

background: n.,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 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. Note that this

implies ongoing activity but at a reduced level or in spare time,

in contrast to mainstream `back burner’ which connotes benign

neglect until some future resumption of activity. Some people

prefer to use the term for processing that they’ve queued up for

their unconscious minds (a tack that one can often fruitfully take

when encountering an obstacle in creative work). Compare {amp

off}, {slopsucker}.

backspace and overstrike: interj. Whoa! Back up. Used to suggest

that someone just said or did something wrong. Common among

APL programmers.

backward combatability: /bak’w@rd kom-bat’@-bil’@-tee/ [corruption

of “backward compatibility”] adj. A property pertaining to

hardware or software in which all previous protocols, formats and

layouts are discarded in favour of the `new and improved’

protocols, formats and layouts. Occurs usually when making the

transition between major releases. When the change is so drastic

that the old formats are not retained in the new version, it is

said to be `backward combatable’.

BAD: [IBM; acronym, Broken As Designed] adj. Said of a program

which is {bogus} due to bad design and misfeatures rather than

due to bugginess. See {working as designed}.

Bad Thing: [from the 1962 Sellars & Yeatman parody `1066 and

All That’] 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}. British correspondents confirm

that {Bad Thing} and {Good Thing} (and prob. therefore {Right

Thing} and {Wrong Thing}) come from the book referenced in the

etymology, which discusses rulers who were Good Kings, but Bad

Things. This has apparently created a mainstream idiom on the

British side of the pond.

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. adj. `bagbiting’

Having the quality of a bagbiter. “This bagbiting system won’t

let me compute the factorial of a negative number.” Compare

{losing}, {cretinous}, {bletcherous}, `barfucious’ (under

{barfulous}) and `chomping’ (under {chomp}). 4. `bite

the bag’ 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, possibly referring to the scrotum, but in

their current usage they have become almost completely sanitized.

bamf: /bamf/ 1. [from old X-men comics] interj. Notional sound made

by a person or object teleporting in or out of the hearer’s

vicinity. Often used in {virtual reality} (esp. {MUD})

electronic fora when a character wishes to make a dramatic entrance

or exit. 2. The sound of magical transformation, used in vertual

reality fora like sense #1. 3. [from `Don Washington’s

Survival Guide’] n. Acronym for `Bad-Ass Mother Fucker’, used to

refer to one of the handful of nastiest monsters on an LPMUD or

similar MUD.

banana label: n. The labels often used on the sides of {macrotape}

reels, so called because they’re shaped roughly like blunt-ended

bananas. This term, like macrotapes themselves, is still current

but visibly headed for obsolescence.

banana problem: n. [from the story of the little girl who said “I

know how to spell `banana’, but I don’t know when to stop”]. Not

knowing where or when to bring a production to a close (compare

{fencepost error}). One may say there is a banana problem of an

algorithm with poorly defined or incorrect termination conditions,

or in discussing the evolution of a design that may be succumbing

to featuritis (see also {creeping elegance}, {creeping

featuritis}). See also item 176 under {HAKMEM}.

bandwidth: n. 1. Used by hackers in a generalization of its technical

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. 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 0100001),

especially when used in pronouncing a {bang path} 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”

(except possibly for humorous purposes), 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’. In the

bad old days of not so long ago, before autorouting mailers became

commonplace, people often published compound bang addresses using

the { } convention (see {glob}) to give paths from

*several* big machines, in the hopes that one’s correspondent

might be able to get mail to one of them reliably (example:

…!{seismo, ut-sally, gatech}!rice!beta!gamma!me). Bang paths of 8

to ten hops were not uncommon in 1981. Late night dial-up uucp

links would cause week-long transmission times. Bang paths were

often selected by both transmission time and reliability, as

messages would often get lost. See {{Internet address}},

{network, the}, and {sitename}.

banner: n. 1. The title page added to printouts by most print

spoolers see {spool}. Typically includes user or account ID

information in very large character-graphics capitals. 2. A

similar printout generated (typically on multiple pages of fan-fold

paper) from user-specified text, e.g. by a program such as UNIX’s

`banner([16])’. 3. On interactive software, a first screen

containing a logo and/or author credits and/or copyright notice.

bar: /bar/ n. 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 such as overlapping opcodes (or,

as in the famous case described in Appendix A, 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. This is the closest hackish equivalent of the

Valspeak `gag me with a spoon’ (Like, euwww!). See {bletch}. 2.

To say “Barf!” or emit some similar expression of disgust. “I

showed him my latest hack and he barfed” means only that he

complained about it, not that he literally vomited. 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.” See

{choke}, {gag}. Note that in Commonwealth hackish, `barf’ is

generally replaced by `puke’ or `vom’. {barf} is sometimes also

used as a metasyntactic variable like {foo} or {bar}.

barfulation: interj. Variation of {barf} used around the Stanford

area. An exclamation, expressing disgust. On seeing some

particularly bad code one might exclaim, “Barfulation! Who wrote

this, Quux?”

barfulous: adj. (also `barfucious’) Said of something which would

make anyone barf, if only for esthetic reasons.

baroque: adj. Feature-encrusted; complex; gaudy; verging on

excessive. Said of hardware or (esp.) software designs, this has

many of the connotations of {elephantine} or {monstrosity} but is

less extreme and not pejorative in itself. See also {rococo}.

BartleMUD: /bar’tl-muhd/ n. Any of the MUDs which are derived from

the original MUD game (see {MUD}) or use the same software

drivers. BartleMUDs are noted for their (usually slightly offbeat)

humor, dry but friendly syntax, and lack of adjectives in object

descriptions, so a player is likely to come across `brand172′, for

instance (see {brand brand brand}). Some mudders intensely

dislike Bartle and this term, preferring to speak of `MUD-1′.

bat file: [MS-DOS] n. Abbreviation for {batch file}, the MSDOS

equivalent of the UNIX shell script, derived from the .BAT

extension required for the command interpreter to find the batch

file and execute it.

batch: adj. Non-interactive. Hackers use this somewhat more

loosely than the traditional technical definitions justify; in

particular, switches on a normally interactive program that prepare

it to receive non-interactive conmmand input are often referred to

as `batch mode’ switches. A `batch file’ is a series of

instructions written to be handed to an interactive program running

in batch mode.

bathtub curve: n. Common term for the curve (resembling an

end-to-end section of one of those claw-footed antique bathtubs)

that describes the expected failure rate of electronics with time:

initially high, dropping to near zero for most of the system’s

lifetime, then rising again as it `tires out’. See also {burn-in

period}, {infant mortality}.

baud: /bawd/ [simplified from its technical meaning] n. Bits per

second. Hence kilobaud or Kbaud, thousand bits per second. The

technical meaning is `level transitions per second’; this coincides

with bps only for two-level modulation with no framing or stop

bits. Hackers are generally aware of these nuances but blithely

ignore them.

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/ n. [Stanford corruption of {bar}] 1. The third

metasyntactic variable, after {foo} and {bar} and before

{quux} (or, occasionally, `qux’). “Suppose we have three

functions FOO, BAR, and BAZ. FOO calls BAR, which calls

BAZ….” 2. interj. A 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 `foobaz’.

bboard: /bee’bord/ [contraction of `bulletin board'] n. 1. Any

electronic bulletin board; esp. used of {BBS} systems running on

personal micros, less frequently of a USENET {newsgroup} (in

fact, use of the term for a newsgroup is generally marks one as a

{newbie}). 2. At CMU and other colleges with similar facilities,

refers to campuswide electronic bulletin boards. 3. The term

`physical bboard’ is sometimes used to refer to a

non-electronic old-fashioned cork memo board. At CMU, it refers to

a particular one outside the CS Lounge.

In either of senses 1 or 2, the term is usually prefixed by the

name of the intended board (`the Moonlight Casino bboard’ or

`market bboard’); however, if the context is clear, the better-read

bboards may be referred to by name alone, as in [at CMU] “Don’t

post for-sale ads on general”.

BBS: [acronym, Bulletin Board System] n. An electronic bulletin

board system; that is, a message database where people can log in

and leave broadcast messages for others grouped (typically) into

topic areas. Thousands of local BBS systems are in operation

throughout the U.S., typically run by amateurs for fun out of their

homes on MS-DOS boxes with a single modem line each. Fans of

USENET and Internet or the big commercial timesharing bboards like

CompuServe or GEnie tend to consider local BBSes the `low-rent

district’ of the hacker culture, but they serve a valuable function

by knitting together lots of hackers and users in the

personal-micro world who would otherwise be unable to exchange code

at all.

beam: [from Star Trek Classic's "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}, {BLT}.

beep: n.,v. Syn. {feep}. This term seems to be preferred among micro

hobbyists.

bells and whistles: [by analogy with steam calliopes] 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.

bells, whistles, and gongs: n. A standard elaborated form of

{bells and whistles}; typically said with a pronounced and ironic

accent on the `gongs’. If you need this explained, you will never

understand it.

benchmark: n. An inaccurate measure of computer performance. “In

the computer industry, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn

lies, and benchmarks.” Well-known ones include Whetstone,

Dhrystone, the Gabriel LISP benchmarks (see {gabriel}),

Rhealstone (see {h}) and LINPACK. See also {machoflops},

{MIPS}.

berklix: /ber’kliks/ n.,adj. [contraction of `Berkeley UNIX'] See

{BSD}. Not used at Berkeley itself. May be more common among

{suit}s attempting to sound like cognoscenti than among hackers,

who usually just say `BSD’.

berserking: vi. A {MUD} term meaning to gain points *only*

by killing other players and mobiles (non-player characters).

Hence a Berserker-Wizard is a player character that has achieved

enough points to become a wizard, but only by killing other

characters. Berserking is sometimes frowned upon because of its

inherently antisocial nature, but some MUDs have a `berserker

mode’ in which a player becomes *permanently* berserk, can

never flee out of a fight, cannot use magic, gets no score for

treasure, but *does* get double kill points. “Berserker

wizards can seriously damage your elf!”

Berzerkeley: [from "berserk"] /b@r-zer’klee/ [from the name of a

now-deceased record label] n. Humorous, distortion of `Berkeley’

used esp. to refer to the practices or products of the {BSD} UNIX

hackers. See {software bloat}, {Missed’em-five}.

beta: /be’t@/, /bay’t@/ or (Commonwealth) /bee’t@/ n. 1. In the

{Real World}, software often goes through two stages of testing:

Alpha (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Software is said to be

`in beta’. 2. Anything that is new and experimental is in

beta. “His girlfriend is in beta.” 3. Beta software is

notoriously buggy, so `in beta’ connotes flakiness.

Historical note: More formally, to beta-test is to test a

pre-release (potentially unreliable) version of a piece of software

by making it available to selected customers and users. This term

derives from early 1960s terminology for product cycle checkpoints,

first used at IBM but later standard throughout the industry.

`Alpha Test’ was the unit, module, or component test phase; `Beta

Test’ was initial system test. These themselves came from earlier

A- and B-tests for hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and

manufacturability evaluation done before any commitment to design

and development. The B-test was a demonstration that the

engineering model functioned as specified. The C-test

(corresponding to today’s beta) was the B-test performed on early

samples of the production design.

BFI: n. See {brute force and ignorance}. Also encountered in the

variant `BFMI’, `brute force and *massive* ignorance’.

bible: n. 1. One of a small number of fundamental source books

such as {Knuth} and {K&R}. 2. The most detailed and

authoritative reference for a particular language, operating

system, or other complex software system.

BiCapitalization: adj. The act said to have been performed on

trademarks such as NeXT, {NeWS}, VisiCalc, FrameMaker, TKsolver,

EasyWriter and others which have been raised above the hoi polloi

of common coinage by nonstandard capitalization. {Marketroid}

types think this sort of thing is really cute, even the 2,317th

time they do it. Compare {studlycaps}.

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’ misspellings (EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD BIFF CUZ HE”S A K00L

DOOD AN HE RITES REEL AWESUM THINGZ IN CAPITULL LETTRS LIKE

THIS!!!), use (and often misuse) of fragments of {talk mode}

abbreviations, a long {sig block} (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: BIFF@BIT.NET.

biff: /bif/ vt. To notify someone of incoming mail; from the BSD

utility `biff(1)’ which was in turn named after the

implementor’s dog; it barked whenever the mailman came.

Big Grey Wall: n. What greets a {VMS} user searching for

documentation. A full VMS kit comes on a pallet, the documentation

taking up around 15 feet of shelf space before adding layered

products such as compilers, databases, multivendor networking,

programming tools etc. Recent (since VMS V5) DEC documentation

comes with grey binders; under VMS V4 the binders were orange

(`big orange wall’), and under V3 they were blue. See {VMS}.

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. the

`Emergency Pull’ switch on an IBM {mainframe} or the power switch

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

{TLA}s, this is often acronymized as `BRS’ (this has also

become established on FidoNet and in the PC {clone} world). It

is alleged that the emergency pull switch on a 360/91 actually

fired a non-conducting bolt into the main power feed; modern ones

physically drop a block into place so that they can’t be pushed

back in. People get fired for pulling them, especially

inappropriately.. Compare {power cycle}, {three-finger

salute}.

big-endian: [From Swift’s `Gulliver’s Travels’ via a famous

paper `On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace’ by Danny Cohen,

USC/ISI IEN 137 dated 1 April 1980] 1. adj. Describes a computer

architecture in which, within a given multi-byte numeric

representation, the most significant byte comes first (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 mid-1991 are

big-endian. See {little-endian}, {middle-endian}, {NUXI

problem}. 2. adj. An {internet address} the wrong way round.

Most of the world follows the Internet standard and writes email

addresses starting with the name of the computer and ending up with

the name of the country. In the UK the Joint Academic Networking

Team (JANET) decided to do it the other way round. E.g.

`random@uk.ac.redbrick.cs’. Most gateway sites have

{ad-hockery} in their mailers to handle this, but can still be

confused. In particular the address above could be in the UK (code

`uk’) or Czechoslovakia (code `cs’).

bignum: /big’nuhm/ [orig. from MIT MACLISP] 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 a losing

{bitty box}) 2^15 (32768). If you want to work with numbers

larger than that, you have to use floating-point numbers, which are

usually accurate to only 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). For

example, this value for 1000! was computed by the MACLISP system

using bignums:

40238726007709377354370243392300398571937486421071

46325437999104299385123986290205920442084869694048

00479988610197196058631666872994808558901323829669

94459099742450408707375991882362772718873251977950

59509952761208749754624970436014182780946464962910

56393887437886487337119181045825783647849977012476

63288983595573543251318532395846307555740911426241

74743493475534286465766116677973966688202912073791

43853719588249808126867838374559731746136085379534

52422158659320192809087829730843139284440328123155

86110369768013573042161687476096758713483120254785

89320767169132448426236131412508780208000261683151

02734182797770478463586817016436502415369139828126

48102130927612448963599287051149649754199093422215

66832572080821333186116811553615836546984046708975

60290095053761647584772842188967964624494516076535

34081989013854424879849599533191017233555566021394

50399736280750137837615307127761926849034352625200

01588853514733161170210396817592151090778801939317

81141945452572238655414610628921879602238389714760

88506276862967146674697562911234082439208160153780

88989396451826324367161676217916890977991190375403

12746222899880051954444142820121873617459926429565

81746628302955570299024324153181617210465832036786

90611726015878352075151628422554026517048330422614

39742869330616908979684825901254583271682264580665

26769958652682272807075781391858178889652208164348

34482599326604336766017699961283186078838615027946

59551311565520360939881806121385586003014356945272

24206344631797460594682573103790084024432438465657

24501440282188525247093519062092902313649327349756

55139587205596542287497740114133469627154228458623

77387538230483865688976461927383814900140767310446

64025989949022222176590433990188601856652648506179

97023561938970178600408118897299183110211712298459

01641921068884387121855646124960798722908519296819

37238864261483965738229112312502418664935314397013

74285319266498753372189406942814341185201580141233

44828015051399694290153483077644569099073152433278

28826986460278986432113908350621709500259738986355

42771967428222487575867657523442202075736305694988

25087968928162753848863396909959826280956121450994

87170124451646126037902930912088908694202851064018

21543994571568059418727489980942547421735824010636

77404595741785160829230135358081840096996372524230

56085590370062427124341690900415369010593398383577

79394109700277534720000000000000000000000000000000

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

000000000000000000.

2. [Stanford] n. In backgammon, large numbers on the dice are

called `bignums’, especially a roll of double fives or double

sixes. See also {El Camino Bignum}.

bigot: n. A person who is religiously attached to a particular

language, operating system, editor or other tool (see {religious

issues}). Usually found with a specifier; thus, `APL bigot’,

`VMS bigot’, `EMACS bigot’. True bigots can be

distinguished from mere partisans or zealots by the fact that they

refuse to learn alternatives even when the march of time and/or

technology is threatening to obsolesce the favored tool. It is

said “You can tell a bigot, but you can’t tell him much.”

Compare {weenie}.

bit: [from the mainstream meaning and `binary digit'] n. 1. The

unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a

yes-or-no question for which the two outcomes are equally probable

(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.)

“I just need one bit from you” is a polite way of indicating that

you intend only a short interruption for a question which can

presumably be answered with a yes or no.

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. See also {flag}, {trit}, {mode bit}.

bit bang: n. Transmission of data on a serial line, when 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 and SHIFT instruction pairs 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 {wannabee}s.

bit bashing: n. (also, `bit diddling’ or `bit twiddling’) 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 bang}, {mode bit}.

bit bucket: n. The universal data sink (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}. 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. This appears to have been a

mutation of an earlier term `bit box’, about which the same

legend was current; old-time hackers also report that trainees used

to be told that when the CPU stored bits into memory it was

actually pulling them “out of the bit box”. See also {chad box},

{null device}.

bit decay: n. See {bit rot}. People with a physics background

tend to prefer this one for the analogy with particle decay. See

also {computron}, {quantum bogodynamics}.

bit rot: n. Also {bit decay}. 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.

The term {software rot} is almost synonymous.

bit-paired keyboard: n. obs. A non-standard keyboard layout which

seems to have originated with the Teletype ASR-33 and remained

common for several years on early computer equipment. The TTY was

a mechanical device (see {EOU}) so the only way to generate the

character codes from keystrokes was by some physical linkage. The

design of the ASR-33 assigned each character key a basic pattern

which could be modified by flipping bits if the SHIFT or CTRL key

were pressed. This meant that in order to avoid making the thing

more of a Rube Goldberg kluge than it already was the design had to

group on one keytop characters which shared the same basic bit

pattern.

Looking at the ASCII chart, we find:

3 high 4 low bits

bits 0000 0001 0010 0011 0100 0101 0110 0111 1000 1001

010 space ! ” # $ % & ‘ ( )

011 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

That’s why the characters !”#$%&’() appear where they do on a

Teletype (except that 0 was moved over to the right-hand side).

This was *not* the weirdest variant of {QWERTY} layout

widely seen, by the way; that prize probably goes to the

(differing) arrangements on IBM’s even clunkier 026 and 029 card

punches.

When electronic terminals became popular in the early 1970s there

was no agreement in the industry over how the keyboards should be

laid out. Some vendors opted to emulate the Teletype keyboard,

while others used the flexibility of electronic circuitry to make

their product look like an office typewriter. These alternatives

became known as `bit-paired’ and `typewriter-paired’ keyboards. To

a hacker, the bit-paired keyboard seemed far more logical — and

because most hackers in those days had never learned to touch-type,

there was little pressure from the pioneering users to adapt

keyboards to the typewriter standard.

The doom of the bit-paired keyboard was the large-scale

introduction of the computer terminal into the normal office

environment, where out-and-out technophobes were expected to use

the equipment. The `typewriter-paired’ standard became universal,

`bit-paired’ hardware was quickly junked or relegated to dusty

corners, and both terms passed into disuse.

bitblt: /bit’blit/ 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}.

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, TRS-80, or IBM PC. 2. Pejorative.

More generally, the opposite of `real computer’ (see {Get a real

computer!}). See also {mess-dos}, {toaster}, and {toy}.

bixie: /biks’ee/ n. Variant {emoticon}s used on BIX (the Byte

Information Exchange). The `smiley’ bixie is , apparently

intending to represent two cartoon eyes and a mouth. A few others

have been reported.

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. See also {voodoo

programming}.

black hole: n. When a piece of email or netnews disappears

mysteriously between its origin and destination sites (that is,

without returning a {bounce message}) 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 (see

{drop on the floor}). The implied metaphor of email as

interstellar travel is interesting in itself. Compare {bit

bucket}.

blast: vt.,n. Synonym for {BLT}, used esp. for large data sends over

a network or comm line. Opposite of {snarf}. Usage: uncommon.

The variant `blat’ has been reported. 2. vt. [HP/Apollo] Synonymous

with {nuke} (sense #3). Sometimes the message “Unable to kill all

processes. Blast them (y/n)?” would appear in the command window

upon logout.

blazer: n. (also {‘blazer}) 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. Often in “Ugh, bletch”. Compare

{barf}.

bletcherous: /blech’@-rus/ adj. Disgusting in design or function;

esthetically 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}, {bagbiter},

{bogus}, and {random}. {bletcherous} applies to the esthetics of

the thing so described; similarly for {cretinous}. By contrast,

something that is {losing} or {cretinous} 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 computer, esp. a {dinosaur}. 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

entirety ran:

ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS

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 watchen 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, some of which

actually do end with the word `blinkenlights’. It is reported, by

the way, that an analogous travesty in mangled English is posted in

German computer laboratories.

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 {blit}s it all back

down again.” See {bitblt}, {BLT}, {DD}, {cat}, {blast},

{snarf}. More generally, to perform some operation (such as

toggling) on a large array of bits while moving them. 2.

All-capitalized as `BLIT’: An early experimental bit-mapped

terminal designed by Rob Pike at Bell Labs, later commercialized as

the AT&T 5620. The folk etymology from `Bell Labs Intelligent

Terminal’ is incorrect.

blitter: n. A special-purpose chip or hardware system built to

perform {blit} operations, esp. used for fast implementation of

bit-mapped graphics. The Commodore Amiga and a few other micros

have these, but in 1991 the trend is away from them (but see

{cycle of reincarnation}).

blivet: [allegedly from a World War II military term meaning “ten

pounds of manure in a five-pound bag”] n. 1. An intractable

problem. 2. A crucial piece of hardware which can’t be fixed or

replaced if it breaks. 3. A tool that has been hacked over by so

many incompetent programmers that it has become an unmaintainable

tissue of hacks. 4. An out-of-control but unkillable development

effort.

This term has other meanings in other technical cultures; in

particular, among experimental physicists and hardware engineers of

various kinds it seems to mean any random object of unknown purpose

(similar to hackish use of {frob}). It has also been used to

describe an amusing trick-the-eye drawing resembling a

three-pronged fork which appears to depict a three-dimensional

object until one realizes that the parts fit together in an

impossible way.

block: [from process scheduling terminology in OS theory] 1. vi. To

delay while waiting for something. “We’re blocking until everyone

gets here.” 2. `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 an EPROM: v. To program a read-only-memory, e.g. for use with

an embedded system.

blow away: vt. To remove files and directories from permanent storage

with extreme prejudice, generally by accident. Oppose {nuke}.

blow out: vi. Of software, to fail spectacularly; almost as serious

as {crash and burn}. See {blow past}.

blow past: vt. To {blow out} despite a safeguard. “The server blew

past the 5K reserve buffer.”

blow up: vi. [scientific computation] To become unstable. Suggests

that the computation is diverging so rapidly that it will soon

either overflow or at least go {nonlinear}.

blt: /bee ell tee/, /bl@t/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,vt. 1. Synonym

for {blit}. This is the original form of {blit} and the

ancestor of {bitblt}. In these versions the usage has outlasted

the {PDP-10} BLock Transfer instruction from 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 (`PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook’, Adobe

Systems, Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3);

the other two official guides are known as the {Green Book} and

{Red Book}. 2. Informal name for one of the three standard

references on Smalltalk: `Smalltalk-80: The Language and its

Implementation’. David Robson, Addison-Wesley 1983, QA76.8.S635G64,

ISBN 0-201-11371-63 (this is also associated with green and red

books). 3. Any of the 1988 standards issues by the CCITT 9th

plenary assembly. Until now, they have changed color each review

cycle (1984 was {Red Book}, 1992 would be {Green Book}); however,

it is rumored that this convention is going to be dropped before

1992. These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and

the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also {Red Book}, {Green

Book}, {Silver Book}, {Purple Book}, {Orange Book}, {White Book},

{Pink-Shirt Book}, {Dragon Book}, {Aluminum Book}, {Wizard 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. The

official IBM definition is “That which binds blue boxes

together.” 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 that the CS dept. there has about 80 bottles of

Blue Glue hanging about, so they often refer to any messy work to

be done as `using the blue glue’.

blue goo: n. Term for `police’ {nanobot}s intended to prevent {gray

goo}, 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. 1. 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:

::=

::= []

::= | “.”

::= []

::= “,”

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 somewhere

nearby. See also {parse}.

A major reason BNF is listed here is that the term is also used

loosely for any number of variants and extensions, possibly

containing some or all of the {glob} wildcards.

2. In {{Science-Fiction Fandom}}, BNF expands to `Big Name Fan’

(someone famous or notorious). Years ago a fan started handing out

black-on-green BNF buttons at SF conventions. This confused the

hacker contingent terribly.

boa: [IBM] n. Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor

in a {dinosaur pen}. Possibly so called because they display a

ferocious life of their own when you try to lay them straight and

flat after they have been coiled for some time. It is rumored

within IBM that 370 channel cables are limited to 200 feet because

beyond that length the boas get dangerous … and it is worth

noting that one of the major cable makers uses the trademark

`Anaconda’.

boat anchor: n. 1. Like {doorstop} but more severe, implies that the

offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless. 2. Also used

of people who just take up space.

bogo-sort: n. The generic bad algorithm. The origin is a

fictitious contest at CMU to design the worst running time sort

algorithm (apparently after a student found an n^3 algorithm to do

sorting while trying to design a good one). Bogo-sort is

equivalent to throwing a deck of cards in the air, picking them up,

then testing whether they are in order. If not, repeat. Usage:

when one is looking at a program and sees a dumb algorithm, one

might say “Oh, I see, this program uses bogo-sort.” Compare

{bubble sort}, {bogus}, {brute force}.

bogometer: n. See {bogosity}.

bogon: /boh’gon/ [by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but

doubtless reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to Douglas

Adams’s `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 synecdoche, used to refer 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}. 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.”. More extremely, “You just pinned my bogometer.”

means “You just said or did something so outrageously bogus that

it is off the scale (pinning the bogometer needle at the highest

possible reading).”. The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the

microLenat (uL). The consensus is that this is the largest unit

practical for everyday use. 2. The potential field generated by a

bogon flux; see {quantum bogodynamics}.

[Historical note: microLenat was invented as a attack against noted

computer scientist Doug Lenat by a {tenured graduate student}.

Doug had failed him on the AI Qual after the student gave “AI is

bogus” as his answer to the questions. The slur is generally

considered unmerited, but it has become a running gag nevertheless.

Some of Doug’s friends argue that `of course’ a microLenat is

bogus, since it’s only one millionth of a Lenat. Others have

suggested that the unit should be re-designated after the grad

student, as the microReid.]

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} afterwards.”

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

{random}.)

It is claimed that `bogus’ was originally used in the hackish sense

at Princeton, in the late 1960s. A glossary of bogus words was

compiled at Yale when the word was first popularized (see

{autobogotiphobia} under {bogotify}). By the early 1980s it

was also current in something like the hackish sense in West Coast

teen slang, and it had gone mainstream by 1985. A correspondent at

Cambridge reports, by contrast, that 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, perh. from the TV series

`Moonlighting’] 1. To have sex with; compare {bounce}, sense

#3. (This is mainstream) In Commonwealth hackish the variant

`bonk’ is more common. 2. After the original Peter Korn

`Boinkon’ {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 {@-party}.

bomb: v. 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 accompanied by a decimal (or occasionally

hexadecimal) number indicating what went wrong, similar to the

Amiga GURU MEDITATION 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 hacking or even

vanilla general-purpose programming. Often abbreviated `B&D’;

thus, one may speak of things “having the B&D nature” etc. See

{{Pascal}}; oppose {languages of choice}.

bonk/oif: /bonk/, /oyf/ interj. In the {MUD} community, it has

become traditional to express pique or censure by `bonking’ the

offending person. There is a convention that one should

acknowledge a bonk by saying `oif!’ and a myth to the effect that

failing to do so upsets the cosmic bonk/oif balance, causing much

trouble in the universe. Some MUDs have implemented special

commands for bonking and oifing. See also {talk mode},

{posing}.

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).

Another variant: `soft boot’, re-initialization of only part of a

system, under control of other software that’s still running: “If

you’re running the {mess-dos} emulator, control-alt-insert will

cause a soft-boot of the emulator, while leaving the rest of the

system running.”

Opposed to this there is `hard boot’, which connotes hostility

towards or frustration with the machine being booted. “I’ll have

to hard-boot this losing Sun” or “I recommend booting it hard.”

Historically, this term derives from `bootstrap loader’, a short

program meant to reside in a fixed location on a disk. The machine

would be hardwired to load the bootstrap from this `boot block’ and

hand control to it; the bootstrap would in turn load the actual OS

and hand control to it. This was thought of as the software

pulling itself up by its bootstraps.

bottom-up implementation: n. Hackish opposite of the straight

technical term `top-down design’. It is now received wisdom in

most programming cultures that it is best to design from higher

levels of abstraction down to lower, specifying sequences of action

in increasing detail until you get to actual code. Hackers often

find (especially in exploratory designs which cannot be closely

specified in advance) that it works best to `build’ things in the

opposite order, by writing and testing a clean set of primitive

operations and then knitting them together.

bounce: v. 1. [UNIX, perhaps from the image of a thrown ball

bouncing off a wall] 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. from the expression `bouncing the mattress’, but

influenced by Piglet’s psychosexually loaded “Bounce on me too,

Tigger!” from the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Compare {boink}. 4.

To casually reboot a system in order to clear up a transient

problem. Reported primarily among {VMS} users. 5. [IBM] To

{power cycle} a peripheral in order to reset it.

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 results; see {sorcerer’s apprentice mode}.

The collective `bounce mail’ is also common.

box: n. 1. [within IBM] A computer; esp. in the construction “foo

box” where foo is some functional qualifier, like `graphics’, or

the name of an OS (thus, `UNIX box’, `MS-DOS box’, etc. 2.

Without qualification but within an SNA-using site (see {Blue

Glue}), this refers specifically to an IBM front-end processor or

FEP /eff-ee-pee/. An FEP is a small computer necessary to enable

an IBM {mainframe} to communicate beyond the limits of the

{dinosaur pen}. Typically used in expressions like the cry that

goes up when an SNA network goes down, “Looks like the {box} has

fallen over.” (see {fall over}) See also {IBM}, {fear and

loathing}, {Blue Glue}.

boxed comments: n. Comments (explanatory notes in code) which occupy

several lines by themselves; so called because in assembler and C

code they are often surrounded by a box in a style something like

this:

/*************************************************

*

* This is a boxed comment in C style

*

*************************************************/

Common variants of this style omit the asterisks in column two or

add a matching row of asterisks closing the right end of the box.

The sparest variant omits all but the comment delimiters at

the extreme left; the `box’ is implied. Oppose {winged

comments}.

boxen: /bok’sn/ pl n. [by analogy with {VAXen}] Fanciful plural of

{box} often encountered in the phrase `UNIX boxen’, used to

describe commodity {UNIX} hardware. The connotation is that any

two UNIX boxen are interchangeable.

boxology: /bok-sol’@-jee/ n. 1. The fine art of drawing diagrams

using the `box’ characters (mainly, `|’, `-’, and

`+’) in ASCII-monospace fonts. Also known as `character

graphics’ or `ASCII graphics’. 2. Boxological drawings.

“His report has a lot of boxology in it”.

brain dump: n. The act of telling someone everything one knows

about a particular topic or project. Typically used when someone

is going to let a new party maintain a piece of code. Analogous to

an operating system {core dump} in the sense that the state of

the person’s important “registers” are saved before exiting.

Example: “You’ll have to give me a brain dump on FOOBAR, before

you start your new job at HackerCorp.” See {core dump} (sense

#4). At Sun, this is also known as `TOI’ (transfer of

information).

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}.

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 {jump off into

never-never land}.

brand brand brand: n. Humorous catch-phrase from {BartleMUD}s, in which

players were described carrying a list of objects, the most

common of which would usually be a brand. Often used as a joke

in {talk mode} as in “Fred the wizard is here, carrying brand

ruby brand brand brand kettle broadsword flamethrower”. Prob.

influenced by the infamous Monty Python {Spam} skit.

break: 1. vt. To cause to be broken (in any sense). “Your latest

patch to the editor broke the paragraph commands.” 2. v. (of a

program) To stop temporarily, so that it may debugged. The place

where it stops is a “breakpoint”. 3. vi. To send an RS-232 break

(125 msec. of line high) over a serial comm line. 4. [UNIX] vi. 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: 1. Brokenness and the consequent mess. 2.[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.

breath-of-life packet: [Xerox PARC] n. An Ethernet packet that

contained bootstrap code, periodically sent out from a working

computer to infuse the `breath of life’ into any computer on the

network that had happened to crash. The machines had hardware or

firmware that would wait for such a packet after a catastrophic

error.

bring X to its knees: v. Of a machine, operating system, piece of

software, or algorithm; to present it with a load so extreme or

pathological that it grinds virtually to a halt. “To bring a

MicroVAX to its knees, try twenty users running {vi} — or four

running {EMACS}.” Compare {hog}.

brittle: adj. Said of software that’s functional but easily broken

by changes in operating environment or configuration, or by any

minor tweak to the software itself. 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

meltdown’. See also {Chernobyl packet}.

broken: adj. 1. Not working properly (of programs). 2. Behaving

strangely; especially, (when used of people) exhibiting extreme

depression.

broket: /broh’k@t/ or /broh’ket/ [by analogy with `bracket’: a

`broken bracket’] n. Either of the characters `<’ and

`>’, when used as paired enclosing delimiters. 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} as well, these are usually called {angle

brackets}.)

Brooks’s Law: prov. “Adding manpower to a late software project

makes it later” — a result of the fact that the advantage from

splitting work between N programmers is O(N), but the complexity

and communications cost associated with coordinating and then

merging their work is O(N^2). The quote is from Fred Brooks, a

manager of IBMs OS/360 project and author of `The Mythical

Man-Month’, an excellent early book on software engineering.

Hackers have never forgotten this advice; too often, {management}

does.

BRS: n. Syn. {Big Red Switch}. This abbreviation is fairly

common on-line.

brute force: adj. Describes a certain kind of primitive programming

style; broadly speaking, one in which the programmer relies on the

computer’s processing power instead of using his/her own intelligence to

simplify the problem, often ignoring problems of scale and applying

naive methods suited to small problems directly to large ones.

The {canonical} example of a brute force algorithm is associated

with the `Travelling salesman problem’ (TSP), a classical NP-hard

problem: suppose a person is in Boston and wishes to drive to N

other cities. In what order should he/she visit them in order to

minimize the distance travelled? The brute force method is to

simply generate all possible routes and compare the distances;

while guaranteed to work and simple to implement, this algorithm is

clearly very `stupid’ in that it considers even obviously absurd

routes (like going from Boston to Houston via San Francisco and New

York, in that order). For small N it works well, but it rapidly

becomes absurdly inefficient when N increases (for N=15, there are

already 1,307,674,368,000 possible routes to consider). See also

{NP-}.

A more simple-minded example of brute-force programming is finding

the smallest number in a large list by first using an existing

program to sort the list in ascending order, and then picking the

first number off the front.

Note that whether brute-force programming should be considered

stupid or not depends on the context; if the problem isn’t too big,

the extra CPU time spent on a brute-force solution may cost less

than the programmer time it would take to develop a more

`intelligent’ algorithm. Alternatively, a more intelligent

algorithm may imply more long-term complexity cost and bug-chasing

than are justified by the speed improvement.

Ken Thompson, co-inventor of UNIX, is reported to have uttered the

epigram “When in doubt, use brute force”. He probably intended

this as a {ha ha only serious}, but the original UNIX kernel’s

preference for simple, robust, and portable algorithms over fragile

`smart’ ones does seem to have been a significant factor in the

success of that OS. Like so many other tradeoffs in software

design, the choice between brute force and complex, finely-tuned

cleverness is often a difficult one that requires both engineering

savvy and delicate esthetic judgement.

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.”

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 paged virtual memory, 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, ULTRIX,

and Mt. Xinu) held the technical lead in the UNIX world until

AT&T’s successful standardization efforts after about 1986, and are

still widely popular. See {UNIX}, {USG UNIX}.

bubble sort: n. A standard technical term for a particular sorting

technique. Because it is not very good compared to other methods,

and is the one typically stumbled on by {naive} and untutored

programmers, hackers consider it the canonical example of a naive

algorithm. The canonical example of a really *bad* algorithm is

{bogo-sort}. A bubble sort might be used out of ignorance, but

any use of bogo-sort could only issue from {brain damage} or

willful perversity.

bucky bits: /buh’kee bits/ [primarily Stanford] n. The bits

produced by the CTRL, META, SUPER, and HYPER shift keys, esp. on a

Stanford or MIT (Knight) keyboard (see {space-cadet keyboard}).

By extension, bits associated with `extra’ shift keys on any

keyboard, e.g. the ALT on an IBM PC or command and option keys on a

Macintosh.

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.” (i.e., 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 an incorrect 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

from 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; it now resides

in the Smithsonian. The entire story, with a picture of the

logbook and the moth taped into it, is recorded in the Annals of

the History of Computing, Volume 3, Number 3 (July 1981), on pages

285 and 286.

Interestingly, the text of the log entry, which reads “1545 Relay

#70 Panel F (moth) in relay. First actual case of bug being

found.” seems to establish 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 disruptive event goes back to

Shakespeare! In the First Edition of Johnson’s Dictionary a `bug’

is a `frightful object’; this is traced to `bugbear’, a Welsh term

for a variety of mythological monster which (to complete the

circle) has recently been reintroduced into the popular lexicon

through fantasy role-playing games.

In any case, in hacker’s slang the word almost never refers to

insects. Here is a plausible conversation that never actually

happened:

“This ant-farm has a bug.”

“What do you mean? I don’t see 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

{fossil}s or {misfeature}s in other programs or (esp.) previous

releases of itself.

bug-for-bug compatible: n. Same as {bug-compatible}, with the

additional implication that much tedious effort went into ensuring

that each (known) bug was replicated.

buglix: n. Pejorative term referring to DEC’s ULTRIX operating

system in its earlier *severely* buggy versions. Still used to

describe ULTRIX but without venom. Compare {HP-SUX}.

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. Syn. {armor-plated}.

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 v. {tune} (and n. {tweak},

{hack}). Note that both these uses are rare in Commonwealth

hackish, because in the parent dialects of English `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, and index

dummies in `for’, `while’, and `do-while’ loops.

burble: vi. Like {flame}, but connotes that the source is truly

clueless and ineffectual (mere flamers can be competent). A term

of deep contempt.

burn-in period: n. 1. A factory test designed to catch systems

with {marginal} components before they get out the door; the

theory is that burn-in will protect customers by outwaiting the

steepest part of the {bathtub} curve. 2. A period of

indeterminate length in which a person using a computer is so

intensely involved in his project that he forgets basic needs such

as food, drink, sleep, sex, etc. See {hack mode}, {larval

stage}.

busy-wait: vi. To wait on an event by {spin}ning 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}. May be used of human behavior to

convey that one is busy waiting for some one or some thing and that

one intends to move instantly as soon as it shows up (for example,

if one is waiting at the office door of a person in conference);

thus that one cannot do anything else at the moment.

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. A program

which is buzzing appears to be {catatonic}, 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}; see also

{grovel}. 2. [ETA Systems] To test a wire or printed circuit

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; acronym, Buzz Word Quotient] The

percentage of buzzwords in a speech or documents. Usually roughly

proportional to {bogosity}. See {TLA}.

by hand: adv. Said of an operation (especially a repetitive, trivial

and/or tedious one) which ought to be performed automatically by

the computer, but which a hacker instead has to step tediously

through. “My mailer doesn’t have a command to include the text of

the message I’m replying to, so I have to do it by hand”. Compare

{eyeball search}.

byte:: n. A unit of memory or data equal to the amount needed to

represent one character; usually 8 bits, occasionally 9 (on 36-bit

machines). The term originated in 1956 during the early design

phase for the IBM Stretch computer; originally it was described as

one to six bits (typical I/O equipment of the period used 6-bit

chunks of information). The move to an 8-bit byte happened in late

1956, and this size was later adopted and promulgated as a standard

by the System/360. The term `byte’ was coined by mutating the

word `bite’ so it would not be accidentally misspelt as {bit}.

See also {nybble}.

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). See also {NUXI problem}.

= 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 immediately used to re-implement {UNIX}. 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 also {languages of choice},

{indent style}.

C is often described, with a mixture of fondness and disdain

varying according to the speaker, as “a language which combines

all the elegance and power of assembly language with the

readability and maintainability of assembly language”.

calculator: [Cambridge] n. Syn. for {bitty box}.

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.

canonical: [historically, `according to religious law'] 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 and hacker slang. Over his

loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using it as much as

possible in his presence, and eventually it began to sink in.

Finally, in one conversation, he used the word `canonical’ in

slang-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.”

Of course, canonicality depends on context, but is implicitly

defined as the way *hackers* normally do things. Thus, a

hacker may claim with a straight face that “according to religious

law” is *not* the canonical meaning of `canonical’.

card: n. 1. An electronic printed-circuit board (see also {tall

card}, {short card}. 2. obs. Syn. {{punched card}}.

card walloper: n. An EDP programmer who grinds out batch programs

that do stupid things like print people’s paychecks. Compare

{code grinder}. See also {{punched card}}, {eighty-column

mind}.

cargo-cult programming: n. A style of (incompetent) programming

dominated by ritual inclusion of code or program structures that

serve no real purpose. A cargo-cult programmer will usually

explain the extra code as a way of working around some bug

encountered in the past, but usually, neither the bug nor the

reason the code avoided the bug were ever fully understood (compare

{shotgun debugging}).

The term cargo-cult is a reference to aboriginal religions that

grew up in the South Pacific after World War II. The practices of

these cults center on building elaborate mockups of airplanes and

military style landing strips in the hope of bringing the return of

the god-like airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the

war. Hackish usage probably derives from Richard Feynman’s

characterization of certain practices as “cargo-cult science” in

`Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman’.

case and paste: [from `cut and paste'] n. 1. The addition of a new

{feature} to an existing system by selecting the code from an

existing feature and pasting it in with minor changes. Common in

telephony circles because most operations in a telephone switch are

selected using case statements. Leads to {software bloat}.

In some circles of EMACS users this is called `programming by

Meta-W’, because Meta-W is the EMACS command for copying a block of

text to a kill buffer in preparation to pasting it in elsewhere.

The term is condescending, implying that the programmer is acting

mindlessly rather than thinking carefully about what is required to

integrate the code for two similar cases.

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

what J. Random Luser does. Compare {incantation}, {runes},

{examining the entrails}; also see the AI koan about Tom Knight

in Appendix A.

cat: [from `catenate' via {UNIX} `cat(1)'] vt. To spew

an entire file to the screen or some other output sink without

pause; by extension, to dump large amounts of data at an unprepared

target or with no intention of browsing it carefully. Usage:

considered silly. Rare outside UNIX sites. See also {DD},

{BLT}.

Among UNIX-haters, `cat(1)’ is considered the canonical

example of poor user-interface design. This because it is more

often used to {blast} a file to standard output than to

concatenate two files. The name `cat(1)’ for the former

operation is just as unintuitive as, say, LISP’s {cdr}.

catatonic: adj. Describes a condition of suspended animation in

which something is so {wedged} or {hung} 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/ or /kuh’dr/ [from LISP] vt. 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.

See also {loop through}.

Historical note: the instruction format of the IBM 7090 that hosted

the original LISP implementation featured two 15-bit fields called

the `address’ and `decrement’ parts. The term `cdr’ was originally

`Contents of Decrement Register’, referring to the decrement part

(but not, confusingly, to a separate register). Similarly, `car’

stood for `Contents of Address Register’.

The `cdr’ and `car’ operations have since become bases for

formation of compound metaphors in non-LISP contexts. GLS recalls,

for example, a programming project in which strings were

represented as linked lists; the get-character and skip-character

operations were of course called CHAR and CHDR.

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’, `computer

confetti’, and `keypunch droppings’.

Historical note: one correspondent believes `chad’ (sense #2)

derives from the Chadless keypunch (named for its inventor), which

cut little u-shaped tabs in the card to make a hole when the tab

folded back, rather than punching out a circle/rectangle; it was

clear that if the `Chadless’ keypunch didn’t make them, then the

stuff that other keypunches made had to be `chad’.

chad box: n. {Iron Age} card punches contained boxes inside them,

about the size of a lunchbox, that held the {chad} (squares of

paper punched out of punch cards). You had to open the covers of

the card punch periodically and empty the chad box. The {bit

bucket} was notionally the equivalent device in the CPU enclosure,

which was typically across the room in another great grey-and-blue

box.

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 or successor 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 (interactively or on a large piece of paper

printed with hex {runes}) following dynamic data-structures.

Only used in a debugging context.

chemist: [Cambridge] n. Someone who wastes computer time on

{number-crunching} when you’d far rather the machine were 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-noh’b@l pak’@t/ n. A network packet which

induces {network meltdown}, in memory of the nuclear accident at

Chernobyl in the Ukraine, 1987. The type case of this is an IP

Ethergram which passes through a gateway with both source and

destination Ether and IP address set as the respective broadcast

addresses for the subnetworks being gated between.

chiclet keyboard: n. A keyboard with small rectangular or

lozenge-shaped rubber or plastic keys that look like pieces of

chewing gum (Chiclet is a brand-name and also the Spanish common

noun for the stuff). Used esp. to describe the original PCjr

keyboard. Vendors unanimously liked these because they were cheap,

and a lot of early portable and laptop products got launched using

them. Customers rejected the idea with almost equal unanimity, and

chiclets are not often seen on anything larger than a digital watch

any more.

Chinese Army technique: n. Syn. {Mongolian Hordes technique}.

choke: vt. To reject input, often ungracefully. “I tried building

an {EMACS} binary to use {X}, but `cpp(1)’ choked on all

those `#define’s.” See {barf}, {gag}, {vi}.

chomp: vt. To lose; specifically, 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}, {bagbiter}, {chomp}.

Christmas tree: n. A kind of RS-232 line tester or breakout box

featuring rows of blinking red and green LEDs like Christmas

lights.

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,

but they certainly are `pretty’ chrome!” Distinguished from

{bells and whistles} by the fact that the latter are usually

added to gratify developers’ own desires for featurefulness.

Church of the Sub-Genius: n. A mutant offshoot of {Discordianism}

launched in 1981 as a spoof of fundamentalist Christianity by the

`Reverend’ 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’.

See also {ha ha only serious}.

Cinderella book: [CMU] n. `Introduction to Automata Theory,

Languages, and Computation’, by John Hopcroft and Jeffrey Ullman,

Addison-Wesley, 1979. So-called because the cover depicts a girl

(putatively Cinderella) sitting in front of a Rube Goldberg device

and holding a rope from that device. The back cover depicts the

girl with the Rube Goldberg in shambles after having pulled on the

rope.

Classic C: /klas’ik see/ [a play on `Coke Classic'] n. The C

programming language as defined in the first edition of {K&R},

with some small additions. It is also known as `K&R C’. The

name came into use during the standardization process for C by the

ANSI X3J11 committee. Also `C Classic’. This is sometimes

applied elsewhere: thus, `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 construction is

especially used of product series in which the newer versions are

considered serious losers relative to the older ones.

In one particularly strong parallel to the Coke fiasco, Apple

Computer released a new computer called the Mac Classic.

Unfortunately, just as the Coca-Cola company had `restored’ Coke

Classic made with nasty-tasting corn syrup rather than real sugar,

the new Mac Classic was inferior in some respects to the machine

Mac hackers had always called the `classic Mac’ (the original 128K

Macintosh) causing much confusion and upset.

clean: 1. 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 intuitive and relatively easy to comprehend from the

outside. The antonym is {grungy} or {crufty}. 2. v. To remove

un-needed or undesired files in a effort to reduce clutter. “I’m

cleaning up my account”, or “I cleaned up the garbage and now have

100 Meg free on that partition”.

CLM: /see el em/ [Sun, `Career Limiting Move'] 1. n. An action

endangering one’s future prospects of getting plum projects and

raises, also possibly one’s job. “He used a {bubble-sort}!

What a CLM!” 2. adj. Denotes extreme severity of a bug,

discovered by a customer and obviously due to poor testing:

“That’s a CLM bug!”

clobber: vt. To overwrite; usually unintentionally. As in “I

walked off the end of the array and clobbered the stack.” Compare

{mung}, {scribble}, {trash}, and {smash the stack}.

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 {cycle}.

clone: n. 1. An exact duplicate, as in “Our product is a clone of

their product.” Implies a legal re-implementation from

documentation or by reverse-engineering, as opposed to the

illegalities under sense #3. Also connotes lower price. 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 clone’; a PC-BUS/ISA or EISA-compatible 80×86 based

microcomputer (this use is sometimes spelled `klone’ or

`PClone’). These invariably have much more bang for the buck

than the IBM archetypes they resemble. 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

programming. 6. v. To make an exact copy of something. “Let me

clone that” might mean “I want to borrow that paper so I can make

a photocopy” or “Let me get a copy of that file before you

{mung} it”.

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: [COmmon Business-Oriented Language] n. Synonymous with

{evil} — a weak, verbose, and flabby language used to do boring

mindless things on {dinosaur} mainframes. Hackers believe all

COBOL programmers are {suit}s or {code grinder}s, and no

self-respecting hacker will ever admit to having learned the

language. Its very name is seldom uttered without ritual

expressions of disgust or horror. See also {fear and loathing},

{software rot}.

COBOL fingers: /koh’bol fing’grs/ n. Reported from Sweden, a

(hypothetical) disease one might get from programming in COBOL.

The language requires code verbose beyond all reason. Programming

too much in COBOL causes the fingers to wear down (by endless

typing), until short stubs remain. This deformity is called

“COBOL fingers”. “I refuse to type in all that source code

again; it would 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. In his

native habitat, the code grinder often removes the suit jacket to

reveal an underplumage consisting of button-down shirt (starch

optional) and a tie. In times of dire stress, the sleeves (if

long) may be rolled up and the tie loosened about half an inch. It

seldom helps. The {code grinder}’s milieu is about as far from

hackerdom as you can get and still touch a computer; the term

connotes pity. See {Real World}, {suit}. 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 that try to do too much with source code may turn

into codewalkers. As in “This new `vgrind’ feature would require a

codewalker to implement.”

coefficient of x: n. Hackish speech makes rather heavy use of

pseudo-mathematical metaphors. Four particularly important ones

involve the terms `coefficient’, `factor’, `index’ and

`quotient’. They are often loosely applied to things you

cannot really be quantitative about, but there are subtle

distinctions between them that convey information about the way the

speaker mentally models whatever he or she is describing.

`Foo factor’ and `foo quotient’ tend to describe something

for which the issue is one of presence or absence. The canonical

example is {fudge factor}. It’s not important how much you’re

fudging; the term simply acknowledges that some fudging is needed.

You might talk of liking a movie for its silliness factor.

Quotient tends to imply that the property is a ratio of two

opposing factors: “I would have won except for my luck quotient.”

This could also be, “I would have won except for the luck factor”,

but using *quotient* emphasises that it was bad luck

overpowering good luck.

`Foo index’ and `coefficient of foo’ both tend to imply

that foo is, if not strictly measurable, at least something that

can be larger or smaller. Thus, you might refer to a paper or

person as having a `high bogosity index’, whereas you would be less

likely to speak of a `high bogosity factor’. `Foo index’ suggests

that foo is a condensation of many quantities, as in the mundane

cost of living index; `coefficient of foo’ suggests that foo is a

fundamental quantity, as in a coefficient of friction. The choice

between these terms is often one of personal preference; e.g., some

people might feel that bogosity is a fundamental attribute and thus

say “coefficient of bogosity”, whereas others might feel it is a

combination of factors and thus say “bogosity index”.

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. After the demise of

the {space-cadet keyboard}, cokebottle faded away as serious

usage, but was often invoked humorously to describe an

(unspecified) weird or non-intuitive keystroke command. It may be

due for a second inning, however. The OSF/Motif window manager,

mwm, has a reserved keystroke for switching to the default set of

keybindings and behavior. This keystroke is (believe it or not)

`control-meta-bang’. Since the exclamation point looks a

lot like an upside down coke bottle, Motif hackers have begun

referring to this keystroke as cokebottle. See also

{quadruple bucky}.

COME FROM: n. A semi-mythical language construct dual to the `go

to’; COME FROM would cause the referenced label to act as a

sort of trapdoor, so that if the program ever reached it control

would quietly and {automagically} be transferred to the statement

following the COME FROM. COME FROM was first proposed in a

Datamation article of December 1973 (reprinted in the April 1984

issue of CACM) that parodied the then-raging `structured

programming’ wars (see {considered harmful}). Mythically, some

variants are the `assigned come from’, and the `computed

come from’ (parodying some nasty control constructs in BASIC and

FORTRAN). Obviously, multi-tasking (or non-determinism) could be

implemented by having more than one COME FROM statement coming from

the same label.

In some ways the FORTRAN DO loop is a form of COME FROM statement,

since after the terminating label is reached control continues at

the statement following the DO. Some generous FORTRANs would even

allow arbitrary statements for the label, for example:

DO 10 I=1,LIMIT

C imagine many lines of code here, leaving the original DO

C statement lost in the spaghetti…

WRITE(6,10) I,FROB(I)

10 FORMAT(1X,I5,G10.4)

While sufficiently astonishing to the unsuspecting reader, this

form of COME FROM statement isn’t completely general. After all,

control will eventually pass to the following statement. The

implementation of the general form was left to Univac 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.

COME FROM 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

shock.

comm mode: /kom mohd/ [from the ITS feature supporting on-line

chat, spelled with one or two Ms] Syn. for {talk mode}; also

spelled `com mode’.

comment out: vt. To surround a section of code with comment

delimiters or to prefix every line in the section with a comment

marker; this prevents it from being compiled or interpreted. Often

done when the code is redundant or obsolete, but you want to leave

it in the source to make the intent of the active code clearer;

also when the code in that section is broken and you want to bypass

it in order to debug some other part of the code. Compare

{condition out}, usually the preferred technique in languages

(like {C}) that make it possible.

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

{newsgroup} names tend to be pronounced more often (so soc.wibble

is /sok dot wi’bble/ rather than /sohsh wib’ble/). {Meta-} may

be pronounced /mee’t@-/; similarly, Greek letter beta is often

/bee’t@/, zeta is often /zee’ta/ and so forth. Preferred

metasyntactic variables include EEK, OOK, FRODO, and BILBO; WIBBLE,

WOBBLE, and in emergencies WUBBLE; BANANA, WOMBAT, FROG, {fish},

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 terms `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 United States.

See also {attoparsec}, {calculator}, {chemist}, {console

jockey}, {fish}, {grunge}, {hakspek}, {heavy metal},

{leaky heap}, {lord high fixer}, {noddy},

{psychedelicware}, {plingnet}, {raster blaster}, {seggie},

{spin-lock}, {terminal junkie}, {tick-list features},

{weeble}, {weasel}, {YABA}, and notes or definitions under

{Bad Thing}, {barf}, {bogus}, {bum}, {chase pointers},

{cosmic rays}, {crippleware}, {crunch}, {dodgy}, {gonk},

{mess-doss} {nybble}, {root}, {tweak}, and

{xyzzy}.

compact: adj. Of a design, describes the valuable property that it

can all be apprehended at once in one’s head. This generally means

the thing created from the design can be used with greater facility

and fewer errors than an equivalent tool that is not compact. Note

that compactness does not imply triviality or lack of power; for

example, C is compact and FORTRAN is not, but C is more powerful

than FORTRAN. Designs become non-compact through accreting

features and {cruft} that don’t merge cleanly into the overall

design scheme.

compress: [UNIX] vt. When used without a qualifier, generally refers

to {crunch}ing 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} itself in this sense is

rare among UNIX hackers.

computer confetti: n. Syn {chad}.

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 proto-hacker in {larval stage}. Also

called `turbo nerd’, `turbo geek’. See also

{clustergeeking}, {wannabee}, {terminal junkie}.

computron: /kom’pyoo-tron`/ n. 1. A notional unit of computing power

combining instruction speed and storage capacity, dimensioned

roughly in instructions-per-second 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

hardware. (This may owe something to the group of fantasy stories

by Larry Niven, beginning with `What Good is a Glass Dagger?’

in which magic is fueled by an exhaustible natural resource called

`mana’).

condition out: vt. To prevent a section of code from being compiled

by surrounding it with a conditional-compilation directive whose

condition is always false. The {canonical} example is

`#ifdef 0′ and `#endif’ in C. Compare {comment out}.

condom: n. The protective plastic baggy that accompanies 3.5″

microfloppy diskettes. Rarely, used of (paper) disk envelopes.

Unlike the write protect, the condom (when left on) not only

impedes the practice of {SEX}, it has been shown to have a high

failure rate as drive mechanisms attempt to access the disk — and

can even fatally frustrate insertion!

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.

In these latter days of open-systems computing this term has fallen

somwhat into disuse, to be replaced by the observation that

standards are great! — there are so *many* of them.

cons: /konz/ or /cons/ [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 W. Dijkstra’s infamous March 1968

CACM note, `Goto Statement Considered Harmful’, fired the

first salvo in the `structured programming’ wars. Amusingly, the

ACM considered the resulting acrimony sufficiently harmful that

they will (by policy) no longer print an article which takes up

that assertive a position against a coding practice. In the

ensuing decades, a large number of both serious papers and parodies

have borne titles of the form `X considered Y’. 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 lexicon is related).

console:: n. 1. The operator’s station of a {mainframe}. In times

past, this was a privileged location which conveyed godlike powers

to he (almost invariably a he) with his fingers on the keys. Under

UNIX and other modern timesharing OSs, it is just the tty the system

was booted from. Some of the mystique remains, however, and it is

traditional for sysadmins to post urgent messages to all users from

/dev/console. 2. On microcomputer UNIX boxes: the main screen and

keyboard (as opposed to character-only terminals talking to a

serial port). Typically only the console can do real graphics or

run {X}. See also {CTY}.

console jockey: n. See {terminal junkie}.

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 communication 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: prov. 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. The name `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: n. A handle, transaction ID, or other token of agreement

between cooperating programs. “I give him a packet, he gives me

back a cookie.” See {magic cookie}.

cookie monster: [from `Sesame Street'] n. Any of a family of

early (1970s) hacks reported on {TOPS-10}, {ITS}, {Multics},

and elsewhere that would lock up either the victim’s terminal (on a

time-sharing machine) or the {{console}} (on a batch

{mainframe}), repeatedly demanding “I WANT A COOKIE”. The

required responses ranged in complexity from “COOKIE” through

“HAVE A COOKIE” and upward. See also {wabbit}.

copper: n. Conventional electron-carrying network cable (which uses

copper as a core conductor), as opposed to fiber-optic cable (or,

say, a short-range microwave link). Oppose {light pipe}. Note

that aluminum-cored cables are also called `copper’ (!).

copy protection: n. A class of clever methods for preventing

incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers

from using it. Considered silly.

copybroke: adj. [play on `copyright'] Used to describe an

instance of a copy-protected program which has been `broken’; that

is, a copy with the copy-protection scheme disabled. Syn.

{copywronged}.

copyleft: /kop’ee-left/ [play on `copyright'] 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.

copywronged: [play on `copyright'] adj. Syn. for {copybroke}.

core: n. Main storage or RAM. Dates from the days of ferrite-core

memory; now archaic most places outside IBM, but also still used in

the UNIX community and by old-time hackers or those who would sound

like same. Some derived idioms are quite current; `in core’,

for example, means `in memory’ (as opposed to `on disk’), and both

{core dump} and the `core image’ or `core file’ produced

by one are terms in favors.

core dump: n. [common {Iron Age} slang, preserved by UNIX] 1. A

copy of the contents of {core} produced when a process is aborted

by certain kinds of 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; compare {brain dump}). See

{core}.

core leak: n. Syn. {memory leak}.

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’ magazine, but is said to have been first

devised by Victor Vyssotsky as a PDP-1 hack, during the early ’60s

at Bell Labs. It is rumored that the game is a civilized version

of an amusement called DARWIN common on multitasking machines

before the advent of protected address segments. 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}. However, this is

a semi-independent usage which may be invoked as a humorous way to

{handwave} 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’; `alpha particles’ is also

heard, because stray alpha particles passing through a memory chip

can cause single-bit errors (this becomes increasingly more likely

as memory sizes and densities increase).

cowboy: [Sun, from William Gibson's {cyberpunk} SF] n. Synonym for

{hacker}. It is reported that at Sun, this is often said with

reverence.

CP/M: /see-pee-em/ n. [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. See {MS-DOS}, {operating system}.

CPU Wars: /see-pee-yoo worz/ 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} 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}.

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). There had been an earlier attempt to establish `worm’

in this sense around 1981-1982 on USENET; this largely failed.

crank: [from automotive slang] vt. Verb used to describe the

performance of a machine, especially sustained performance. “This

box cranks (or, cranks at) about 6 MegaFLOPS, with a burst mode of

twice that on vectorized operations.”

crash: 1. n. A sudden, usually drastic failure. Most often said of

the {system} (q.v., sense #1), sometimes of magnetic disk drives.

“Three {luser}s lost their files in last night’s disk crash.”

A disk crash which involves 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?” See {down}. 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} (sense #4).

crash and burn: vi.,n. A spectacular crash, in the mode of the

conclusion of the (original) movie 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. The construction `crash and

burn machine’ is reported for a computer used exclusively for alpha

or {beta} testing, or reproducing bugs (i.e. not for

development). The implication is that it wouldn’t be such a

disaster if that machine crashed, since only the testers would be

inconvenienced.

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. (properly, capitalized) One of the line of

supercomputers designed by Cray Research. 2. Any supercomputer at

all. 3. The {canonical} {number-crunching} machine.

The term is actually the lowercased last name of Seymour Cray, a

noted computer architect and co-founder of the company. Numerous

vivid legends surround him, some true and some admittedly invented

by Cray Research brass to shape their corporate culture and image.

cray instability: n. A shortcoming of a program or algorithm which

manifests itself only when running a large problem on a powerful

machine. Generally more subtle than bugs that can be detected in

smaller problems running on a workstation or mini.

crayola: n. A super-mini or -micro computer that provides some

reasonable percentage of supercomputer performance for an

unreasonably low price. Might also be a {killer micro}.

crayon: 1. 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. 2. A {computron} that participates

only in {number-crunching}. 3. A unit of computational power

equal to that of a single Cray-1. There is a standard joke about

this that derives from an old Crayola crayon promotional gimmick;

when you buy 64 crayons you get a free sharpener.

creationism: n. The (false) belief that large, innovative designs

can be completely specified in advance and then painlessly magicked

out of the void by the normal efforts of a team of normally

talented programmers. In fact, experience has shown repeatedly

that good designs arise only from evolutionary, exploratory

interaction between one (or at most a small handful of)

exceptionally able designer(s) and an active user population —

and that the first try at a big new idea is always wrong.

Unfortunately, because these truths don’t fit the planning models

beloved of {management}, they are generally ignored.

creeping elegance: n. Describes a tendency for parts of a design to

become {elegant} past the point of diminishing return. This often

happens at the expense of the less interesting parts of the design,

schedule, and other things deemed important in the {Real World}.

See also {creeping featurism}, {second-system effect}.

creeping featurism: /kree’ping fee’ch@r-izm/ n. 1. Describes a

systematic tendency to load more {chrome} and {features} onto

systems at the expense of whatever elegance they may have possessed

when originally designed. See also {feeping creaturism}. “You

know, the main problem with {BSD UNIX} has always been creeping

featurism”. 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. A similar phenomenon sometimes

afflicts conscious redesigns; see {second-system effect}. See

also {creeping elegance}.

creeping featuritis: /kree’ping fee’-c@r-ie`t@s/ n. Variant of

{creeping featurism}, with its own Spoonerization as `feeping

creaturitis’. Some people like to reserve this form for the

disease as it actually manifests in software or hardware, as

opposed to the lurking general tendency in designers’ minds. After

all, -ism means `condition’ or `pursuit of’ whereas -itis usually

means `inflammation of’…)

cretin: /kre’tn/ or /kree’tn/ n. Congenital {loser}; an obnoxious

person; someone who can’t do anything right. It has been observed

that many American hackers tend to favor the British pronunciation

/kre’tn/ over standard American /kree’tn/; it is thought this may

be due to the insidious phonetic influence of Monty Python’s Flying

Circus.

cretinous: /kre’t@n-uhs/ or /kree’t@n-uhs/ adj. Wrong;

non-functional; very poorly designed. Also used pejoratively of

people. Synonyms: {bletcherous}, {bagbiter}, {losing},

{brain-damaged}.

crippleware: n. 1. Software that has some important functionality

deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a

working version. See also {guiltware}. 2. [Cambridge]

{guiltware} that exhorts you to donate to some charity.

crlf: /ker’l@f/, sometimes /kru’l@f/ or /see-ar-el-eff/ n. (often

capitalized as `CRLF’) 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)’, which returns code 139 for a process that dies due

to {segfault}). 2. 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},

{brittle}. Also in the adjectives `crockish’, `crocky’

and the noun `crockitude’.

cross-post: [USENET] vi. 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 times. Cross-posting is frowned upon, as it tends to

cause {followup} articles to go to inappropriate newsgroups, as

people respond to only one part of the original posting (unless the

originator is careful to specify a newsgroup for followups.)

crudware: /kruhd’weir/ 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 perpetrates

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. vt. [from hand cruft, pun on

hand craft] to write assembler code for something normally (and

better) done by a compiler (see {hand-hacking}). 4. Excess;

superfluous junk. Esp. used of redundant or superseded code.

cruft together: vt. (also `cruft up’) To throw together

something ugly but temporarily workable. Like vt. {kluge up},

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 {hack together}, {crufty}.

cruftsmanship: /kruhfts’man-ship / 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 S characters were tall and skinny, looking more

like Fs. 2. Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with

encrusted junk. Like spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and

catsup. 3. Generally unpleasant. 4. (sometimes spelled

`cruftie’) n. A small crufty object (see {frob}); often one

that doesn’t fit well into the scheme of things. “A LISP property

list is a good place to store crufties (or, collectively, random

cruft).”

crumb: n. Two binary digits; a {quad}. Larger than a {bit},

smaller than a {nybble}. Syn. {tayste}.

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 embedded in a loop from 1 to 1,000,000,000.

“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 run-length encoding 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 that which crunched BASIC source in order to make it run more

quickly (it was a wholly interpretive BASIC).

cruncha cruncha cruncha: /kruhn’ch@ kruhn’ch@ kruhn’ch@/ interj.

An encouragement sometimes muttered to a machine bogged down in a

serious {grovel}. Also describes a notional sound made by

grovelling hardware. See {wugga wugga}, {grind} (sense #3).

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}. The name {ITS} (“Incompatible

Time-sharing System”) was a hack on CTSS, meant both as a joke and

to express some basic differences in philosophy about the way I/O

services should be presented to user programs.

CTY: /sit’ee/ or /see tee wie/ n. [MIT] The terminal physically

associated with a computer’s system {{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

console’.

cube: n. 1. A module in the open-plan offices used at many programming

shops. “I’ve got the manuals in my cube”. 2. A NeXT machine.

cubing: [parallel with `tubing'] vi. 1. Hacking on an IPSC (Intel

Personal SuperComputer) hypercube. “Louella’s gone cubing

*again*!!” 2. Hacking Rubik’s Cube or related puzzles,

either physically or mathematically. 3. An indescribable form of

self-torture (see sense #1).

cursor dipped in X: adj. There are a couple of metaphors in

English of the form `pen dipped in X’ (perhaps the most common

values of X are `acid’ and `bile’). These map over neatly to this

hackish usage (the cursor being what moves, leaving letters behind,

when one is composing on-line).

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}. 3. [NYU] Said of an attractive

woman, especially one regarded as available.

cut a tape: [poss. fr. mainstream `cut a check'] vi. To write a

software or document distribution on magnetic tape for shipment.

Has nothing to do with physically cutting the medium! Though this

usage is quite widespread, one never speaks of analogously `cutting

a disk’ or anything else in this sense.

cybercrud: /sie’ber-kruhd/ [coined by Ted Nelson] n. Obfuscatory

tech-talk. Verbiage with a high {MEGO} factor. The computer

equivalent of bureaucratese.

cyberpunk: /sie’ber-puhnk/ [orig. by SF writer Bruce Bethke and/or

editor Gardner Dozois] n.,adj. A subgenre of SF launched in 1982

by William Gibson’s epoch-making novel `Neuromancer’ (though

its roots go back through Vernor Vinge’s `True Names’ (see

Appendix C) to John Brunner’s 1975 novel, `The Shockwave

Rider’). 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 the future 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 flatline}.

cyberspace: /sie’ber-spays/ n. 1. 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 (mid-1991) serious efforts to

construct {virtual reality} interfaces modelled explicitly on

Gibsonian 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 network (see {network,

the}). 2. Occasionally, the metaphoric location of the mind of a

person in {hack mode}. Some hackers report experiencing strong

eidetic imagery when in hack mode; interestingly, independent

reports from multiple sources suggest that there are common

features to the experience. In particular, the dominant colors of

this subjective `cyberspace’ are often gray and silver, and the

imagery often involves constellations of marching dots, elaborate

shifting patterns of lines and angles, or moire patterns.

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

respond.

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. This is an

inevitable result of Parkinson’s Law applied to timesharing.

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.”

cycle server: n. A powerful machine that exists primarily for

running large batch jobs. Implies that interactive tasks such as

editing are done on other machines on the network, such as

workstations.

= D =

=====

daemon: /day’m@n/ or /dee’m@n/ [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} are often used interchangeably, but

seem to have distinct connotations. The term {daemon} was

introduced to computing by {CTSS} people (who pronounced it

dee’mon) and used it to refer to what ITS called a {dragon}.

While the meaning and pronunciation have drifted, we think this

glossary reflects current (1991) usage.

dangling pointer: n. A reference that doesn’t actually lead

anywhere (in C and some other languages, a pointer that doesn’t

actually point at anything valid). Used as slang in a

generalization of its technical meaning; a local phone number for a

person who’s since moved to the other coast, for example.

DATAMATION: n. A magazine that many hackers assume all {suits}

read. Used to question an unbelieved quote, as in “Did you read

that in DATAMATION?”. It used to publish something hackishly

funny every once in a while, like the original paper on {COME

FROM} in 1973; but since then it’s become much more exclusively

{suit}-oriented.

day mode: n. See {phase} (sense #1). Used of people only.

DC Power Lab: n. The former site of the Stanford AI Lab. Hackers

thought this was very funny because the obvious connection to

electrical engineering was nonexistent — the lab was named for a

David C. Power.

dd: /dee-dee/ [from IBM {JCL}] vt. Equivalent to {cat} or

{BLT}. A UNIX copy command with special options suitable 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

designed 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 like

somebody’s idea of a joke. The slang usage is now very rare

outside UNIX sites and now nearly obsolete 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 archaic, having been widely

displaced by `debugger’ or names of individual programs like

`dbx’, `adb’, or `sdb’. 2. [ITS] Under MIT’s fabled

{ITS} operating system, DDT (running under the alias HACTRN) 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 after the {suit}s took over and DEC became much more

`businesslike’.

de-rezz: /dee-rez’/ [from the movie `Tron’; poss. related to

`hi-res’ used for a graphics mode on early Apples] (also `derez’)

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, many

program structures (including the code itself) is managed in small

segments of the program file known as `resources’. The standard

resource compiler is Rez. The standard resource decompiler is

DeRez. Thus decompiling a resource is `derezzing’. Usage: very

common.

dead code: n. Routines that can never be accessed because all calls

to them have been removed, or code which cannot be reached because

it is guarded by a control structure which provably must always

transfer control somewhere else. The presence of dead code may

reveal either logical errors due to alterations in the program or

significant changes in the assumptions and environment of the

program (see also {software rot}); a good compiler should report

dead code so a maintainer can think about what it means. Syn.

{grunge}.

deadlock: n. 1. A situation wherein two or more processes are

unable to proceed because each is waiting for one of the other 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

the term `starvation’ 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}, though usually used only when

exactly two processes are involved. This is the more popular term in

Europe, while {deadlock} predominates in the United States.

death star: [from the movie `Star Wars'] The AT&T corporate

logo, which appears on computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny

resemblance 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. Copies

still circulate of a poster printed by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape

with a space fighter labelled 4.2BSD streaking away from a broken

AT&T logo wreathed in flames.

AT&T’s internal magazine, `Focus’, uses `death star’ for

an incorrectly done AT&T logo in which the inner circle in the top

left is dark instead of light — a frequent result of dark-on-light

logo images.

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.

DEChead: n. A DEC {field servoid}. Not flattering.

deckle: [from dec- and {nickle}] /dek’l/ n. Two {nickle}s; 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.

deep hack mode: n. See {hack mode}.

deep magic: [poss. from C.S. Lewis's `Narnia' books.] 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 composed 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…”. Compare {voodoo programming}.

deep space: adj. 1. Describes the notional location of any program

which has gone {off the trolley}. Esp. used of programs which

just sit there silently grinding long after either failure or some

output is expected. Compare {buzz}, {catatonic},

{hyperspace}. 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}.

defenestration: [from the traditional Czechoslovak method of

assassinating prime ministers, via SF fandom] n. 1. Proper karmic

retribution for an incorrigible punster. “Oh, ghod, that was

*awful*!” “Quick! Defenestrate him!” 2. The act of

exiting a window system in order to get better response time from a

full-screen program. This comes from the dictionary meaning of

`defenestrate’, which is to throw something out a window. 3.

[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.” Compare {logical}.

dehose: vt. To clear a {hosed} condition.

delint: vt. To modify code to remove problems detected when linting.

See {lint}.

delta: n. 1. A quantitative change, especially a small or

incremental one. (This use is general in physics and engineering)

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}, 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 `epsilon-delta’ proofs

limit theory (as 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 half 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 {net.god}, {true-hacker}.

demo: /de’moh/ [short for `demonstration'] 1. v. To demonstrate a

product or prototype. A far more effective way of inducing bugs to

manifest than any number of {test} runs, especially when

important people are watching. 2. n. The act of demoing.

demo mode: [Sun] n. State of being {heads down} in order to finish

code in time for a {demo}, usually due yesterday.

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.

depeditate: /dee-ped’@-tayt/ [by analogy with `decapitate'] vt.

Humorously, to cut off the feet of. When using some computer-aided

phototypesetting tools, careless placement of text blocks within a

page or above a rule can result in chopped-off letter descenders.

Such letters are said to have been depeditated.

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.

deserves to lose: adj. 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}.

desk check: n.,v. To {grovel} over hardcopy of source code

mentally simulating the control flow; a method of catching bugs.

No longer common practice in this age of on-screen editing, fast

compiles, and sophisticated debuggers, though some maintain stoutly

that it ought to be.

devo: /dee’voh/ [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}.

diff: n. 1. (often in the plural `diffs’) the output from the

`diff(1)’ utility, esp. when used as specification input to

the `patch(1)’ utility (which can actually perform the

modifications). This is a common method of distributing patches

and source updates in the UNIX/C world. 2. A change listing,

especially giving difference in source code or documents. Includes

additions. “Send me your diffs for the Jargon File!” Compare

{vdiff}.

digit: /dij’it/ n. An employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. See

also {VAX}, {VMS}, {PDP-10}, {TOPS-10}, {field circus}.

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 informational objects such as

sections of code.

ding: /ding/ n.,vi. 1. Synonym for {feep}. 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”.

dink: adj. Said of a machine which has the {bitty box} nature; a

machine too small to be worth bothering with, sometimes the current

system you’re forced to work on. First heard from an MIT hacker

(BADOB) working on a CP/M system with 64K in reference to any 6502

system, then from fans of 32-bit architectures about 16-bit

machines. “GNUMACS will never work on that dink machine.”

Probably derived from mainstream `dinky’, which isn’t sufficiently

pejorative.

dinosaur: n. 1. 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}; see also {mainframe}. 2. [IBM] A very conservative

user; a {zipperhead}.

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

{boa}.

dinosaurs mating: n. Said to occur when yet another {big iron}

merger or buyout occurs; reflects a perception by hackers that

these signal another stage in the long-drawn-out death throes of

the {mainframe} industry. In its glory days of the Sixties, it

was `IBM and the Seven Dwarves’: Burroughs, Control Data, General

Electric, Honeywell, NCR, RCA, and Univac. RCA and GE sold out

early and it was `IBM and the Bunch’ (Burroughs, Univac, NCR,

Control Data, and Honeywell) for a while. Honeywell was bought out

by Bull; Burroughs merged with Univac (in 1984, this was when the

phrase `dinosaurs mating’ was coined), and at time of writing AT&T

is attempting to recover from a disastrously bad first six years

in the hardware industry by buying NCR. More such earth-shaking

unions of doomed giants seem inevitable.

dirty power: n. Electrical mains voltage which is unfriendly to

the delicate innards of computers. {Drop-outs}, spikes, average

voltage significantly higher or lower than nominal, or just plain

noise can all cause problems of varying subtlety and severity.

Discordianism: /dis-kor’di-@n-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 B, {Church of the Sub-Genius}, and {ha ha

only serious}.

disk farm: n. (also `laundromat’) A large room or rooms filled

with disk drives (esp. {washing machine}s).

display hack: n. A program with the same approximate purpose as a

kaleidoscope: to make pretty pictures. Famous display hacks

include {munching squares}, {smoking clover}, the BSD UNIX

`rain(6)’ 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. The {hack

value} of a display hack is proportional to the esthetic value of

the images times the cleverness of the algorithm divided by the

size of the code. Syn. {psychedelicware}.

distribution: n. 1. A software source tree packaged for

distribution; but see {kit}. 2. A vague term encompassing

mailing lists and USENET newsgroups; any topic-oriented message

channel with multiple recipients. 3. An information-space domain

(usually loosely correlated with geography) to which propagation of

a USENET message is restricted; a much-underutilized feature.

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 for the check, calculate the

tip and everybody’s share, collect money from everybody, generate

change as necessary, and pay the bill. See {protocol}.

doco: /do’koh/ [orig. in-house slang at Symbolics] n. A documentation

writer. See also {devo} and {mango}.

documentation:: n. The multiple kilograms of macerated, pounded,

steamed, bleached, and pressed trees that accompanies most modern

software or hardware products (see also {tree-killer}). Hackers

seldom read paper documentation and (too often) resist writing it;

they prefer theirs to be terse and on-line. See {drool-proof

paper}.

dodgy: adj. Syn. with {flaky}. Preferred outside the U.S.

dogcow: n. See {moof}.

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.”] 1. n. A project of minimal

priority, undertaken as an escape from more serious work. 2. v.

To engage in such a project. Many games and much {freeware} get

written this way.

domainist: adj. 1. Said of an {{Internet address}} (as opposed to a

{bang path}) because of the part to the right of the `@’,

which specifies a nested series of `domains’; for example,

`eric@snark.thyrsus.com’ specifies the machine called

*snark* in the subdomain called *thyrsus* within the

top-level domain called `com’. 2. Said of a mailer or routing

program which knows how to handle domainist addresses. 3. Said of

a site which runs a domainist mailer.

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.” (or “So don’t

do that!”). Compare {RTFM}.

dongle: /dong’gl/ n. 1. A security device for commercial

microcomputer programs consisting of a serialized EPROM and some

drivers in a D-25 connector shell. Programs that use a dongle

query the port at startup and at 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 (1991) will pass

data 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 moved 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}.

dongle-disk: /don’gl disk/ n. See {dongle}; a `dongle-disk’ is a

floppy disk with some coding that 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 doughnut-shaped magnetic flip-flop. Compare {core}.

doorstop: n. Used to describe equipment that is non-functional and

halfway expected to remain so, especially obsolete 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 to the directory lister).

double bucky: adj. Using both the CTRL and META keys. “The

command to burn all LEDs is double bucky F.”

This term originated on the Stanford extended-ASCII keyboard, and

was later taken up by useres of the {space-cadet keyboard} at

MIT. 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 keyboard. 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’.

These lyrics were written on May 27, 1978, in celebration of the

Stanford keyboard.

Double Bucky

Double bucky, you’re the one!

You make my keyboard lots of fun.

Double bucky, an additional bit or two:

(Vo-vo-de-o!)

Control and meta, side by side,

Augmented ASCII, nine bits wide!

Double bucky! Half a thousand glyphs, plus a few!

Oh,

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, by the way, is an excellent example of computer {filk} --- ESR]

See also {meta bit}, {cokebottle}, and {quadruple bucky}.

double DECkers: n. Used to describe married couples in which both

partners work for Digital Equipment Corporation.

doubled sig: [USENET] n. A {sig block} 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 operating. “The up escalator is down.” 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. With respect to computers, this

usage has passed into the mainstream; the extension to other kinds

of machine is still hackish. 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.” See {crash}; oppose {up}.

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}.

DP: n. Data Processing. Listed here because according to hackers,

use of it marks one immediately as a {suit}. See {DPer}.

DPB: /d@-pib’/ [from the PDP-10 instruction set] vt. 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

bits. This usage has been kept alive by the Common Lisp function

of the same name.

DPer: n. Data Processor. Hackers are absolutely amazed that {suits}

use this term self-referentially. “*Computers* process data,

not people!” See {DP}.

dragon: n. [MIT] A program similar to a {daemon}, 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 was generated by the

`name dragon’. Usage: rare outside MIT — under UNIX and most

other OSs this would be called a `background demon’ or {daemon}.

The best-known UNIX example of a dragon is `cron(1)’. At SAIL, they

called this sort of thing a `phantom’.

Dragon Book: n. Aho, Sethi, and Ullman’s classic text

`Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools’, so called

because of the cover design depicting a knight slaying a dragon

labelled `compiler complexity’. This actually describes the `Red

Dragon Book’ (1986); an earlier edition (sans Sethi and titled

`Principles Of Compiler Design’) was the `Green Dragon Book’

(1977). There is now a third edition of the Dragon Book that has

the knight sitting in front of what, for all the world, looks like

a video-game display of the dragon, with the real dragon behind it.

The term `White Dragon Book’ has been proposed. See also

{Blue Book}, {Red Book}, {Green Book}, {Silver Book},

{Purple Book}, {Orange Book}, {White Book}, {Pink-Shirt

Book}, {Aluminum Book}, {Wizard Book}, {Cinderella Book}.

drain: [IBM] v. Syn. for {flush} (sense #4). Has a connotation

of finality about it; one speaks of draining a device before taking

it offline.

dread high-bit disease: n. A condition endemic to PRIME (formerly

PR1ME) minicomputers which results in all the characters having

their high (0×80) bit ON rather than OFF. This of course makes

transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to

mention talking to true eight-bit devices. It is reported that

PRIME adopted the reversed-eight-bit convention in order to save 25

cents per serial line per machine. This probably qualifies as one

of the most {cretinous} design tradeoffs ever made. See {meta

bit}.

DRECNET: /drek’net/ [from German & 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 in a way that made it incompatible. See also {connector

conspiracy}.

driver: n. 1. The {main loop} of an event-processing program; the

code that gets commands and dispatches them for execution. 2. In

`device driver’, code designed to handle a particular

peripheral device such as a magnetic disk or tape.

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 silently

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}, {bit bucket}.

drop-ins: [prob. by anology with {drop-outs}] n. Spurious

characters appearing on a terminal or console due to line noise or

a system malfunction of some sort. Esp. used when these are

interspersed with your own typed input. Compare {drop-outs}.

drop-outs: n. 1. A variety of `power glitch’ (see {glitch});

momentary zero voltage on the electrical mains. 2. Missing

characters in typed input due to software malfunction or system

saturation (this can happen under UNIX, for example, when a bad

connect to a modem swamps the processor with spurious character

interrupts). 3. Mental glitches; used as a way of describing

those occasions when the mind just seems to shut down for a couple

of beats. See {glitch}, {fried}.

drugged: adj., also `on drugs’. 1. Conspicuously stupid,

heading towards {brain-damaged}. Often accompanied by a

pantomime of toking a joint (but see Appendix B). 2. Of hardware,

very slow relative to normal performance.

drunk mouse syndrome: n. A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing

device of some computers. 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 rotate your optical mouse pad 90 degrees.

dumbass attack: /duhm’ass @-tak’/ [Purdue] n. Notional cause of a

novice’s mistake made by the experienced, especially one made while

running as root under UNIX, e.g. typing `rm -r *’ or

`mkfs’ on a mounted file system. Compare {adger}.

dump: n. 1. An undigested and voluminous mass of information about a

problem or the state of a system, especially one routed to the

slowest available output device (compare {core dump}), and most

especially one consisting or hex and octal {runes} describing the

byte-by-byte state of memory, mass storage, or some file. In elder

days, debugging was generally done by `grovelling over a dump’

(see {grovel}); increasing use of high-level languages and

interactive debuggers has made this uncommon, and the term `dump’

now has a faintly archaic flavor. 2. A backup. This usage is

typical only at large timesharing installations.

dup killer: /d[y]oop killer/ [FidoNet] n. Software which is

supposed to detect and delete duplicates of a message which may

have reached the FidoNet system via different routes.

dup loop: /d[y]oop loop/ (also `dupe loop’) [FidoNet] n. An

incorrectly configured system or network gateway may propagate

duplicate messages on one or more {echo}s, with different

identification information which renders {dup killer}s

ineffective. If such a duplicate message eventually reaches a

system which it has already passed through (with the original

identification information), all systems passed on the way back to

that system are said to be involved in a {dup loop}.

dusty deck: n. Old software (especially applications) with which

one is obliged to remain compatible (or to maintain). 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 is believed to be too expensive to

replace. See {fossil}.

DWIM: /dwim/ [Do What I Mean] 1. adj. Able to guess, sometimes even

correctly, the result intended when bogus input was provided. 2.

n.,obs. The INTERLISP function that attempted to accomplish this

feat by correcting many of the more common errors. See {hairy}.

3. Occasionally, an interjection hurled at a balky computer, esp.

when one senses one might be tripping over legalisms (see

{legalese}).

DWIM is 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}.

dynner: /din’r/ 32 bits, by analogy with {nybble} and {{byte}}. Usage:

rare and extremely silly. See also {playte}, {taste}, {crumb}.

= E =

=====

earthquake: [IBM] n. The ultimate real-world shock test for

computer hardware. Hackish sources at IBM deny the rumor that the

Bay Area quake of 1989 was initiated by the company to test quality

assurance procedures 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 caused them to respond to the command `make

love’ with `not war?’. Many personal computers 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. Compare {shotgun debugging}.

eat flaming death: imp. A construction popularized among hackers by

the infamous {CPU WARS} comic; supposed to derive from a famously

turgid line in a WWII-era anti-Nazi propaganda comic which ran

“Eat flaming death, non-Aryan mongrels!” or something of the sort.

Used in humorously overblown expressions of hostility. “Eat

flaming death, {EBCDIC} users!”

EBCDIC: /eb’s’dik/ or /eb’k@-dik/ [Extended Binary Coded Decimal

Interchange Code] n. An alleged character set used on IBM

{dinosaur}s that exists in six mutually incompatible versions,

all featuring such delights as non-contiguous letter sequences and

the absence of several ASCII punctuation characters fairly

important for modern computer languages (exactly which characters

are absent vary according to which version of EBCDIC you’re looking

at). IBM adapted EBCDIC from {{punched card}} code in the early

1960s and promulgated it as a customer-control tactic, spurning the

already established ASCII standard. Today, IBM claims to be an

open-systems company, but IBM’s own description of the EBCDIC

variants and how to convert between them is still internally

classified top-secret, burn-before reading. Hackers blanch at the

very *name* of EBCDIC and consider it a manifestation of

purest {evil}. See also {fear and loathing}.

echo: [FidoNet] n. A topic group on {FidoNet}’s echomail system. Compare

{newsgroup}.

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 `face down, 9-edge first’ (the 9-edge is the bottom

of the card). This is inscribed on IBM’s 1422 and 1602 card

readers, and referenced in a famous bit of doggerel called `The

Last Bug’, which ends:

He died at the console

Of hunger and thirst.

Next day he was buried,

Face down, 9-edge first.

The eighty-column mind is thought by most hackers to dominate IBM’s

customer base, and its thinking. See {{punched card}}, {IBM},

{fear and loathing}, {card walloper}.

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 defines

{logical} north and south even though it doesn’t really run N/S

many places. El Camino Real runs right past Stanford University,

and so is familiar to hackers. The Spanish word `real’ (which has

two syllables /ray-ahl’/) means `royal’; El Camino Real is `the

royal road’. In the FORTRAN language, a `real’ quantity is a

number typically precise to seven significant digits, and a `double

precision’ quantity is a larger floating-point number, precise to

perhaps fourteen significant digits (other languages have similar

`real’ types). 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 {hog}s (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 (and, like a pachyderm, difficult

to maintain). In extreme cases, hackers have been known to make

trumpeting sounds or perform expressive proboscatory 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 effect} and

{baroque}.

elevator controller: n. Another archetypal dumb embedded-systems

application, like {toaster}. During the deliberations of ANSI

X3J11, the C standardization committee, this was canonical example

of its type. “You can’t require `printf(3)’ to be part of

the default runtime — what if you’re targeting an elevator

controller?” Elevator controllers became important rhetorical

weapons on both sides of several {holy wars}.

EMACS: /ee’maks/ [from Editing MACroS] n. The ne plus ultra of

hacker editors, a program editor with an entire LISP system

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 an overflowing kitchen sink, perhaps to suggest

the one feature the editor doesn’t include. Indeed, some hackers

find EMACS too heavyweight and {baroque} for their taste, and expand

the name as `Escape Meta Alt Control Shift’ to spoof its heavy

reliance on complex bucky-bitted keystrokes. Other spoof

expansions include `Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping’,

`Eventually malloc()s All Computer Storage’, and `EMACS Makes A

Computer Slow’ (see {{Recursive Acronyms}}). See also {vi}.

email: /ee’mayl/ 1. n. Electronic mail automatically passed through

computer networks and/or via modems common-carrier lines. Contrast

{snail-mail}, {paper-net}, {voice-net}. See {network

address}. 2. vt. To send email to a person in lisp.

Oddly enough, the word `emailed’ is actually listed in the OED; it

means “embossed (with a raised pattern) or arranged in a net work”!

A use from 1480 is given, and the word is derived from French

`emmailleure’, network. The term is contrasted with `chain

mail’.

emoticon: /ee-moh’ti-con/ 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 humor, laughter, or friendliness)

:-( Frowney face (indicates sadness, anger, or upset)

;-) Half-smiley (ha ha only serious)

Also known as “semi-smiley” or “winkey face”.

:-/ Wry face

It appears that the emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman on

the CMU {bboard} systems around 1980. He later wrote “I wish I

had saved the original post, or at least recorded the date for

posterity, but I had no idea that I was starting something that

would soon pollute all the world’s communication channels.”.

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 synonymous with {emoticon}, as well as specifically for the

happy-face emoticon.

Note for the {newbie}: overuse of the smiley is a mark of

loserhood! More than one per paragraph is a fairly 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.

engine: n. 1. A piece of hardware that encapsulates some function,

but can’t be used without some kind of {front end}. Today we

have, especially, `print engine’: the guts of a laser printer.

2. An analogous piece of software; notionally, one that does a lot

of noisy crunching such as a `database engine’.

The hackish senses of `engine’ are actually close to its original,

pre-Industrial-Revolution sense of a skill, clever device or

instrument (the word is cognate to `ingenuity’). This sense had

not been completely eclipsed by the modern connotation of

power-transducing machinery in Charles Babbage’s time, which

explains why why he named the stored-program computer that

he designed in 1844 the “Analytical Engine.”

English: n.,obs. The source code for a program, which may be in any

language, as opposed to the linkable or executable binary produced

from it by a compiler. The idea behind the term is that to a real

hacker, a program written in his favorite programming language is

at least as readable as English. Usage: used mostly by old-time

hackers, though recognizable in context.

enhancement: n. {Marketroid}-speak for a bug {fix}. This abuse

of language is a popular and time-tested way to turn incompetence

into increased revenue. A hacker would instead call the fix a

{feature}.

ENQ: /enkw/ [from the ASCII mnemonic `ENQuire' 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; acronym, End Of File] n. 1. Refers esp.

to whatever pseudo-character value is returned by C’s sequential

character 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.” See also

{EOL}.

EOL: /ee-oh-el/ [End Of Line] n. Syn. for {newline} derived

perhaps from the original CDC6600 Pascal. Now rare, but widely

recognized and occasionally used because it’s shorter. It’s used

in the example entry under {BNF}. See also {EOF}.

EOU: /ee-oh-yoo/ n. 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 delimiter and

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.

epoch: [UNIX] [perhaps from astronomical timekeeping] n. The time

and date corresponding to zero in an operating system’s clock and

timestamp values. Under most UNIX versions, 00:00:00 GMT, January

1, 1970. System time is measured in seconds or {tick}s past the

epoch. Note that weird problems may ensue when the clock wraps

around (see {wrap around}), and that this is not a necessarily a

rare event; on systems counting 10 {tick}s per second, a signed

32-bit count of ticks is good only for 6.8 years. The

1-tick-per-second clock of UNIX is good only until January 18,

2038, assuming word lengths don’t increase by then. See {tick}s,

{wall time}.

epsilon: [see {delta} for etymology] 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; completely

negligible. 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: Syn. {epoch}. The Webster’s Unabridged makes these words

almost synonymous, but `era’ usually connotes a span of time

rather than a point in time. The {epoch} usage is recommended.

Eric Conspiracy: n. A shadowy 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 Erics in hackerdom 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, and Erik Fair (co-author of NNTP); your editor

has heard from about fourteen others by email, and the organization

line `Eric Conspiracy Secret Laboratories’ now emanates regularly

from more than one site.

Eris: /e’ris/ pn. The Greek goddess of Chaos, Discord, Confusion,

and Things You Know Not Of; her name was latinized to Discordia and

she was worshiped by that name in Rome. 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

hackerdom. See {Discordianism}, {Church of the Sub-Genius}.

erotics: /ee-ro’tiks/ n. Reported from Scandinavia as

English-language university slang for electronics. Often used by

hackers, maybe because good electronics makes them warm.

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

via a ‘blazer 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

{cretinous}/{losing}/{brain-damaged} series, `evil’ does not

imply 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 /eeee’vil/.

exa-: /ek’s@/ pref. Multiplier, 10 ^ 18 or [proposed] 2 ^ 60. See

{kilo-}.

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}, {desk check}.

EXCH: /eks’ch@, eksch/ 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.

Many newer hackers tend to be thinking instead of the PostScript

exchange operator (which is usually written in lowercase).

excl: /eks’kl/ n. Abbreviation for `exclamation point’. See

{bang}, {shriek}, {wow}.

EXE: /eks’ee/ An executable binary file. Some operating systems

(notably MS-DOS, VMS, and TOPS-20/TWENEX) 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 (in fact, the term `extension’ in this sense is not part

of UNIX jargon).

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.

3. At IBM, the equivalent of a {bat file} or shell command file

(this is among VM/CMS users).

exercise, left as an: [from technical books] Used to complete a

proof when one doesn’t mind a {handwave}, or to avoid one

entirely. The complete phrase is: “The proof (or rest) is left as

an exercise for the reader.” This comment `has’ occasionally

been attached to unsolved research problems by authors possessed of

either an evil sense of humor or a vast faith in the capabilities

of their audiences.

eyeball search: n. To look for something in a mass of code or data

{by hand}, as opposed to using some sort of pattern matcher like

{grep} or any other automated search tool. Also called a

{vgrep}; compare {vdiff}.

= F =

=====

fab: /fab/ [from v. fabricate] 1. To produce chips from a design

that may have been created by someone at another company.

`Fab’bing chips based on the designs of others is the activity

of a {silicon foundry}. 2. `fab line’: the production

system (lithography, diffusion, etching, etc.) for chips at a chip

manufacturer. Different `fab lines’ are run with different

process parameters, die sizes, or technologies, or simply to

provide more manufacturing volume.

face time: n. Time spent interacting with somebody face-to-face (as

opposed to via electronic links). “Oh, yeah, I spent some face

time with him at the last Usenix.”

fall over: [IBM] vi. Yet another synonym for {crash} or {lose}.

`Fall over hard’ equates to {crash and burn}.

fall through: vt. 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. To fail a test that would have passed

control to a subroutine or other distant portion of code. 3. In C,

`fall-through’ is said to occur when the flow of execution in a

switch statement reaches a `case’ label other than by jumping there

from the switch header, passing a point where one would normally

expect to find a `break’. A trivial example:

switch (color)

{

case GREEN:

do_green();

break;

case PINK:

do_pink();

/* FALL THROUGH */

case RED:

do_red();

break;

default:

do_blue();

break;

}

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 (and this is the

important part) `do_pink()’ and *then* `do_red()’

when color is `PINK’. Fall-through is {considered harmful}

by some, though there are contexts such as the coding of state

machines in which it is natural; it is generally considered good

practice to include a comment highlighting the fall through, at the

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 frenetic

dances such as the rhumba, cha-cha, or watusi may be substituted.

See {aliasing bug}, {precedence lossage}, {smash the stack},

{memory leak}, {overrun screw}, {core}.

FAQ list: /ef-ay-kyoo list/ [Usenix] n. A compendium of accumulated

lore, posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an attempt

to forestall Frequently Asked Questions. This lexicon 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 (the

on-line version of this lexicon). “How do you pronounce `char’?”

and “What’s that funny name for the `#’ character?” for

example, are both Frequently Asked Questions.

farming: [Adelaide University, Australia] n. What the heads of a

Winchester are said to do when they plow little furrows in the

magnetic media. Associated with a {crash}. Typically used as

follows: “Oh no, the machine has just crashed; I hope the hard

drive hasn’t gone {farming} again.”

fascist: adj. 1. 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’ seems

to have been preferred at MIT, poss. by analogy with

`touristic’ (see {tourist}). 2. In the design of languages

and other software tools, `the fascist alternative’ is the most

restrictive and structured way of capturing a particular function;

the implication is that this may be desirable in order to simplify

the implementation or provide tighter error checking. Compare

{bondage-and-discipline language}; but that term is global than

local.

FAtt: [FidoNet] written-only abbreviation for {File Attach}.

faulty: adj. Non-functional; buggy. Same denotation as

{bletcherous}, {losing}, q.v., but the connotation is much

milder.

fd leak: /ef dee leek/ n. A kind of programming bug analogous to a

{core leak}, in which a program fails to close file descriptors

(`fd’s) after file operations are completed, and thus eventually

runs out. See {leak}.

fear and loathing: [from Hunter Thompson] n. State inspired by the

prospect of dealing with certain real-world systems and standards

which are totally {brain-damaged} but ubiquitous — Intel 8086s,

or {COBOL}, or {EBCDIC}, 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!”

feature: n. 1. An intended property or behavior (as of a program).

Whether it is good or not is immaterial (but if bad, it is also a

{misfeature)}. 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 — such an

inconsistency is therefore a {feature} and not a {bug}. This

kind of feature is sometimes called a {miswart}; see that entry

for a classic example. 4. A property or behavior that is

gratuitous or unnecessary, though perhaps also impressive or cute.

For example, one feature of Common LISP’s Format function is the

ability to print numbers in two different Roman-numeral formats

(see {bells, whistles, and gongs}). 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},

{creeping featurism}, {wart}.

The relationship between bugs, features, misfeatures, warts, and

miswarts might be clarified by the following exchange between two

hackers on an airplane:

A: “This seat doesn’t recline.”

B: “That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. There is an emergency

exit door built around the window behind you, and the route has to

be kept clear.”

A: “Oh. Then it’s a misfeature; they should have increased the

spacing between rows here.”

B: “Yes. But if they’d only increased spacing in one section it would

have been a wart — they would’ve had to make nonstandard-length

ceiling panels to fit over the displaced seats.”

A: “A miswart, actually. If they widened all the seats they’d

lose several rows and a chunk out of the profit margin. So unequal

spacing would actually be the Right Thing.”

B: “Indeed.”

Finally, note that {undocumented feature} is a common, humorous

euphemism for a {bug}.

feature creature: n. One who loves to add features to designs or

programs, perhaps at the expense of coherence, concision, or

{taste}. See also {creeping featurism}.

feature shock: [from Alvin Toffler's title `Future Shock'] n.

A user’s (or programmer’s!) confusion when confronted with a

package that has too many features and poor introductory material.

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 electronic `bell’ of a display terminal

(except for a VT-52!); a beep (in fact, the microcomputer world

seems to prefer {beep}). 2. vi. To cause the display to make a

feep sound. ASR 33s (the original TTYs) 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 {ding}.

feeper: /fee’pr/ n. The device in a terminal or workstation (usually

a loudspeaker of some kind) that makes the {feep} sound.

feeping creature: [from {feeping creaturism}] n. An unnecessary

feature; a bit of {chrome} which, in the speaker’s judgement, is

the camel’s nose for a whole horde of new features.

feeping creaturism: /fee’ping kree`ch@r-izm/ n. Deliberate

Spoonerism for {creeping featurism}, 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 is probably reinforced

by 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.”.

fence: n. One or more distinguished ({out-of-band}) characters

used to delimit a piece of data intended to be treated as a unit.

The NUL character that terminates strings in C is a fence. Hex FF

is probably the most common fence character after NUL. See

{zigamorph}.

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 a catastrophic off-by-one error 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 table.

fepped out: adj. The Symbolics 3600 Lisp Machine has a front-end

processor called a `FEP’ (compare sense #2 of {box}). When the

main processor gets {wedged}, the FEP takes control of the

keyboard and screen. Such a machine is said to have `fepped

out’.

FidoNet: n. A world-wide hobbyist network of personal computers

which exchange mail, discussion groups, and files. Founded in 1984

and originally consisting only of IBM PCs and compatibles, FidoNet

now includes such diverse machines as Apple ][s, Ataris, Amigas,

and UNIX systems. Though it is much younger than USENET, FidoNet

is already sizeable fraction of {USENET}’s size at some 8000

systems (late mid-1991).

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

engineers:

Q: How can you recognize a DEC field circus engineer with a flat tire?

A: He’s changing each tire to see which one is flat.

Q: How can you recognize a DEC field circus engineer who is out of

gas?

A: He’s changing each tire to see which one is flat.

field servoid: [play on `android'] /fee’ld ser’voyd/ n.

Representative of a Field Service organization (see {field

circus}).

Fight-o-net: [FidoNet] n. Deliberate distortion of {FidoNet},

often applied after a flurry of {flamage} in a particular

{echo}, especially the SYSOP echo or Fidonews (see ).

File Attach: [FidoNet] 1. n. A file sent along with a mail message

from one BBS to another. 2. vt. Sending someone a file by using

the File Attach option in the BBS mailer.

File Request: [FidoNet] 1. n. The {FidoNet} equivalent of

{FTP}, in which one BBS system automatically dials another and

{snarf}s one or more files. Files are often announced as being

“available for {FReq}” in the same way that files are announced

as being “available for/by anonymous FTP” on the Internet.

2. vt. The act of getting a copy of a file by using the File

Request option of the BBS mailer.

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] 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 data stream into an output data 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}.

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 mutant TOPS-10, 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 (where applicable). May

also display a {plan file} left by the user. 2. vt. To apply

finger to a username. 3. vt. By extension, to check a human’s

current state by any means. “Foodp?” “T!” “OK, finger Lisa

and see if she’s idle.”. 4. Any picture (composed of ASCII

characters) depicting `the finger’. Originally a humorous

component of one’s plan file to deter the curious fingerer (sense

#2), it has entered the arsenal of some {flamer}s.

finger-pointing syndrome: n. All-too-frequent result of bugs, esp.

in new or experimental configurations. The hardware vendor points

a finger at the software. The software vendor points a finger

at the hardware. All the poor users get is the finger.

firebottle: n. A large, primitive, power-hungry active electrical

device, similar in function to a FET but 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; another hackish term is {glassfet}.

firefighting: n. The act of throwing lots of manpower and late

nights at a project, esp. to get it out before deadline. See also

{gang bang}, {Mongolian Hordes technique}; however,

firefighting connotes that the effort is going into chasing

bugs rather than adding features.

firewall machine: n. A dedicated gateway machine with special

security precautions on it, used to service outside network

connections and dial-in lines. The idea is to protect a cluster of

more loosely administered machines `hidden’ behind it from

{cracker}s. 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}.

fireworks mode: n. The mode a machine is sometimes said to be in when

it is performing a {crash and burn} operation.

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.

fish: [Adelaide University, Australia] n. Another metasyntactic

variable. See {foo}. Derived originally from the Monty Python

skit in the middle of `The Meaning of Life’, entitled `Find the

fish’.

FISH queue: [acronym, by analogy with FIFO (First In, First Out)]

n. First In, Still Here. A joking way of pointing out that

processing of a particular sequence of events or requests has

stopped dead. Also `FISH mode’ and `FISHnet’; the latter

may be applied to any network that is running really slowly or

exhibiting extreme flakiness.

fix: n.,v. What one does when a problem has been reported too many

times to be ignored.

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}, {hidden flag}, {mode 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 (a U.S. holiday), June 14, 1966.

flaky: adj. (var sp. `flakey’) 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, crazy, or just

unreliable. A system that is flaky 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}.

flamage: /flay’m@j/ n. High-noise, low-signal postings to {USENET}

or other electronic fora. Often in the phrase `the usual

flamage’.

flame: v. 1. To post an email message intended to insult and

provoke. 2. 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).

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. See

also {asbestos cork award}.

The term may have been independently invented at several different

places; it is also reported that `flaming’ was in use to mean

something like `interminably drawn-out semi-serious discussions’

(late-night bull-sessions) at Carleton College during 1968-1971.

flame bait: n. A posting intended to trigger a {flame war}, or one

which invites flames in reply.

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”.

flame war: n. (var. `flamewar’) An acrimonious dispute,

especially when conducted on a public electronic forum such as

{USENET}.

flamer: n. One who habitually flames others. Said esp. of obnoxious

{USENET} personalities.

flap: vt. 1. To unload a DECtape (so it goes flap, flap,

flap…). Old-time 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! 2. By extension, to unload any magnetic

tape. See {microtape}, {macrotape}. Modern cartridge tapes no

longer actually flap, but the usage has remained.

flat: adj. Lacking any complex internal structure. “That {bitty

box} only has a flat filesystem, not a hierarchical one.” This is

verbed to {flatten}.

flat-ASCII: adj. Said of a text file that contains only 7-bit ASCII

characters and uses only ASCII-standard control characters (that

is, has no embedded codes specific to a particular text formatter

or markup language, and no {meta}-characters). Syn.

{plain-ASCII}. Compare {flat-file}.

flat-file: adj. A {flatten}ed representation of some database or

tree or network structure, as a single file from which the

structure could implicitly be rebuilt, esp. one in {flat-ASCII}

form.

flatten: vt. To remove structural information, esp. to filter

something with an implicit tree structure into a simple sequence of

leaves; also tends to imply mapping to {flat-ASCII}. “This code

flattens an expression with parentheses into an equivalent

{canonical} form.”

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.”

See {vanilla}. This usage was certainly reinforced by the

terminology of quantum chromodynamics, in which quarks (the

constituents of e.g. protons) come in six flavors (up, down,

strange, charm, top, bottom) and three colors (red, blue, green)

— however, hackish use of `flavor’ at MIT predated QCD.

flavorful: adj. Esthetically pleasing. See {random} and {losing}

for antonyms. See also the entries for {taste} and {elegant}.

flippy: /flip’ee/ n. A single-sided 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 common.

flowchart:: n. An archaic form of visual control-flow specification

employing arrows and `speech balloons’ of various shapes. Hackers

never use flowcharts, consider them extremely silly, and associate

them with COBOL programmers and other lower forms of life. This is

because (from a hacker’s point of view) they are no easier to read

than code, not as precise, and tend to fall out of sync with

the code (so that they either obfuscate it rather than explaining

it, or require extra maintenance effort that doesn’t improve the

code). See also {pdl}, sense #3.

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, or to ignore a

person. 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.

flytrap: n. See {firewall machine}.

FOAF: [USENET] n. Written-only acronym for Friend Of A Friend. The

source of an unverified, possibly untrue story. This was not

originated by hackers (it is used in Jan Brunvand’s books on urban

folklore), but is much better recognized on USENET and elsewhere

than in the mainstream.

FOD: v. [Abbreviation for `Finger of Death’, originally a

spell-name from fantasy gaming] To terminate with extreme prejudice

and with no regard for other people. From {MUD}s where the

wizards’ command `FOD ‘ results in the immediate and

total death of , usually as punishment for obnoxious

behavior. This migrated to other circumstances, such as “I’m

going to fod that process which is burning all the CPU”. Compare

{gun}.

fold case: v. See {smash case}. This term tends to be used more

by people who don’t `mind’ that their tools smash case. It

also connotes that case is ignored but case distinctions in data

processed by the tool in question aren’t destroyed.

followup: n. On USENET, a {posting} generated in response to

another posting (as opposed to a {reply}, which goes by email

rather than being broadcast). Followups include the ID of the

{parent message} in their headers; smart news-readers can use

this information to present USENET news in `conversation’ sequence

rather than order-of-arrival. See {thread}.

foo: /foo/ 1. interj. Term of disgust. 2. Name used for temporary

programs, or samples of three-letter names. Other similar words

are {bar}, {baz} (Stanford corruption of {bar}), and rarely RAG.

3. Used very generally as a sample name for absolutely anything.

4. First on the standard list of metasyntactic variables used in

syntax examples. See also: {bar}, {baz}, {qux}, {quux},

{corge}, {grault}, {garply}, {waldo}, {fred}, {plugh}, {xyzzy}.

{foo} is the {canonical} example of a `metasyntactic variable’; a

name used in examples and understood to stand for whatever thing is

under discussion, or any random member of a class of things under

discussion. To avoid confusion, hackers never use `foo’ or other

words like it as permanent names for anything.

The etymology of hackish `foo’ is obscure. When used in

connection with `bar’ it is generally traced to the WWII-era army

slang acronym FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition), later

expurgated to {foobar} and then truncated.

However, the use of the word `foo’ itself has more complicated

antecedents, including a long history in comic strips and cartoons.

The old `Smokey Stover’ comic strips by Bill Holman often

included the word `FOO’, in particular on license plates of cars;

allegedly, `FOO’ and `BAR’ also occurred in Walt Kelly’s

`Pogo’ strips. In a 1938 cartoon Daffy Duck holds up a sign

saying “SILENCE IS FOO!”. It is even possible that hacker usage

actually springs from the title `FOO, Lampoons and Parody’ of

a comic book first issued 20 years later, 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.

Very probably, hackish `foo’ had no single origin and derives

through all these channels from Yiddish `feh’ or English

`fooey!’.

foobar: n. Another common metasyntactic variable; see {foo}.

Note that hackers do *not* generally use this to mean FUBAR!

fool: n. As used by hackers, specifically describes a person who

habitually reasons from obviously or demonstrably incorrect

premises and cannot be persuaded by evidence to do otherwise; 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’). See also

{toeprint}.

for the rest of us: [from the Mac slogan “The computer for the

rest of us”] adj. Used to describe a {spiffy} product whose

affordability shames other comparable products, or (more often)

used sarcastically to describe {spiffy}, but very overpriced

products.

foreground: [UNIX] adj.,vt. 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 {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 call `fork(2)’)

and taking up all the process table entries.

Fortrash: n. Hackerism for the FORTRAN language, referring to its

primitive design, gross and irregular syntax, limited control

constructs and slippery, exception-filled semantics.

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 lexicon 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-addressable architectures. See

{dusty deck}. 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 backward-compatibility

goal, this functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in

some later {USG UNIX} releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits. 3.

FOSSIL (Fido/Opus/Seadog Standard Interface Level) specification for

serial-port access to replace the {brain-dead} routines in the IBM PC

ROMs. Fossils are used by most MSDOS {BBS} software in lieu of

programming the {bare metal} of the serial ports, as the ROM routines

do not support interrupt-driven operation or setting speeds above

9600. Since the FOSSIL specification allows additional functionality

to be hooked in, drivers which use the {hook} but do not provide

serial-port access themselves are named with a modifier, as in `video

fossil’.

fred: n. 1. 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. Unlike {J.

Random Hacker} or {J. Random Loser} this name has no positive or

negative loading. 2. An acronym for `Flipping Ridiculous

Electronic Device’ (other F-verbs may be substituted for

“flipping”)

frednet: n. Used to refer to some {random} and uncommon protocol

encountered on a network. “We’re implementing bridging in our

router to solve the frednet problem.”

freeware: n. Free software, often written by enthusiasts and

usually distributed by electronic mail, local bulletin boards,

{USENET}, or other electronic media. At one time, `freeware’ was

a trademark of Andrew Fluegelman, the author of the well-known

MS-DOS comm program PC-TALK III. It wasn’t enforced after his

mysterious disappearance in 1984. See {shareware}.

freeze: v. To lock an evolving software distribution or document

against changes so it can be released with some hope of stability.

Carries the strong implication that the item in question will

`unfreeze’ at some future date. “OK, fix that bug and we’ll

freeze for release.”

FReq: [FidoNet] written-only abbreviation for {File Request}.

fried: adj. 1. Non-working due to hardware failure; burnt out.

Especially used of hardware brought down by a `power glitch’

(see {glitch}), {drop-outs}, a short, or other electrical

event. (Sometimes this literally happens to electronic circuits!

In particular, resistors can burn out and transformers can melt

down, emitting terrible-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 in.”

fritterware: n. An excess of capability that serves no productive

end. The cononical example is font-diddling software on the Mac

(see {macdink}); the term describes anything which eats huge

amounts of time for quite marginal gains in function, but seduces

people into using it anyway.

frob: /frob/ 1. n. [MIT] The official Tech Model Railroad Club

definition was `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. vt. Abbreviated form of {frobnicate}. 3. [from the

{MUD} world] To request {wizard} privileges on the `professional

courtesy’ grounds that one is a wizard elsewhere.

frobnicate: /frob’ni-kayt/ vt. [Poss. derived from {frobnitz}, and

usually abbreviated to {frob}, but {frobnicate} is recognized

as the official full form.] To manipulate or adjust, to tweak.

One frequently frobs bits or other two-state devices. Thus:

“Please frob the light switch.” (That is, flip it), but also

“Stop frobbing that clasp; you’ll break it.” One also sees the

construction `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. The variant

`frobnosticate’ has been recently reported.

frobnitz: /frob’nits/, pl. `frobnitzem’ (frob’nit-zm) 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

in between a turkey and a toad. 4. `froggy’: adj. Similar to

`bagbiting’ (see {bagbiter}), but milder. “This froggy

program is taking forever to run!”

front end: n. 1. An intermediary 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.” 3. Software which

provides an interface to another program `behind’ it, which may not

be as user-friendly. Probably from analogy with hardware

front-ends (see sense #1) which interfaced with mainframes.

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: /fuhd/ n. Defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found

his own company: “FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM

sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might

be considering [Amdahl] products.” The idea, of course, was to

persuade them to go with safe IBM gear rather than with

competitors’ equipment. This was traditionally done by promising

that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but

Dark Shadows loomed over the future of the competitors’ equipment

or software. See {IBM}.

FUD wars: /fuhd worz/ n. [from {FUD}] Political posturing engaged in

by hardware and software vendors ostensibly committed to

standardization but actually willing to fragment the market to

protect their own shares. The OSF vs. UNIX International conflict,

for example.

fudge: 1. vt. 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 that 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. See also {coefficient

of x}.

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 `play money’ or `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. Antonym: `real money’.

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 1980s 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

service.

= G =

=====

gabriel: /gay’bree-@l/ [for Dick Gabriel, SAIL LISP hacker and

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}.

gang bang: n. The use of large numbers of loosely coupled

programmers in an attempt to wedge a great many features into a

product in a short time. While there have been memorable gang

bangs (e.g., that over-the-weekend assembler port mentioned in

Steven Levy’s `Hackers’), most are perpetrated by large

companies trying to meet deadlines and produce enormous buggy

masses of code entirely lacking in orthogonality (see

{orthogonal}). When market-driven managers make a list of all

the features the competition has and assign one programmer to

implement each, they often miss the importance of maintaining

strong invariants, like relational integrity. See also

{firefighting}, {Mongolian Hordes technique}.

garbage collect: vi. (also `garbage collection’, n.) See {GC}.

garply: /gar’plee/ n. [Stanford] Another meta-syntactic variable (see

{foo}) popular among SAIL hackers.

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. To {flush}.

“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. He was eventually found not guilty by reason

of insanity. 5. [IBM] Dead space in nonsequentially organized

files that was occupied by data that has been deleted; the compression

operation that removes it is called `degassing’ (by analogy,

perhaps, with the technical term `degaussing’).

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}. 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.

Warning: in {X} programming, a `GC’ may be a graphics context. This

technical term has nothing to do with the jargon {GC}!

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}, 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 later played a major role 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.

GECOS: n. See GCOS.

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 of an algorithm.

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.”

gen: /jen/ n.,v. Short for {generate}, used frequently in both spoken

and written contexts.

gender mender: n., 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. Also called a `gender bender’, `gender

blender’, `sex changer’ and even `homosexual adaptor’;

there appears to be some confusion as to whether a `male homosexual

adapter’ has pins on both sides (is male) or sockets on both sides

(connects two males)

General Public Virus: n. Pejorative name for some versions of the

{GNU} project {copyleft} or General Public License (GPL), which

requires that any tools or {app}s incorporating copylefted code

must be source-distributed on the same counter-commercial terms as

GNU stuff. Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects’ software

generated with GNU tools, which may in turn infect other software

that reuses any of its code. The Free Software Foundation’s

official position as of January 1991 is that copyright law limits

the scope of the GPL to “programs textually incorporating

significant amounts of GNU code”, and that the `infection’ is not

passed on to third parties unless actual GNU source is transmitted

(as in, for example, use of the Bison parser skeleton).

Nevertheless, widespread suspicion that the {copyleft} language

is `boobytrapped’ has caused many developers to avoid using GNU

tools and the GPL.

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. “The guy is

rational most of the time, but mention nuclear energy around him

and he’ll generate {infinite} flamage.”

gensym: [from MacLisp for `Generated Symbol'] 1. v. To invent a new

name for something temporary, in such a way that the name is almost

certainly not already in conflict with one already in use. 2. n.

The resulting name. The canonical form of a gensym is `Gnnnn’

where nnnn represents a number; any LISP hacker would recognize

G0093 (for example) as a gensym. 3. A freshly generated data

structure with a gensymmed name. These are useful for storing or

uniquely identifying crufties (see {cruft}).

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}, esp. as a way of

suggesting that the target is taking some obscure issue of

{theology} too seriously. This exhortation was popularized by

William Shatner on a Saturday Night Live episode in a speech which

ended “Get a *life*!”, but some respondents believe it to

have been in use before then.

Get a real computer!: imp. Typical hacker response to news that

somebody is having trouble getting work done on a system that (a)

is single-tasking, (b) has no Winchester, or (c) has an address

space smaller than 4 megabytes. This is as of mid-1991; 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 {essentials}, {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 {GFR}ed it.” See

also {prowler}, {reaper}. Compare {GC}, which discards only

provably worthless stuff.

gig: /jig/ or /gig/ n. Short for `gigabyte’ (1024 megabytes);

used in describing amounts of {core} or mass storage. Also

written `GB’. “My machine just got upgraded to a quarter-gig”.

See also {K} and {kilo-}.

giga-: /ji’ga/ or /gi’ga/ pref. Multiplier, 10 ^ 9 or 2 ^ 30. See

{kilo-}.

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

sardonic comment on the tendency human beings have to put excessive

trust in “computerized” data.

gillion: /jill’y@n/ n. 10 ^ 9. [From {giga-}, following

construction of mega/million and notional tera/trillion] Same as an

American billion or a British `milliard’.

glark: /glark/ vt. To figure something out from context. “The

System III manuals are pretty poor, but you can generally glark the

meaning from context”. Interestingly, the word was originally

`glork’; the context 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} 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 the early

`dumb’ version of Lear-Siegler ADM-3 (without cursor control). See

{tube}, {tty}. See Appendix A for an interesting true story

about glass ttys.

glassfet: /glas’fet/ [by analogy with MOSFET, Metal Oxide Field

Effect Transistor] n. Same as {firebottle}, a humorous way to

refer to a vacuum tube.

glitch: /glich/ [from German `glitschen’ 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

specifically 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 forgot 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 under the mutant TOPS-10 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] vt.,n. To expand special characters in a wildcarded name,

or the act of so doing (the action is also called `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 also {UN*X}).

? 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.

{} alternation of comma-separated alternatives. Thus,

`foo{baz,qux}’ would be read as `foobaz’ or `fooqux’.

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}.

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}, but usually used reflexively. “My program just glorked

itself.”

glue: n. Generic term for any interface logic or protocol that

connects between two monolithic component blocks. For example, the

{Blue Glue} is IBM’s SNA protocol, and hardware designers call

anything used to connect large VLSI’s or circuit blocks “glue

logic”.

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 (rms@prep.ai.mit.edu). GNU EMACS and

the GNU C compiler, two tools designed for this project, have

become very popular in hackerdom. The GNU project was designed

partly to proselytize for RMS’s position that information is

community property and all software source should be shared (one of

its slogans is “Help stamp out software hoarding!”). Though this

remains controversial (because it implicitly denies any right of

designers to own, assign and sell the results of their labors), many

hackers who disagree with him have nevertheless cooperated to

produce large amounts of high-quality software available for free

redistribution under the Free Software Foundation imprimatur. See

{EMACS}, {copyleft}, {General Public Virus}. 2. Noted UNIX

hacker John Gilmore (gnu@toad.com), founder of USENET’s anarchic

alt.* hierarchy.

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. Of a video tube, to fail by

losing vertical scan, so all one sees is a bright horizontal line

bisecting the screen.

gobble: vt. To consume or to obtain. The phrase `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 also {snarf}.

golden: adj. [perh. from folklore's `golden egg'] When used to

describe a magnetic medium (e.g. `golden disk’, `golden tape’),

describes one containing a tested, up-to-spec, ready-to-ship

software version.

gonk: /gonk/ vt.,n. 1. To prevaricate or to embellish the truth

beyond any reasonable recognition. It is alleged that 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, for example, “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}.

Good Thing: adj. Often capitalized; always pronounced as if

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

Thing}.

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 selections, 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 the canonical hiker’s food, Good

Old Raisins and Peanuts] 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}. Originally freeware; a commercial version is now

modestly popular as `UniPress Emacs’. The author (James Gosling)

went on to invent {NeWS}.

Gosperism: /gos’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}.

gotcha: n. A misfeature of a system, especially a programming

language or environment, which tends to breed bugs or mistakes

because it behaves in a non-intuitive way. For example a classic

gotcha in {C} is the fact that `if (a=b) {code;}’ is a

syntactically valid and sometimes even correct. It puts the value

of b into a and then executes `code’ if b is non-zero. What

the programmer probably meant was `if (a==b) {code;}’ which

executes “code” if a and b are equal.

GPL: n. Abbrev. for `General Public License’ in widespread use; see

{copyleft}.

GPV: n. Abbrev. for {General Public Virus} in widespread use.

grault: /grawlt/ n. Yet another meta-syntactic variable, invented by

Mike Gallaher and propagated by the {GOSMACS} documentation. See

{corge}.

gray goo: n. A hypothetical substance composed of {sagan}s of

sub-micron-sized 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} disaster scenarios, easily 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 Runes: n. Uppercase-only text or display messages. Some

archaic operating systems still emit these. See also {runic},

{smash case}, {fold case}.

great-wall: [from SF fandom] vi.,n. A mass expedition to an

Oriental restaurant, esp. one where food is served family-style and

shared. There is a common heuristic about the amount of food to

order, expressed as “Get N – 1 entrees.”; the value of N, which is

the number of people in the group, can be inferred from context.

See {{Oriental Food}}, {ravs}, {stir-fried random}.

Green Book: n. 1. One of the three standard PostScript references

(`PostScript Language Program Design’, Adobe Systems,

Addison-Wesley 1988, QA76.73.P67P66 ISBN 0-201-14396-8); see also

{Red Book}, {Blue Book}). 2. Informal name for one of the three

standard references on SmallTalk: `Smalltalk-80: Bits of

History, Words of Advice’, Glenn Krasner, Addison-Wesley 1983,

QA76.8.S635S58, ISBN 0-201-11669-3 (this is also associated with

blue and red books). 3. 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}. 4. The IEEE 1003.1 POSIX Operating

Systems Interface standard has been dubbed “The Ugly Green Book”.

5. Any of the 1992 standards which will be issued by the CCITT 10th

plenary assembly. Until now, these have changed color each review

cycle (1984 was {Red Book}, 1988 {Blue Book}); however, it is

rumored that this convention is going to be dropped before 1992.

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 Book}, {Silver Book}, {Purple Book}, {Orange Book}, {White

Book}, {Dragon Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book}, {Aluminum Book}.

green bytes: n. 1. Meta-information embedded in a file such as the

length of the file or its name; as opposed to keeping such

information in a separate description file or record. Name comes

from an IBM user’s group meeting c.1962 where these two approaches

were being debated and the diagram of the file on the blackboard

had the `green bytes’ drawn in green. 2. By extension, the

non-data bits in any self-describing format. “A GIF file

contains, among other things, green bytes describing the packing

method for the image.”

green card: n. [after the IBM System/360 Reference Data card] This

is used for any summary of an assembly language, even if the color is

not green. Less frequently used now because of the decrease in the

use of assembly language. “I’ll go get my green card so I can

check the addressing mode for that instruction.” Some green cards

are actually booklets.

The original green card became a yellow card when the System/370

was introduced, and later a yellow booklet. An anecdote from IBM

refers to a scene that took place in a programmers’ terminal room

at Yorktown in 1978. A luser overheard one of the programmers ask

another “Do you have a green card?”. The other grunted and

passed the first a thick yellow booklet. At this point the luser

turned a delicate shade of olive and rapidly left the room, never

to return. See also {card}.

green lightning: [IBM] n. 1. Apparently random flashing streaks on

the face of 3278-9 terminals while a new symbol set is being

downloaded. This hardware bug was left deliberately unfixed, as

some genius within IBM suggested it would let the user know that

`something is happening’. That, it certainly does. Later

microprocessor-driven IBM color graphics displays were actually

*emph* to produce green lightning! 2. [proposed] Any bug

perverted into an alleged feature by adroit rationalization or

marketing. E.g., “Motorola calls the CISC cruft in the 88000

architecture `compatibility logic’, but I call it green

lightning”.

green machine: n. A computer or peripheral device that has been

designed and built to military specifications for field equipment

(that is, to withstand mechanical shock, extremes of temperature

and humidity, and so forth). Comes from the olive-drab `uniform’

paint used for military equipment.

grep: /grep/ [from the qed/ed editor idiom g/re/p , where

re stands for a regular expression, to Globally search for the

Regular Expression and Print the lines containing matches to it,

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?” See also {vgrep}.

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;

{prettyprint} 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. The BSD program

`vgrind(1)’ grinds code for printing on a Versatec bitmapped

printer. 3. To run seemingly interminably, esp. (but not

necessarily) if performing some tedious and inherently useless

task. Similar to {crunch} or {grovel}. Grinding has a

connotation of using a lot of CPU time, but it is possible to grind

a disk, network, etc. See also {hog}. 4. To make the whole

system slow, e.g. “Troff really makes things grind to a halt on a

PDP-11″. 5. `grind grind’ excl. Roughly, “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 days of the great 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

cranking.

gritch: /grich/ 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a {glitch}). 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 comic 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}”. 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.” 5. The sound

made by many 3.5″ diskette drives. In particular, the floppies on

a Commodore Amiga go “grink, gronk”.

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: n. 1. That which is {grungy}, or that which makes it so.

2. [Cambridge] Code which is `dead’ (can never be accessed) due to

changes in other parts of the program. The preferred term in North

America is {dead code}.

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.

The earliest print use anybody has reported to use of `grungy’ is

from the National Lampoon parody `Bored Of the Rings’, dating

from the late 1960s. It has been suggested that this term

originated with Vietnam vets. It has recently (as of 1991) also

common in mainstream slang.

gubbish: /guh’bish/ [a portmanteau of "garbage" and "rubbish"?]

n. Garbage; crap; nonsense. “What is all this gubbish?” The

opposite portmanteau “rubbage” is also reported.

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 freeloader if one does not immediately send the

poor suffering martyr gobs of money.

gumby: /guhm’bee/ [from a class of Monty Python characters, poss.

themselves named after a ’60s claymation character] n. An act of

minor but conspicuous stupidity, often in `gumby maneuver’ or

`pull a gumby’.

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. [UNIX] An 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 {vulcan nerve pinch}.

= H =

=====

h: [from SF fandom] infix. 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, e.g. 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.

This lexicon 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, a {wannabee}, or in {larval stage}. For further

enlightenment on this subject, consult any Zen master. See also

{{Humor, Hacker}} and {AI koans}.

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. n. The result of a hack (sense #1 or #2). 4. vt. To bear

emotionally or physically. “I can’t hack this heat!” 5. vt. 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.” 6. vt. To pull a

prank on. See definition 3 and {hacker} (sense #6). 7. vi. To

waste time (as opposed to {tool}). “Whatcha up to?” “Oh,

just hacking.” 8. [UNIX] n. A dungeon game similar to {rogue}

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’. 9. n. Short for {hacker}, which

see.

Constructions on this term abound. They include: `happy

hacking’, a farewell; `how’s hacking?’, a friendly greeting

among hackers; and `hack hack’, a fairly content-free but

friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell. For more on

the meaning of {hack} see Appendix A. See also {neat hack},

{real hack}.

hack attack: [poss. by analogy with `Big Mac Attack'] n. Nearly

synonymous with {hacking run}, though the latter implies an

all-nighter more strongly.

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 (this is why every good hacker

is half a mystic). 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. See also {cyberspace}

(sense #2).

Some aspects of hackish etiquette will appear quite odd to an

observer unaware of the high value placed on hack mode. For

example, if someone appears at your office door, it is perfectly

okay to hold up a hand (without turning one’s eyes away from the

screen) to avoid being interrupted. One may read, type and

interact with the computer for quite some time before further

acknowledging the other’s presence (of course, he/she is

reciprocally free to leave without a word). The understanding is

that you might be in {hack mode} with a lot of delicate {state}

(sense #2) in your head, and you dare not {swap out} that context

until you have reached a good point to pause.

hack on: vt. To {hack}; implies that the subject is some

pre-existing hunk of code that one is evolving, as opposed to

something one might {hack up}.

hack together: vt. To throw something together so it will work.

Unlike {kluge together} or {cruft together} this does not

necessarily have negative connotations.

hack up: vt. To {hack}, but generally implies that the result is

a hack in sense #1 (a quick hack). Contrast this with {hack on}.

To `hack up on’ implies a quick and dirty modification to an

existing system.

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 were

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.

hack-and-slay: v. (also `hack-and-slash’) 1. To play a {MUD}

or go mudding, especially with the intention of {berserking} for

pleasure. 2. To undertake an all-night programming/hacking

session, interspersed with stints of mudding to alleviate boredom.

This term arose on the British academic network amongst students

who worked nights and logged onto Essex University’s MUDs during

public-access hours (2am => 7am). Usually more mudding than

work was done in these sessions.

hacked-off: adj. Said of system administrators who have become

annoyed, upset, or touchy due to suspicions that their sites have

been or are going to be victimized by crackers, or used for

inappropriate, technically illegal, or even overtly criminal

activities. For example, having unreadable files in your home

directory called `worm’, `lockpick’, or `goroot’ would probably be

an effective (as well as monumentally obvious and stupid) way to

get your sysadmin hacked off at you.

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 (even obsessively), or who enjoys programming

rather than just theorizing about programming. 3. A person capable

of appreciating {hack value}. 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; as in `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}.

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: n. The quality of being or involving a hack. See

{hackitude}.

hackitude: n. Syn. {hackishness}; this word is considered silly.

hair: [back-formation from {hairy}] 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): “GNUMACS 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.” See

also {hirsute}.

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 ^ 18.

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.

Item 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.

Item 176 (Gosper): The “banana phenomenon” was encountered when

processing a character string by taking the last 3 letters typed

out, searching for a random occurrence of that sequence in the

text, taking the letter following that occurrence, typing it out,

and iterating. This ensures that every 4-letter string output

occurs in the original. The program typed BANANANANANANANA…. We

note an ambiguity in the phrase, “the Nth occurrence of.” In one

sense, there are five 00′s in 0000000000; in another, there are

nine. The editing program TECO finds five. Thus it finds only the

first ANA in BANANA, and is this obligated to type N next. By

Murphy’s Law, there is but one NAN, thus forcing A, and thus a

loop. An option to find overlapped instances would be useful,

although it would require backing up N-1 characters before seeking

the next N character string.

HAKMEM also contains some rather more complicated mathematical and

technical items, but these examples show some of its fun flavor.

hakspek: /hak’speek/ n. Generally used term to describe a method of

spelling to be found on many British academic bulletin boards and

talker systems. Syllables and whole words in a sentence are

replaced by single ASCII characters which are phonetically similar

or equivalent, whilst multiple letters are usually dropped. Hence

`for’ becomes `4′, `two’, `too’, and `to’ become `2′, `ck’ becomes

`k’. “Before I see you tomorrow” becomes “b4 i c u 2moro”.

First appeared in London about 1986, and was probably caused by the

slow speed of available talker systems, which operated on archaic

machines with outdated operating systems, and no standard methods

of communication. Has become rarer nowadays. See also {talk

mode}.

hamster: n. A particularly slick little piece of code that does one

thing well; a small, self-contained hack. The image is of a

hamster happily spinning its exercise wheel.

hand-hacking: n. 1. The practice of translating {hot spot}s 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.

handshaking: n. Hardware or software activity designed to keep two

machines or programs in synchronization as they {do protocol}.

Often applied to human activity; thus, a hacker might watch two

people in conversation nodding their heads to indicate that they’ve

heard each others’ points and say “Oh, they’re handshaking!”.

See also {protocol}.

handwave: [poss. from gestures characteristic of stage magicians]

1. v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener; to

support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty

logic. 2. n. The act of handwaving. “Boy, what a handwave!”

If someone starts a sentence with “Clearly…” or

“Obviously…” or “It is self-evident that…”, you can

be sure he is about to handwave (alternatively, use of these

constructions in a sarcastic tone before a paraphrase of someone

else’s argument suggests that it is a 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.

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 in one position

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}, {hung}. 3.

To attach a peripheral device, esp. in the construction `hang off’.

“We’re going to hang another tape drive off the file server”.

Implies a device attached with cables, rather than something that’s

strictly inside the machine’s chassis.

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.

hardcoded: adj. 1. Data inserted directly into a program, where it

cannot be easily modified, as opposed to data in some {profile}

or environment variable that a {user} or hacker can easily

modify. 2. In C, this is esp. applied to use of a literal instead

of a preprocessor #define (see {magic number}).

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}.

hardwired: adj. 1. Syn. for {hardcoded}. Technically, this term

only applies to hardware, but hackers use it for software as well.

2. By extension, anything that is not modifiable, especially in the

sense of customizable to one’s particular needs or tastes.

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 bucket: n. A notional receptacle into two things accessed by

the same key or short code might be dropped. This is used in a

strict technical sense with respect to code that contains actual

hash functions; in slang, it is used for human associative memory

as well. Thus, two things “in the same hash bucket” may be

confused with each other. Compare {hash collision}.

hash collision: [from the technical usage] n. (var. `hash

clash’) 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.” Compare

{hash bucket}.

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.

heads down: [Sun] adj. Concentrating, usually so heavily and for so

long that everything outside the focus area is missed. See also

{larval stage}, although it’s not confined to fledgeling hackers.

heartbeat: n. 1. The signal emitted by a Level 2 Ethernet

transceiver at the end of every packet to show that the

collision-detection circuit is still connected. 2. A periodic

synchronization signal used by software or hardware, such as a bus

clock or a periodic interrupt. 3. The `natural’ oscillation

frequency of a computer’s clock crystal, before frequency division

down to the machine’s clock rate. 4. A signal emitted at regular

intervals by software to demonstrate that it’s still alive.

Sometimes hardware is designed to reboot the machine if it stops

hearing a heartbeat. See also {breath-of-life packet}.

heavy metal: [Cambridge] n. Syn. {big iron}.

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…”. Compare

{voodoo programming}.

heavyweight: adj. High-overhead; {baroque}; code-intensive;

featureful, but costly. Esp. used of communication protocols,

language designs, and any sort of implementation in which

maximum generality has been pushed at the expense of mundane

considerations like speed, memory utilization, and start-up time.

{EMACS} is a heavyweight editor; {X} is an `extremely’

heavyweight window system. This term isn’t pejorative, but one

man’s heavyweight is another’s {elephantine} and a third’s

{monstrosity}. Oppose `lightweight’.

heisenbug: /hie’zen-buhg/ [from Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in

quantum physics] n. A bug that disappears or alters its behavior

when one attempts to probe or isolate it. Antonym of {Bohr bug}.

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 that {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}, {catatonic}.

hello sailor!: interj. Occasional West Coast equivalent of {hello,

world}; seems to have originated at SAIL, later associated with

the game {Zork} (which also included “hello aviator” and “hello

implementor”). Originally from the traditional hooker’s

greeting to a swabbie fresh off the boat, of course.

hello wall!: excl. See {wall}.

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 (and indeed it is the first

example program in {K&R}). 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?”

hex: n. 1. Short for {hexadecimal}, base 16. 2. A six-pack of

anything. Neither usage has nothing to do with {magic} or

{black art}, though the pun is appreciated and occasionally used

by hackers. True story: as a joke, some hackers once offered some

surplused ICs for sale to be worn as protective amulets against

hostile magic. The chips were, of course, hex inverters.

hexadecimal: n. Base 16. Coined in the early 1960s to replace

earlier `sexadecimal’, which was too racy and amusing for stuffy

IBM, and later adopted by the rest of the industry. Actually,

neither term is etymologically pure. The most etymologically

correct term for base-10, for examples, is `denary’ (compare

`binary’), which comes from `deni’ (ten at a time, ten each), a

Latin `distributive’ number; the corresponding term for base-16

would be something like `sendenary’). `Decimal’ is from an ordinal

numbering word; the corresponding prefix for six would imply

`sextidecimal’. The `sexa-’ prefix is Latin but incorrect in this

context and `hexa-’ is Greek. The word `octal’ is similarly

incorrect; correct forms would be `octaval’ (to go with decimal),

or `octonary’ (to go with binary). If anyone ever implements a

base-3 computer, computer scientists will be faced with the

unprecedented dilemma of a choice between two `correct’; both

`ternary’ and `trinary’ have a claim to this throne.

hexit: /hek’sit/ n. A hexadecimal digit (0-9, and A-F or a-f).

Used by people who claim that there are only *ten* digits,

dammit; sixteen-fingered human beings are rather rare, regardless

of what some keyboard designs might seem to imply (see

{space-cadet keyboard}).

hidden flag: [scientific computation] n. An extra option added to a

routine without changing the calling sequence. For example,

instead of adding an explicit input variable to instruct a routine

to give extra diagnostic output, the programmer might just add a

test for some otherwise meaningless feature of the existing inputs,

such as a negative mass. Liberal use of hidden flags can make a

program very hard to debug and understand.

high bit: [from `high order bit'] n. 1. See {meta bit}. 2. 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 wakes 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}.

highly: [scientific computation] adv. The preferred modifier for

overstating an understatement. As in: `highly nonoptimal’, the

worst possible way to do something; `highly nontrivial’, either

impossible or requiring a major research project; `highly

nonlinear’, completely erratic and unpredictable; `highly

nontechnical’, drivel written for {luser}s, oversimplified to the

point of being misleading or incorrect (compare {drool-proof

paper}). In other computing cultures, postfixing of {in the

extreme} might be preferred.

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}.

hobbit: n. The High Order Bit of a byte; same as the {meta bit}.

hog: n.,vt. Favored term to describe programs or hardware that 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 that 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 war}s

over {religious issues}. The 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, {ITS} vs. {UNIX}, {UNIX}

vs. {VMS}, {BSD} UNIX vs. {USG} UNIX, {C} vs. {{Pascal}}, {C} vs.

LISP, 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.

home box: n. A hacker’s personal machine, especially one he or she

owns. “Yeah? Well, *my* home box runs a full 4.2BSD, so

there!”

hook: n. An extraneous piece of software or hardware included in

order to simplify later additions or changes by a user. For

instance, a PDP-10 assembler 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 ({EMACS},

for example, is all hooks). The term `user exit’ is synonymous

but more formal.

hop: n. One file transmission in a series required to get a file

from point A to point B on a store-and-forward network. On such

networks (including {UUCPNET} and {FidoNet}), the important

`distance’ between machines is the number of hops in the shortest

path between them, rather than their geographical separation. See

{bang path}.

hose: 1. vt. 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. n. Cabling,

especially thick Ethernet cable. This is sometimes called `bit

hose’ or `hosery’ (play on `hosiery’) or `etherhose’. See

also {washing machine}.

hosed: adj. Same as {down}. Used primarily by UNIX hackers.

Humorous: also implies a condition thought to be relatively easy to

reverse. Probably derived from the Canadian slang `hoser’

popularized by the Bob and Doug skits on SCTV. See {hose}. It is

also widely used of people in the mainstream sense of `in an

extremely unfortunate situation’.

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 corrected, 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.” 3. In a parallel computer with shared memory,

the one location that all ten thousand processors are trying to

read or write at once.

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.

Another such alternate spelling and pronunciation is “H-PUX”

/aych-puhks/. Hackers at HP/Apollo (the former Apollo Computer

that was swallowed by HP in 1989) have been heard to complain that

Mr. Packard should have pushed to have his name first, if for no

other reason than the resulting more accurate form for this

acronym. Compare {buglix}. See also {Telerat},

{sun-stools}, {terminak}.

huff: v. To compress data using a Huffman code. Various programs

that use such methods have been called `HUFF’ or some variant

thereof. Oppose {puff}. Compare {crunch}, {compress}.

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 Minnesota during the

1970s and early ’80s, but was later sighted on early UNIX systems.

humungous: /hyoo-muhng’g@s/ alt. `humongous’ (hyoo-mohng’g@s) See

{hungus}. This is used in a similar sense in mainstream slang.

Some hackers believe it originated at the MIT AI lab in the

Sixties and spread outward from there; alternatively, it may be an

early import from surfer slang.

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 specifications (see {write-only memory}), standards documents,

language descriptions (see {INTERCAL}), and even entire scientific

theories (see {quantum bogodynamics}, {computron}).

3) Jokes that 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},

{Discordianism}, {zen}, {ha ha only serious}, {AI koans}.

See also {filk}; {retrocomputing}; and Appendix B. 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) throughout

{{Science-Fiction Fandom}}.

hung: [from `hung up'] adj. Equivalent to {wedged}. but more

common at UNIX/C sites. Not generally used of people. Syn. with

{locked up}, {wedged}; compare {hosed}. See also {hang}.

A hung state is distinguished from `crashed’ or {down}, where the

program or system is also unusable but because it is not running

rather than because it is waiting for something. However, the

recovery from both situations is often the same.

hungry puppy: n. Syn. {slopsucker}.

hungus: /huhng’g@s/ [perhaps related to current slang `humungous’;

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.” (compare {jump off into never-never land}.

This usage is from the SF notion of a spaceship jumping `into

hyperspace’, that is, taking a shortcut through higher-dimensional

space — in other words, leaving this universe.

= I =

=====

I didn’t change anything!: interj. A plaintive cry often heard as

bugs manifest during a regression test. The {canonical} reply to

this assertion is “Then it works just the same as it did before,

right?” See also {one-line fix}. This is also heard from

applications programmers trying to blame an obvious applications

problem on an unrelated systems software change, for example a

divide-by-zero fault after terminals were added to a network.

Usually, their statement is found to be false; upon close

questioning, they will admit some major restructuring of the

program that shouldn’t have broken anything, in their opinion,

but actually hosed the code completely.

i14y: n. Written-only abbrev. for `interoperability’, which is an

`i’ followed by 14 letters followed by `y’. Used in the {X}

community.

i18n: n. Written-only abbrev. for `internationalization’, which is

an `i’ followed by 18 letters followed by `n’. Used in the {X}

community.

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 two

rampantly unofficial jargon lists circulated among IBM’s own

beleaguered hacker underground.

IBM discount: n. A price increase. Outside IBM, this derives from

the common perception that IBM products are generally hideously

overpriced (see {clone}); inside, it is said to spring from a

belief that large numbers of IBM employees living in an area cause

prices to rise.

ice: [coined by USENETter Tom Maddox, popularized by William

Gibson’s cyberpunk SF: notionally, `Intrusion Countermeasure

Electronics’] Security software (in Gibson’s novels, 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

mid-1991, but many hackers find the metaphor attractive and both terms

may develop a denotative 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

{well-behaved}, compare {PC-ism}. See {mess-dos}.

IMHO: [from SF fandom via USENET] Written acronym for In My Humble

Opinion. Example: “IMHO, mixed-case C names should be avoided, as

mistyping something in the wrong case can cause hard-to-detect

errors — and they look too Pascalish anyhow.” Also seen in

variant forms such as IMNSHO (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion) and IMAO

(In My Arrogant Opinion).

in the extreme: adj. A preferred emphasizing suffix for many hackish

terms. See, for example, `obscure in the extreme’ under {obscure},

and compare {highly}.

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”.

include: vt. [USENET] 1. To duplicate a portion (or whole) of

another’s message (typically with attribution to the source) in a

reply or followup, for clarifying the context of one’s response.

2. Derived from C: #include {disclaimer.h} has appeared in {sig

block}s to refer to a notional `standard’ disclaimer file.

include war: n. Excessive multi-leveled including within a

discussion {thread}, which tends to annoy readers. In a forum

such as USENET, with high-traffic newsgroups, this can lead to

{flame}s and the urge to start a {kill file}.

indent style: [C programmers] n. The rules one uses to lay out code

in a readable fashion; a subject of {holy wars}. There are four

major C indent styles, as described below; all have the aim of

making it easier for the reader to visually track the scope of

control constructs. The significant variable is the placement of

{ and } with respect to the statement(s) they enclose and the

guard or controlling statement (if, else, for while, or do) on the

block, if any.

`K&R style’ — Named after Kernighan & Ritchie, because the

examples in {K&R} are formatted this way. Also called `kernel

style’ because the UNIX kernel is written in it, and the `One True

Brace Style’, abbr. 1TBS, by its partisans. The basic indent shown

here is 8 spaces (or 1 tab) per level; 4 or 2 is occasionally seen,

but is much less common.

if (cond) {

}

`Allman style’ — Named for Eric Allman, a Berkeley hacker who

wrote a lot of the BSD utilities in it (it is sometimes called

`BSD style’). Resembles normal indent style in Pascal and

Algol. Basic indent per level shown here is 8 spaces, but 4 is

just as common (esp. in C++ code).

if (cond)

{

}

`Whitesmiths style’ — popularized by the examples that came

with Whitesmiths C, an early commercial C compiler. Basic indent

per level shown here is 8 spaces, but 4 is occasionally seen.

if (cond)

{

}

`GNU style’ — Used throughout GNU EMACS and the Free Software

Foundation code, and just about nowhere else. Indents are always 4

spaces per level, with { and } “centered” between levels.

if (cond)

{

}

What style one uses is very much a matter of personal choice, but

one should be consistent within any one software package.

Statistically, surveys have shown the Allman and Whitesmiths styles

to be the most common, with about equal `mind share’. K&R used to

be nearly universal, but is now much less common (the opening brace

tends to get lost against the right paren of the guard part in an

if or while, which is a Bad Thing).

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’). See {bathtub curve}.

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.” The word most likely to

follow `infinite’, though, is {hair}. These uses are abuses of

the word’s mathematical meaning. The term “semi-infinite”

denoting an immoderately large amount of some resource is also

heard. “This compiler is taking a semi-infinite amount of time to

optimize my program”. See also {semi-}.

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.

insanely great: adj. [Mac community, from Steve Jobs; also BSD UNIX

people via Bill Joy] Something so incredibly {elegant} that it is

imaginable only to someone possessing the greatest of

{hacker}-natures.

INTERCAL: /in’t@r-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 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 have 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 {trivial}.

Internet address:: n. An absolute network address of the form

foo@bar.baz, where foo is a user name, bar is a {sitename}, and

baz is a `domain’ name, possibly including periods itself.

Contrasts with {bang path}; 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 path}, {domainist}.

Reading Internet addresses is something of an art. Here are the

four most important top-level functional Internet domains followed

by a selection of geographical domains:

com

Commercial organizations.

edu

Educational institutions.

gov

U.S. government civilian sites.

mil

U.S. military sites.

Note that most of the sites in the com and edu domains are in the

U.S. or Canada.

us

Sites in the U.S. not within one of the functional domains.

su

Sites in the Soviet Union (only one really active one so far!).

uk

Sites in the United Kingdom.

Within the `us’ domain there are subdomains for the fifty

states, generally with a name identical to the state’s postal

abbreviation. Within the UK domain there is an `ac’ subdomain for

academic sites and a `co’ domain for commercial ones. Other

top-level domains can be divided up in similar ways.

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}.

interrupt list, the: [MSDOS] n. The list of all known software

interrupt calls (both documented and undocumented) for IBM PCs and

compatibles maintained and made available for free redistribution

by Ralf Brown (ralf@cs.cmu.edu). As of early 1991, it had grown to

approximately 1 megabyte in length.

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.” The synonym `interrupts disabled’ is

also common. Variations of this abound; “to have one’s interrupt

mask bit set” is also heard. See also {spl}.

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 Age: n. In the history of computing, 1961-1971 — the formative

era of commercial {mainframe} technology, when {big iron}

{dinosaurs} ruled the earth (the hackish metaphors for the era

aren’t exactly paleontologically correct). These began with the

delivery of the first PDP-1, coincided with the dominance of

ferrite {core}, and ended with the introduction of the first

commercial microprocessor (the Intel 4004) in 1971. See also

{Stone Age}.

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 door}, {firewall machine}, {Venus flytrap}, and

Clifford Stoll’s account in `Cuckoo’s Egg’ of how he made and

used one (see Appendix C).

ironmonger: [IBM] n. A hardware specialist. Derogatory. Compare

{sandbender}, {polygon pusher}.

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 maintaining 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 A.

IWBNI: [acronym] It Would Be Nice If. No pronunciation, as this is

never spoken, only written. Compare {WIBNI}.

IYFEG: [USENET] Abbreviation for `Insert Your Favorite Ethnic

Group’. Used as a meta-name when telling racist jokes in email to

avoid offending anyone. See {JEDR}.

= J =

=====

J. Random: /jay rand’m/ n. [generalized from {J. Random Hacker}]

Arbitrary; ordinary; any one; `any old’. “Would you let J.

Random Loser marry your daughter?”. {J. Random} is often

prefixed to a noun to make a name out of it. 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.

J. Random Hacker: [MIT] /jay rand’m hak’r/ n. A mythical figure

like the Unknown Soldier; the archetypal hacker nerd. See

{random}, {Suzie COBOL}. This may originally have been

inspired or influenced by `J. Fred Muggs’, a show-biz chimpanzee

whose name was a household word back in the early days of the MIT

Model Railroad Club.

jaggies: /jag’eez/ n. The `stairstep’ effect observable when an

edge (esp. a linear edge of shallow or steep slope) is rendered on

a pixel device (as opposed to a vector display).

JCL: 1. IBM’s ultimately {rude} `Job Control

Language’. JCL is the script language used to control the

execution of programs in IBM’s batch systems. JCL has a very

{fascist} syntax, and some versions will, for example, {barf}

if two spaces appear where it expects one. Most programmers

confronted with JCL simply copy a working file (or card

deck), changing the file names. Someone who actually understands

and generates unique JCL is regarded with the mixed respect which

one gives to someone who memorizes the phone book. 2. Any very

{rude} software that a hacker is expected to use. “That’s as

bad as JCL.” Often used without having experienced it, as is

{COBOL}. See also {IBM}, {fear and loathing}.

JEDR: n. Synonymous with {IFYEG}. The rec.humor.funny newsgroup

on USENET tends to use JEDR (Joke Ethnic/Denomination/Race) instead

of ; this stems from a nearly successful attempt to kill the

group once made by a loser with the initials JEDR after he was

offended by an ethnic joke posted there.

JFCL: /jif’kl/ or /jaf’kl/ vt., obs. (alt. `jfcl’) 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 co-authors, once

had JFCL on the license plate of his BMW. Usage: rare except among

old-time PDP-10 hackers.

jiffy: n. 1. The duration 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 Canada, 1/50 most other places) but more recently 1/100

sec has become common. “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. 2.

Confusingly, the term is sometimes also used for a 1-millisecond

{wall time} interval. 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. See also {Real Soon Now}.

job security: n. When some piece of code is written in a

particularly {obscure} fashion, and no good reason (such as time

or space optimization) can be discovered, it is often said that the

programmer was attempting to increase his job security (i.e. by

making himself indispensable for maintenance). This sour joke

seldom has to be said in full; if two hackers are looking over some

code together and one points at a section and says `job security’

the other one will generally just nod.

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 commemorate a notoriously bad

coder named Joe at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory] n. Badly written,

possibly buggy source 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”. “{Perl} may be a handy program, but if you

look at the source, it’s complete joe code.”

JR[LN]: /jay ahr en/, /jay ahr el/ n. The names JRN and JRL were

sometimes used as example names when discussing a kind of user ID

used under {TOPS-10}; they were understood to be the initials of

(fictitious) programmers named `J. Random Nerd’ and `J. Random

Loser’ (see {J. Random}). For example, if one said “To log in,

type log one comma jay are en” (that is, “log#1,JRN”), the

listener would have understood that he should use his own computer

id in place of `JRN’.

jump off into never never land: v. Same as {branch to Fishkill},

but more common in technical cultures associated with non-IBM

computers which use the term `jump’ rather than `branch’. Compare

{hyperspace}.

= K =

=====

K: [from {kilo-}] /kay/ n. A kilobyte. This is used both as a

spoken word and a written suffix (like {meg} and {gig} for

megabyte and gigabyte). The formal SI metric prefix for 1000 is

`k’; some people use this strictly, reserving `K’ for

multiplication by 1024. See also {kilo-}.

K&R: [Kernighan and Ritchie] n. Brian Kernighan & Dennis Ritchie’s

`The C Programming Language’, esp. the classic and influential

first edition (Prentice-Hall 1978, ISBN 0-113-110163-3). Syn.

{White Book}, {Old Testament}. See also {New Testament}.

kahuna: /k@-hoo’nuh/ [IBM, from the Hawaiian title for a shaman] n.

Synonym for {wizard}, {guru}.

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. (alt. `KILL file’) Per-user file(s) used

by some {USENET} reading programs (originally Larry Wall’s

`rn(1)’) 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 one’s 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 box}es like the IBM PC and Commodore PET that can overload

and trash analog electronics in the monitor. See also {HCF}.

kilo-: [from metric measure] prefix. 1.`kilo-’ usually denotes

multiplication by 1024 especially when used with bytes, and also

with anything else perceived to naturally come in powers of 2.

With things that come in powers of 10, such as money, it retains

its usual meaning of multiplication of 1000.

Similarly the higher metric prefixes denote multiplication by

powers of 1024 = 2 ^ 10 rather than of 1000: mega- for 1024 ^ 2 =

1,048,576, {giga-} for 1024 ^ 3 = 1,073,741,824, tera- meaning

1024 ^ 4 = 1,099,511,627,776, {peta-} meaning 1024 ^ 5 =

1,125,899,906,842,624, and {exa-} for 1024 ^ 6 =

1,152,921,504,606,846,976.

Confusion of 1000 and 1024, for example describing memory in units

of 500K or 524K (see K) instead of 512K, is a sure sign of the

{marketroid}.

KIPS: [acronym, by analogy with {MIPS} using {K}] n. Thousands of

Instructions Per Second. Usage: rare.

KISS Principle: n. “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. A maxim often

invoked when discussing design to fend off {creeping featurism}

and control development complexity. Possibly related to the

{marketroid} maxim on sales presentations, “Keep It Short and

Simple”.

kit: [USENET] n. A source software distribution which has been

packaged in such a way that it can (theoretically) be unpacked and

installed according to a series of steps using only standard UNIX

tools, and entirely documented by some reasonable chain of

references from the top-level {README file}. The more general

term {distribution} may imply that special tools or more

stringent conditions on the host environment are required.

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. A plurality of

hackers pronounce this word /klooj/ but spell it incorrectly as

`kludge’. Some observers consider this appropriate in view of its

meaning.). 1. n. A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device in

hardware or software. (A long-ago Datamation article by Jackson

Granholme 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. n. Something

that works for the wrong reason. 4. vt. 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.” 5. [WPI] A feature which is

implemented in a {rude} manner.

kluge around: vt. To avoid a bug or difficult condition by

inserting a {kluge}. Compare {workaround}.

kluge up: vt. To lash together a quick hack to perform a task; this

is milder than {cruft together} and has some of the connotations

of {hack up} (note however that the construction `kluge on’

corresponding to {hack on} is never used). “I’ve kluged up this

routine to dump the buffer contents to a safe place.”

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

are….

Knuth: [Donald Knuth's `The Art of Computer Programming'] n. The

reference that answers all questions about data structures or

algorithms. A safe answer when you do not know, as in “I think

you can find that in Knuth.” Contrast {literature, the}. See

also {bible}.

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.

In fact, it was only 6 years later that the first genuine site in

Moscow, demos.su, joined USENET. Some readers needed convincing

that it wasn’t another prank. Vadim Antonov (avg@hq.demos.su),

the major poster from Moscow up to at least the end of 1990, was

quite aware of all this, referred to it frequently in his own

postings, and at one point twitted some credulous readers by

blandly `admitting’ that he *was* a hoax! [Mr. Antonov also

contributed the Russian-language material for this File — ESR]

= L =

=====

lace card: n. obs. A {{punched 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. Card punches

could also jam trying to produce these things due to power-supply

problems. When some practical joker fed a lace card through

the reader you needed to clear the jam with a `card knife’ — which

you used 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.

A language lawyer is distinguished by the ability to show you the

five sentences scattered throughout a 200-plus page manual which

together imply the answer to your question “if only you had

thought to look there”. Compare {wizard}, {legal},

{legalese}.

languages of choice: n. {C} and {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.

There is also a rapidly dwindling category of older hackers with

FORTRAN, or even assembler, as their language of choice. They

often prefer to be known as s, and other hackers

consider them a bit odd (see also `The Story of Mel, a Real

Programmer’ in Appendix A). Assembler is generally no longer

considered interesting or appropriate for anything but compiler

code generation and a few time-critical uses in systems programs;

Fortran occupies a shrinking niche in scientific programming.

Most hackers tend to frown at languages like Pascal and Ada which

don’t give them the near-total freedom considered necessary for

hacking (see {bondage-and-discipline language}) and to regard

everything that’s even remotely connected with {COBOL} or other

traditional {card walloper} languages as a total {loss}.

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. See also {wannabee}. 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.”

laser chicken: n. Kung Pao Chicken, a standard Chinese dish

containing chicken, peanuts, and hot red peppers in a spicy

pepper-oil sauce. A few hackers call it `laser chicken’ for

two reasons; it can {zap} you just like a laser, and the

sauce has a red color reminiscent of some laser beams.

In a variation on this theme, it is reported that one group of

Australian hackers have redesignated the common dish `lemon

chicken’ as `Chernobyl Chicken’. The name is derived from the

color of the dish, which is considered bright enough to glow in

the dark (much like some of the fabled inhabitants of Chernobyl).

LDB: /l@’d@b/ [from the PDP-10 instruction set] vt. To extract from

the middle. This usage has been kept alive by Common LISP’s

function of the same name. See also {DPB}.

leaf site: n. A machine which merely originates and reads USENET

news or mail, and does not relay any third-party traffic. Often

uttered in a critical tone; when the ratio of leaf sites to

backbone, rib and other relay sites gets too high, the network

tends to develop bottlenecks. Compare {backbone site}, {rib

site}.

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}.

legal: adj. Loosely used to mean `in accordance with all the

relevant rules’, esp. in connection with some set of constraints

defined by software. Thus one very frequently hears constructions

like `legal syntax’, `legal input’ etc. Hackers often model their

work as a sort of game played with the environment in which the

objective is to maneuver through the thicket of `natural laws’ to

achieve a desired objective. Their use of `legal’ is flavored as

much by this game-playing sense as by the more conventional one

having to do with courts and lawyers. Compare {language lawyer},

{legalese}.

legalese: n. Dense, pedantic verbiage in a language description,

product specification, or interface standard; text that seems

designed to obfuscate and requires a {language lawyer} to

{parse} it. While hackers are not afraid of information density

and complexity in language (indeed, they rather enjoy both), they

share a deep and abiding loathing for legalese; they associate it

with deception, {suits}, and situations in which hackers

generally get the short end of the stick.

LERP: /lerp/ vi.,n. Quasi-acronym for Linear Interpolation, used as a

verb or noun for the operation. E.g. Bresenham’s algorithm lerps

incrementally between the two endpoints of the line.

let the smoke out: v. To fry hardware (see {fried}). See

{magic smoke} for the mythology behind this.

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!}.

light pipe: n. Fiber optic cable. Oppose {copper}.

like kicking dead whales down the beach: A slow, difficult,

and disgusting 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.”

like nailing jelly to a tree: adj. Used to describe a task thought

to be impossible, esp. one in which the difficulty arises from poor

specification or inherent slipperiness in the problem domain.

line eater, the: [USENET] n. 1. A bug in some now-obsolete versions

of the netnews software used to eat up to BUFSIZ bytes of the article

text. The bug was triggered by having the text of the article

start with a space or tab. This bug was quickly personified as a

mythical creature called the `line eater’, and postings often

included a dummy line of `line eater food’. Ironically, line

eater food not preceded by whitespace wasn’t actually eaten,

since the bug was avoided; but if there {was} whitespace before

it, then the line eater would eat the food *and* the beginning of

the text which it was supposed to be protecting. 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-1991) occasionally

reported to be lurking in some mail-to-netnews gateways. 2. See

{NSA line eater}.

line starve: [MIT] 1. vi. To feed paper through a printer the wrong

way by one line (most printers 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

{newline} or other character(s) 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] 1. vt. 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}. 2. n.

Excess verbiage in a document, as in “this draft has too much

lint”.

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 noticed!”

LISP: [from `LISt Processing language’, but mythically from

`Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses’] n. The name of

AI’s mother tongue, a language based on the ideas of (a)

variable-length lists and trees as fundamental data types, and (b)

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 a plurality of hackers until

the early 1980s, LISP now shares the throne with {C}. See

{languages of choice}.

All LISP functions and programs are expressions which return

values; this, together with the high memory utilization of early

LISPs, gave rise to Alan Perlis’s famous quip that “LISP

programmers know the value of everything and the cost of nothing.”

literature, the: n. Computer science journals and other

publications used to answer a question that the hearer believes is

{trivial}, as in “It’s in the literature.” Oppose {Knuth},

which has no connotation of triviality.

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

{big-endian}, {middle-endian}, {NUXI problem}. The term is

sometimes used to describe the ordering of units other than bytes;

most frequently these are bits within a byte.

Live Free Or Die!: imp. 1. The state motto of New Hampshire, which

used to be on its car license plates. 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. The “free” referred specifically to freedom from the

{fascist} design philosophies and crufty misfeatures common on

commercial operating systems. 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}. Less common.

lobotomy: n. 1. What a hacker subjected to formal management

training is said to have undergone. At IBM and elsewhere this term

is used by both hackers and low-level management; the latter

doubtless intend it as a joke. 2. The act of removing the

processor from a microcomputer in order to replace or upgrade it.

Some very cheap {clone} systems are sold in `lobotomized’ form

— everything but the brain.

locked and loaded: [from military slang for an M-16 with magazine

inserted and prepared for firing] adj. Said of a removable disk

volume properly prepared for use — that is, locked into the drive

and with the heads loaded. Ironically, because their heads are

`loaded’ whenever the power is up, this is never used of

{{Winchester}} drives.

locked up: adj. Syn. for {hung}, {wedged}.

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 `logical’ name] adj.

Functionally equivalent to, but understood to have a referent 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 (this did not imply any judgement on the

replacement). Compare {virtual}.

At Stanford, `logical’ compass directions denote 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 Francisco 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 reinforced 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!)

loop through: vt. To process each element of a list of things.

“Hold on, I’ve got to loop through my paper mail.” Derives from

the computer-language notion of an iterative loop; compare `cdr

down’ (under {cdr}) which is less common among C and UNIX

programmers. ITS hackers used to say `IRP over’ after an

obscure pseudo-op in the MIDAS PDP-10 assembler.

lord high fixer: [primarily British, prob. from Gilbert & Sullivan’s

`lord high executioner’] n. The person in an organization who

knows the most about some aspect of a system. See {wizard}.

lose: [MIT] vi. 1. To fail. A program loses when it encounters an

exceptional condition or fails to work in the expected manner. 2.

To be exceptionally unesthetic. 3. Of people, to be obnoxious or

unusually stupid (as opposed to ignorant). See also {deserves to

lose}. 4. n. Refers to something which is {losing}, especially

in the phrases “That’s a lose!” or “What a lose!”.

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}.

losing: adj. Said of anything which is or causes a {lose}.

loss: n. Something (not a person) which loses; a situation in which

something is losing. Emphatic forms include `moby loss’, `total

loss’, `complete loss’. Common interjections are “What a loss!”

and “What a moby loss!” 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.

lost in the underflow: adj. Too small to be worth considering;

more specifically, small beyond the limits of accuracy or

measurement. This is a reference to a condition called

`floating underflow’ that can occur when a floating-point

arithmetic processor tries to handle quantities smaller than its

limit of magnitude. It is also a pun on `undertow’ (a kind of fast,

cold current that sometimes runs just outshore of a beach and can

be dangerous to swimmers). “Well, sure, photon pressure from the

stadium lights alters the path of a thrown baseball, but that

effect gets lost in the underflow.” See also {overflow bit}.

lots of MIPS but no I/O: adj. Used to describe a person who is

technically brilliant but can’t seem to communicate with human

beings effectively. Technically it describes a machine which has

lots of processing power but is bottlenecked on I/O.

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).

lunatic fringe: [IBM] n. Customers who can be relied upon to accept

release 1 versions of software.

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 used in `the lurkers’, the

hypothetical audience for the group’s {flamage}-emitting

regulars.

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. Later one of the ITS machines supported `luser’ as a

request-for-help command. ITS effectively died in early 1990,

except as a museum piece; the usage lives on, however, and the term

`luser’ is often seen in program comments.

= M =

=====

M: [from {mega-}] /em/ n. A megabyte (1,024 kilobytes, 1,048,576

bytes). Also written MB (this conflicts with use of M by

scientists, under which MB would denote 1,000,000-byte units). See

also {kilo-}, {K}.

macdink: /mak’dink/ [from the Apple Macintosh, which is said to

encourage such behavior] vt. 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.” See also {fritterware}.

machoflops: /mach’oh-flops/ [pun on `megaflops’, a coinage for

`millions of floating-point operations per second’] n. Refers to

artificially inflated performance figures often quoted by computer

manufacturers. Real applications are lucky to get half the quoted

speed. See {Your mileage may vary.}, {benchmark}.

Macintrash: /mak’in-trash`/ n. 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},

{drool-proof paper}, {user-friendly}.

macro: /mak’roh/ 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 1970s

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 [nt]roff 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).

macro-: pref. Large. Opposite of {micro-}. In the mainstream

and among other technical cultures (for example, medical people)

this competes with the prefix {mega-}, but hackers tend to

restrict the latter to quantification.

macrology: /mak-ro’l@-jee/ n. 1. Set of usually complex or crufty

macros, e.g. as part of a large system written in {LISP},

{TECO}, or (less commonly) assembler. 2. The art and science

involved in comprehending a macrology in sense #1. Sometimes

studying the macrology of a system is not unlike archeology,

ecology and {theology}, hence the sound-alike construction.

macrotape: /ma’kroh-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 (Arthur C.) 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 that 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 operation; a

capability ticket or opaque identifier. Especially used of small

data objects which contain data encoded in a strange or

intrinsically machine-dependent way. For example, on non-UNIX OSes

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. The phrase “It hands you a magic cookie” means

it returns a result whose contents are not defined but which can be

passes back to the same program later to refer back to this

transaction. 2. An in-band code for changing graphic rendition

(e.g. inverse video or underlining) or performing other control

functions. Some older terminals would leave a blank on the screen

corresponding to mode-change magic cookies; this was also called a

{glitch}. See also {cookie}.

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. Only a {wizard} knows the magic to create magic

numbers. How do you create a magic number that nobody else is

using? Simple — you pick one at random. See? It’s magic! 2.

In source code, some non-obvious constant whose value is

significant to the operation of a program and which is inserted

inconspicuously in line ({hardcoded}), 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

{smoke test}, {let the smoke out}.

USENETter Jay Maynard tells the following story: “Once, while

hacking on a dedicated Z-80 system, I was testing code by blowing

EPROMs and plugging them in the system, then seeing what happened.

One time, I plugged one in backwards. I only discovered that

*after* I realized that Intel didn’t put power-on lights under

the quartz windows on the tops of their EPROMs — the die was

glowing white-hot. Amazingly, the EPROM worked fine after I erased

it, filled it full of zeros, then erased it again. For all I know,

it’s still in service. Of course, this is because the magic smoke

didn’t get let out.”

mailing list: n. (often shortened to `list’) 1. An {email}

address that is an alias (or {macro}, though that word is never

used in this connection) for many other email addresses. 2. The

people who receive your email when you send it to such an address.

Mailing lists are one of the primary forms of hacker interaction,

along with {USENET}. They predate USENET, and originated with the

first UUCP and ARPANET connections. They are often used for

private information-sharing on topics that would be too specialized

for or inappropriate in public USENET groups. While some of these

maintain purely technical content (such as the Internet Engineering

Task Force mailing list), others (like the `sf-lovers’ list

maintained for many years by Saul Jaffe) are recreational, and

others are purely social. Perhaps the most infamous of the social

lists was the eccentric `bandykin’ distribution; its latter-day

progeny, `lectroids’ and `tanstaafl’, still include a number of the

oddest and most interesting people in hackerdom.

Mailing lists are easy to create and (unlike USENET) don’t tie up a

significant amount of machine resources. Thus, they are often

created temporarily by working groups who can then collaborate on a

project without ever needing to meet face-to-face. Much of the

material in this book was criticized and polished on just such a

mailing list (called `jargon-friends’) which included all the

co-authors of the original `The Hacker’s Dictionary’.

main loop: n. Software tools are often written to perform some

action repeatedly on whatever input is handed to them, terminating

when there is no more input or they are explicitly told to go away.

In such programs, the loop that gets and processes input is called

the `main loop’. See also {driver}.

mainframe: n. This term originally referred to the central

processor unit cabinet or `main frame’ of a room-filling {Stone

Age} batch machine. After the emergence of smaller `minicomputer’

designs in the early Seventies, the traditional {big iron}

machines were described as `mainframe computers’ and eventually

just as mainframes. The term carries the implication of a machine

designed for batch rather than interactive use, though possibly

with an interactive timesharing operating system retrofitted onto

it; it is especially used of machines built by IBM, Sperry Univac,

Unisys and the other great megatheria surviving from computing’s

Pleistocene.

Outside the tiny market for specialized number-crunching

supercomputers (see {cray}), it is common wisdom among hackers

that the mainframe architectural tradition is essentially dead now,

swamped by the huge advances in IC technology and `personal’

lower-cost computing. As of 1991, corporate America hasn’t quite

figured this out yet, though the wave of failures, takeovers, and

mergers among traditional mainframe makers are certainly straws in

the wind. See also {dinosaur}.

management: n. 1. Corporate power elites distinguished primarily by

their distance from actual productive work and their chronic

failure to manage (see also {suit}). Spoken derisively, as in

“*Management* decided that…”. 2. Mythically, a vast

bureaucracy responsible for all the world’s minor irritations.

Hackers’ satirical public notices are often signed “The Mgmt”.

manged: /mahnjed/ [probably from the French manger, to eat; perh.

influenced by English n. `mange’, adj. `mangy’]. Refers to

anything that is mangled or damaged, usually beyond repair. “The

disk was manged after the electrical storm.” Compare {mung}.

mangle: vt. Used similarly to {mung} or {scribble}, but more violent

in its connotations; something that is mangled has been

irreversibly and totally trashed.

mangler: [DEC] n. A manager. Compare {mango}; see also

{management}. Note that {system mangler} is somwehat different

in connotation.

mango: /mang’go/ [orig. in-house slang at Symbolics] n. A manager.

Compare {mangler}. 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.”

marginally: adv. Slightly. “The ravs here are only marginally

better than at Small Eating Place.” See {epsilon}.

Marginal Hacks: n. Margaret Jacks Hall, a building into which the

Stanford AI Lab was moved near the beginning of the ’80s.

marketroid: /mar’k@-troyd/ alt. `marketing slime’, `marketing

droid’, `marketeer’ n. Member of a company’s marketing department,

esp. one who promises users that the next version of a product

will have features that 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.

martian: n. A packet sent on a TCP/IP network with a source address

of the test loopback interface (127.0.0.1). As in “The domain

server is getting lots of packets from Mars. Does that gateway

have a martian filter?”

massage: vt. Vague term used to describe `smooth’ transformations of

a data set into a more useful form, esp. transformations that do

not lose information. Connotes less pain than {munch} or {crunch}.

“He wrote a program that massages X bitmap files into GIF

format.” Compare {slurp}.

math-out: [poss. from `white-out' (the blizzard variety)] n. A

paper or presentation so encrusted with mathematical or other

formal notation as to be incomprehensible. This may be a device

for concealing the fact that it is actually {content-free}. See

also {numbers}, {social science number}.

Matrix: [FidoNet] n. 1. What the Opus BBS software and sysops call

{FidoNet}. 2. Fanciful term for a {cyberspace} expected to

emerge from current networking experiments (see {network, the}).

Some people refer to the totality of present networks this way.

Mbogo, Dr. Fred: [Stanford] n. The archetypal man you don’t want to

see about a problem, esp. an incompetent professional; a shyster.

Usage: “Do you know a good eye doctor?” “Sure, try Mbogo Eye

Care and Professional Dry Cleaning.” The name comes from synergy

between {bogus} and the original Dr. Mbogo, a witch doctor who

was Gomez Addams’ physician on the old `Addams Family’ TV show.

meatware: n. Synonym for {wetware}. Less common.

meg: /meg/ n. A megabyte; 1024K. See {M} and {K}.

mega-: /me’g@/ pref. Multiplier, 10 ^ 6 or 2 ^ 20. See {M},

{kilo-}.

megapenny: /meg’@-pen’ee/ n. $10,000 (1 cent * 10 ^ 6). Used

semi-humorously as a unit in comparing computer cost/performance

figures.

MEGO: /me’goh/ or /mee’goh/ [My Eyes Glaze Over, often Mine Eyes

Glazeth (sic) Over, attributed to the futurologist Herman Kahn]

Also `MEGO factor’. 1. n. 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 {TLA}s. 2. excl. An appropriate response to

MEGO tactics.

meltdown, network: n. A state of complete network overload; the

network equivalent of {thrash}ing. 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 phrase `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.

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 millennarian Christianity have exhibited plague-like cycles

of exponential growth followed by collapse to small reservoir

populations.

memetics: /m@-met’iks/ [from {meme}] The study of memes. As of mid-1991,

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.

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)

called {core leak}. See {aliasing bug}, {fandango on core}, {smash

the stack}, {precedence lossage}, {overrun screw}, {leaky heap}.

menuitis: /men`yoo-ie’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}, {WIMP environment}.

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-dross’ and various combinations thereof. In Great

Britain it is even sometimes called `Domestos’ after a brand of

toilet cleanser.

meta: /me’t@/ or /may’t@/ or (Commonwealth) /mee’t@/ [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: 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}.

mickey: n. The resolution unit of mouse movement. In {OS/2}

there is a system call `MouGetNumMickeys()’. It has been

suggested that the `disney’ will become a benchmark unit for

animation graphics performance.

micro-: pref. 1. Very small; this is the root of its use, as a

quantifier prefix meaning `multiply by `10 ^ -6”. Neither of

these uses is peculiar to hackers, but hackers tend to fling them

both around rather more freely than is countenanced in standard

English. It is recorded, for example, that one CS professor used

to characterize the standard length of his lectures as a

microcentury — that is, about 52.6 minutes (Tom Duff at Bell Labs

has also pointed out that “Pi seconds is a nanocentury”).

Multiple uses of the microfortnight and millifortnight (about 1.2

sec and 20 minutes) have also been reported (see also

{attoparsec}, {nanoacre}). 2. Personal or human-scale — that

is, capable of being maintained or comprehended or manipulated by

one human being. This sense is generalized from

`microcomputer’, and esp. used in contrast with `macro-’

(Greek prefix meaning large). 3. Local as opposed to global

({macro-}). Thus a hacker might say, for example, that buying a

smaller car to reduce pollution only solves a microproblem; the

macroproblem of getting to work might be better solved by using

transit, moving to within walking distance, or telecommuting.

microfloppies: n. 3-1/2 inch floppies, as opposed to 5-1/4

{vanilla} or mini-floppies and the now-obsolete 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. See {stiffy}, {minifloppies}.

microLenat: n. See {bogosity}.

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 deep. Unlike normal drivers for

standard magnetic tapes, microtape drivers 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 the word `DECtape’, which of

course sounded sexier to the {marketroid} types.

middle-endian: adj. Not {big-endian} or {little-endian}. Used of

byte orders like 3-4-1-2 occasionally found in the packed-decimal

formats of minicomputer manufacturers who shall remain nameless.

millilampson: /mil’i-lamp`sn/ n. A unit of talking speed. Most

people run about 200 millilampsons. Butler Lampson (a CS theorist

and systems implementor highly regarded among hackers) goes at

1000. A few people speak faster.

minifloppies: n. 5-1/4 inch {vanilla} floppy disks, as opposed to

3-1/2 or mini-floppies and the now-obsolescent 8-inch variety. At

one time, this term was a trademark of Shugart Associates for their

SA-400 minifloppy drive. Nobody paid any attention. See

{stiffy}, {microfloppies}.

MIPS: /mips/ [acronym] n. 1. A measure of computing speed;

formally, `Million 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} claims, said attitude being one of the great cultural

divides between hackers and {marketroid}s. 2. The corporate name

of a particular RISC-chip company; among other things, they

designed the processor chips used in DEC’s 3100 workstation series.

misbug: /mis-buhg/ [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 a {feature}. Usage: rare. Compare

{green lightning}.

misfeature: /mis-fee’chr/ or /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.”

Missed’em-five: n. Pejorative hackerism for AT&T System V UNIX,

generally used by {BSD} partisans in a bigoted mood (the term

`SysVile’ is also encountered). See {software bloat},

{Berzerkeley}.

miswart: /mis-wort/ [from {wart} by analogy with {misbug}] n.

A {feature} which appears to be a {wart} but has been

determined to be the {Right Thing}. 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 cursor are exchanged.

While this behavior is perhaps surprising, and certainly

inconsistent, it has been found through extensive experimentation

to be what most users want. This feature is a miswart.

moby: /moh’bee/ [MIT; 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 below). For a 680[1234]0 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

{bignum} (sense #2): double sixes are both bignums and moby

sixes, but moby ones are not bignums (the use of `moby’ to

describe double ones is sarcastic). `Moby foo’, `moby

win’, `moby loss’: standard emphatic forms. `Foby moo’: a

spoonerism due to Greenblatt.

This term entered hackerdom with the Fabritek 256K moby memory of

the MIT-AI machine. Thus, a moby is classically, 256K 36-bit words,

the size of a PDP-10 moby (it had two). 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 implied that the computer could

timeshare six `full-sized’ programs without having to swap

programs between memory and disk.

Nowadays the low cost of processor logic means that 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. Also, more modern memory-management techniques make

the `moby count’ less significant. However, there is one series of

popular chips for which the term could stand to be revived — the

Intel 8088 and 80286 with their incredibly brain-damaged

segmented-memory design. On these, a `moby’ would be the

1-megabyte address span of a paragraph-plus-offset pair (by

coincidence, a PDP-10 moby was exactly 1 megabyte of 9-bit bytes).

mod: vt.,n. 1. Short for `modify’ or `modification’. Very

commonly used — in fact these latter terms are considered markers

that one is being formal. The plural `mods’ is used esp. with

reference to bug fixes or minor design changes in hardware or

software, most esp. with respect to patch sets or a {diff}.

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 mode}, {day mode}, {night mode}, {demo mode},

{fireworks mode}, and {yoyo mode}; also {talk mode}.

One also often hears the verbs `enable’ and `disable’ used in

connection with slang modes. Thus, for example, a sillier way of

saying “I’m going to crash” is “I’m going to enable crash mode

now.” One might also hear a request to “disable flame mode,

please”.

mode bit: n. A {flag}, usually in hardware, that selects between

two (usually quite different) modes of operation. The connotations

are different from {flag} bit in that mode bits are mainly

written during a boot or set-up phase, are seldom read, and seldom

change over the lifetime of an ordinary program. The classic

example was the EBCDIC-vs.-ASCII bit 12 of the Program Status

Word of the IBM 360. Another was the bit on a PDP-12 that

controlled whether it ran the PDP-8 or LINC instruction set.

modulo: /mod’y@-low/ prep. Except for. From mathematical

terminology: one can consider saying that 4 = 22 except for the

9s (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.”

molly-guard: [University of Illinois] n. A shield to prevent

tripping of some {Big Red Switch} by clumsy or ignorant hands.

Originally used of some plexiglass covers improvised for the BRS on

an IBM 4341 after a programmer’s toddler daughter (named Molly)

frobbed it twice in one day. Later generalized to covers over

stop/reset switches on disk drives and networking equipment.

Mongolian Hordes technique: n. Development by {gang bang};

compare the Sixties counterculture expression `Mongolian

clusterfuck’ for a public orgy. Implies that large numbers of

inexperienced programmers are being put on a job better performed

by a few skilled ones. Also called `Chinese Army technique’.

monkey up: vt. 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 jargonification). See also {baroque}.

Moof: /moof/ [MAC users] n. The Moof or `dogcow’ is a

semi-legendary creature that lurks in the depths of the Macintosh

Technical Notes hypercard stack V3.1; specifically, the full story

of the dogcow is told in technical note #31 (the particular Moof

illustrated is properly named `Clarus’). Option-shift-click will

cause it to emit a characteristic `Moof!’ or `!fooM’ sound.

*Getting* to tech note #31 is the hard part; to discover how

to do that, one must needs examine the stack script with a hackerly

eye. Clue: {rot13} is involved. A dogcow also appears if you

choose `Page Setup…’ with a LaserWriter selected and click on the

`Options’ button.

Moore’s Law: /morz law/ prov. 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.

moria: /mor’ee-@/ n. Like {nethack} and {rogue}, one of the

large PD Dungeons-and-Dragons-like simulation games, available for

a wide range of machines and operating systems. Extremely

addictive and a major consumer of time better used for hacking.

MOTAS: /moh-tahs/ [USENET, Member Of The Appropriate Sex] n. A

potential or (less often) actual sex partner. See {MOTOS},

{MOTSS}, {SO}.

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}, {SO}. Less common than {MOTSS} or

{MOTAS}, which has largely displaced it.

MOTSS: /motss/ or /em-oh-tee-ess-ess/ [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 male or lesbian. The

gay-issues newsgroup on USENET is called `soc.motss’. See {MOTOS}

and {MOTAS}, which derive from it. Also see {SO}.

mouse ahead: vi. 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: vi. To explore public portions of a large system, esp.

a network such as Internet via {FTP} or {TELNET}, looking for

interesting stuff to {snarf}.

mouse elbow: n. A tennis-elbow-like fatigue syndrome resulting from

excessive use of a {WIMP environment}. Similarly, `mouse

shoulder’; GLS reports that he used to get this a lot before he

taught himself to be ambimousterous.

mouso: /mow’soh/ 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-dos/ [MicroSoft Disk Operating System] n. A

{clone} of {CP/M} for the 8088 crufted together in six weeks by

hacker Tim Paterson, who is said to have regretted it ever since.

Numerous features including vaguely UNIX-like but rather broken

support for subdirectories, I/O redirection, and pipelines were

hacked into 2.0 and subsequent versions; as a result, there are two

incompatible versions of many system calls, and MS-DOS programmers

can never agree on basic things like what to use as an option

switch or whether to be case-sensitive. The resulting mess is now

the highest-unit-volume OS in history. Often known simply as DOS,

which annoys people familiar with other similarly abbreviated

operating systems (the name goes back to the mid-1960s, when it was

attached to IBM’s first disk operating system for the 360). Some

people like to pronounce DOS as “dose”, as in “I don’t work on

dose, man!”, or to compare it with a dose of brain-damaging drugs.

See {mess-dos}, {ill-behaved}.

MUD: [abbr: Multi User Dungeon] 1. A class of {virtual reality}

experiments accessible via {Internet}. These are real-time chat

forums with structure; they have multiple `locations’ like an

adventure game and may include combat, traps, puzzles, magic, a

simple economic system, and the capability for characters to build

more structure onto the database that represents the existing

world. 2. vi. To play a MUD (see {hack-and-slay}). The acronym MUD

is often lower-cased and/or verbed; thus, one may speak of `going

mudding’, etc.

Historically, MUDs (and their more recent progeny with names of MU-

form) derive from an AI experiment by Richard Bartle and Roy

Trubshaw on the University of Essex’s DEC-10 in the early 1980s, and

descendants of that game still exist today (see {BartleMUD}). The

title `MUD’ is still copyright to the commercial MUD run by Bartle

on British Telecom (their motto: “You haven’t *lived* ’til

you’ve *died* on MUD”); however, this did not stop students on

the European academic networks from copying/improving on the MUD

concept, from which sprung several new MUDs (VAXMUD, AberMUD,

LPMUD). Many of these had associated bulletin-board systems for

social interaction. Because USENET feeds have been spotty and

difficult to get in Great Britain and the British JANET

network doesn’t support {FTP} or {telnet}, the MUDs became

major foci of hackish social interaction there.

LPMUD and other variants crossed the Atlantic around 1988 and

quickly gained popularity in the US; they became nuclei for large

hacker communities with only loose ties to traditional hackerdom

(some observers see parallels with the growth of USENET in the

early 1980s).

More recent MUDs (such as TinyMud), esp. in the US, have tended to

emphasize social interaction, puzzles, and cooperative

world-building as opposed to combat and competition. Whether this

represents a genuine long-term trend is hard to say; the state of

the art in MUD design is still moving very rapidly, with new

simulation designs appearing (seemingly) every month. There is now

(early 1991) a move afoot to deprecate the term {MUD} itself, as

newer designs exhibit an exploding variety of names corresponding

to the different simulation styles being explored. See also

{BartleMUD}, {berserking}, {bonk/oif}, {brand brand brand},

{FOD}, {hack-and-slay}, {mudhead}, {posing}, {talk mode},

{tinycrud}.

mudhead: n. Commonly used to refer to a {MUD} player who sleeps,

breathes, and eats MUD. Mudheads have frequently been known to

fail their degrees, drop out, etc., with the consolation, however,

that they made wizard level. When encountered in person, all a

mudhead will talk about is two topics: the tactic, character, or

wizard that in his view is always unfairly stopping him/her

becoming wizard or beating a favorite MUD, and the MUD he is

writing/going to write because all existing MUDs are so dreadful!

See also {wannabee}.

multician: /muhl-ti’shn/ [coined at Honeywell, c.1970] n.

Competent user of {Multics}.

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 was {CTSS}). Honeywell commercialized Multics after

buying out GE’s computer group, but it was never very successful

(among other things, on some versions one was commonly 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}. For this and other

reasons, aspects of the Multics design remain a topic of occasional

debate among hackers. See also {brain-damaged}.

multitask: n. Often used of humans in the same meaning it has for

computers, to describe a person doing several things at once (but

see {thrash}). The term `multiplex’ from communications

technology (meaning to handle more than one channel at the same

time) is used similarly.

mumblage: /muhm’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

obscenities.

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’ (see

{frotz}; interestingly, one does not say `mumble frobnitz’ even

though frotz is short for `frobnitz’). 3. Yet another metasyntactic

variable, like {foo}.

munch: [often confused with `mung', q.v.] vt. 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

(c.1962, allegedly invented by one Jackson Wright), which employs a

trivial computation (repeatedly plotting the graph Y = X XOR T for

successive values of T — see {HAKMEM} items 146-148) to produce

an impressive display of moving and growing squares that devour the

screen. The initial value of T is treated as a parameter which

when well-chosen can produce amazing effects. Some of these, later

(re)discovered on the LISP machine, have been christened

`munching triangles’ (try AND for XOR and toggling points

instead of plotting them), `munching w’s’, and `munching

mazes’. More 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/ [from the squeaky-voiced little people in L.

Frank Baum’s `The Wizard of Oz’] 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 {wannabee}, {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…”. This term is not necessarily as pejorative

as it sounds.

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] vt. 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 is 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!)

Murphy’s Law: n. The correct, *original* Murphy’s Law reads:

“If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those

ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.” This

a principle of defensive design, cited here because it’s usually

given in mutant forms which are less descriptive of the travails of

design for lusers. For example, you don’t make a two-pin plug

symmetrical and then label it THIS WAY UP; if it matters which way

it’s plugged in, then you make the design asymmetrical.

Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was one of the engineers on the rocket-sled

experiments that were done by the U.S. Air Force in 1949 to test

human acceleration tolerances. One experiment involved a set of 16

accelerometers mounted to different parts of the subject’s body.

There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its mount, and

somebody methodically installed all 16 the wrong way around.

Murphy then made the original form of his pronouncement, which the

test subject (Major John Paul Stapp) quoted at a news conference a

few days later.

Within months `Murphy’s Law’ had spread to various technical

cultures connected to aerospace engineering. Before too many years

had passed, variants had passed into the popular imagination,

mutating as they went. It has since been observed that the

pop-culture versions in the vein of “Anything that can go wrong,

will” are the result of Murphy’s Law acting on itself!

Music:: n. A common extracurricular interest of hackers (compare

{{Science-Fiction Fandom}}, {{Oriental Food}}; see also

{filk}). It is 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 {mundane} types.

mutter: vt. To quietly enter a command not meant for the ears, eyes

or fingers of ordinary mortals. Frequently in `mutter an

{incantation}’.

= N =

=====

N: /en/ quant. 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

(see {great-wall}). 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 {tenured

graduate student}). 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.

naive: adj. Untutored in the perversities of some particular

program or system; one who still tries to do things in an intuitive

way, rather than the right way (in really good designs these

coincide, but most designs aren’t `really good’ in the appropriate

sense). This is completely unrelated to general maturity or

competence or even competence at any other program. It is a sad

commentary on the primitive state of computing that the natural

opposite of this term is often claimed to be `experienced user’ but

is really more like `cynical user’.

naive user: 1. n. A {luser}. Tends to imply someone who is

ignorant mainly due to experience; when applied to someone who

*has* experience, there is a definite implication of stupidity.

NAK: [from the ASCII mnemonic for 0010101] interj. 1. On-line joke

answer to {ACK}? — “I’m not here”. 2. On line answer to a

request for chat — “I’m not available”. 3. Used to politely

interrupt someone to tell them you don’t understand their point or

that they have suddenly stopped making sense. See {ACK}, sense

#3. “And then, after we recode the project in COBOL….”

“Nak Nak Nak! I thought I heard you say COBOL!”

nano-: [in measurement, the next quantifier below {micro};

meaning * 10 ^ -9] pref. Smaller than {micro-}, and used in the

same rather loose and connotative way. Thus, one has

{nanotechnology} (coined by hacker K. Eric Drexler) by analogy

with `microtechnology’; and some machine architectures have a

`nanocode’ level below `microcode’. See also {pico-}.

See also {nanoacre}.

nanoacre: /nan’o-ay`kr/ n. An areal unit (about 2 mm square) 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}. As yet, only used

informally (and speculatively!). Also sometimes called a

`nanoagent’.

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 nanocomputer.

nanotechnology: /nan’-oh-tek-no`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 nanofabrication 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. See also {blue goo}, {gray goo},

{nanobot}.

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. A status report from an

unhappy, and probably picky, customer. “What’d the Germans say in

today’s nastygram?” 4. [deprecated] An error reply by mail from a

{daemon}; in particular, a {bounce message}.

Nathan Hale: n. An asterisk (See also {splat}). Oh, you want an

etymology? Notionally from “I regret that I have only one asterisk

for my country”, a misquote of the famous remark uttered by Nathan

Hale just before he was hanged. Hale was a (failed) spy for the

rebels in the American War of Independence.

nature: n. See {has the X nature}.

neat hack: n. 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 (see Appendix A). See {hack}.

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!”

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 science fiction, {{Music}}, and

{{Oriental Food}}.

net.-: /net dot/ pref. [USENET] Prefix used to describe people and

events related to USENET. From the time before the {Great

Renaming}, when all non-local newsgroups had names beginning

`net.’. Includes {net.god}s, `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, Mel, Henry, Chuq, and Greg personally. See

{demigod}.

net.police: n. (var. `net.cops’) 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}.

nethack: /net’hak/ n. See {hack}, sense #8.

netiquette: /net’ee-ket, net’i-ket/ [portmanteau from “network

etiquette”] n. Conventions of politeness recognized on {USENET},

such as: avoidance of cross-posting to inappropriate groups, or

refraining from commercial pluggery on the net.

netnews: n. 1. The software that makes {USENET} run. 2. The

content of USENET. “I read netnews right after my mail most

mornings”.

netrock: [IBM] n. A {flame}; used esp. on VNET, IBM’s internal

corporate network.

network address: n. (also `net address’) As used by hackers,

means an address on `the’ network (see {network, the}; this is

almost always a {bang path} or {{Internet address}}). An

essential to be taken seriously by hackers; in particular, persons

or organizations that claim to understand, work with, sell to, or

recruit from among hackers but *don’t* display net addresses

are quietly presumed to be clueless poseurs and mentally flushed

(see {flush}, 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-dyed 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 {sitename}, {domainist}.

network, the: n. 1. The union of all the major noncommercial,

academic, and 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 gateway 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 of {ha ha only serious}).

In sense #1, `network’ is frequently abbreviated to `net’. “Are

you on the net?” is a frequent question when hackers first meet

face to face, and “See you on the net!” is a frequent goodbye.

New Jersey: [primarily Stanford/Silicon Valley] adj. Pejorative term

for the quality of being brain-damaged or of poor design. It refers

to the allegedly poor designs of such software as C, C++, and UNIX

(which originated at Bell Labs in New Jersey). “This compiler

bites the bag, but what can you expect from a compiler designed in

New Jersey?” See also {UNIX conspiracy}.

New Testament: n. [C programmers] The second edition of K&R’s `The C

Programming Language’ (Prentice-Hall 1988, ISBN 0-13-110362-8),

describing ANSI Standard C. See {K&R}.

newbie: /n[y]oo’bee/ n. [orig. from British military & public-school

slang contraction of `new boy’] 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 `alt.tv.muppets’ in early 1990,

or any number of specialized abuse groups named after particularly

notorious {flamer}s.

newline: /n[y]oo’lien/ n. 1. [UNIX] The ASCII LF character

(0001010), used under {UNIX} as a text line terminator. A

Bell-Labs-ism rather than a Berkeleyism; interestingly (and

unusually for UNIX jargon) it is said originally to have been an

IBM usage (though it appears in early ASCII standards, it never

caught in in the general computing world before UNIX). 2. More

generally, any magic character, character sequence, or operation

(like Pascal’s writeln() function) required to terminate a text

record or separate lines. See {crlf}, {terpri}.

NeWS: /n[y]oo’is/ or /n[y]ooz/ [acronym; the Network Window System]

n. The road not taken in window systems, an elegant

Postscript-based environment that would almost certainly have won

the standards war with {X} if it hadn’t been proprietary to Sun

Microsystems. There is a lesson here that many software vendors

haven’t yet heeded. Many hackers insist on the two-syllable

pronunciation above as a way of distinguishing NeWS from `news’

(the {netnews} software).

newsfroup: /n[y]oos’froop/ [USENET] n. Silly written-only synonym for

{newsgroup}, originated as a typo but now in regular use on

USENET’s talk.bizarre and other not-real-tightly-wrapped groups.

newsgroup: [USENET] n. One of USENET’s large collection of topic

groups. Among the best-known are `comp.lang.c’ (the C-language

forum), `comp.unix.wizards’ (for UNIX wizards),

`rec.arts.sf-lovers’ (for science-fiction fans) and

`talk.politics.misc’ (miscellaneous political discussions and

{flamage}).

nickle: [From "nickel", common name for the US 5-cent coin] 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 {deckle}.

night mode: n. See {phase} (of people).

Nightmare File System: n. Pejorative hackerism for Sun’s Network

File System (NFS). In any nontrivial network of Suns where there

is a lot of NFS cross-mounting, when one Sun goes down, the others

freeze up because of this behavior; some machine pings the dead one

and gets no response, and that machine continues to ping the dead

one, causing the live one to appear dead to some messages. Then

another machine pings either the really dead machine or the

sometimes dead machine, and this machine enters this mode. The

first machine to discover the dead one is now both trying to ping

the dead one and respond to the second machine, so it is dead more

often. This snowballs very fast and soon the entire set of

machines is frozen — the user can’t even abort the file access

that started the problem! (ITS partisans are apt to cite this as

proof of UNIX’s alleged bogosity; ITS had a working NFS-like shared

file system with none of these problems in the early 1970s. Of

course, ITS only had 6-character filenames.) “It’s that damned

nightmare file system again.” See also {broadcast storm}.

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}.

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.”

noddy: [Great Britain; from the children's books] adj. 1. Small and

unuseful, but demonstrating a point. Noddy programs are often

written when learning a new language or system. The archetypal

noddy program is {hello world}. Noddy code may be used to

demonstrate a feature or bug of a compiler, but would not be used

in a real program. May be used of real hardware or software to

imply that it isn’t worth using. “This editor’s a bit noddy.”

2. A program that is more or less instant to produce. In this use,

the term does not necessarily connote uselessness, but describes a

{kluge} sufficiently trivial that it can be written and debugged

while carrying on (and during the space of) a normal conversation.

e.g. “I’ll just throw together a noddy `awk(1)’ script to convert

{crlf}s into {newline}s”.

NOMEX underwear: [USENET] n. Syn. {asbestos longjohns}, used

mostly in auto-related mailing lists and newsgroups. NOMEX

underwear is an actual product available on the racing equipment

market, used as a fire retardant measure and required in some

racing series.

non-optimal solution: n. (also `sub-optimal solution’) 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}.

nonlinear: adj. [scientific computation] 1. Behaving in an erratic and

unpredictable fashion. When used to describe the behavior of a

machine or program, it suggests that said machine or program is

being forced to run far outside of design specifications. This

behavior may be induced by unreasonable inputs, or may be triggered

when a more mundane bug sends the computation far away from its

expected course. 2. When describing the behavior of a person,

suggests a tantrum or a {flame}. “When you talk to Bob, don’t

mention the drug problem or he’ll go nonlinear for hours.” In

this context, `go nonlinear’ connotes `blow up out of proportion’

(note that `proportions’ are mathematically linear).

nontrivial: adj. Requiring real thought or significant computing

power. Often used as an understated way of saying that a problem

is quite difficult. The preferred emphatic form is `decidedly

nontrivial’. See {trivial}, {uninteresting}, {interesting}.

notwork: n. A network, when it’s acting {flaky} or {down}.

Compare {nyetwork}. Orig. referred to a particular period of

flakiness on IBM’s VNET corporate network, c.1988.

NP-: /en pee/ pref. Extremely. Used to modify adjectives

describing a level or quality of difficulty; the connotation is

often `more so than it should be’ (NP-complete problems all seem to

be very hard, but so far no one has found a good a-priori reason

that they should be). “Getting this algorithm to perform

correctly in every case is NP-annoying.” This is generalized from

the computer science terms `NP-hard’ and `NP-complete’. 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.

NSA line eater: n. The mythical NSA (National Security Agency)

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 block}s in an attempt to confuse

and overload the creature. The {GNU} version of {EMACS}

actually has a command that randomly generates a lot of words like

that into your edited text.

nuke: vt. 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

UNIX.

null device: n. A {logical} input/output device connected to the

{bit bucket}; when you write to it nothing happens, when you read

from it you get an end-of-file error. Useful for discarding

unwanted output or using interactive programs in a non-interactive

way. See {/dev/null}.

number-crunching: n. Computations of a numerical nature, esp. those

that make extensive use of floating-point numbers. The only thing

{Fortrash} is good for. This term is in widespread informal use

outside hackerdom, but is cited here to record some additional

hackish connotations: namely, that the computations are mindless

and involve massive use of {brute force}.

numbers: [scientific computation] n. Results of a computation that

may not be physically significant, but at least indicate that the

program is running. May be used to placate management, grant

sponsors, etc. `Making numbers’ means running a program

because output — any output, not necessarily meaningful output

— is needed as a demonstration of progress. See {pretty

pictures}, {math-out}, {social science number}.

NUXI problem: /nuk’see pro’blm/ 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’ (e.g. when transferring data from a

{little-endian} to a {big-endian} or vice-versa). See also,

{swab}, and {bytesexual}.

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

{{byte}}, {crumb}, {taste}, {dynner}, see also {bit},

{nickle}, {deckle}. Apparently this spelling is uncommon

in Commonwealth Hackish, as British orthography suggests the

pronunciation /niebl/.

nyetwork: [from Russian `nyet' = no] n. A network, when it’s

acting {flaky} or {down}. Compare {notwork}.

= 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 alt.sex 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.

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:

/*

* HELLO WORLD program

* by Jack Applin and Robert Heckendorn, 1985

*/

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

(!!c)[*c]&&(v–||–c&&execlp(*c,*c,c[!!c]+!!c,!c));

**c=!c)write(!!*c,*c,!!**c);}

Here’s another good one:

/*

* Program to compute an approximation of pi

* by Brian Westley, 1988

*/

#define _ -F<00||–F-OO–;

int F=00,OO=00;

main(){F_OO();printf(“%1.3f\n”,4.*-F/OO/OO);}F_OO()

{

_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

_-_-_-_

}

See also {hello, world}.

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.”

The phrase `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.

octal forty: /ok’tl for’tee/ n. Hackish way of saying “I’m drawing

a blank”. Octal 40 is the {{ASCII}} space character, 0100000; by an

odd coincidence, `hex’ 40 is the {EBCDIC} space character. See

{wall}.

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}.

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.

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 {K&R}.

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-line fix: n. Often used sarcastically used of a change to a

program that is thought to be trivial or insignificant right up to

the moment it crashes the system. Usually `cured’ by another

one-line fix. See also {I didn’t change anything!}.

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} programs and once uttered a one-liner that

performed lexical analysis of its input string followed by a

dictionary lookup for good measure — ESR] It has been reported

that a similar amusement was practiced among {TECO} hackers.

ooblick: /oo’blik/ [from Dr. Seuss’s `Bartholomew and the

Oobleck’] 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.

Here’s a field-tested ooblick recipe contributed by GLS:

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup baking soda

3/4 cup water

N drops of food coloring

This recipe isn’t quite as non-Newtonian as a pure cornstarch

ooblick, but has an appropriately slimy feel.

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 eks one, close close.”

open switch: [IBM, prob. from railroading] n. An unresolved

question, issue, or problem.

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, ITS, TOPS-10, TOPS-20/TWENEX, VMS, CP/M, MS-DOS, and

Multics operating systems (most importantly by ITS and UNIX). Each

of these has its own entry, which see.

Orange Book: 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 D (least). Stock UNIXes

are roughly C2. See also {Red Book}, {Blue Book}, {Green Book},

{Silver Book}, {Purple Book}, {White Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book},

{Dragon Book}, {Aluminum Book}.

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}, {laser

chicken}, {Yu-Shiang Whole Fish}. 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 VAX 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 A.

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 usually good for a cheap laugh among

hackers — the design was so {baroque} and the implementation of

1.x so bad that three years after introduction you could still

count the major {app}s shipping for it on the fingers of two

hands. Often called “Half-an-OS”. On 28 January 1991, Microsoft

announced that it was dropping its OS/2 development to concentrate

on Windows, leaving the OS entirely in the hands of ex-partner IBM;

on 29 Jan they claimed the media had got the story wrong, but were

vague about how. It looks as though OS/2 is dead. See

{vaporware}, {monstrosity}, {cretinous}, {second-system

effect}.

overflow bit: n. On some processors, an attempt to calculate a

result too large for a register to hold causes a {trap} with a

particular {flag} called an {overflow bit} set. Hackers use

the term of human thought too. “Well, the ADA description was

{baroque}, but I could hack it OK until they got to the

exception handling…that set my overflow bit.”

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(3)’ or `malloc(3)’ itself. See {spam}; see

also {memory leak}, {aliasing bug}, {precedence lossage}, {fandango

on core}.

= P =

=====

P.O.D.: /pee-oh-dee/ Acronym for `Piece Of Data’ (as opposed to a

code section). Usage: pedantic and rare.

padded cell: n. Where you put lusers so they can’t hurt anything.

A program that limits a {luser} to a carefully restricted subset

of the capabilities of the host system (for example, the

`rsh(1)’ utility on UNIX). Note that this is different from

an {iron box} because it’s overt and not aimed at enforcing

security so much as protecting others (and the luser him/herself!)

from the consequences of the luser’s boundless naivete (see

{naive}). Also `padded cell environment’.

page in: [MIT] vi. 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] vi. 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}.

pain in the net: n. A {flamer}.

paper-net: n. Hackish way of referring to the postal service,

analogizing it to a very slow, low-reliability network. USENET

{sig block}s not uncommonly include the sender’s postal address

next to a “Paper-Net:” header; common variants of this are

“Papernet” and “P-Net”. Compare {voice-net}, {snail-mail}.

param: /p@-ram’/ n. Shorthand for `parameter’. Compare

{arg}, {var}. The plural `params’ is often further compressed

to `parms’ /parmz/.

parent message: n. See {followup}.

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] vt. 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’.

Pascal:: n. An Algol-descended language designed by Niklaus Wirth on

the CDC 6600 around 1967-68 as an instructional tool for elementary

programming. This language, designed primarily to keep students

from shooting themselves in the foot and thus extremely restrictive

from a general-purpose-programming point of view, was later

promoted as a general-purpose tool and in fact became the ancestor

of a large family of languages including Modula-2 and Ada (see also

{bondage-and-discipline language}). The hackish point of view on

Pascal was perhaps best summed up by a devastating (and, in its

deadpan way, screamingly funny) 1981 paper by Brian Kernighan (of

{K&R} fame) entitled `Why Pascal is Not My Favorite

Programming Language’. Part of his summation is worth repeating

here, because its criticisms are still apposite to Pascal itself

after ten years of improvement, and could also stand as an

indictment of many other {bondage-and-discipline} languages. At

the end of a summary of the case against Pascal, he wrote:

9. There is no escape

This last point is perhaps the most important. The language is

inadequate but circumscribed, because there is no way to escape its

limitations. There are no casts to disable the type-checking when

necessary. There is no way to replace the defective run-time

environment with a sensible one, unless one controls the compiler that

defines the “standard procedures”. The language is closed.

People who use Pascal for serious programming fall into a fatal trap.

Because the language is impotent, it must be extended. But each group

extends Pascal in its own direction, to make it look like whatever

language they really want. Extensions for separate compilation,

Fortran-like COMMON, string data types, internal static variables,

initialization, octal numbers, bit operators, etc., all add to the

utility of the language for one group but destroy its portability to

others.

I feel that it is a mistake to use Pascal for anything much beyond its

original target. In its pure form, Pascal is a toy language, suitable

for teaching but not for real programming.

Pascal has since been almost entirely displaced (by C) from the

niches it had acquired in serious application and systems

programming, but retains some popularity as a hobbyist language in

the MS-DOS world.

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. Compare {one-line

fix}. 2. vt. 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 Larry Wall’s patch(1); often used as a way of

distributing source code upgrades and fixes over {USENET}.

path: n. 1. A {bang path}; a node-by-node specification of a link

between two machines. 2. [UNIX] A filename, fully specified

relative to the root directory (as opposed to relative to the

current directory. 3. [MS-DOS] The `search path’, an

environment variable specifying the directories in which

COMMAND.COM should look for commands.

pathological: [scientific computation] adj. Used of a data set

which is grossly atypical of the expected load, esp. one which

exposes a weakness or bug in whatever algorithm one is using. An

algorithm which can be broken by pathological inputs may still be

useful if such inputs are very unlikely to occur in practice. 2.

When used of a test load, implies that it was purposefully

engineered as a worst case. The implication in both senses is that

someone had to explicitly set out to break an algorithm in order to

come up with such a crazy example.

payware: n. Commercial software. Oppose {shareware} or

{freeware}.

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-sighted programmer. Compare {UBD}; see also

{brain-damaged}.

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

{copyleft}.

pdl: /pid’l/ or /puhd’l/ [acronym for Push Down List] In ITS days,

the preferred MITism for {stack}. 2. Dave Lebling, one of the

co-authors of {Zork}; (his {network address} on the ITS machines

was at one time pdl@dms). 3. Program Design Language. Any of a

large class of formal and profoundly useless pseudo-languages in

which {management} forces one to design programs. {Management}

often expects it to be maintained in parallel with the code. Used

jokingly as in, “Have you finished the PDL?” See also

{{flowchart}}.

PDP-10: [Programmed 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 VAX machines

(descendants of the PDP-11) and dropped from DEC’s line in the

early ’80s, and in mid-1991 to have cut one’s teeth on one is

considered something of a badge of honorable old-timerhood among

hackers. See {TOPS-10}, {ITS}, {AOS}, {blt}, {DDT},

{DPB}, {EXCH}, {HAKMEM}, {JFCL}, {LDB}, {pop},

{push}, Appendix A.

peek: n.,vt. (and {poke}) The commands in most microcomputer

BASICs for directly accessing memory contents at an absolute

address; often extended to mean the corresponding constructs in any

{HLL}. Much hacking on small, non-MMU micros consists of

{peek}ing around memory, more or less at random, to find the

location where the system keeps interesting stuff. Long (and

variably accurate) lists of such addresses for various computers

circulate (see {interrupt list, the}). The results of {poke}s

at these addresses may be highly useful, mildly amusing, useless

but neat, or (most likely) total {lossage} (see {killer poke}).

pencil and paper: n. An archaic information-storage and

transmission device that works by depositing smears of graphite on

bleached wood pulp. More recent developments in paper-based

technology include improved `write-once’ update devices which use

tiny rolling heads similar to mouse balls to deposit colored

pigment. These devices require an operator skilled at so-called

`handwriting’ technique. They technologies are ubiquitous outside

hackerdom, but nearly forgotten inside it. Most hackers had

terrible handwriting to begin with, and years of keyboarding tend

if anything to have encouraged it to degrade further. Perhaps for

this reason hackers deprecate pencil and paper technology and

often resist using it in any but the most trivial contexts.

peon: n. A person with no special ({root} or {wheel})

privileges on a computer system. “I can’t create an account on

foovax for you; I’m only a peon there.”

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

{random}.

perf: /perf/ n. See {chad} (sense #1). The term `perfory’

/per’f@-ree/ is also heard.

perfect programmer syndrome: n. Arrogance; the egotistical

conviction that one is above normal human error. Most frequently

found among programmers of some native ability but relatively

little experience (especially new graduates; their perceptions may

be distorted by a history of excellent performance bashing toy

problems). “Of course my program is correct, there is no need to

test it.” Or “Yes, I can see there may be a problem here, but

*I’ll* never type `rm -r /’ while in {root}.”

Perl: [Practical Extraction and Report Language, aka Pathologically

Eclectic Rubbish Lister] n. An interpreted language developed by

Larry Wall (lwall@jpl.nasa.gov, author of `patch(1)’) and

distributed over USENET. Superficially resembles `awk(1)’,

but is much more arcane (see {AWK}). Increasingly considered one of

the {languages 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’

vt. 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 OED.

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

pranks.

peta-: /pe’t@/ pref. Multiplier, 10 ^ 15 or [proposed] 2 ^ 50. See

{kilo-}.

PETSCII: /pet’skee/ [abbreviation of PET ASCII] n. The variation

(many would say perversion) of the {{ASCII}} character set used by

the Commodore Business Machines PET series of personal computers

and the later Commodore C64, C16, and C128 machines. The PETSCII

set used left-arrow and up-arrow (as in old-style ASCII) instead of

underscore and caret, places the unshifted alphabet at positions

65-90 and the shifted alphabet at positions 193-218, as well as

adding graphics characters.

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 {wrap 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)). The act of

altering one’s cycle is called `changing phase’; `phase

shifting’ has also been recently reported from Caltech. 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, and that it’s

*shortening* your day or night that’s hard (see {wrap

around}). 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

{hack value}. (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 moon!

The first paper edition of the Jargon File (Steele-1983) included

an example of this bug, but the typesetter `corrected’ it. This

has since been described as the phase-of-the-moon-bug bug.

phreaking: [from "phone phreak"] n. 1. The art and science of

cracking the phone network (so as, for example, to make free

long-distance calls). 2. By extension, security-cracking in any

other context (especially, but not exclusively, on communications

networks).

At one time phreaking was a semi-respectable activity among

hackers; there was a gentleman’s agreement that phreaking as an

intellectual game and a form of exploration was O.K., but serious

theft of services was taboo. There was significant crossover

between the hacker community and the hard-core phone phreaks who

ran semi-underground networks of their own like the legendary `TAP

Newsletter’. This ethos began to break down in the mid-1980s as

wider dissemination of the techniques put them in the hands of less

responsible phreaks. Around the same time, changes in the phone

network made old-style technical ingenuity less effective as a way

of hacking it, so phreaking came to depend more on overtly criminal

acts like stealing phone-card numbers. The crimes and punishments

of gangs like the `414 group’ turned that game very ugly. A few

old-time hackers still phreak casually just to keep their hand in,

but most these days have hardly even heard of `blue boxes’ or any

of the other paraphernalia of the great phreaks of yore.

pico-: [in measurement, a quantifier meaning * 10 ^ -12] pref.

Smaller than {nano-}; used in the same rather loose and

connotative way as {nano-} and {micro-}. This usage is not yet

common in the way {nano-} and {micro-} are, but is instantly

recognizable to any hacker. The remaining standard quantifiers are

`femto’ (10 ^ -15) and `atto’ (10 ^ -18); these,

interestingly, derive not from Greek but from Danish. They have

not yet acquired slang loadings, though it is easy to predict what

those will be once computing technology enters the required realms

of magnitude (however, see {attoparsec}). See also {micro-}.

pig, run like a: adj. To run very slowly on given hardware, said of

software. Distinct from {hog}.

ping: /ping/ [from TCP/IP terminology, prob. originally contrived

to match the submariners’ term for a sonar pulse.] n.,vt. 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. 4. To send a message to

all members of a {mailing list} requesting an {ACK} (in order

to verify that everybody’s addresses are reachable). “We haven’t

heard much anything from Geoff, but he did respond with an ACK both

times I pinged jargon-friends.”

The funniest use of `ping’ to date was described in January 1991 by

Steve Hayman on the USENET group comp.sys.next. He was trying to

isolate a faulty cable segment on a TCP/IP Ethernet hooked up to a

NeXT machine, and got tired of having to run back to his console

after each cabling frob to see if the ping packets were getting

through. So he used the sound-recording feature on the NeXT, then

wrote a script that repeatedly invoked ping, listened to the output

and played back the recording on each returned packet. Result? A

program that caused the machine to repeat, over and over,

“Ping … ping … ping …” as long as the network was

up. He turned the volume to maximum, scurried through the building

with one ear cocked, and found a faulty tee connector in no time.

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/ [Peripheral Interchange Program] vt.,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. It is said

that when the program was originated during the development of the

PDP-6 in 1963 it was called ATLATL (`Anything, Lord, to Anything,

Lord’).

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.

pistol: [IBM] n. A tool that makes it all too easy for you to

shoot yourself in the foot. “UNIX `rm *’ makes such a nice

pistol!”

pizza box: [SUN] n. The largish thin box housing the electronics

in (especially SUN) desktop workstations, so named because of its

size and shape, and the dimpled pattern that looks like air holes.

pizza, ANSI standard: /an’see stan’d@rd peet’z@/ [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}.

plain-ASCII: Syn. {flat-ASCII}.

plan file: [UNIX] n. On systems which support {finger}, the

`.plan’ file in a user’s home directory is displayed when he or she

is fingered. This feature was originally intended to be used to

keep potential fingerers apprised of one’s near-future plans, but

has been turned almost universally to humorous and self-expressive

purposes (like a {sig block}).

playpen: [IBM] n. A room where programmers work. Compare {salt

mines}.

playte: /playt/ 16 bits, by analogy with {nybble} and {{byte}}. Usage:

rare and extremely silly. See also {dynner}.

plingnet: /pling’net/ n. Syn. {UUCPNET}. Also see {{Commonwealth

Hackish}}.

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}.

plumbing: [UNIX] n. Term used for {shell} code, so called

because of the prevalence of `pipeline’s that feed the output

of one program to the input of another. Esp. used in the

construction `hairy plumbing’ (see {hairy}. “You can kluge

together a basic spell-checker out of `sort(1)’,

`comm(1)’ and `tr(1)’ with a little plumbing.”

PM: /pee em/ 1. [from `preventive maintenance'] 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.

pod: [allegedly from acronym POD for `Prince Of Darkness'] n. A

Diablo 630 (or, latterly, any impact letter-quality printer). From

the DEC-10 PODTYPE program used to feed formatted text to same.

poke: n.,vt. See {peek}.

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}. Usage: usually used in the

phrase `POM-dependent’ which means {flaky}.

pop: /pop/ [based on the stack operation that removes the top of a

stack, and the fact that procedure return addresses are saved on

the stack] (also POP, POPJ /pop-jay/) 1. vt. To remove something

from a {stack} or {pdl}. If a person says he has popped

something from his stack, 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}.

posing: n. On a {MUD}, the use of `:’ or an equivalent

command to announce to other players that one is taking a certain

physical action, which however has no effect on the game.

post: v. To send a message to a {mailing list} or {newsgroup}.

Distinguished in context from `mail’; one might ask, for

example, “Are you going to post the patch or mail it to known

users?”

posting: n. Noun corresp. to v. {post} (but note that the

shorter word can be nouned). Distinguished from a `letter’ or

ordinary {email} message by the fact that it’s broadcast rather

than point-to-point. It is unclear whether messages sent to a

small mailing list are postings or email; perhaps the best dividing

line is that if you don’t know the names of all the potential

recipients, it’s a posting.

postmaster: n. The email contact and maintenance person on a site

connected to the Internet or UUCPNET. Often, but not always, the

same as the {admin}. It is conventional for each machine to have

a `postmaster’ alias that goes to this person.

power cycle: vt. (also, `cycle power’ or just `cycle’) To

power off a machine and then power it on immediately, with the

intention of clearing some kind of {hung} or {gronked} state.

Syn. {120 reset}; see also {Big Red Switch}. Compare {vulcan

nerve pinch}, {bounce}, {boot}, and see the AI Koan in Appendix

A about Tom Knight and the novice.

PPN: /pip’n/ [from `Project-Programmer Number'] n. A user-ID under

{TOPS-10} and its various mutant progeny at SAIL, BBN,

CompuServe, and elsewhere. Old-time hackers from the PDP-10 era

sometimes use this to refer to user IDs on other systems as well.

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 `&’, `|’, `^’, `<>’. Can always

be avoided by suitable use of parentheses. See {aliasing bug},

{memory leak}, {smash the stack}, {fandango on core},

{overrun screw}.

prepend: /pree`pend’/ [by analogy with `append'] vt. To prefix.

Like `append’, but unlike `prefix’ or `suffix’ as a verb, the

direct object is always the thing being added and not the original

word (character string, etc). No, this is *not* standard

English, yet!

pretty pictures: n. [scientific computation] The next step up from

{numbers}. Interesting graphical output from a program which may

not have any real relationship to the reality the program is

intended to model. Good for showing to {management}.

prettyprint: /prit’ee-print/ v. 1. To generate `pretty’

human-readable output from a {hairy} internal representation;

esp. used for the process of {grind}ing (sense #2) LISP code. 2.

To format in some particularly slick and nontrivial way.

prime time: [from TV programming] n. Normal high-usage hours on a

timesharing system; the day shift. Avoidance of prime time is a

major reason for {night mode} hacking.

priority interrupt: [from the hardware term] n. Describes any

stimulus compelling enough to yank one right out of {hack mode}.

Classically used to describe being dragged away by an {SO} for

immediate sex, but may also refer to more mundane interruptions

such as a fire alarm going off in the near vicinity. Also called

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

profile: [UNIX] n. 1. A control file for a program, esp. a text

file automatically read from each user’s home directory and

intended to be easily modified by the user. Used to avoid

{hardcoded} choices. 2. A report on the amounts of time spent in

each routine of a program, used to find and {tune} away the

{hot spot}s in it. This sense is often verbed. Some profiling

modes report units other than time (such as call counts) at

granularities other than per-routine, but the idea is similar.

program: 1. n. A magic spell cast over a computer allowing it to

turn one’s input into error messages. 2. n. An exercise in

experimental epistemology. 3. vt. To engage in a pastime similar

to banging one’s head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities

for reward.

Programmer’s Cheer: “Shift to the left! Shift to the right! Pop

up, push down! Byte! Byte! Byte!” A joke so old it has hair on

it….

programming: n. In folklore, this was classically defined as “The

art of debugging a blank sheet of paper”. Following the rise of

on-line editing this should probably be recast as “The art of

debugging an empty source file”.

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 (originally invented by

old-time fan Ray Faraday Nelson) of propeller beanies as fannish

insignia (though nobody actually wears them except as a joke).

proprietary: adj. 1. In {marketroid}-speak, superior; implies a

product imbued with exclusive magic by the unmatched brilliance of

their employer’s hardware or software designers. 2. In the

language of hackers and users, inferior; implies a product not

conforming to open-systems standards, and thus one which puts the

customer at the mercy of a vendor able to gouge freely on service

and upgrade charges after the initial sale has locked the customer

in (that’s assuming it wasn’t too expensive in the first place).

protocol: n. As used by hackers, this never refers to niceties

about the proper form for addressing letters to the Papal Nuncio or

the order in which one should use the forks in a Russian-style

place setting; hackers don’t care about such things. It is used

instead to describe any set of rules which allow different machines

or pieces of software to coordinate with each other without

ambiguity; for example, it does include the niceties of addressing

packets on a network or the order in which one should use the forks

in the Dining Philosophers Problem. It implies that there’s some

common message format and accepted set of primitives or commands

that all parties involved understand, and that transactions among

them follow predictable logical sequences. See also

{handshaking}, {do protocol}.

prowler: [UNIX] n. A {demon} that is run periodically (typically once

a week) to seek out and erase core files (see {core}), 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}, {skulker}.

pseudo: /soo’doh/ [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}. 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 a 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. His

funeral….

psychedelicware: /sie`k@-del’-ik-weir/ [Great Britain] n. Syn.

{display hack}. See also {smoking clover}.

pubic directory: [NYU] n. The `pub’ (public) directory on a

machine that allows {FTP} access; the top-level directory owned

by ftp. So called because it is the default location for {SEX}

(sense #1).

puff: vt. To decompress data that has been crunched by Huffman

coding. At least one widely distributed Huffman decoder program

was actually *named* `PUFF’, but these days it isn’t usually

separate from the encoder. Oppose {huff}.

punched card:: alt. `punch card’ 1. n.obs. The signature medium

of computing’s {Stone Age}, now obsolescent outside of some IBM

shops. The punched card actually predated computers considerably,

originating as a control device for mechanical looms. The version

patented by Hollerith and used with mechanical tabulating machines

in the 1890 U.S. Census was a piece of cardboard about 90 mm by

215 mm, designed to fit exactly in the currency trays used for that

era’s larger dollar bills.

IBM (which originated as a tabulating-machine manufacturer) married

the punched card to computers, encoding binary information as

patterns of small rectangular holes; one character per column, 80

columns per card. Later, other coding schemes, sizes of card, and

hole shape were tried.

The 80-column width of most character terminals is a legacy of the

punched card; so is the size of the quick reference cards

distributed with many varieties of computers even today. See

{chad}, {chad box}, {eighty-column mind}, {green card},

{dusty deck}, {lace card}.

punt: [from the punch line of an old joke referring to American

football: “Drop back 15 yards and punt”] vt. 1. 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. 2. More specifically, to give up on figuring out what

the {Right Thing} is and resort to an inefficient hack.

Purple Book: 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 Book}, {Orange Book}, {White Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book},

{Dragon Book}, {Aluminum Book}.

push: [based on the stack operation that puts the current

information on a stack, and the fact that procedure return

addresses are saved on the stack] Also PUSH or 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 stack, he means yet another thing has been

added to the list of things hanging over his head for him to do.

This may also imply that he will deal with it `before’ other

pending items; otherwise he might have said the thing was “added

to his queue”. 2. vi. To enter upon a digression, to save the

current discussion for later. Antonym of {pop}; see also

{stack}, {pdl}.

= Q =

=====

quad: n. 1. Two bits; syn. for {quarter}, {crumb}, {tayste}.

2. The rectangle or box glyph used in the APL language for various

arcane purposes mostly related to I/O. Ex-Ivy-Leaguers and

Oxbridge types are said to associate it with nostalgic memories of

dear old University.

quadruple bucky: n., obs. 1. On an MIT {space-cadet keyboard},

use of all four of the shifting keys control, meta, hyper, and

super while typing a character key. 2. On a Stanford or MIT

keyboard in raw mode, use of four shift keys while typing a fifth

character, where the four shift keys are the control and meta keys

on *both* sides of the keyboard. 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.

Quadruple-bucky combinations were very seldom used in practice,

because when one invented a new command one usually assigned it to

some character that was 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 the tapes while

whistling Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is quadruple-bucky-cokebottle”.

See {double bucky}, {bucky bits}, {cokebottle}.

quantum bogodynamics: /kwon’tm boh`goh-die-nam’iks/ n. Theory which

characterizes the universe in terms of bogon sources (such as

politicians, used-car salesmen, TV evangelists, and {suit}s 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}, {computron}, {suit}.

quarter: n. Two bits; syn. {tayste}, {crumb}, {quad}. The

term comes from the `pieces of eight’ famed in pirate movies —

Spanish gold pieces that could be broken into eight

pie-slice-shaped `bits’ to make change. Early in the U.S.’s

history the coin was considered equal to a dollar, so each of these

`bits’ was considered worth 12.5 cents. Usage: rare. See also

{nickle}, {nybble}, {{byte}}.

ques: /kwess/ 1. n. The question mark character (`?’, ASCII

0111111). 2. interj. What? Also frequently verb-doubled as

“Ques ques?” See {wall}.

quick and dirty: adj. Describes a {crock} put together under time

or user pressure. Used esp. when you want to convey that you think

the fast way might lead to trouble further down the road. “I can

have a quick and dirty fix in place tonight, but I’ll have to

rewrite the whole module to solve the underlying design problem.”

See also {kluge}.

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’, for four u-letters out of

seven total, using up all the `u’ letters in Scrabble in one swell

foop).] 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 the 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 Steele in his persona as `The Great Quux’,

which is somewhat infamous for light verse and for the `Crunchly’

cartoons. 4. In some circles, quux is used as a punning opposite

of `crux’. “Ah, that’s the quux of the matter!” implies that the

point is *not* crucial (compare {tip of the iceberg}). 5.

quuxy: adj. Of or pertaining to a quux.

qux: /kwuhks/ The fourth of the standard metasyntactic variables,

after {baz} and before the quuu*x series. See {foo}, {bar},

{baz}, {quux}. Note that this appears to be a recent mutation

from {quux}, and that many versions of the standard series just

run {foo}, {bar}, {baz}, {quux}, ….

QWERTY: /kwer’tee/ [from the keycaps at the upper left] adj.

Pertaining to a standard English-language typewriter keyboard

(sometimes called the Sholes keyboard after its inventor), as

opposed to Dvorak or foreign-language layouts or a {space-cadet

keyboard} or APL keyboard.

= R =

=====

rain dance: n. 1. Any ceremonial action taken to correct a hardware

problem, with the expectation that nothing will be accomplished.

This especially applies to reseating printed circuit boards,

reconnecting cables, etc. “I can’t boot up the machine. We’ll

have to wait for Greg to do his rain dance.” 2. Any arcane

sequence of actions performed with computers or software in order

to achieve some goal; the term is usually restricted to rituals

which include both an {incantation} or two and physical activity

or motion. Compare {magic}, {voodoo programming}, {black

art}.

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.”

7. n. 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. See also {J.

Random}, {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}, 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 and 5).

42

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

69

From the sexual act. This one was favored in MIT’s ITS culture.

105

69 hex = 105 decimal, and 69 dec = 105 octal.

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’ (chapter 13, verse

18). See also {Discordianism} or consult your pineal gland.

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

randomness!”

rape: vt. 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’; the phrase

“half-cooked (rare?)” is used in the V7/BSD manuals to describe

the mode. Usage: rare.

raster blaster: n. [Cambridge] Specialized hardware for {bitblt}

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}.

rat belt: n. A cable tie, esp. the sawtoothed, self-locking plastic

kind that you can only remove by cutting (as opposed to a random

twist of wire or a baggie tie or one of those humongous metal clip

frobs). Small cable ties are `mouse belts’.

rave: [WPI] vi. 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

unlikely.

ravs: /ravz/, also `Chinese ravs’ n. Kuo-teh. A Chinese

appetizer, known variously in the plural as dumplings, pot stickers

(the literal translation of kuo-teh), 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}}.

RE: /ar-ee/ n. Common spoken and written shorthand for {regexp}.

read-only user: n. Describes a {luser} who uses computers almost

exclusively for reading USENET, bulletin boards, and/or email, as

opposed to writing code or purveying useful information. See

{twink}, {terminal junkie}.

README file: n. By convention, the top-level directory of a UNIX

source distribution always contains a file named `README’ (or

READ.ME, or (rarely) ReadMe or some other variant) which is a

hacker’s-eye introduction containing a pointer to more detailed

documentation, credits, miscellaneous revision history notes, etc.

When asked, hackers invariably relate this to the famous scene in

Lewis Carroll’s `Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ in which

Alice confronts magic food labelled “Eat Me” and “Drink Me”.

real estate: n. May be used for any critical resource measured in

units of area. Most frequently used of `chip real estate’, the

area available for logic on the surface of an integrated circuit

(see also {nanoacre}). May also be used of floor space in a

{dinosaur pen} or even space on a crowded desktop (whether

physical or electronic).

real hack: n. A {crock}. This is sometimes used affectionately;

see {hack}.

real operating system: n. Whichever one a given user is accustomed

to, and subject to wild variation. People from the academic

community are likely to issue comments like “System V? Why don’t

you use a *real* operating system?”, people from the

commercial/industrial UNIX sector are known to complain, “BSD? Why

don’t you use a *real* operating system?”, and people from

IBM probably think, “UNIX? Why don’t you use a *real*

operating system?” See {holy wars}, {religious issues},

{proprietary}.

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; thinks that HLLs are sissy; and he uses a debugger to

edit his code because full-screen editors are for wimps. Real

Programmers aren’t satisfied with code that hasn’t been {bum}med

into a state of {tense}ness 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. For a famous (and somewhat more

positive) portrait of a Real Programmer, see `The Story of

Mel’ in Appendix A.

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: 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 (see {code

grinder}). 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 {uninteresting}.

reality check: n. 1. The simplest kind of test of software or

hardware; doing the equivalent of asking it what `2 + 2′ is

and seeing if you get `4′. The equivalent of a {smoke test} for

software. 2. The act of letting a {real user} try out prototype

software. Compare {sanity check}.

reaper: n. A {prowler} which {GFR}s files. A file removed in

this way is said to have been `reaped’.

rectangle slinger: n. See {polygon pusher}.

recursion: n. See {recursion}. See also {tail recursion}.

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!” See also {mung}.

Red Book: n. 1. Informal name for one of the three standard

references on PostScript (`PostScript Language Reference

Manual’, Adobe Systems, Addison-Wesley 1985 QA76.73.P67P67, ISBN

0-201-10174-2); the others are known as the {Green Book} and {Blue

Book}. 2. Informal name for one of the three standard references

on Smalltalk: `Smalltalk-80: The Interactive Programming

Environment’, Adele Goldberg, Addison-Wesley 1984, QA76.8.S635G638,

ISBN 0-201-11372-4 (this is also associated with blue and green

books). 3. Any of the 1984 standards issued by the CCITT 8th

plenary assembly. Until now, these have changed color each review

cycle (1988 was {Blue Book}, 1992 will be {Green Book}); however,

it is rumored that this convention is going to be dropped before

1992. These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and

the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. 4. The new version of the

{Green Book} (sense #4), IEEE 1003.1-1990, aka ISO 9945-1,

is (because of the color and the fact that it is printed on A4

paper), known in the USA as “The Ugly Red Book That Won’t Fit On

The Shelf”, and in Europe as “The Ugly Red Book That’s A Sensible

Size”. See also {Green Book}, {Blue Book}, {Purple Book}, {Silver

Book}, {Orange Book}, {White Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book}, {Dragon

Book}, {Aluminum Book}.

regexp: /reg’eksp/ [UNIX] n. (alt. `regex’ or `reg-ex’) 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}. For purposes of this lexicon, it is

sufficient to note that regexps also allow complemented character

sets using `^’ and ranges in character sets using `-’;

thus, one can specify any non-alphabetic character with

`[^A-Za-z]‘. 2. Name of a well-known PD regexp-handling

package in portable C, written by revered USENETter Henry Spencer

(henry@zoo.toronto.edu).

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.

reinvent the wheel: v. To design or implement a tool equivalent to

an existing one or part of one, with the implication that doing so

is silly or a waste of time. This is frequently a valid criticism;

but automobiles don’t use wooden rollers, either, and some kinds of

wheel have to be re-invented many times before you get it right.

religious issues: n. Questions which seemingly cannot be raised

without touching off {holy wars}, such as “What is the best

operating system (or editor, language, architecture, shell, mail

reader, news reader)?” and “What about that Heinlein guy, eh?”.

See {holy wars}; see also {theology}, {bigot}.

This entry is an example of {ha ha only serious}. People

actually develop the most amazing and religiously intense

attachments to their tools, even when the tools are intangible.

The most constructive thing one can do when one stumbles into the

crossfire is mumble {Get a life!} and leave — unless of course

one’s *own* unassailably rational and obviously correct

choices are being slammed….

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 or

{nanobot}.

reply: n. See {followup}.

restriction: n. A {bug} or design error that limits a program’s

capabilities, and which is sufficiently egregious that nobody can

quite work up enough nerve to describe it as a {feature}. Often

used (esp. by {marketroid} types) to make it sound as though some

crippling bogosity had been intended by the designers all along, or

was forced upon them by arcane considerations no mere user could

possibly comprehend (these claims are almost invariably false).

retcon: /ret’kon/ [`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

in 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. vt. 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”.

“Marvelman’s old adventures were retconned into synthetic

dreams”, “Swamp Thing was retconned from a transformed person

into a sentient vegetable.”

[This is included because it’s a good example of hackish linguistic

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. — ESR]

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)’ or `bcd(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 {{punched card}} code. Other well-known retrocomputing

hacks have included the programming language {INTERCAL}, 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.

RFE: n. 1. Request For Enhancement. 2. [from `Radio Free Europe’

Bellcore and Sun] Radio Free Ethernet, a system (originated by

Peter Langston) for broadcasting audio among Sun SPARCstations over

the ethernet.

rib site: [by analogy with {backbone site}] n. A machine which

has an on-demand high-speed link to a {backbone site} and serves

as a regional distribution point for lots of third-party traffic in

email and USENET news. Compare {leaf site}, {backbone site}.

rice box: [from ham radio slang] n. Any Asian-made commodity

computer, esp. an 80*86-based machine built to IBM PC-compatible

ISA or EISA-bus standards.

Right Thing: n. That which is *obviously* the correct or

appropriate thing to use, do, say, etc. Often capitalized, always

emphasized in speech as though capitalized. 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 `(mod a 0)’?

Should it return `a’, or give a divide-by-zero error?”

Antonym: {Wrong Thing}.

RL: [MUD community] n. Real Life. “Firiss laughs in RL” means

Firiss’s player is laughing.

roach: [Bell Labs] vt. To destroy, esp. of a data structure. Hardware

gets {toast}ed, 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}.

rococo: adj. {Baroque} in the extreme. Used to imply that a

program has become so encrusted with the software equivalent of

gold leaf and curlicues that they have completely swamped the

underlying design. Called after the later and more extreme forms

of Baroque architecture and decoration prevalent during the

mid-1700s in Europe.

rogue: [UNIX] n. Dungeons-And-Dragons-like game using character

graphics 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(6)’ and has since become one of UNIX’s most important

and heavily used application libraries. Nethack, Omega, Larn, and

an entire subgenre of computer dungeon games all took off from the

inspiration provided by `rogue(6)’. 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 {drool-proof paper}. This is a much more insulting

phrase in countries that use Celsius thermometers….

root: n. [UNIX] 1. The `superuser’ account that ignores

permission bits, user number zero on a UNIX system. This account

has the user name `root’. 2. The top node of the system directory

structure (home directory of the root user). 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”.

rot13: /rot ther’teen/ [USENET, from `rotate alphabet 13 places']

n.,v. The simple Caesar-cypher encryption that replaces 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.

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 {pizza, ANSI standard}.

RSN: adj. See {Real Soon Now}.

RTFAQ: /ahr-tee-eff-ay-kyoo/ [USENET, by analogy with {RTFM}]

imp. Abbrev. for `Read the FAQ!’, an exhortation that the person

being addressed ought to read the newsgroup’s {FAQ list} before

posting questions.

RTFM: /ahr-tee-ef-em/ [UNIX] imp. 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. See also {RTFAQ}, {RTM}.

RTI: /ahr-tee-ie/ interj. The mnemonic for the `return from

interrupt’ instruction on many computers including the 6502 and

Z80. Equivalent to “Now, where was I?” or used to end a

conversational digression. See {pop}.

RTM: /ahr-tee-em/ [USENET, acronym for `Read The Manual'] Politer

variant of {RTFM}.

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).

runic: adj. Syn. {obscure}. VMS fans sometimes refer to UNIX as

`Runix’; UNIX fans return the compliment by expanding VMS to `Very

Messy Syntax’ or `Vachement Mauvais Systeme’ (French, lit.

“Cowlike Bad System”).

rusty iron: n. Syn. {tired iron}. It has been claimed that this

is the inevitable fate of {water MIPS}.

rusty memory: n. Mass-storage that uses iron-oxide-based magnetic

media (esp. tape and the pre-Winchester removable disk packs used

in {washing machine}s). Compare {donuts}.

= S =

=====

s/n ratio: n. (also `s:n ratio’). See {signal-to-noise

ratio}. Often abbreviated `SNR’.

sacred: adj. Reserved for the exclusive use of something (a

metaphorical extension of the standard meaning). “Register 7 is

sacred to the interrupt 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

ensue.

saga: [WPI] n. A cuspy but bogus raving story dealing with N random

broken people.

sagan: /say’gn/ [from Carl Sagan’s TV series `Cosmos’, think

`Billions and Billions’] n. A large quantity of anything.

“There’s a sagan different ways to tweak EMACS.” “The US

Government spends sagans on military hardware.”

SAIL: /sayl/, not /ess ay ie el/ 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

salesman?

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 in programming). The terms

`salesthing’ and `salesdroid’ are also common. Compare

{marketroid}, {suit}.

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}, {sandbox}.

salt substrate: [MIT] n. Collective noun used to refer to potato

chips, pretzels, saltines or any other form of snack food

essentially designed as a carrier for sodium chloride. Forom the

technical term `chip substrate’ used to refer to the silicon on the

top of which the active parts of integrated circuits are deposited.

same-day-service: n. Ironic term is used to describe slow response

time, particularly with respect to system calls. Such

response time is a major incentive for programmers to write

programs that are not {well-behaved}. See also {PC-ism}.

sandbender: [IBM] n. A person involved with silicon lithography and

the physical design of chips. Compare {ironmonger}, {polygon

pusher}.

sandbox: n. (typically `the sandbox’) Common term for the R&D

department at many software and computer companies (where hackers

in commercial environments are likely to be found). Half-derisive,

but reflects the truth that research is a form of creative play.

Compare {playpen}.

sanity check: n. 1. The act of checking a piece of code for

completely stupid mistakes. Implies that the check is to make sure

the author was sane when it was written; e.g., if a piece of

scientific software relied on a particular formula and was giving

unexpected results, one might first look at the nesting of

parentheses or the coding of the formula, as a {sanity check},

before looking at the more complex I/O or data structure

manipulation routines. Compare {reality check}. 2. A run-time

test, either validating input or ensuring that the program hasn’t

screwed up internally (producing an impossible value or state).

say: vt. In some contexts, to type to a terminal. “To list a

directory verbosely, you have to say `ls -l’”. Tends to imply

a carriage-return-terminated command (a `sentence’). A computer

may also be said to `say’ things to you even if it doesn’t have a

speech synthesizer, by displaying them on a terminal in response to

your commands. Hackers find it odd that this usage confuses other

people.

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;

see {defenestration}, {great-wall}, {cyberpunk}, {h infix}, {ha ha

only serious}, {IMHO}, {mundane}, {neep-neep}, {Real Soon Now}.

Additionally, the jargon terms {cowboy}, {cyberspace}, {de-rez},

{go flatline}, {ice}, {virus}, {wetware}, {wirehead}, and {worm}

originated in SF itself.

scram switch: [from the nuclear power industry] n. An

emergency-power-off switch (see {Big Red Switch}), esp. one

positioned to be easily hit by evacuating personnel. In general,

this is *not* something you frob lightly; these are installed

in a {dinosaur pen} for use in case of electrical fire or in case

some luckless {field servoid} should put 120 volts across himself

while {Easter egging}.

scratch: 1. [from `scratchpad'] adj. Describes a device or

recording medium attached to a machine for testing or temporary-use

purposes; one which can be {scribble}d on without loss. Usually

in the combining forms `scratch memory’, `scratch

register’, `scratch disk’, `scratch tape’, `scratch

volume’. See {scratch monkey}. 2. [primarily IBM] vt. 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

irreplaceable data or devices. Used to refer to any expendable

device or scratch volume hooked to a computer, 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: /skroo’@j/ n. Like {lossage} but connotes that the

failure is due to a designed-in misfeature rather than a simple

inadequacy or mere bug.

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.

scrog: /skrog/ [Bell Labs] vt. 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}

scrozzle: /skroz’l/ vt. Used when a self-modifying code segment runs

incorrectly and corrupts the running program, or vital data. “The

damn compiler scrozzled itself again!”

SCSI: /ess see ess ie/ n. Small Computer System Interface is a

system-level interface between a computer and intelligent devices.

Typically annotated in literature with `sexy’ (/sek’see/) and

`scuzzy’ (/skuhz’zee/) as pronunciation guides…the latter being

the predominating form, much to the dismay of the designers and

their marketing people.

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. (sometimes, more euphoniously,

`second-system-syndrome’.) When designing the successor to a

relatively small, elegant, and successful system, there is a

tendency to become grandiose in one’s success and design 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. A

similar effect can also happen in an evolving system; see

{creeping elegance}, {creaping featurism}. See also

{Multics}.

This version of the jargon lexicon has been described (with

altogether too much truth for comfort) as the result of

second-system effect applied to jargon-1…

segfault: n.,vi. Syn for {segment}, {seggie}.

seggie: /seg’ee/ [UNIX] n. Shorthand for {segmentation fault}

reported from Britain.

segment: /seg’ment/ vi. To experience a {segmentation fault}.

Confusingly, this is often accented on the first syllable rather

than on the second as for mainstream v. segment; this is because

it’s actually a noun shorthand that has been verbed.

segmentation fault: n. [UNIX] 1. Error in which a running program

attempts to access memory not allocated to it and {core dump}s

with a segment violation error. 2. To lose a train of thought or a

line of reasoning. Also uttered as an exclamation at the point of

befuddlement.

segv: /seg’vee/ n.,vi. Yet another synonym for {segmentation fault}.

self-reference: n. See {self-reference}.

selvage: /sel’v@j/ [from sewing] n. See {chad} (sense #1).

semi: /se’mee/ or /se’mie/ 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.” See

also {infinite}.

senior bit: [IBM] n. Syn. {meta bit}.

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 hundreds 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 author of `The Intel 8086 Primer’, who was one of the

original designers of the 8086, noted that there was originally a

SEX instruction on that processor. He says that Intel management

got cold feet and decreed that it be changed, and thus the

instruction was renamed CBW and CWD (depending on what was being

extended). Amusingly, the Intel 8048 (the microcontroller used in

IBM PC keyboards) is also missing straight SEX but has logical-or

and logical-and instructions ORL and ANL.

sex changer: n. Syn. {gender mender}.

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},

{crippleware}.

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; so called because

it’s the part of the operating system that interfaces to the

outside world. 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. vi. 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 /l@sh/, from the PDP-10

instruction set.

shitogram: /shit’oh-gram/ n. A *really* nasty piece of email.

Compare {nastygram}, {flame}.

short card: n. A half-length IBM PC expansion card or adapter that

will fit in one of the two short slots located towards the right

rear of a standard chassis (tucked behind the floppy disk drives).

See also {tall card}.

shotgun debugging: n. The software equivalent of {Easter egging};

the making of relatively undirected changes to software in the hope

that a bug will be perturbed out of existence. This almost never

works, and usually introduces more bugs.

showstopper: n. A hardware or (especially) software bug that makes

an implementation effectively unusable; one which absolutely has to

be fixed before development can go on. Opposite in connotation

from its original theatrical use, which referred to something

stunningly *good*.

shriek: n. See {excl}. Occasional CMU usage, also in common use

among APL fans and mathematicians, especially category theorists.

sidecar: n. 1. Syn. {slap on the side}. Esp. used of add-ons for

the late and unlamented IBM PCjr. 2. The IBM PC compatibility box

that could be bolted on to the side of an Amiga. Designed and

produced by Commodore and broke all of their design rules. If it

worked with any other peripherals it was {magic}.

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 net.

sig quote: /sig kwoht/ [USENET] n. A maxim, quote, proverb, joke, or

slogan embedded in one’s {sig block} 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 Quayle.”

signal-to-noise ratio: [from analog electronics] n. Used by hackers in

a generalization of its technical meaning. `Signal’ refers to

useful information conveyed by some communications medium and

`noise’ to anything else on that medium. Hence a low ratio

implies that it is not worth paying attention to the medium in

question. Figures for such metaphorical ratios are never given.

The term is most often applied to {USENET} newsgroups during {flame

wars}. Compare {bandwidth}. See also {coefficient of x}.

silicon: n. Hardware, esp. ICs or microprocessor-based computer

systems (compare {iron}). Contrasted with software.

silicon foundry: n. A company that {fab}s chips to the designs of

others. As of the late 1980s, the existence of silicon foundries

made it much easier for hardware-designing startup companies to come

into being. The downside of using a silicon foundry is that the

distance from the actual chip fabrication processes leads to weaker

designers. This is somewhat analogous to the use of a {HLL} versus

coding in assembler.

silly walk: [from Monty Python] vi. 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, presumably because it was this storage space for

fungible stuff that you put in the top and took out the bottom.

Silver Book: 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 (ISBN

0-387-90144-2). See {Red Book}, {Green Book}, {Blue Book}, {White

Book}, {Purple Book}, {Orange Book}, {Pink-Shirt Book}, {Dragon

Book}, {Aluminum Book}.

since time T equals minus infinity: adj. 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’.

See also {time T}.

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). The obligatory

comment when discussing these is Harris’s Lament: “All the good

ones are taken!” See also {network address}.

skulker: n. Syn. {prowler}.

slap on the side: n. (also called a {sidecar}, or abbreviated

{SOTS}.) A type of external expansion marketed by computer

manufacturers (e.g. Commodore for their Amiga 500/1000 series and

IBM for the hideous failure they called `PCjr’). Various SOTS boxes

provided necessities such as memory, hard drive controllers, and

conventional expansion slots.

sleep: vi. On a timesharing system, a process that relinquishes its

claim on the scheduler until some given event occurs or a specified

time delay elapses is said to `go to sleep’.

slim: n. A small, derivative change (e.g., to code).

slop: n. 1. A one-sided {fudge factor}, 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}. 2. n. The ratio of

the size code generated by a compiler to the size of equivalent

assembler code produced by {hand-hacking}, 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

{background}.

sluggy: /sluhg’ee/ adj. Hackish variant of `sluggish’. Used only of

people, esp. someone just waking up after a long {gronk out}.

slurp: vt. 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} 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. Compare {glass tty}.

There’s a classic quote from Rob Pike (inventor of the {blit}

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 case: vi. To lose or obliterate the uppercase/lowercase

distinction in text input. “MS-DOS will automatically smash case

in the names of all the files you create.” Compare {fold case}.

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} the stack, {mangle} the stack;

{mung} the stack is not used as this is never done intentionally.

See {spam}; see also {aliasing bug}, {fandango on core}, {memory

leak}, {precedence lossage}, {overrun screw}.

smiley: n. See {emoticon}.

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}.

Note: There is an interesting parallel to this term among

typographers and printers. When punchcutting new typefaces by

hand, a `smoke test’ (hold the letter in candle smoke, then press

onto paper) is used to check out new dies.

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 (the U.S.’s Food and Drug

Adminbnistration) 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 enhance a FORTRAN

compiler to compile COBOL as well; it’s just a SMOP.” 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.

SNAFU principle: n. “True communication is only possible between

equals, because inferiors are more consistently rewarded for

telling their superiors pleasant lies than for telling the truth”

— a central tenet of {Discordianism} often invoked by hackers

to explain the reason authoritarian hierarchies screw up so

reliably and systematically. There is a common fable

that well illustrates this. A {hacker} says to a manager, “This

is manure”. Manager to second-level, “This is fertilizer”.

Second-level to third-level, “This makes things grow”.

Third-level to Director, “Must be good stuff”. After the

subsequent disaster, the {suits} protect themselves by saying “I

was misinformed”, and the programmer is demoted or fired.

snail-mail: n. Paper mail, as opposed to electronic. Sometimes

written as the single word `SnailMail’. One’s postal address is,

correspondingly, a `snail address’. Derives from earlier

coinage `USnail’ for which there have been parody posters and

stamps made. Oppose {email}.

snarf: /snarf/ vt. 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 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}. This term was

mainstream in the late 1960s meaning `to eat piggishly’.

snarf & barf: /snarf’n-barf/ n. The act of grabbing a region of text

using a {WIMP environment} and then stuffing the contents of that

region into another region or into the same region, to avoid

re-typing a command line. In the late 1960s this was a

mainstream expression for an “Eat now, regret it later”

cheap-restaurant expedition.

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 snark.thyrsus.com,

home site of the Jargon File 2.x.x versions (this lexicon).

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}.

snivitz: /sniv’itz/ n. A hiccup in hardware or software; a small,

transient problem of unknown origin (less serious than a

{snark}).

SO: /ess-oh/ n. (also `S.O.’) Acronym for Significant Other,

almost invariably written abbreviated and pronounced /ess-oh/ by

hackers. Used to refer to one’s primary relationship, esp. a

live-in to whom one is not married. See {MOTAS}, {MOTOS},

{MOTSS}.

social science number: [IBM] n. A statistic which is

{content-free}, or nearly so. A measure derived via methods of

questionable validity from data of a dubious and vague nature.

Predictively, having a social science number in hand is seldom much

better than nothing and can be considerably worse. {Management}

loves them. See also {numbers}, {math-out}, {pretty

pictures}.

softcopy: n. [by analogy with `hardcopy'] A machine-readable form of

corresponding hardcopy. See {bits}.

software bloat: n. The results of {second-system effect} or

{creeping featuritis}. Commonly cited examples include

`ls(1)’, {X}, {BSD}, {Missed’em-five}, and {OS/2}.

software rot: n. Term used to describe the tendency of software

which has not been used in a while; such failure may be

semi-humorously ascribed to {bit rot}. More commonly,

`software rot’ strikes when a program’s assumptions become out

of date. If the design was insufficiently {robust} this may

cause it to fail in mysterious ways. For example, due to endemic

shortsightedness in the design of COBOL programs, most will succumb

to software rot when their two-digit year counters {wrap around} at

the beginning of the year 2000.

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 instruction 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 opcode, right? No one uses

it.”)

Compare {bit rot}.

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}.

softy: [IBM] n. Hardware hackers’ term for a software expert who

is largely ignorant of the mysteries of hardware.

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.” See

also {J. Random}.

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}.

SOS: n.,obs. /ess-oh-ess/ 1. An infamously {losing} text editor.

Once, back in the 1960s, 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 acquaintance. Since then other

programs similar in style to SOS have been written, notably BILOS

/bye’lohs/ the Brother-In-Law Of Stopgap. See also {TECO}. 2.

/sos/ n. Inverse of {AOS}, from the PDP-10 instruction set.

source of all good bits: n. See {bits}.

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}. It was inspired

by the Stanford keyboard and equipped with no less than

*seven* shift keys: four keys for {bucky bits} (`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 reduced typing time (this view rather obviously

shaped the interface of EMACS). Other hackers, however, thought

having that many bucky bits was overkill, and objected that such a

keyboard can require three or four hands to operate. See {bucky

bits}, {cokebottle}, {double bucky}, {meta bit}, {quadruple

bucky}.

SPACEWAR: n. A space-combat simulation game (inspired by E. E.

“Doc” Smith’s `Lensman’ books) in which two spaceships duel

around a central sun, shooting torpedoes at each other and jumping

through hyperspace. This game was 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}. Ten years after

that, SPACEWAR was commercialized as one of the first video games;

descendants are still {feep}ing in video arcades everywhere.

spaghetti code: n. Describes code with a complex and tangled

control structure, esp. one using many GOTOs, exceptions, or other

`unstructured’ branching constructs. Pejorative. 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}.

spam: [from the {MUD} community] vt. To crash a program by overrunning

a fixed-size buffer with excessively large input data. See also

{overrun screw}, {smash the stack}.

special-case: vt. To write unique code to handle input or command

to a program that is somehow distinguished from normal processing.

This would be used for processing of mode switches or interrupt

characters in an interactive interface (as opposed, say, to text

entry or normal commands); or for processing of {hidden flag}s in

the input of a batch program or {filter}.

spell: n. Syn. {incantation}.

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. This word was common

mainstream slang during the 1940s, in a sense close to #1.

spin: vi. Equivalent to {buzz}. More common among C and UNIX

programmers.

spin-lock: [Cambridge] n. A {busy-wait}. Preferred in Britain.

spl: /ess-pee-ell/ [abbrev, from Set Priority Level] The way

traditional UNIX kernels implement mutual exclusion by running code

at high interrupt levels. Used in slang to describe the act of

tuning in or tuning out ordinary communication. Classically, spl

levels run from 1 to 7; “Fred’s at spl 6 today” would mean he’s

very hard to interrupt. “Wait till I finish this, I’ll spl down

then.” See also {interrupts locked out}.

splat: n. 1. Name used in many places (DEC, IBM, and others) for

the ASCII asterisk (`*’) character. This may derive from the

`squashed-bug’ appearance of the asterisk on many early line

printers. 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; it is used by mathematicians as a

notation for `cross-product’) 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. 6. [Rochester Institute of Technology]

The command key on a Macintosh. Usage: nobody really agrees what

character `splat’ is, but the term is common. See also {{ASCII}}

spooge: /spooj/ 1. n. Inexplicable or arcane code, or random and

probably incorrect output from a computer program. 2. vi. To

generate code or output as in definition 1.

spool: [from early IBM `Simultaneous Peripheral Operation Off-Line’,

but this acronym is widely thought to have been contrived for

effect] vt. 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

devices).

stack: n. A person’s stack 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 stack. “I’m afraid I’ve got real work to

do, so this’ll have to be pushed way down on my stack.” “I

haven’t done it yet because every time I pop my stack something new

gets pushed.” If you are interrupted several times in the middle

of a conversation, “my stack overflowed” means “I forget what we

were talking about” (the implication is that too many items were

pushed onto the stack than could be remembered, and so the least

recent items were lost). 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. See also {PUSH} and {POP}.

At MIT, all the {stack} usages used to be more commonly found

with {pdl}, and this may still be true. Everywhere else

{stack} seems to be the preferred term. {Knuth} writes (in

`The Art of Computer Programming’ 1st edition, vol 1, page 236

in section 2.2.1):

Many people who realized the important of stacks and queues

independently have given other names to these structures:

stacks have been called push-down lists, reversion storages,

cellars, nesting stores, piles, last-in-first-out (“LIFO”)

lists, and even yo-yo lists!

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: 1. 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?”. 2.

Information being maintained in non-permanent memory (electronic or

human).

stiffy: [Lowell University] n. 3.5″ {microfloppies}, so called

because their jackets are more firm than the 5.25″ and 8″ floppy.

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.

See {random}, {great-wall}, {ravs}, {{Oriental Food}}; see also

{mumble}.

stomp on: vt. 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

{scribble}, {mangle}, {trash}, {scrog}, {roach}.

Stone Age: n.,adj. 1. In computer folklore, an ill-defined period

from ENIAC (c.1943) to the mid-1950s; the great age of

electromechanical {dinosaur}s. Sometimes used for the entire

period up to 1960-61 (see {Iron Age}); however, it is funnier and

more descriptive to characterize the latter half in terms of a

`Bronze Age’ era of all-transistor, pre-ferrite-core machines

with drum or CRT mass storage (as opposed to just mercury delay

lines and/or relays). See also {Iron Age}. 2. More generally, a

pejorative for any crufty, ancient piece of hardware or software

technology. Note that this is used even by people who were there

for the {Stone Age} (sense #1).

stoppage: /sto’p@j/ n. Extreme {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.

studlycaps: /stuhd’lee-kaps/ n. A hackish form of silliness similar

to {BiCapitalization}, but applied to random text rather than

trademarks. ThE oRigiN and SigNificaNce of thIs pRacTicE iS

oBscuRe.

stunning: adj. Mind-bogglingly stupid. Usually used in sarcasm.

“You want to code *what* in ADA? That’s…a stunning idea!”

See also {non-optimal solution}.

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}.

sucking mud: [Applied Digital Research] adj. (also `pumping

mud’) Crashed or wedged. Usually said of a machine that provides

some service to a network, such as a file server. This Dallas

regionalism derives from the East Texas oil field lament, “Shut

‘er down, Ma, she’s a-suckin’ mud.” Often used as a query. “We

are going to reconfigure the network, are you ready to suck mud?”

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.

suitable win: n. See {win}.

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}).

sunspots: n. Notional cause of an odd error. “Why did the program

suddenly turn the screen blue?” “Sunspots, I guess”. Also the

cause of {bit rot}, 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 {cosmic rays}, {phase of the

moon}.

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}.

support: n. After-sale handholding; something many software vendors

promise, but few deliver. To hackers, most support people are

useless — because by the time a hacker calls support he/she will

usually know the relevant manuals better than the support people

(sadly, this is *not* a joke or exaggeration). A hacker’s

idea of `support’ is a one-on-one with the software’s designer.

Suzie COBOL: /soo’zee koh’bol/ 1. [IBM, prob. from Frank Zappa’s

“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: /swob/ [From the mnemonic for the PDP-11 `byte swap’

instruction, as immortalized in the dd(1) option `conv=swab’

(see {dd})] 1. vt. to solve the {NUXI problem} by swapping

bytes in a file. 2. The program in V7 UNIX used to perform this

action, or anything functionally equivalent to it. See also

{big-endian}, {little-endian}, {bytesexual}.

swap: [from mainstream verb meaning to exchange; to trade places]

vt. To move information from a fast-access memory to a slow-access

memory (`swap out’), or vice versa (`swap in’). This is a

technical term in computer science, and often specifically refers

to the use of disks as `virtual memory’. As pieces of data or

program are needed, they are swapped into main memory for

processing; when they are no longer needed for the nonce they are

swapped out again. The slang use of these terms is as a fairly

exact analogy referring to people’s memories. Cramming for an exam

might be spoken of as swapping in. If you temporarily forget

someone’s name, but then remember it, your excuse is that it was

swapped out. To “keep something swapped in” means to keep it

fresh in your memory: “I reread the TECO manual every few months

to keep it swapped in.” If someone interrupts you just got a good

idea, you might say, “Wait a moment while I write this down so I

can swap it out”, implying that if you don’t write it down it will

get swapped out (forgotten) as you talk. Compare {page in},

{page out}.

swap space: n. Storage space, especially temporary storage space

used during a move or reconfiguration. “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.,vi. 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: [coined by Peter Landin] 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 is syntactic sugar for

`*(a + i)’. “Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the

semicolon.” — Alan Perlis.

sys-frog: /sis’frog/ [the PLATO system] n. Playful hackish variant

of `sysprog’ which is in turn short for `systems-programmer’.

sysop: /sis’op/ n. [BBS] The operator (and usually owner) of a

bulletin-board system. A common neophyte mistake on {FidoNet} is

to address a message to `sysop’ in an international {echo}, thus

sending it to hundreds of sysops world-wide.

system: n. 1. The supervisor program or OS on a computer. 2. 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.” 6. `System hacker’: one who hacks the

system (in sense #1 only; for sense #3 one mentions the particular

program: e.g., `LISP hacker’)

system mangler: n. Humorous synonym for `system programmer’;

compare {sys-frog}. Refers specifically to a systems programmer

in charge of administration, software maintainance, and updates at

some site. Unlike {admin}, this term emphasizes the technical

end of the skills involved.

= 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}.

tail recursion: n. If you haven’t already, see {tail recursion}.

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. Some of these are

identical to (and probably derived from) Morse-code jargon used by

ham-radio amateurs going back to the 1920s.

BCNU Be seeing you.

BTW By the way… Lower-case also works.

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 {NIL}).

O Over to you (lower-case works too).

OO Over and out (lower-case works too).

/ Another form of “Over to you” (from x/y as “x over y”)

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).

WRT With Regard To or With Respect To.

WTF The universal interrogative particle. WTF knows what

it means?

WTH What the hell?

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.

: 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). On a MUD, this usually means

`earthquake fault’.

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

grin

BBL be back later

BRB be right back

HHOJ ha ha only joking

HHOS {ha ha only serious}

LOL laughing out loud

ROTF rolling on the floor

ROTFL rolling on the floor laughing

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}.

The {MUD} community uses a mixture of USENET/Internet emoticons, a

few of the more natural of the old-style talk mode abbrevs, and

some of the `social’ list above; specifically, MUD respondents

report use of BBL, BRB, LOL, b4, BTW, WTF, and WTH. The use of

rehi is also common; in fact, mudders are fond of re- compounds and

will frequently `rehug’ or `rebonk’ (see {bonk/oif}) people. The

verb `re’ by itself is verbed as `re-greet’ In general, though,

mudders express a preference for typing things out in full rather

than using abbreviations; this may be due to the relative youth of

the MUD cultures, which tend to include many touch typists and

assume high-speed links. The following uses specific to MUDs are

reported:

UOK? Are you OK?

THX Thanks (mutant of TNX)

CU l8er See you later (mutant of CU l8tr)

OTT over the top (excessive, uncalled for)

Some {BIFF}isms (notably the variant spelling `d00d’) appear to be

passing into wider use among some subgroups of mudders. See also

{hakspek}, {emoticon}, {bonk/oif}.

tall card: n. A PC/AT-sized expansion card (these can be larger

than IBM-PC or XT cards because the AT case is bigger). See also

{short card}.

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)'] vt. 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: [primarily MIT-DMS] n. 1. 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. 2. Alt. sp. of {tayste}.

tayste: n. Also as {taste}; two bits. Syn. {crumb}, {quarter}.

Compare {{byte}}, {dynner}, {playte}, {nybble}.

TCB: /tee see bee/ [IBM] n. 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}.

tea, ISO standard cup of: [South Africa] n. A cup of tea with milk

and one teaspoon of sugar, where the milk was poured into the cup

before the tea. Variations are ISO 0, with no sugar, ISO 2, with

two spoons of sugar, and so on.

Note: like many ISO standards, this one has a faintly alien ring in

North America, wherein hackers generally shun the decadent British

practice of adulterating perfectly good tea with *dairy

products* and prefer instead to add a wedge of lemon, if anything.

If one were feeling extremely silly, one might hypothecate an

analogous `ANSI standard cup of tea’ and wind up with a

political situation distressingly similar to several that arise in

much more serious technical contexts. Milk and lemon don’t mix

very well.

TechRef: [MS-DOS] n. The original `IBM PC Technical Reference

Manual’ including the BIOS listing and complete schematics for the

PC. The only PC documentation in the issue package that’s

considered serious by real hackers.

TECO: /tee’koh/ obs. 1. vt. Originally, to edit using the TECO editor

in one of its infinite variations (see below); sometimes still used

to mean `to edit’ even when not using TECO! Usage: rare and now

primarily historical. 2. [originally an acronym for (paper)

`Tape Editor and COrrector’; later, `Text Editor and

Corrector’] n. 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},

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

Hackers, Fact n Fiction

echo|zine, issue 15 ——————–[ Notes : Hackers , Fact n Fiction]——————- ——————–[ y3dips ]——————- Sudah tidak jarang aku temui atau kita temui bahwa dibeberapa (hampir semua) media (baik elektronik dan surat kabar) menampilkan berita atau bahkan menjadi headline dimedia tersebut yang bertuliskan “Seorang Hacker menjebol ****** dan mencuri ribuan kartu kredit”, atau “Hacker situs “211611″ akhirnya tertangkap”, atau bahkan hanya “Hacker mengganti tampilan situs ANU dan merubah beberapa artikel penting”. Terus terang saja cita citaku adalah menjadi hacker (just like u, i just want to be a hacker)dan hampir di setiap permulaan “seminar” atau “workshop” yang kebetulan akulah pembawa materinya, maka selalu aku menyebutkannya, dan setiap kali itu pula berpasang-pasang mata berdelik curiga, menuduh, dan tidak percaya (sambil geleng kepala) bahwa ada “orang bodoh” lainnya yang mau-maunya bercita-cita menjadi hacker, atau bahkan berfikir dalam hati “sial, pembicara kali ini pengen jadi kriminal, salah pilih seminar nih”. Wajar saja, didikan media baik dalam negeri dan luar negeri memang membentuk pola fikir seperti itu, (ingat bagaimana kita sama-sama dengan pasti mengikuti satu “script (kalimat)” dari suatu iklan, baik secara sadar atau tidak). Tidak hanya satu kali film-film keluaran “hollywood” dan lain sebagainya [MAAF] “memperkosa” pengertian hacker demi keuntungan pribadi/pihak tertentu. Disini aku mengutip Pengantar yang di tulis oleh Jeff Moss pada sebuah buku yang berjudul “Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent” terbitan Syngress, dan disitu Jeff Moss mengatakan bahwa : ” The term hacker has been co-opted through media hype and marketing campaigns to mean something evil. It was a convenient term already in use, and so instead of simply saying someone was a criminal hacker, the media just called him a hacker. You would not describe a criminal auto mechanic as simply a mechanic, and you shouldn’t do the same with a hacker, either.” — 3rd paragraph Nah, dari kalimat diatas jelas bahwa Jeff Moss ingin mengatakan bahwa Gembar-gembor media dan keuntungan penjualanlah yang membuat penyalahgunaan arti hacker, secara ekstrim aku ingin mengambil contoh seorang Guru yang telah melakukan suatu tindak kriminal pembunuhan, apakah aku dan kita dengan serta merta menyebut guru adalah pembunuh dan semua guru-guru lainnya adalah kriminal ? aku rasa tidak, dan yang menjadi pertanyaan adalah kenapa hal itu tidak berlaku pada hacker, apakah seorang “criminal hacker” akan di sebut hacker dan hacker adalah seorang kriminal? Masih tetap di buku yang sama dan di chapter yang sama (pengantar) Jeff Moss mengungkap bahwa hacker bukan hanya masalah kemampuan tetapi juga “moral” “While you may have the skills, if you lack the mental fortitude, you will never reach the top. This is what separates the truly elite hackers from the wannabe hackers.” — 1st paragraph Apabila moral tidak terpenuhi maka individu tersebut tidak akan pernah dapat meraih puncak, dan hal inilah yang sesungguhnya menjadikan pembeda antara “hacker elit” dan “hacker pemula”. Apabila kamu semakin frustasi dengan pengertian hacker, Jeff Moss menyebutkan bahwa hacker adalah seseorang yang secara teknis memiliki gabungan kemampuan sebagai seorang programmer dan administrator sistem komputer yang saling melengkapi. ” Originally, it was a compliment applied to technically adept computer programmers and system administrators.” — 2nd pragraph Kevin Mitnick dalam kalimat pengantar di bukunya yang berjudul Art Of Deception, juga menyebutkan bahwa hacker yang merusak (berbuat kriminal?) disebut juga “crackers” atau “vandals” dan mereka yang hanya mendownload tools untuk masuk ke sistem komputer hanyalah “Script Kiddies”. ” Some hackers destroy people’s files or entire hard drives; they’re called crackers or vandals. Some novice hackers don’t bother learning the technology, but simply download hacker tools to break into computer systems; they’re called script kiddies. “ – Preface —// Referensi 1. Jeff Moss, (Dark tangent, BlackHat.inc) Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent, Syngress Publishing (c) 2004 2. Kevin Mitnick, (Condor, ) THE ART OF DECEPTION : “Controlling the Human Element of Security”

All About hacking

“Dan aku menemukan sebuah dunia diluar sana …”

[H3D87]

Kembali ke tahun 1959 ketika semua ini bermula. Tak ada yang bisa
membayangkan “EAM room” pada Building 26 MIT saat itu. Sebuah
ruangan baru di MIT, Massacusetts Institute of Technology tempat
dimana sebuah mesin yang bekerja seperti komputer tertidur pulas.

Saat itu tidak banyak orang yang dapat membayangkan sebuah mesin
pintar, sebuah komputer. Namun sebuah keberuntungan bagi beberapa
orang anak muda yang tergabung dalam ‘TECH MODEL RAILROAD CLUB’,
TMRC. Saat gerbang terbuka lebar, dan inilah saatnya untuk HACKING
dan menemukan bagaimana mesin ini bekerja.

Hacker adalah sebuah julukan bagi seorang programmer yang mampu
membuat sebuah aplikasi atau sebuah alogaritma pemecahan masalah
yang lebih baik dari pada yang telah dirancang bersama. Lebih luas
dari itu Hacker adalah orang yang bisa mengatasi keterbatasan dengan
cara yang lebih baik dan sederhana -bahkan terkesan unik-.

Seorang Hacker memiliki pola pikir yang mantap dalam menyelesaikan
permasalahan-permasalahan seputar logika dan analisa. Hal ini yang
banyak membuat Hacker melabelisasi diri sebagai seorang ‘NERD’.
Prinsip serupa yang dilakukan sebagai lompatan sosial dimana
kurangnya penghargaan masyarakat akan ‘jiwa/perilaku’ Hacker itu
sendiri.

Seiring berlalunya waktu, makna dari Hacking mulai meluas -bahkan
menyalahi- dari makna yang sebenarnya.

Hacking. Setiap maniak komputer, ‘Techno Nerd’, ‘Hackivist’,
‘Hacker’ punya pengertian tersendiri tentang Hacking.

[1] H3D87 (Penulis)
Hacking adalah suatu bentuk pola pikir dan teknik pemecahan masalah
yang lebih baik dari yang telah dirancang bersama dan terkadang
terkesan unik.

Bagi saya Hacking tidak hanya tergantung dalam konteks komputer,
software Hacking, kernel Hacking, hardware Hacking. Namun dalam
konteks dunia. Dunia adalah tempat yang indah untuk Hacking.
Perhatikan dunia, ambil suatu permasalahan dan mulai cari cara untuk
mengatasinya dengan lebih baik.

‘Perhatikan, Pelajari, Kuasai’

[H3D87]

[2] R. Kresno Aji
Hacking adalah suatu seni dalam memahami sistem operasi dan
sekaligus salah satu cara dalam mendalami sistem keamanan jaringan,
sehingga kita bisa menemukan cara yang lebih baik dalam mengamankan
sistem dan jaringan.

(Terima kasih atas inputnya :), H3D87)

[3]y3dips (echo staff)
Hacking adalah bagaimana memberikan”nutrisi”yang lebihkepada otakmu,
bagaimana asyiknya mejalankan semua kemungkinan untuk dapatkepastian
hacking adalah memacu batas-batas kemampuan untuk temukan kepuasan;
temukan ; temukan dan temukan.
hacking bukan kejahatan; tetapi seni untuk “hidup” di dunia maya

[4] Anda sendiri … (temukan)

Sebelum melangkah lebih jauh, ada baiknya anda meresapi makna dari
Hacking dalam hidup anda. Setiap manusia punya pola pikir dan
pemahaman tersendiri, sudah saatnya bagi anda untuk mencari makna
Hacking, sesuai dengan hati nurani anda !!

Jangan lupa untuk mengirimkan makna Hacking anda kepada saya via
e-mail ke: h3d87@yahoo.com

[SANG HACKER]

Mari mulai melangkah …

‘I am a Hacker, enter my world.’

[The Conscience of Hacker, The Mentor]

Hacker didominasi oleh pria, dan sebagian besar remaja pria. Cukup
wajar -saya rasa- mengingat setiap pria punya impian dan punya
semangat untuk mewujudkannya. Hacker secara sosial, memiliki status
sosial menengah. Menengah dalam artian mereka cukup sejahtera dan
bisa memiliki komputer dan akses internet. Memang internet tidak
bisa lepas dari kehidupan Hacker. Di internet lah para Hacker
bertemu, berdiskusi dan saling berkelakar.

Secara psikologi dan naluriah Hacker memiliki banyak persamaan.
Setiap Hacker pada dasarnya anti otoritas. Dimana otoritas yang
sewenang-wenang akan membuat semua pemikiran baru dan ilmiah
dilecehkan. Otoritas juga yang membuat sistem dan tatanan kehidupan
begitu menjemukan. Kebebasan itu indah, tapi ingat kebebasan anda
adalah kebebasan orang lain juga. Bersiaplah untuk menarik diri jika
anda mulai merasa cukup egois.

Dalam kehidupan sosial Hacker biasanya tidak memiliki tempat.
Terlarut dalam kehidupan sosial akan membuat anda lengah -bahkan
malas-. Kehidupan sosial itu bukannya menjijikkan, hanya saja budaya
mainstream sekarang sangat keras. Saat manajemen mengalahkan teknik.
Setiap orang berlomba-lomba untuk menciptakan sebuah manajemen yang
ideal, tanpa pernah berpikir apakah sistem tersebut cukup ideal
untuk diterapkan secara teknik.

Kehidupan sosial juga banyak memberi dampak negatif.
Rasionalitas sekarang telah luntur. Setiap teori baru yang
diterapkan dalam kehidupan sosial ditolak dengan sangat skeptik. Dan
yang paling jelas, semakin sorang Hacker terjun kedalam kehidupan
sosial (non ilmiah) mereka sudah tidak punya waktu lagi untuk
membaca, belajar, dan mengembangkan teorinya.

Namun hal ini jangan dinilai dengan begitu ekstrim. Bagaimanapun
setiap manusia adalah makhluk sosial. Butuh orang lain ‘yang nyata’.
Dan bukanlah hal yang aneh jika seorang Hacker memiliki kehidupan
sosial yang baik, ikut dalam organisasi sosial masyarakat, memiliki
kekasih dan hidup normal di masyarakat. Hal ini malah sangat baik !

Secara fisik Hacker bisa dikenali dengan kegemaran membaca, tampil
eksentrik, dan memiliki pola pikir yang sedikit -bahkan banyak-
menyimpang.

Gemar membaca adalah syarat utama untuk menjadi seorang Hacker.
Dunia bisa dijelajahi melalui buku. Hacker biasanya tertarik dengan
bahasan berorientasi teknik, fiksi ilmiah juga manual-manual
komputer (biasa disebut RTFM, Read The Fuckin’ Manual).

Bacaan fiksi ilmiah secara tidak langsung akan
menginspirasikan kepada kita beberapa hal baru. Bacaan fiksi
ilmiah juga memberikan kita pencerahan kebebasan berfikir. Mulailah
berkhayal, mimpikan sesuatu, pelajari dan wujudkan! Percaya atau
tidak, tapi sebagian besar penemuan dekade ini merupakan impian pada
dekade-dekade sebelumnya.

Hacker dan ‘nyentrik’ sebenarnya tidak ada hubungan sama sekali.
Namun dengan kebebasan berfikir tadi, setiap Hacker menerapkan
sebuah konsep hidup dan gaya hidup yang unik, yang pasti dengan
‘begitu’ mereka merasa nyaman.

Kehidupan Hacker sewaktu remaja bisa dikatakan cukup sulit. Remaja
saat ini masih belum bisa memahami kehidupan seorang ‘geek’. Geek
sebagai labelisasi dari Hacker terkesan ‘glow in the dark’. Baik
fisik maupun psikologis mereka cukup berbeda dengan ‘anak-anak
populer’ di sekolah. Seperti ‘Peter Deutsch’ (salah satu Hacker
gelombang pertama), ‘anak’ ini tidak memiliki kemampuan apa-apa
dibidang olah raga, namun ‘master’ dalam matematika. Remaja
saat ini jauh lebih menghargai penampilah fisik dan kemampuan
dilapangan. Tidak seharusnya seseorang dihargai karna
‘kecantikannya’, karna dia adalah seorang ‘…..’, tapi dalam dunia
Hacker seseorang dihargai dari apa yang dilakukan dan apa yang
dipikirkannya.

Banyak diantara Hacker yang bosan dengan formalitas dan tuntutan
sosial. Bahkan diantara mereka, mencoba mendobrak tuntutan sosial
tersebut.

Sebagai contoh, sekolah. Hacker-hacker muda biasanya benci sekolah.
Sekolah sering diibaratkan sebagai ‘Makanan Bayi’. Ketika Hacker
tumbuh dewasa dan rasa ingin tahunya tak terpuaskan dengan sekolah,
mereka belajar dari dunia. Belajar dengan mengamati, yang disebut
sebagai visual learning. Sekolah terkadang -hampir pasti- tidak
memberikan jawaban terhadap rasa ingin tahu seorang Hacker. Salah
satu alasan mengapa mereka membenci sekolah.

Satu-satunya cara untuk mengenal dunia adalah dengan mengamatinya.
Kita harus belajar dari dunia. Perhatikan dunia, cari pola dan
kesamaannya maka kita akan dapat belajar banyak hal.

Sebagai contoh:

Kita belajar hukum kelembaman di sekolah. Dimana sebuah benda
cenderung untuk mempertahankan posisinya untuk tetap diam atau
bergerak melalui garis lurus.
Coba kita hubungkan dengan kehidupan. Anda pasti pernah untuk
mencoba bersantai sejenak dihari libur. Hari pertama anda habiskan
untuk bermain Play Station (tidak belajar). Hari ke 2 anda habiskan
untuk mencoba 8 game terbaru yang anda download beserta crackz nya
(tanpa belajar). Begitu juga hari selanjutnya anda habiskan dengan
bermain tanpa belajar, hingga liburan usai. Dan ketika anda memulai
untuk kembali belajar, anda akan mendapat kesulitan dan bahkan
terkadang anda harus memulai dari awal (scratch) lagi. Saat inilah
‘kelembaman’ terjadi pada diri anda. Diri anda cenderung untuk
mempertahankan posisi untuk tetap bermain dan tanpa anda sadari anda
yang telah berada 2 satuan disebelah kanan titik keseimbangan (2
poin kebaikan), ternyata sekarang berada 2 satuan sebelah kiri titik
keseimbangan (2 poin keburukan). Anda telah bergeser 4 langkah
kebelakang dari posisi awal. Maka untuk mencapai nilai yang lebih
tinggi dari posisi awal tadi, anda harus mengeluarkan energi
sebesar:

2 (sampai titik keseimbangan) + 2 (posisi awal anda) + n (posisi
yang hendak anda raih).

Semua hal dalam hidup ini saling berhubungan. Pelajarilah !!

“Pelajarilah semesta ini. Jangan merasa kecewa jika dunia tidak
mengenal anda, tapi kecewalah jika anda tidak mengenal dunia”

[Kong Fu Tse]

[IDENTIFIKASI HACKER]

Menurut Marc Rogers, Hacker dapat di-identifikasi atas:

[1]. Old School Hackers
Kelompok tertua sekaligus pionir dari mitologi Hacker.
Mereka adalah sekelompok anak muda ‘Techno Nerd’ yang
berasal dari MIT atau Stanford University. Mereka begitu
menikmati pemprograman dan analisa sistem tanpa tertarik
kepada pengerusakan sistem dan pencurian data.

[2]. Script Kiddies atau Cyber Punks
Kelompok ini biasanya lebih muda. Mereka berusia 12-30 tahun
dan kebanyakan masih berada dibangku sekolah. Bosan
terhadap sekolah, namun mereka mempunyai pengetahuan yang
luas tentang teknologi. Mereka mengambil script/eksploits
lalu menggunakannya untuk menghancurkan sistem sebanyak
mungkin yang dapat dilakukannya.

[3]. Profesional kriminal atau CRACKERS
Kelompok ini memiliki kemampuan komputer yang sangat
tinggi, namun memiliki sifat naluri pengerusakan yang besar.
Mereka biasanya dibayar oleh sebuah perusahaan untuk
menjatuhkan lawan bisnisnya.

[4]. Coder/Virus Writer
Bakat alamiah seorang programmer. Mereka mampu melakukan
Coding setiap hari, serta menemukan kelemahannya. Mereka
tertarik dengan sebuah kehidupan artifisial. Membuat sesuatu
yang ‘hidup’ dalam komputer. Mencobanya dalam sebuah
laboratorium virus komputer yang disebut ‘ZOO’, lalu
melepaskannya di dunia liar (baca: Internet)

[HACKER VS CRACKER]

Di sisi lain dunia Hacker. Terdapat pula sekumpulan ahli komputer
bawah tanah, ‘Techno Junkies’, atau yang lebih dikenal sebagai
CRACKER.

Cracker adalah sisi gelap dari Hacker. Mereka mengggunakan
kemampuan mereka untuk mendapatkan akses ke dalam komputer/data
bank dan data-data rahasia. Pada dasarnya mereka adalah orang-orang
pintar, kepandaian mereka dalam ilmu komputer menyamai -bahkan
lebih- dari Hacker, namun sayang ilmu mereka dimanfaatkan untuk hal
yang tidak berguna.

Dari sini bisa kita tarik kesimpulan bahwa, ada jurang pemisah
antara Hacker dengan Cracker. Keduanya adalah relevan tapi tidak
sama. Keduanya tetaplah aktifis elektronik, namun berjalan di jalan
yang berbeda.

Bagi Hacker, mereka biasanya sedikit enggan untuk berhubungan dengan
Cracker. Cracker sudah seharusnya keluar dari ‘Play Pen’ (box tempat
bayi bermain) dan mulai untuk menanggapi komputer secara serius
bukan sekedar bermain (baca: bereksperimen)

[PANGGUNG PERHACKINGAN]

Jika kita melangkah lebih dalam, mengenal dan bukan hanya
mengetahui, kita akan menemui sebuah sub-kultural dalam dunia
Hacking. Secara elektronis, Hacker-Hacker seluruh dunia berhubungan
baik itu melalui IRC, Messengger dan E-mail. Dan dalam menjalin
hubungan yang baik antar sesama Hacker dibentuklah sebuah aturan
main/kode etik.

[KODE ETIK HACKER]

[1]. Akses ke komputer atau apapun yang dapat mengajari
anda bagaimana dunia bekerja haruslah tidak terbatas.
Selalu acungkan jari tengah dalam setiap bentuk
imprelialisme dan pengekangan.

[2]. Semua informasi haruslah gratis (bebas)

[3]. Jangan pernah percaya kepada OTORITAS.

[4]. Hackers -dan siapa-pun- haruslah dihargai dengan
kemampuan Hackingnya, bukan dikarenakan bogus kriteria,
seperti tingkatan, umur, dan posisi.

[5]. Kita dapat membuat keindahan dengan komputer.

[6]. Komputer dapat membuat hidup kita menjadi lebih baik.

[7]. Seperti lampu ‘Aladdin’, kita dapat membuat apapun
berada dalam genggaman.

Setiap Hacker sejati haruslah selalu menjalankan kode etik, walaupun
tidak ada keharusan dalam menjalankannya. Namun dalam dunia
itelektual, melanggar kode etik adalah suatu hal yang sangat
memalukan. Ingatlah, Hacker memiliki ingatan yang baik, sekali saja
anda melanggar kode etik, maka untuk kembali dan berinteraksi dengan
komunitas dibutuhkan waktu yang sangat lama.

Berkembangnya komputer mini dengan harga yang semakin terjangkau
membuat komunitas elektronik ini meluas.

Pada saat itu (1980-han), adalah suatu kebanggaan untuk menggunakan
komputer bagi remaja. Sebagian dari mereka hanya mempergunakan
komputer untuk bermain game. Namun sebagian diantara mereka tumbuh
menjadi Hacker sejati melalui seleksi alam.

Saat modem menjadi sebuah kebutuhan, dan BBS (Bulletin Board System)
tersebar dimana-mana. Sudah saatnya untuk mengintip keluar. Dunia
virtual begitu luas. Dan komunitas kembali terbentuk.

Dalam jangkauan yang lebih luas lagi terminologi Hacker ‘baru’
terbentuk. Mereka kebanyakan remaja, memili kemampuan komputer yang
tinggi, dan selalu tertarik untuk mencoba hal-hal baru.

Satu-persatu komunitas kecil terbentuk, mereka tidak hanya
berhubungan melalui BBS (baca: Mail Box), namun pertemuan-pertemuan
‘nyata’ mulai dilakukan. Dan untuk menegaskan eksistensi mereka,
dikenallah sebuah Manifesto atau lebih dikenal sebagai ‘THE
CONSCIENCE OF HACKER’. Pertama sekali dirilis dalam majalah
elektronik (e-zine) Phreak-Hack (PHRACK), yang ditulis oleh ‘The
Mentor’

[THE CONSCIENCE OF HACKER]

Ini adalah dunia kami sekarang
Dunia-nya elektron dan switch
dan keindahan sebuah baud.

Kami ada tanpa paham kebangsaan, perbedaan warna kulit, atau
prasangka keagamaan.

Anda memproklamirkan perang, membunuh, dan berlaku curang,
dan membohongi kami serta meyakinkan bahwa ini adalah untuk
kebaikan kami, namun tetap saja kami disebut kriminal.

Ya … saya adalah seorang kriminal.

Kejahatan saya adalah rasa ingin tahu.

Kejahatan saya adalah LEBIH PINTAR dari kalian, sesuatu yang
tidak pernah kalian harapkan.

Saya adalah seorang HACKER, dan ini adalah MANIFESTO-ku

Kalian bisa menghentikan saya, tapi tidak akan pernah dapat
menghentikan kami semua. …

[The Mentor, Phrack issue 0x07]

[KOMUNITAS CYBER]

Seperti halnya kehidupan nyata, masyarakat cyber juga
membentuk-komunitas berdasarkan mood dan persamaan ide. Beberapa
diantaranya berdasarkan daerah/region. Komunitas Hacker tumbuh
seirama dengan komunitas cyber lainnya. Sebagai sebuah komunitas,
komunitas Hacker terdiri atas ‘tetua’ beserta anggota-anggota nya.
Komunitas Hacker, biasanya tidak memiliki pemimpin dan tidak begitu
menghargai pemimpin. Mereka percaya semua bentuk ‘penguasaan’
tidaklah baik. Namun dari pada itu, komunitas Hacker mengenal tetua,
‘kepala suku’, atau seseorang yang ditinggikan setingkat namun tidak
dianggap pemimpin.

Pada dasarnya, tidak baik memiliki penguasa (jika pemimpin
diartikan begitu). Dan Hacker tidak percaya dengan penguasa, dimana
setiap individu menjadi penguasa atas dirinya sendiri.

Dalam komunitas,tidak mungkin kita hidup tanpa peraturan, juga tanpa
pemimpin, Hacker juga menyadari itu. Untuk itulah ‘tetua’ atau
‘kepala suku’, ‘elite’, atau ‘DEMIGOD’. Mereka ditinggikan dan
didengar pendapatnya (untuk kemajuan bersama), namun tidak seperti
pemimpin didunia nyata, para tetua tidak sepantasnya dihormati
secara berlebihan. Mereka dihargai karena reputasinya, dedikasinya
bukan karena ia adalah seorang tetua.

Hacker berkumpul dan berkomunikasi secara elektronis melalui media
Mailing List, atau diskusi IRC. Namun tidak jarang komunitas Hacker
sejati dikotori oleh para LAMER (Istilah untuk orang yang tidak
memiliki kemampuan Hacking, terlalu sombong dan membanggakan dirinya
melalui IRC channel).

Komunitas pada saat sekarang ini sudah sangat buruk. Menurut seorang
rekan dari USA yang saya hubungi mengutarakan “Hacking Scene is just
bunch of small penis loosers”. Ya, ada benarnya. Jika kita melihat
realita sekarang ini ‘Para Hacker’ hanyalah sekelompok anak sekolah
yang pandai mengunakan script, tanpa mau tahu bagaimana script itu
bekerja. Memang mereka adalah bagian dari komunitas, namun jika
mereka tidak mau belajar, mereka tidak akan lebih hebat dari ‘Small
Penis Loosers’.

Lain dari pada itu, masih tersisa sekelompok anak muda serius
yang secara bertahap belajar dan meningkatkan kemampuan mereka,
hingga menjadi Hacker Sejati.

Main stream dunia hacker itu sekarang telah jauh berubah, mereka
mulai menghancurkan infrastruktur yang telah dirintis oleh
pendahulunya. Dan yang lebih menyedihkan lagi, mereka itu tidak
mau belajar dan menjadi pintar, sehingga selamanya menjadi orang
bodoh.

Saya yakin anda tidak ingin menjadi seperti itu !!

[INGIN MENJADI HACKER]

Untuk menjadi Hacker, yang diperlukan pertama sekali adalah
keinginan. Karena yang jadi pertanyaan bukanlah ‘Apakah saya akan
menjadi seorang Hacker ?’, tetapi ‘Apakah saya ingin menjadi seorang
Hacker ?’. Jika anda telah memiliki keinginan, maka anda telah
memiliki sebuah modal dasar sebagai pijakan anda anda dalam
melangkah.

Segala sesuatu pasti dimulai dari impian, dan sudah pasti jika anda
memiliki impian, anda akan mencoba untuk merealisasikannya. Intinya,
sebelum melangkah yakinkan kalau anda telah miliki keinginan.

[*] Pelajari bahasa pemprograman.

Hal pertama yang harus anda pelajari adalah bahasa pemprograman.
Saat ini di dalam distribusi sistem operasi Linux, terdapat beragam
tool-tool berguna yang akan menunjang anda untuk belajar memprogram.

Untuk mendapatkan Linux saat ini sudah sangat mudah, anda bisa
membelinya secara online (www.gudanglinux.or.id), mendapatkan
Copy-an CD nya dari teman. Atau jika anda mempunyai akses internet
yang baik, anda bisa langsung mendownload distribusi linux situs
resmi-nya, atau melalui http://www.linuxiso.com.

Menurut Eric S. Raymond, bahasa pemprograman yang baik untuk anda
pelajari pertama sekali adalah ‘Python’.

“Desain-nya bersih, terdokumentasi dengan baik dan cukup mudah bagi
pemula”

[ERIC S. RAYMOND]

[PYTHON]

$ python
Python 2.1.1 (#2, Sep 26 2001, 09:32:53)
[GCC 2.95.3-5 (cygwin special)] on cygwin
Type “copyright”, “credits” or “license” for more information.
>>>

>>> print “Hello world \n”
Hello world

>>>

[PYTHON EOF]

Setelah python, anda bisa melanjutkan dengan ‘JAVA’. Java sangat
populer, dikarenakan ‘bytecode’ hasil kompilasinya bersifat ‘Machine
Independent’ yang tidak bergantung kepada mesin atau jenis
prosessor, namun bergantung kepada ‘Runtime Environment-nya’. Namun
dibalik keunggulannya, ‘rakus’ memory adalah salah satu kelemahan
Java.

Pada akhirnya, jika anda ingin serius terhadap pemprograman, mau
tidak mau anda akan berhadapan dengan C. Bahasa yang digunakan untuk
menulis sistem operasi Unix dan Linux (juga sistem operasi lainnya).

Assembly juga bahasa yang penting. Dimana jika anda menguasai
assembly anda akan mulai merasakan ‘jiwa sebuah mesin’. Anda akan
belajar memprogram sesuatu dari dasar, memprogram tiap bagian,
sehingga anda akan memahami ‘Bagaimana Ia Bekerja !’

Buku atau Kursus saja tidak akan cukup untuk menjadikan anda
programmer yang handal. Memprogram harus dilakukan seperti
mempergunakan bahasa sehari-hari. Yang harus anda lakukan adalah
membaca kode dan menulis kode.

Cobalah untuk membaca kode (software opensource) orang lain.
Pelajari pola pikir dan teknik pemecahan masalah-nya. Dan coba
temukan cara yang lebih baik.

[*] Pelajari dan kembangkan salah satu Unix OpenSource.

Mengapa Linux/Unix OpenSource begitu penting ? Ini semua tidak lepas
dari semangat OpenSource itu sediri. Dengan mempelajari kode-kode
yang dirilis bebas dalam sistem operasi OpenSource, kita dapat
mempelajari pola pikir seorang programmer/Hacker, kita dapat
menemukan cara mereka dalam meyelesaikan masalah dan mencoba mencari
metoda penyelesaian masalah yang lebih baik dari apa yang mereka
lakukan. OpenSource juga membantu kita dalam membangun sebuah
aplikasi, sehingga kita tidak perlu direpotkan dengan ‘research’.
Mereka telah melakukan-nya untuk kita, dan kita bisa memanfaatkan
waktu yang tersisa untuk hal yang lebih spesifik.

“Saya bisa berpandangan jauh, karena saya berdiri di pundak
orang-orang jenius terdahulu .. “

[Sir Isaac Newton]

[*] Pelajari hal-hal baru.

Banyak hal-hal baru muncul, dan setiap hal (apapun) akan memberikan
kita pelajaran berarti untuk hidup dan hidup adalah HACKING.
Hindarilah untuk bersikap skeptis dan mulailah untuk berpikiran
terbuka. Hal-hal baru -terlebih-lebih yang begitu radikal-, banyak
di tentang oleh sebagian orang skeptis, namun sebuah pemikiran
terbuka akan memberikan alur yang baik dalam memperolah ilmu.

Ilmu ada dimana-mana. Bahkan dalam suatu yang dianggap kotor.
Sebagai contoh, coba anda bandingkan ‘kotoran’ sapi (hewan
herbivora) dengan ‘kotoran’ kucing (hewan karnivora). Dapat kita
lihat kalau kotoran sapi ‘lebih menggunung’ dari pada kotoran
kucing, dan tidak terlepas dari itu, secara umum dapat kita tarik
kesimpulan, bahwa hewan herbivora (pemakan tanaman) lebih banyak
dari pada hewan karnivora (pemakan daging). Penyebab yang paling
relevan untuk hal ini adalah faktor ‘makanan’. Tumbuhan yang
dikonsumsi oleh hewan herbivora (dalam contoh ini sapi) mengandung
‘selulose’ atau serat lebih sulit dicerna, sehingga lebih banyak
meninggalkan zat sisa. Hal ini tidak berlaku pada hewan karnivora
(dalam contoh ini kucing). Daging lebih mudah dicerna, sehingga
hanya meninggalkan sedikit zat sisa.

Dengan sedikit imajinasi kotor, coba bayangkan hal-hal yang lebih
kotor lagi untuk dianalisa dan diambil pelajarannya.

Dalam lingkup komputer, pelajarilah semua hal-hal baru. Anda bisa
menemukan banyak hal baru melalui artikel, journal, atau
berita-berita ‘nerd’ di ‘slashdot’.

[*] Selalu gunakan logika.

Berpikir dengan logika sangat diperlukan dalam Hacking. Dalam
Hacking anda akan berhadapan dengan berbagai keadaan untuk dianalisa
dan dipecahkan secara logika.

Logika akan sangat membantu anda untuk menghidupkan kembali
rasionalitas yang hilang dan berpikir membantu anda untuk hidup dan
tetap hidup.

[*] Ikuti perkembangan teknologi dan informasi.

Teknologi Informasi berkembang sangat cepat. Sebuah bahasa
pemprograman yang kita pelajari hari ini bisa cepat berganti dengan
bahasa atau visual programming baru yang lebih mudah -baca
memudahkan, alih-alih membodohkan-. Semua itu berganti seiring
berlalunya waktu dan ketika kita tersadar kita sudah jauh
ketinggalan.

Ada baiknya anda selalu membaca, atau minimal mendapatkan ‘digest’
dari ilmu-ilmu/info terbaru. Anda juga bisa mendapatkan informasi
dari Mailing List dan NewsGroup.

Dengan selalu up-to-date, anda akan selalu dekat dengan informasi.

[*] Ketahui hal-hal yang belum diketahui.

Dalam apapun didunia ini, kita harus bercermin. Buang semua
prasangka dan nilai-nilai. Buang anggapan sepihak kalau ‘saya adalah
seorang wizard’. Duduklah sejenak dan mulai berpikir.

Apa yang saya ketahui ?
Apa yang belum saya ketahui ?
Inginkah saya mengetahuinya ?

Jika ya …

Apa yang harus saya lakukan ?

Tentu saja belajar !

Mengapa hal ini begitu sulit ?

Karna anda belum memiliki pegangan yang kokoh !

Apa yang harus saya lakukan ?

Ketahui apa yang belum anda ketahui !!!!

Untuk dapat memahami komputer anda akan menemukan sesuatu yang
saling berhubungan. Untuk memahami satu hal anda harus memahami dulu
beberapa hal yang lain.

Untuk bisa memahami cara kerja NMAP (Os Fingger Print, yang
memanfaatkan urutan stack TCP/IP sebagai identifier) anda harus
memahami dulu konsep pemprograman Bahasa C, anda juga harus memahami
‘pointer’, dan konsep pointer erat kaitannya dengan ‘stack’,
sebaiknya anda juga memiliki pemahaman stack yang baik !

Anda juga akan disibukkan dengan belajar konsep TCP/IP. Anda juga
harus tahu dulu ‘dimana bisa mendapatkan info tentang TCP/IP’.
Dengan begini, tariklah kesimpulan untuk mengenal segala sesuatu dan
memahami serta mencari jawaban terhadap hal-hal yang tidak kita
ketahui !

[*] Terus Belajar.

Yang paling penting dari semua hal diatas adalah selalu belajar.
Tanpa belajar anda tidak akan mendapatkan apa-apa. Jangan pernah
beranggapan jika ‘telah’ menjadi Hacker anda akan berhenti belajar,
malah sebaliknya anda akan mulai belajar kembali untuk menjadi
seorang Hacker yang berdedikasi.

Terus belajar, dan ingatlah ketika anda berhenti sejenak dan
mengenang kembali … anda telah menjadi seorang Hacker yang
tangguh!.

[*] Mengabdi kepada budaya Hacker

Setelah semuanya selesai dan anda sedang beristirahat setelah
aktifitas Hacking 37 Jam yang melelahkan. Coba ingat kembali.

Siapa yang memperkenalkan anda kepada komputer ?
Siapa yang membimbing anda mempelajarinya ?
Siapa yang dengan setia menemani anda mengejar informasi ?

Siapa yang pertama sekali mengenalkan anda dengan HACKING ?
Mengajari anda teknik-teknik Hacking Dasar ?
Mengajari anda tentang bersikap dan berfikir layaknya HACKER ?

Siapa yang membuat sistem operasi Hacker, Linux ?
Siapa yang mengembangkannya ?
Siapa yang membuatnya begitu mudah untuk dioperasikan dengan
tampilan yang begitu cantik ?

Siapa yang telah membuat anda HADIR didunia ini ?

Bahagiakan mereka …..
Jika anda berpikir cara terbaik untuk membahagiakan mereka adalah
dengan membayar mereka dengan uang, anda SALAH BESAR. Jika yang anda
lakukan adalah mengucapkan ribuan terima kasih kepada mereka, juga
SALAH.

Cukup lakukan apa yang telah mereka lakukan. Jika anda merasa
terbantu dengan dokumen ini, buat sebuah dokumen baru, buat yang
lebih baik dan berbagilah dengan sesama !

Dengan melakukan hal-hal kecil yang terbaik yang bisa anda lakukan,
berarti anda telah mengabdi kepada budaya Hacker itu.

Dan ketika pagi datang, dan mentari memancarkan cahayanya. SUDAH
WAKTUNYA UNTUK KELUAR, DAN MENGENAL DUNIA.

28 SEPTEMBER 2003
H3D87 a.k.a MOBY

Untuk eCHo staff: Y3DIPS, THE_DAY2000, COMEX

Untuk Rizka, Terima kasih atas semua dukungannya :),
Terima kasih malaikat ku !!

Terima kasih kepada sahabat-sahabatku (yang tak pernah kutahu siapa)

Ikuti

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